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OAR - Marina, California

Information verified accurate as of: March 9, 2002

The Airport

Located 3 miles from the beautiful Monterey coast, Marina is an ex-military base struggling to find its identity as a city-owned public-use airport. Marina is located 70 nm SSE of the city of San Francisco, and only 7 nm N of the Monterey airport. In fact, Marina is under a shelf of Monterey's class C airspace. Be sure to avoid this airspace, or contact Monterey Approach for clearance. Like many ex-military bases, the airport is mostly empty, with plenty of ramp space for just about any use imagineable. Except for a lone A&P and an active skydiving company there are no aviation-specific businesses on the field. Self-serve 100LL, a restroom, and a public telephone are available 24 hours a day.


Don't be confused by the presence of a control tower. It's merely there for decoration at this point.
The transient ramp is near the center of the field, past the self-serve pump (right) and in front of the cafe. There is ample space, and usually few planes.

At the Airport

It's not often that I say anything about food, but Marina is an exception. Bill Lee runs a wonderful restaurant that is worth the trip by itself. You won't find anything fancy here, but the burgers, sandwiches, and fries are great and served with very large portions. However, Bill Lee himself is the main attraction of the restaurant. He's always ready with a story or interesting conversation. Ask him about his second job as a bail bondsman, or his experience day-trading stocks during the dot-com days. Bill also has a couple of bikes that he will lend out for the day. Sadly, the restaurant does not get a lot of business. Please patronize it on your next trip to the area (unpaid advertisement).

Update July 25, 2008: I'm told that Bill has lost his various fights with the city over the operation of his restaurant, and the restaurant has been closed. This is very sad news.


Close to the Airport

Walk out of the back (well, really the front) of the cafe, turn left on the road, and diagonally across the big parking lot, and you will run into this unusual area: a habitat for endangered sculptures (or something like that). I think the city wanted to add some interest to a large water tower (see transient ramp picture above), and so added a winding path, some sculptures, and some information about native California plants. In much of Marina, industrial and natural areas exist side by side, or completely overlap. The Habitat is worth a quick stop on your way into town, if for no other reason than it's kind of surreal.

Far from the Airport

To get to Marina from the airport, continue on Imjin Road past the Sculpture Habitat and turn right on Reservation Road, a fairly major highway. Unfortunately there are no back roads available to get to town, but rumor has it a bike path will be built soon. After surviving about 1/2 mile on the main road, you will reach the edge of town. Within the next mile you will find some motels, convenience stores, and simple restaurants.

Continuing down Reservation Road, you can take a side trip by turning left on Del Monte (about 2 miles from the airport). Here a bike path will take you alongside Highway 1 all the way to Seaside, about 4 miles south.

However, most people will want to continue down Reservation Road towards the beach. Just on the other side of Del Monte is a small park with some trails, picnic benches, and a large pond full of ducks and geese. This is another example of mixed industrial and natural settings, as the pond has a large transmitting tower installed in the middle of it.

At the end of Reservation Road you will hit the beach. There are miles of beach available for walking, sitting, or playing. If you want a slightly more out-of-the-way area of the beach to visit, turn right on Dunes Road just before entering the beach area. Continue past the motels and the RV park to the end of the road. There, on your left, a small path will lead you to the beach somewhat further north and out of the main populated area. The total distance from the airport to the beach is about 3 miles.

Hang gliding is a popular activity at the Marina beach. You can bring your own hang glider, or rent one on site. Lessons are available for rank beginners.

Here is a final view of the Marina area. The airport can be seen in the background, slightly to the left. Reservation Road is the main highway running down the center. Highway 1 runs left to right in the foreground. The parking lot and hang gliding store can be seen in the foreground at the end of Reservation Road.

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