Half Moon Bay Travel Guide


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Poplar Beach and Bluff Top Coast Trail

Operated by the City of Half Moon Bay, it’s picturesque setting is ideal for sunbathing, fishing and picnicking on the beach. Also, along the bluff top, you can take in the sweeping ocean views from a number of park benches that line the Bluff Top Trail. The Bluff Top Trail connects to the Coastside Trail that runs along the eastern boundary of Half Moon State Beach (Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach) providing over a three mile stretch to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor. A horse trail parallels the Bluff Top/Coastside Trail from Roosevelt Beach. While in the state parks, horses are restricted to the designated horse trail and are not permitted on State Beaches. On Poplar Beach, however, horses are allowed — making it a wonderful, experience for both tourists renting a horse with a guide and seasoned equestrians. The green space between the Bluff Top Park and Half Moon Bay State Beach is ideal for bird watching. Large hawks often sit on the split rail fence and park benches — sometimes allowing visitors to come within 6 feet of them.


Half Moon Bay’s Bluff Top Park/Poplar Beach is located a half-mile west of Highway 1 at the end of Poplar Avenue off Highway 1.  It is just south of Half Moon Bay State Beach, and interconnects with the State Beaches through the Coastside Trail.

Designated parking areas for cars and horse trailers are available at the bluff top parking lot.

Hourly Rates:

– Vehicles less than 20 feet:  $2.00 per hour or $10.00 per day

– Horse trailers and Vehicles longer than 20 feet: $3.00 per hour or$15.00 per day

Permit:  A $50.00 yearly permit is available to all City of Half Moon Bay residents.  Click here for more parking information.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing

The major weather pattern for Half Moon Bay is fog in the summer, crisp, clear days in the fall and spring, and wet, windy winters.  Temperatures are moderate with the summer highs in the mid 60’s and winter lows in the mid 40’s. Summer fog is most common in the mornings and evenings.


Poplar Beach has several portable toilets that are located next to the parking lot.  Please note that Poplar Beach has no available camp sites, picnic tables, or running water.  (The Half Moon Bay State Beach just North of Poplar Beach is much more developed. )

The Bluff Top Trail connects to the Coastside Trail which runs along the eastern boundary of the Half Moon Bay State Beaches providing close to a three mile stretch to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor.

A horse trail parallels the Bluff Top and Coastside Trails from Roosevelt Beach to Francis Beach. While in the state parks, horses are restricted to the designated horse trail and are not permitted on State Beaches.

Please, NO beach fires are allowed.

Dogs are prohibited on the beaches at all times.  Dogs are permitted in the campground, in the day-use picnic areas, and on the Coastal Trail, provided they are controlled with a leash of no more than six feet at all times. Where Can I Take My Dog.pdf

The Ocean

Always use caution when you are in or near the ocean. The ocean water is very cold year round. Even a short swim can cause cramps or hypothermia (a life threatening condition which occurs when your body temperature drops below normal). In addition, strong rip currents can pull even the most experienced swimmers off shore. Please refrain from removing shells, driftwood, and other natural beach features.  Fireworks are prohibited.



What’s on Tap
this Summer


Half Moon Bay Summer Festivals & Events:

Half Moon Bay “Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade”

Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA

The Old  fashioned Fourth of July parade takes center stage on Monday, July 04 at 12 noon.


Farm + Fish + Flowers July 23, 2016

(formerly Tour des Fleurs) Half Moon Bay, CA      (650) 726-8380

Visit the Half Moon Bay Coastside’s nurseries/greenhouses, historic sites, farms and a even a working harbor. Many of these businesses are not ordinarily open to the public except during “Farm + Fish + Flowers” when they invite visitors for a behind the scenes tour of their facilities and operations.  Check out their Website for more information and ticket pricing.

Pescadero Arts and Fun Festival – Aug. 20 & 21, 2016

Pescadero, CA      (650) 879-0848

The celebration of music, food and crafts is designed to promote local artists and benefit local youth programs. Third weekend in August

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



Top Summer Attractions in Half Moon Bay:

Summer is a Great Time to Visit the Coast!

Plan a visit with your family or an escape for a romantic weekend.

Half Moon Bay Fishing 

Fishing is a big draw. Check out our fishing page for more info.

Open Spaces

Open space, and beaches are Half Moon Bay’s true claim to fame.

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May

Half Moon Bay 415 474-3385


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




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 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.