The Coasts of California: A California Field Atlas

The Coasts of California: A California Field Atlas
Flexibound, 5.5 x 7.5, with over 400 full-color illustrations and maps, 672 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145510.

By Obi Kaufmann

California’s coastline is world famous, an endless source of fascination and fantasy, but there is no book about it like this one. Obi Kaufmann, author-illustrator of The California Field Atlas and The Forests of California, now turns his attention to the 1,200 miles of the Golden State where the land meets the ocean. Bursting with color, The Coasts of California is in Kaufmann’s signature style, fusing science with art and pure poetic reverie. And much more than a survey of tourist spots, Coasts is a full immersion into the astonishingly varied natural worlds that hug California’s shoreline. With hundreds of gorgeous watercolor maps and illustrations, Kaufmann explores the rhythms of the tides, the lives of sea creatures, the shifting of rocks and sand, and the special habitats found on California’s islands. At the book’s core is an expansive, detailed walk down the California Coastal Trail, including maps of parks along the way—a wealth of knowledge for any coast-lover. The Coasts of California is a geographic epic, an odyssey in nature, a grand and glorious book for a grand and glorious part of the world.


"In words and charts, in watercolors and maps, this field atlas takes the reader on a tour from the microscopic plankton that create the richness of the California Current just offshore, to the large-scale ocean weather patterns that carry storms and create the coast’s temperate Mediterranean climate. The book is an exploration of the varied, three-dimensional, and inseparable forces that make this coast what it is today, and could shape its future." Cameron Walker, Terrain
"Much of the writing on beaches and coasts betrays an Atlantic bias, which is part of what makes Obi Kaufmann’s The Coasts of California, the fourth installment in his California Field Atlas series, an original contribution to the genre. In 639 pages, Kaufmann, a naturalist, writer, and illustrator, tackles the geography and ecology of California’s 840-mile-long Pacific coastline in immersive detail." Los Angeles Review of Books
"I think it is safe to say that when one pores over the nearly 650-page Coasts of California—filled with vivid watercolor illustrations of flora and fauna and exquisite vistas and scenes, in addition to hand-colored maps of everything from coastal wildflower blooms to amphibian habitats to oceanic chlorophyll concentrations combined with painstakingly researched facts and histories—Kaufmann’s knowledge of and respect for these myriad forms of life cannot help but spark one’s own spirit of inquiry and adventure." Steffie Nelson, Red Canary
"Kaufmann’s gaze easily ranges from the micro to the macro, skipping from phytoplankton to blue whales, and rising from the 2-mile depths of Monterey Canyon to mile-high coastal peaks where California condors glide along the thermals. [...] As a reader you are invited to join him on a journey of discovery — not as a passenger but as an active partner." Matt Jaffe, San Francisco Chronicle
"Much more than a survey of tourist spots, Coasts is a full immersion into the astonishingly varied natural worlds that hug California's shoreline. Everyone in the state should have this gorgeous book on their bookshelf." Liam Mayclem, CBS San Francisco
"Kaufmann spent a year, seven days a week, delving into and recording what’s on the coastline, in complex and dynamic detail, to produce a substantive, colorfully interpretive, frequently poetic 'atlas.' [...] The natural world of California’s coasts is surprising in its depth and complexity. And as captured by a diligent and experienced observer, unbelievably beautiful as well." Stephen Nett, The Press Democrat
"The Coasts of California: A California Field Atlas is a great addition to a collection of field guides or atlases that are also art books—this one has over 400 of the author’s signature watercolors and maps. While providing precious information on trails, the shifting of rocks, sand and special habitats, Kaufmann’s books can also be described as philosophical meditations written with surprisingly poetic prose." Agata Popeda, Monterey County Weekly
"The Coasts of California is a paean to the beauty and diversity of the littoral, unfolding in evocative essays and lovingly-rendered watercolors of the flora and fauna that live at the edges of the land." Alisa Carroll, HENRY magazine
"The Coasts of California by Obi Kaufmann is an amazing achievement in both art and science. It is brimming with expressive yet accurate watercolors of animals, maps, landscapes, and concepts, annotated by elegant calligraphy and typography." Steven Haddock, Pacific Horticulture
"Obi wants to inspire us to be optimistic, not fatalistic about the world we find ourselves in. Stories of recovery are all around us if we open our eyes. He believes we can, indeed, reverse course and save what we have inherited." Dan Sealy, EcoNews
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About the Author

Obi Kaufmann

Obi Kaufmann

Obi Kaufmann is the author of The California Field Atlas (2017, #1 San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller), The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Natural Resource (2019), and The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas (2020)The Coasts of California (2022), and The Deserts of California (2023) all published by Heyday. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at home in the East Bay, posting trail paintings at his handle @coyotethunder on Instagram. His speaking tour dates are available at, and his essays are posted at

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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