Half Moon Bay Beaches

Relax and Have Fun at Bay Area Beaches

Half Moon Bay beaches offer a marvelous opportunity to get away from it all. Go surfing, pier and shorefishing, horseback riding, kite flying or just enjoy a stroll on the beach.

You'll find spectacular sea cliffs, rocky shoreline, numerous tidepools and plentiful wildlife. This section of the California coast offers some excellent vantage points for watching the annual gray whale migration and for seeing elephant and harbor seals.

Half Moon Bay beaches are popular with experienced surfers. The famous Maverick's big wave breaks offshore from Pillar Point Harbor.

The huge, steep and dangerous waves attract top surfers from around the world. The annual Maverick's Surf Contest is held between December and March.

These beaches are listed from north to south for your convenience.

El Granada/Surfer's Beach

This wide sandy Half Moon Bay beach is located beneath the seawall along Highway 1. You can park at Pillar Point Harbor.

Half Moon Bay State Beach

You'll find four miles of sandy windswept beaches at Half Moon Bay State Beach.

Activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, sunbathing, picnicking, and beachcombing.

Beaches in the Half Moon Bay State Beach system include:

  • Miramar Beach
  • Naples Beach
  • Roosevelt Beach
  • Dunes Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • Elmar Beach
  • Francis Beach
  • Cowell Ranch Beach

There are 54 campsites for tent and RV at Francis Beach, as well as picnic sites along the bluff, a visitor center and wheelchair-accessible restrooms. You can also check out an all-terrain beach wheelchair (free of charge) at this Half Moon Bay beach. A new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk takes you through the dunes and connects to the Coastside Trail.

Venice Beach has outside showers, flush toilets and a payphone.

The 6 mile long Coastside Trail runs along the bluffs and continues north to Pillar Point Harbor. For pedestrian, bicycle and some limited equestrian use.

A horse trail parallels Coastside Trail from Roosevelt Beach to Francis Beach. There are two stables nearby where horses can be rented. Horses are restricted to the trail and not allowed on Half Moon Bay beaches.

Parking and beach access is available at Dunes Beach off Young Avenue, Venice Beach off Venice Avenue, and Francis Beach off Kelly Avenue.

No beach fires are allowed. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but are permitted in the campground, picnic areas, and Coastside Trail. There is an entrance fee.

For more information see Half Moon Bay State Beach.

Virtual Parks provides a panoramic view of Miramar Beach Overlook.

Half Moon Bay Beaches South

San Gregorio State Beach

This large sandy cove is home to the San Gregorio estuary and freshwater marsh, which are important wildlife habitats. There are dangerous rip currents here. Fishing and wildlife viewing are popular activities.

You'll find picnic tables and restrooms. A beach wheelchair is available. There's a day-use fee. No beach fires, and no dogs on the beach. Located directly off Highway 1.

For more information about this Half Moon Bay beach see San Gregorio State Beach.

Pomponio State Beach

This Half Moon Bay beach features miles of gently sloping beach backed by sandstone bluffs. There's a small lagoon, picnic tables overlooking the ocean, barbeques, and restrooms. Enjoy fishing or hiking along the trails. No beach fires and no dogs on the beach. Day use fee.

For more information see Pomponio State Beach.

Pescadero State Beach

This mile-long Half Moon Bay beach features sandy coves, tidepools, dunes, and rocky cliffs. You'll find parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and hiking trails. Fishing is permitted.

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is located on the other side of Highway One. This large coastal marsh is a good spot for bird watching. Over 160 species of birds have been sighted. The preserve is undeveloped, but there are trails that allow access. The best time for bird watching is early spring or late fall.

No dogs are permitted on the beach or in the nature preserve, and beach fires are not allowed.

For more information see Pescadero State Beach.

Virtual Parks provides a panoramic view of Pescadero State Beach.

Pebble Beach

This pebbly beach in San Mateo county features delicate rock formations called tafoni. There are plenty of tidepools to explore. You'll find picnic tables, restrooms and parking. A self-guided trail along the bluffs takes you to Bean Hollow State Beach. Tempting though it may be, removing the pebbles is illegal. There's a parking fee, and a fee for guided tours. Dogs are allowed, but beach fires are not.

Not to be confused with the famous Pebble Beach near Carmel.

Bean Hollow State Beach

This Half Moon Bay beach features fishing, picnicking and beachcombing. Explore tide pools or take the self-guided nature trail. Swimming is dangerous because of cold water, rip currents and heavy surf. There's a paved parking area, picnic tables, hiking and nature trails, and restrooms. Dogs are permitted on the beach.

For more information see Bean Hollow State Beach.

Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park

This park is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing. There's an overlook boardwalk where you can watch the whales go by during winter and spring migrations. Sometimes gray whale cows with their calves can be spotted in the cove south of the point. Harbor and elephant seals also frequent the area. This is one of the best places along the California coast for viewing seabirds. You can explore the tidepools to the north of the point.

The park offers guided tours, hiking trails, picnic areas, a visitor center, restrooms, and parking. Four of the buildings have been converted into a hostel, operated by Hosteling International.

For more information and to download a brochure with a map see Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park.

Virtual Parks provides a panoramic view of Pigeon Light Station State Park.

Ano Nuevo State Reserve & State Park

This reserve totals 4,000 acres and is the protected breeding grounds for northern elephant seals. Also popular for gray whale watching and bird watching.

You'll find hiking and nature trails, a visitor center, parking, picnic areas and restrooms. A beach wheelchair is also available, and there's a wheelchair-accessible path and viewing area. Pets are not allowed, and fires are prohibited. Fishing is allowed.

Access to the reserve is restricted during the elephant seal's breeding season. The main entrance is on New Year's Creek Road, off Highway 1. You can also access hiking trails in the north section of the park off Highway 1. Look for the state park signs.

For more information and to download park maps, see Ano Nuevo State Reserve.

Virtual Parks provides a panoramic view of Ano Nuevo State Reserve.

More San Francisco Beaches in the Bay Area

Point Reyes Beaches | Marin County Beaches | San Francisco Beaches

San Francisco Beaches South (Half Moon Bay Beaches North)

Half Moon Bay Beaches & Bay Area Visitor Information