Drakes Bay

Last updated
Drakes Bay Historic Archaeological District
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2013 view
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Coordinates 38°0′43″N122°55′9″W / 38.01194°N 122.91917°W / 38.01194; -122.91917 Coordinates: 38°0′43″N122°55′9″W / 38.01194°N 122.91917°W / 38.01194; -122.91917
NRHP reference No. 12001006 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 10, 2012
Designated NHLDOctober 10, 2012
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Drakes Bay

Drakes Bay (Coast Miwok: Tamál-Húye) is a 4 mi (6.4 km) wide bay named so by U.S. surveyor George Davidson in 1875 along the Point Reyes National Seashore on the coast of northern California in the United States, approximately 30 mi (48 km) northwest of San Francisco at approximately 38 degrees north latitude. [2] The bay is approximately 8 mi (13 km) wide. It is formed on the lee side of the coastal current by Point Reyes. The bay is named after Sir Francis Drake [3] and has long been considered Drake's most likely landing spot [4] on the west coast of North America during his circumnavigation of the world by sea in 1579. An alternative name for this bay is Puerto De Los Reyes. [2]


The bay is fed by Drake's Estero, an expansive estuary on the Point Reyes peninsula. The estuary is protected by Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve & Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area. Point Reyes State Marine Reserve & Point Reyes State Marine Conservation Area lie within Drakes Bay. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.

A portion of the coastal area of Drakes Bay is archaeologically and historically important. It is believed to be the site of Francis Drake's 1579 landfall (which he called New Albion), and also the location where a Spanish Manila galleon sank during a storm in 1595. Both Drake and the Portuguese commander of the galleon, Sebastião Rodrigues Soromenho, interacted with the local Coast Miwok. There are fifteen archaeological sites on the bay of Miwok settlements where European trade goods have been found, including materials that the Miwok probably recovered from the wrecked galleon. [5] The region was designated a National Historic Landmark District on October 17, 2012. [6] [7]

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View of Drakes Bay from Drake's beach
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View of Drakes Bay from Elephant Seal Overlook trail

See also

Related Research Articles

Marin County, California County in California, United States

Marin County is located in the northwestern part of the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 252,409. Its county seat is San Rafael. Marin County is across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and is included in the San Francisco–Oakland–Berkeley, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Point Reyes National Seashore Park preserve in California, United States

Point Reyes National Seashore is a 71,028-acre (287.44 km2) park preserve located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, California. As a national seashore, it is maintained by the US National Park Service as an important nature preserve. Some existing agricultural uses are allowed to continue within the park. Clem Miller, a US Congressman from Marin County wrote and introduced the bill for the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore in 1962 to protect the peninsula from development which was proposed at the time for the slopes above Drake's Bay. All of the park's beaches were listed as the cleanest in the state in 2010.

New Albion Historical name of the United States Pacific coast

New Albion, also known as Nova Albion, was the name of the continental area north of Mexico claimed by Sir Francis Drake for England when he landed on the North American west coast in 1579. This claim became the justification for English charters across America to the Atlantic coast and soon influenced further national expansion projects on the continent. Today, Drake's landing site is known as Point Reyes, California, a marine environment which is the setting of several small towns, ranches, and Point Reyes National Seashore.

Coast Miwok Tribe of Native American people

Coast Miwok are an indigenous people that was the second-largest group of Miwok people. Coast Miwok inhabited the general area of modern Marin County and southern Sonoma County in Northern California, from the Golden Gate north to Duncans Point and eastward to Sonoma Creek. Coast Miwok included the Bodega Bay Miwok, from authenticated Miwok villages around Bodega Bay, and the Marin Miwok.

Bolinas Lagoon

Bolinas Lagoon is a tidal estuary, approximately 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) in area, located in the West Marin region of Marin County, California, United States, adjacent to the town of Bolinas. It is a part of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and is considered to be among the possible landing spots of Sir Francis Drake on the west coast of North America in 1579.

Drakes Estero

Drakes Estero is an expansive estuary in the Point Reyes National Seashore of Marin County on the Pacific coast of northern California in the United States, approximately 25 miles (40 km) northwest of San Francisco.

Point Reyes

Point Reyes (re-ʝes) is a prominent cape and popular Northern California tourist destination on the Pacific coast. It is located in Marin County, and approximately 30 miles (50 km) west-northwest of San Francisco. The term is often applied to the Point Reyes Peninsula, the region bounded by Tomales Bay on the northeast and Bolinas Lagoon on the southeast. The headland is protected as part of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Tomales Bay

Tomales Bay is a long, narrow inlet of the Pacific Ocean in Marin County in northern California in the United States. It is approximately 15 mi (24 km) long and averages nearly 1.0 mi (1.6 km) wide, effectively separating the Point Reyes Peninsula from the mainland of Marin County. It is located approximately 30 mi (48 km) northwest of San Francisco. The bay forms the eastern boundary of Point Reyes National Seashore. Tomales Bay is recognized for protection by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy. On its northern end, it opens out onto Bodega Bay, which shelters it from the direct current of the Pacific. The bay is formed along a submerged portion of the San Andreas Fault.

Bodega Bay United States historic place

Bodega Bay is a shallow, rocky inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the coast of northern California in the United States. It is approximately 5 mi (8 km) across and is located approximately 40 mi (60 km) northwest of San Francisco and 20 mi (32 km) west of Santa Rosa. The bay straddles the boundary between Sonoma County to the north and Marin County to the south. The bay is a marine habitat used for navigation, recreation, and commercial and sport fishing.

Bodega Head Promontory in California, United States

Bodega Head is a small promontory on the Pacific coast of northern California in the United States. It is located in Sonoma County at 38.311°N 123.066°W, approximately 40 mi (64 km) northwest of San Francisco and approximately 20 mi (32 km) west of Santa Rosa.

Bodega Harbor

Bodega Harbor is a small, shallow, natural harbor on the Pacific coast of northern California in the United States, approximately 40 mi (64 km) northwest of San Francisco. The harbor is approximately 2 sq mi (5.2 km2) in area.

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok, is a federally recognized American Indian tribe of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Indians. The tribe was officially restored to federal recognition in 2000 by the U.S. government pursuant to the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act

Tomales Bay State Park

Tomales Bay State Park is a California state park in Marin County, California. It consists of approximately 2,000 acres (8 km²) divided between two areas, one on the west side of Tomales Bay and the other on the east side. The main area, on the west, is part of the Point Reyes peninsula, and adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore, which is operated by the U.S. National Park Service. The park is approximately 40 miles (64 km) north of San Francisco.

In 1579, Francis Drake was halfway during his circumnavigation and sailed out in the Pacific, then turned east seeking the Strait of Anián , or for a place to repair his ships.

Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve & Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area

Estero de Limantour State Marine Reserve (SMR) and Drakes Estero State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) are two adjoining marine protected areas along the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County on California’s north central coast. These marine protected areas cover a combined 4.04 square miles (10.5 km2), with 1.49 square miles (3.9 km2) in the SMR and 2.55 square miles (6.6 km2) in the SMCA. Drakes Estero SMCA prohibits the take of all living marine resources from Drakes Estero except the recreational take of clams and formerly the commercial aquaculture of shellfish pursuant to a disputed state water bottom lease and permit, which has been the subject of ongoing legal proceedings since 2012, when the lease was allowed to expire.

The Drake Navigators Guild is the historical research group which has used multi-disciplinary methods to research Francis Drake’s visit to the west coast of North America in 1579 and related maritime explorations. Founded in 1949, the Guild’s research supports the long-standing conclusion that Drake’s “Nova Albion” is at Drakes Bay, California. The Guild's efforts build on the research of Professor George Davidson (geographer) and others who have studied Drake's voyage. The Guild’s research has identified the specific careening site at Drake’s Cove within the Bay.

From 1577 to 1580 Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world. In 1579 as part of this voyage he landed on the west coast of North America which consequently has drawn the attention of scores of historians, geographers, linguists, anthropologists and other professionals. In addition, many history buffs have sought to locate Drake's New Albion. The accepted site for Drake's 1579 landing at New Albion is at Drake's Cove in Drakes Bay in Marin County, California. More than a score of ideas have been put forth—covering the coast from Alaska to Baja California Sur, Mexico. These ideas span the eighteenth through the early twenty-first centuries.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Drakes Bay Oyster Company was an oyster farm and restaurant formerly located at the shoreline and in Drakes Estero, a bay within Point Reyes National Seashore, on the West Marin coast of Marin County, in Northern California. In 2011, the lease for the business operation was not renewed at the direction of the United States Secretary of the Interior. After a two-year court battle, the business was terminated in December 2014, and Drakes Estero was cleared of the offshore racks and onshore structures, with the work completed in 2017.

Sir Francis Drake Association

The Sir Francis Drake Association was a group of San Francisco Bay Area residents and others who promoted the historical Francis Drake's landing at New Albion in Marin County, California in 1579. The Association held a number of gatherings, picnic and pageants between 1912 and 1957.

Edward Von der Porten

Edward Paul Von der Porten was an American scholar noted for his work in history, archaeology, and museum practices. His areas of expertise included Sir Francis Drake, Drake's New Albion claim, Chinese porcelain, the Kriegsmarine , and Manila galleon history, and he was also the director of the Treasure Island Museum.


  1. "Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 10/22/12 through 10/27/12". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service . Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  2. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Drakes Bay
  3. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp.  109.
  4. "Point Reyes National Seashore California". National Park Service . Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  5. "Drakes Bay National Historic Landmark Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2018-01-16.
  6. Kovner, Guy (17 October 2012). "Drakes Bay at Point Reyes named national historic landmark". The Press Democrat . Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  7. "US Interior Dept. makes 4 Calif. sites landmarks". San Jose Mercury News . 17 October 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2014.