The Coastal Region

Beautiful Beaches Await In Half Moon Bay

The coastal character of Half Moon Bay is as diverse as California itself. From miles of sandy surf to imposing rocks and bluffs, you will encounter stunning views, fantastic surf, breathtaking sunsets, and endless recreation. A Half Moon Bay beach vacation truly has something for everyone. Hop into a kayak and enjoy a leisurely paddle into the sunset on the tranquil Pillar Point Harbor, gliding past harbor seals and abundant flocks of sea birds as afternoon light fades around you. Watch world-class surfers tame 40-foot winter swells during a Half Moon Mavericks surfing competition. Or enjoy a driving tour of the California coastline. Don’t plan it, just see where the road takes you. No matter which direction you head, you are certain to come across charming seaside towns, and truly breathtaking scenery.

Horseback ride or a kayak trek?

Calling Half Moon Bay a magnificent coastal playground would be an understatement. An endless ribbon of pristine shoreline extends in either direction, interrupted only by majestic cliffs and rock formations. For the adventurous, there are Half Moon Bay horseback rides on the beach and kayak excursions off Pillar Point. You can explore the tide pools of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, shove off on a whale-watching cruise, or hike to Año Nuevo State Reserve to view elephant seals in their natural habitat. Catch the best names in big name surfing at iconic Mavericks Beach or get your own feet wet one of the many tamer Northern California surf spots nearby. From farmer’s markets and romantic oceanfront dining to lighthouse tours and sailing, if you can do it in California, you can do it better in Half Moon Bay.

Surfing, Surfing Lessons & Surf Camps, hang ten all year long on the legendary waves of Half Moon Bay. Sign up for private lessons, group classes, or surf camps run by experienced, fun counselors.

Kayaking and Canoeing, glide silently past Pillar Point on a sheet of glassy water or sign up for a class or workshop to learn everything from basic skills to kayak surfing, navigation, and open coast strategies.

Scenic Drives, cruise along the coast, past windswept beaches and majestic 30-foot bluffs, through quaint coastal towns, all while enjoying some of the most mesmerizing scenery in the country.

Pescadero State Beach and Natural Preserve, drop a line into the surf on the pristine line of shore that literally means “the place to fish” in Spanish. Explore sandy coves, rocky cliffs, and tide pools, or spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic with the family.

Pomponio State Beach, make the commitment to get to this hard-to-reach spot and you’ll be rewarded with a nice, quiet little cove, gently-sloping sand at the base of high sandstone bluffs, and a small lagoon extending into the roaring surf.

San Gregorio State Beach, pack up the family for a day at the beach at this easily accessible state beach. The views are simply incredible, and the sand is fine and soft. Don’t you dare leave before sunset.

Humpback Whale Watching, witness the magnificent parade of gray whales each December as approximately 15,000 gray whales swim south from their Arctic feeding grounds en route to their Baja California breeding and calving grounds.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links, test your handicap on two of the most gorgeous oceanfront courses in the world. The Old Course weaves around lakes, through cypress and coastal pines, while the Ocean Course is a true links layout with an authentic Scottish soul.

Lighthouse Tours, visit these historic shoreline structures — Point Montara Lighthouse and Pigeon Point Lighthouse — and learn about the people who dedicated their lives to keeping vessels from succumbing to a watery grave on the jagged coastline of Half Moon Bay.    Point Montara Light House

Yachting, drop anchor at the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club and learn to sail, ride the ferry, or just mingle with like-minded folks who have fallen in love with life on the water.  For charter and day trip options, visit Moonspinner Sailing.

Mavericks Event Center, minutes from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the Mavericks Event Center provides a unique setting for meetings, weddings, and other special events.

Find The Best Waterfront Restaurants


Soothing oceanfront ambiance. Stunning Pacific Ocean views. Fabulous cuisine, the freshest produce, and superb local wines. Each is a key player at the magnificent Bay Area waterfront restaurants throughout coastal Half Moon Bay. Tuck into a plate of plump, juicy oysters in Pillar Point Harbor. Sip wine under a cozy blanket on an oceanfront patio overlooking the Pacific, or stop by a beach shack for an authentic East-Coast-style lobster clambake. Whether it’s a romantic date, a family seafood feast, or cocktails and a late lunch before you sneak off for a nap, you’ll find the perfect Half Moon Bay waterfront restaurant for any taste and occasion.

Duarte’s Tavern
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
Cafe Gibraltar
Moss Beach Distillery
Sam’s Chowder House
Miramar Restaurant
La Costanera Restaurant
Via Uno
Flavor on the Coast
Miramar Beach Restaurant
Mezza Luna
Blue Sky Farm
Cafe Classique

Chasing Mavericks

Not many surfers become big wave riders, and of that few, only a handful is willing to brave Mavericks Beach. For anyone who loves surfing, the waters of this iconic break are hallowed ground. During the winter, the northern Pacific Ocean waves routinely reach over 25 feet and top out at over five stories. Few places live up to their storied reputation, but this legendary Half Moon Bay surfing spot does that and more.

To depict the intensity of the region and the bravery of surfers who take on the challenge, Chasing Mavericks was filmed along the Pacific coastline just moments from Half Moon Bay. The 2012 film centers on big wave surfer Jay Moriarity, who died in a diving accident just one day before his 23rd birthday.  Moriarity was well known in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and Pacifica, CA for conquering the world-famous surf break Mavericks, just outside Half Moon Bay, as a teenager.

The movie stars Gerard Butler as Moriarity’s mentor, Rick “Frosty” Hesson, and Jonny Weston as Jay Moriarity, and was released in late 2012.

  • The cast filmed in Half Moon Bay and nearby Foster City
  • The surfers filmed at Steamer’s Lane and Pleasure Point
  • Family scenes filmed at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Mavericks Invitational in Half Moon Bay

Mavericks Invitational presented by GoPro© has released the official list of competitors and alternates for the 2013-14 season. On just 24 hours notice this winter season, 24 big-wave surfers will make the trek to Half Moon Bay, California, to test their skill and vie for the title of Champion of the Mavericks Invitational.

Competitors will face the dangerous elements of the frigid northern California waters in search of the perfect ride on massive waves.  To learn more, visit the official Mavericks Invitational website.

Estimated height of largest Mavericks wave during annual surfing competition

Estimated number of Gray Whales that pass by Half Moon Bay during annual migration

Miles of broad, sandy beaches at Half Moon Bay State Beach

Average number of sailing races sponsored by the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club