Half Moon Bay Travel Guide

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Half Moon Bay Beaches

Half Moon Bay has miles of unspoiled beaches that stretch from the City of Half Moon Bay’s own Poplar Beach, through the Half Moon Bay State Beach complex (Francis Beach, Venice Beach, and Dunes Beach) to the Pillar Point Marsh and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.  And that’s just the beginning!  A short drive to the south is  Año Nuevo State Reserve where the gigantic elephant seals roam, and to the North is Montara State Beach and Montara Mountain.

Half Moon Bay State Beaches

Ano Nuevo State ReserveAño Nuevo State Reserve

New Year’s Creek Road, off Hwy 1 Pescadero, CA   650-879-0227

This 4,000 acre Reserve is a major gathering area for northern elephant seals, which may be seen year-around. The males battle for mates on the beaches. The females give birth to their young on the dunes.

Bean Hollow State Beach & Pebble Beach

650-879-2170

The beach features fishing, picnicking and beachcombing. Visitors can explore tide pools with anemones, crab, sea urchins and other marine inhabitants. The beach also has a self-guided nature trail.

Directions: On the San Mateo Coast, Bean Hollow is 17.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay and three miles south of Pescadero on Highway One.

 

 

 

Coastside Trail -- Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail — Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay State Beach 95 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA  (650) 726-8819

The Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail runs along the eastern boundary of the four Half Moon Bay area beaches providing close to three miles of multi-use trails to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor.

Cowell Ranch State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach Headquarters — 650-726-8819

Directions: 3.3 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy 1, park at the marked parking lot.

Dunes State BeachDunes State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach Headquarters — 650-726-8819

Directions: north of Half Moon Bay — from Hwy 1, turn west on Young Ave.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss BeachFitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach

PO BOX 451, Moss Beach, CA  (650) 728-3584   Reservation line (650) 363-4021

The Reserve is set aside to protect this complex but fragile community for us and future generations. Within the reserve, most marine life is protected. The Reserve is popular with school and community groups for its educational value.

Directions: Take California Ave. off of Hwy 1 in Moss Beach.

Friends of Fitzgerald Marine ReserveFriends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

A Web site dedicated to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve–focusing on the plants and animals adapted to live at the edge of the ocean.

Francis State BeachFrancis State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach Headquarters — 650-726-8819

Directions: From Highway 1, turn west on Kelly Avenue (south of Hwy 92) in Half Moon Bay.

The facility has a campground with 52 individual sites, some suitable for tent camping, others for trailers or recreational vehicles. Although hookups are not available, there is a dump station.  Coin-operated hot showers are also available.

Gazos Creek Coastal Access

Bean Hollow State Beach, 650-879-2170.

Directions: From Hwy 1, north of Gazos Creek Rd. & south of Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero.

Gray Whale Cove State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach, 650-726-8819.

The beach (a.k.a. Devil’s Slide) features a sheltered cove surrounded by cliffs that drop abruptly into the Pacific. A steep trail leads down to the beach. There is a small picnic area on the bluff above Gray whales can often be seen close to the shore the beach. Sunbathing is the most popular activity between mid-April and mid-May

Directions: On the San Mateo Coast, north of Montara on Highway One. The only available automobile parking is on the east side of Highway 1. Crossing to the ocean side of the highway can be both difficult and dangerous.

Half Moon Bay State BeachHalf Moon Bay State Beach

95 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA  (650) 726-8819

Four miles of broad, sandy beaches stretch out to welcome visitors to Half Moon Bay. This picturesque setting is ideal for sunbathing, fishing and picnicking. A campground provides accommodations for those who wish to visit longer.

Directions: The beach is located a half-mile west of Highway 1 on Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay. There are three parking and beach access points: Francis Beach, at the end of Kelly Ave. in the City of Half Moon Bay. Venice Beach, at the end of Venice Blvd. off Highway 1. Dunes Beach, at the end of Young Ave. off Highway 1.

 

MavericksMavericks – Surf Area

Directions: off of Hwy 1, take Capistrano Rd. to Pillar Point Harbor. Travel past the harbor entrance and turn left on Prospect Way. Turn right on Broadway and then turn left on Harvard. Travel to the end of Harvard and then turn right on West Point Ave. until you reach the Pillar Point Marsh parking lot (.05 mile).

The famous Mavericks surf area is located by Sail Rock about ½  mile beyond the Pillar Point’s coastline.

 

Miramar Beach & El Granada BeachMiramar Beach & El Granada Beach

Directions:  From Highway 1, turn west on Magellan Ave. and then left on Mirada Road.

This is our top pick for families with younger children.  Although all open ocean beaches are dangerous, Miramir is the probably the least hazardous with a gradual incline into the water and smaller waves.  Although it is the most gentle, always use extreme caution because all of the California beaches can be extremely dangerous with sleeper wavesrip currents, and BIG waves.

 

Montara State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach Headquarters — 650-726-8819

This beach is a popular location for visitors who can explore the beach tide pools or go surf fishing. The beach is bounded by low hills both to the north and south. Restaurants and grocery stores are nearby.

Directions:  On the San Francisco Peninsula in San Mateo County, approx. 20 miles south of San Francisco. The beach is located eight miles north of Half Moon Bay on Highway One.

Point Montara Lighthouse

California Highway 1 between Montara and Moss Beach

The original fog signal station was established in 1875.  The current cast-iron lighthouse that now occupies the site was brought  in 1925 from Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The historic lighthouse and turn-of-the-century buildings have been preserved and restored by Hostelling International, and California State Parks, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Poplar Beach and Bluff Top Coast Trail

152 Poplar St, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

The beach is operated by the city of Half Moon Bay. It  is located west of Hwy 1 at the end of Poplar Street.

Naples/Roosevelt State BeachNaples/Roosevelt State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach Headquarters — 650-726-8819

Directions:  from Hwy 1, turn west on Washington Blvd. and then turn right on Naples Ave. then turn left on Roosevelt Blvd.

 

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

Highway 1 & Pescadero Rd., Pescadero, CA  650-879-2170

Across the highway form the Pescadero State Beach is the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, a popular spot for bird watchers and other naturalists. The Reserve is a refuge for blue heron, kites, deer, raccoons, foxes and skunks.

Directions:  The beach is located 14.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway One.

Pescadero State BeachPescadero State Beach

Highway 1 & Pescadero Rd., Pescadero, CA  650-879-2170

The beach has a mile-long shoreline with sandy coves, rocky cliffs, tide pools, fishing spots and picnic facilities.

Across the highway is Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, a popular spot for bird watchers and other naturalists. The Reserve is a refuge for blue heron, kites, deer, raccoons, foxes and skunks.

Directions:  The beach is located 14.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway One.

Pillar Point MarshPillar Point Marsh

Directions: off of Hwy 1, take Capistrano Rd. to Pillar Point Harbor. Travel past the harbor entrance and turn left on Prospect Way. Turn right on Broadway and then turn left on Harvard. Travel to the end of Harvard and then turn right on West Point Ave. until you reach the Pillar Point Marsh parking lot (.05 mile).

Pigeon Point Light StationPigeon Point Light Station — Hostel

210 Pigeon Point Rd. Hwy 1, Pescadero  (650) 879-0633

Directions: California Highway 1, 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 27 miles north of Half Moon Bay.

Pomponio State BeachPomponio State Beach

650-879-2170

This area provides access to miles of gently sloping, sandy beaches at the base of high sandstone bluffs. This day-use facility features a small lagoon, roaring surf – and a wide parking area, picnic tables, and barbecues.

Directions:  The beach is located 12 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1.

Poplar BeachPoplar Beach

Operated by the City of Half Moon Bay, it connects to the south end of Half Moon Bay State Beach.

Directions:  From Highway 1, turn west on Poplar Ave. (south of Highway 92) in Half Moon Bay.

 

 

Redondo BeachRedondo Beach

Surrounded by the Ritz-Carlton property, the beach is more secluded and less used than the more popular beaches in the Half Moon Bay State Beach system.  Redondo Beach offers sweeping ocean and bluff views, but please note that access to the beach is a very steep, difficult climb. There are no available stairs.

Directions: The beach is located .5 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1.  Turn right on Redondo Beach Road and travel to the end

San Gregorio State BeachSan Gregorio State Beach

650-879-2170

The area includes a protected, driftwood-strewn estuary at the back of a wide, sandy beach – with grassy bluffs along the coast. The estuary is home to many birds and small animals. California Historical Landmark 26 commemorates the passage of Spanish Explorer Captain Gaspar de Portolá through this area in October 1769. Directions: The beach is located 10.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1.

Venice State BeachVenice State Beach

Half Moon Bay State Beach Headquarters — 650-726-8819

Directions:  north of Half Moon Bay — from Hwy 1, turn west on Venice Blvd. Venice State Beach has outside showers, flush toilets, and a payphone.

What’s on Tap

Events

Half Moon Bay Festivals & Events:

Coastside Summer Camp Fair at New Leaf Community Market

A perfect opportunity for families to learn about different local summer camp options for children of all ages. 

The HEAL Project Presents 7th Annual Spring Ahead

March 29th, 2017— This fabulous strolling supper created by the finest chefs on the San Mateo County Coast.

Discover the Secrets of Pescadero Marsh with guided walks

Highway 1, 1/4 mile north of Pescadero Road.  Pescadero Marsh docents lead nature walks in the marsh twice a month: First Sunday of the month at 10 a.m., and Third Sunday of the month at 1 p.m.

4th Annual Coastal Wildflower Day

A day-long festival celebrating the return of spring wildflowers and the start of California Native Plant Week.

Pacific Coast Dream MachinesApril 30, 2017 – 10am to 4pm

Rare and custom cars, motorcycles, military aircraft, and tractors at Pacific Coast Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay, California.

For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Half Moon Bay.

 

Attractions

Top Attractions:

Christmas Tree Farm Locations

Getting Your Family’s Christmas Tree Can Become a Cherished Family Memory and the Beginning of a New Family Tradition!

Winter is a Great Time to Visit the Coast!

Monterey, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and Mendocino—Early Fall is generally some of the best weather on the coast. Plan a visit with your family or an escape for a romantic weekend.

Whale WatchingWhale Watching December through May

Half Moon Bay 415 474-3385

Oceanic Society provides boat tours to view the gray whales as they swim north along the California coast on their way to summer feeding grounds.

 

For more information on local attractions, click on the Half Moon Bay Attractions or Recreational Activities.

 

 

Advisories

The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. During the pumpkin season, traffic in to and out of Half Moon Bay can be extremely challenging—especially during the Art & Pumpkin Festival weekend. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to www.caltrans.com to learn more about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.