This bayside rental gives "on the water" new meaning.

By Kelly Brown Tomas
September 07, 2007

If you're dreaming about a vacation where you can relax to the sound of the waves and bathe in the scent of salt air, we've found your getaway. Sea Mist Cottage stands on piers in the shallows of Northern California's Tomales Bay and comprises two completely private rental units: a two-bedroom apartment and a light-filled studio. Visitors can rent either unit, or open a connecting door and have the entire cottage to themselves.

A wraparound deck and adjacent pier provide ample space for fishing, reading, or outdoor dining. Nearby, Blue Waters Kayaking offers guided ecotours of the bay. A short drive away, Point Reyes National Seashore and Millerton Point are the best spots for birding and hiking amid breathtaking scenery. For those who can't leave city life behind, San Francisco awaits just an hour's drive south.

Sea Mist Cottage owner Jane Arrendell decorated the waterside retreat with family heirlooms from the 1940s. Colorful quilts, pillows, and artwork soften the interiors, and souvenirs from Jane's trips abroad lend a personal touch. In the studio, a classic Dutch door opens into a space dominated by huge windows overlooking the sparkling water. In the larger unit, a corner living room and eat-in kitchen both overlook Tomales Bay.

With such enticing vistas, guests may find themselves torn between staying at Sea Mist and exploring the area. As one renter told Jane, "I don't know what delighted me more—the view, the hot tub after a 12-mile hike, or the quiet and sense of privacy."

(published October 2007)