Stengel Beach has a flight of stairs only half way down the cliff, and they terminate on a giant wedge of rock that slopes down the rest of the way. When I got there, it was just about the peak of the high tide, and there was only about one square meter of sand at the bottom of the rock slope. And that was under water on the high waves, while the water lapped continually against the cliff everywhere else. The waves broke over a row of rocks one or two hundred meters off shore, creating a little cove of sorts with mild waves but very choppy water. Getting in and out of the water was easy, but getting past this "reef" gave me pause. I considered going north along the reef which was parallel to the waves and slanted out to the west, but that involved going over or around a few shallow rocks that would get me in trouble if a large wave came. Instead, I went straight out through a gap in the reef where there didn't seem to be breakers often, and I could paddle directly into oncoming waves. Once out to sea, I paddled out and around and back to within 50 meters of where I got in the water, (on the other side of the suspicious rocks).
I paddled north along the coast close to the cliff here, where the waves didn't break until they were right on the cliff. The cliffs here are low, red halfway down and then black the rest of the way into the water. There were a lot of little coves, caves, and arches in the rock that I generally managed to resist. The swells were only 5 feet today, but I'll wait for calmer water to do that sort of thing. One medium sized cove was irresistible: I paddled all the way in and around a corner into a small rocky grotto. Above me on the edge of the cliff was a large cement pylon, holding up two huge cantilevered beams one meter apart that stuck out 10 meters to hang just over the water. The beams had a narrow walkway on them, and a 2x2 meter square deck built on the end. (Railings all the way around and back to the edge of the cliff). An enormous effort for a small deck hanging out over the water, and worth every cent I'll wager.
The last time I visited Shell Beach, the tide was lower, and the sandy beach extended way out to surround several rocks offshore. This trip was an almost 2 meter high tide, and those rocks were pretty navigable. I paddled in behind the largest one, and then zoomed out to sea between it and the next during a calm period. Right after I got safely out, I watched a few large waves go back in and break through the channel I had just come out. Whew! I forgot to bring a snack for the turnaround point, so I just paddled out to sea to rest and look back at the beach.
After all the choppy water close to shore, being 300 or 400 meters off shore felt as calm as paddling on a lake! I zoomed back to Stengel Beach in this smooth water, and kept going to see how close I could get to that carpet of green plants I saw in November growing down the cliff. I was able to get behind another row of rocks pointing west, and get within 50 or 100 meters of that cliff: It had a narrow beach of large pebbles and too many larger sharp looking rocks. The water was very choppy, and large waves made it through occasionally, so I gave up on landing and examining the plants. From this distance, I could not identify them, but it looked like it might be a type of ice plant.
I paddled back to Stengel Beach the same way I went out, and found that there was a little more beach here than when I left. This beach access has 12 parking spaces, so I hope it has a LOT more beach at lower tides. I counted parking spaces on my way home, and saw that Black Point Beach, which has a sandy beach at least a kilometer long, has at least 12 spaces also. And what it has is a gravel lot, so you could park more cars there without getting a ticket for parking over a white line! (The rangers strictly enforce the number of cars in the paved lots, to restrict the number of people who use the right-of-way).