Sandwiched between the mighty Pacific and the rugged cliffs of California’s San Mateo County lie a string of gorgeous beaches. Although a few of them are large and immensely popular, drawing huge crowds during the peak summer season, the majority tend to fall on the smallish side (no more than 100-200 feet in length). During an exploratory trek in 2006 I happened to discover one such tiny beach, which has since become my favorite destination on the coast. Somewhat hard to access and unsurprisingly deserted, it provides the perfect setting for an evening of quiet contemplation.

There was no special agenda for my initial trips to that location. Nestled safely at the base of a steep sandstone wall and only yards from that magical edge where land and ocean meet, I would spend hours savoring the ambience while a myriad of thoughts drifted through my mind. One day, as I was reflecting on the various marine processes – waves, tides and wind – responsible for shaping the dynamic landscape in front of me, I became acutely aware of hundreds (if not more) of the most amazing coastal stones. They were everywhere, in all shapes, sizes and colors, glowing like jewels in the light mist. It seemed as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, offering a glimpse of another world. I like to believe that the real residents of that cove had finally decided it was time to make their presence known.