Humboldt Bay is California's second largest natural bay.
At high tide, as the Pacific ocean enters through the main channel leading to Eureka’s ports and marinas, Humboldt Bay stretches up the sloughs and creeks that edge Arcata and the Arcata Marsh in the north to the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge at Loleta, in the south.
The second largest bay in California, it serves not only the local maritime and fishing industry (commercial and recreational), and an aquaculture industry that provides the best Kumamoto oysters in the United States, it is a seasonal home to more than one hundred thousand migratory birds as they travel the Pacific flyway, many resting up and foraging on the Eel grass that is still abundant in this bay.
Central to activities on the bay is Eureka on the mainland and Woodley Island, which sits out in the bay between Eureka and Indian Island.
Woodley Island has a full-service marina that provides slips for commercial and recreational vessels, and guest docking facilities. Here you can watch the fishing boats come and go, and when the season is open, purchase fresh fish or crab right off the boat.
Much of the island is made up of protected habitat. Bird watchers come to catch glimpses of godwits, pelicans, grebes, loons and egrets. The egrets that are frequently spotted are members of the rookery on Indian Island which sits across a small channel adjacent to Woodley Island.
Woodley Island is also the relocated home of the Table Bluff Lighthouse, which was moved to the island in 1987. Both the lighthouse and "The Fisherman," a memorial statue created by renowned artist Dick Crane, commemorating the mariners who have lost their lives at sea, can be easiliy spotted from Old Town Eureka.
How we celebrate the bay:
In the spring, migratory routes are celebrated during Godwit Days at the Arcata Marsh in April and the Cackling Geese Fly Off weekend in March at the wildlife refuge in Loleta.
Summer brings out the oyster gourmet in all of us at the famous Oyster Festival in Arcata.
The Fall Maritime Festival & Coast Guard Days held on Woodley Island honors our Coast Guard and the maritime industry. Paddlefest happens on the same weekend – two full days of people powered watersports.
Some bay facts:
The Wiyot people were among the Humboldt Bay region’s original inhabitants in a number of villages including Tuluwat on present day Indian Island. Virtually invisible from sea, the bay was undiscovered by European explorers for centuries.
The best Kumamoto oysters in the United States come from Humboldt Bay.
The Bay's four major watersheds, mostly forested, drain approximately 250 square miles.
Humboldt Bay and its tidal sloughs are open to fishing year-round.
Humboldt Bay is the only deep water bay between San Francisco, California and Coos Bay, Oregon.
For more history on the bay, follow this link to an excellent article by local Barry Evans in the North Coast Journal illustrating how tides effect the bay.
After being forgotten for 44 years, Humboldt Bay was rediscovered in 1849 by Dr. Josiah Gregg & party and named after Alexander von Humboldt -- who himself never visited it.