Santa Margarita Island Preserve

An enchanting oasis near the Santa Venetia neighborhood.

Rangers Recommend

  • This is the only true island preserve in the Marin County Open Space District.
  • This 9-acre preserve (the island 4.5 acres) was once the proposed location of a residential subdivision designed to mimic Venice, Italy. A few remnants remain, including cement canal walls, light post, and imported palm tree.
  • See Mount Tam off in the distance. 
  • No dogs or horses allowed.

Naturalist Notes

  • Marsh edging the island provides habitat for endangered Ridgeway's rail, a shy bird.
  • A wide variety of waterfowl and shorebirds also flock to the waters. Swallows nest under the bridge in spring. Woodpeckers and California scrub jays feast on acorns.
  • Three types of oak as well as madrone and California bay trees stand tall in the island's center.
  • Pipevine and other shade loving plants grow beneath the canopy, attracting butterflies in spring.
  • Blue dicks and checkerbloom appear in spring in the grassland between the trees and the high tide mark.
  • Check out the iNaturalist field guide. Add your own observations.


Horseback Riding
Kayak Canoe

Know Before You Go

  • Stay on roads and trails to preserve sensitive ecosystems and to avoid trespassing on private property.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Trails can be muddy during rainy season.
  • Bring water.
  • If launching a kayak, watch tides. Currents can be strong.
  • There are no restrooms at this location.
  • Steer clear of poison oak.
  • After an outing, check for ticks.