15 Best Things to Do in Half Moon Bay

15 Best Things to Do in Half Moon Bay

The name Half Moon Bay has an aura of magical mystery attached to it. One of the maritime cities of California, the place perfectly fits to the sunny reputation of the state.

But Half Moon Bay does not only have golden beaches, it consists of all sorts of geographical features such as rugged cliffs and mountains with a classic lighthouse at the top, tropical trails which provides much needed respite from the chaotic humdrum of the modern life.

Tidal pools and protected area that creates a safe place for the marine animals and many more.

Even though Half Moon Bay is considered to be a neighbor of San Francisco, the vibe it exudes is quite different.

Half Moon Bay is not pretentious; rather it gives the feel of the country with their farms, barns, rural community of Pescadero, rolling slopes, flower nurseries and the scenic view of the Pacific Ocean.

The beaches are filled with several sport activities such as surfing, paddling, kayak tours which gives the tourists an opportunity to explore the area more properly and drench in the beauty of the place.

Half Moon Bay lives up to the reputation of gifting the best experience to the tourists, especially with their spectacular sunsets.

The Master Trail

Half moon bay Coastside Trail
Runner1928, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Running parallel to the Pacific Ocean, the Coastside Trail is five miles long which begins its journey from Half Moon Bay’s Seymour Bridge and ends at Pillar Point Harbor.

The trail provides a scenic view of the oceanfront and has some spectacular beaches. At least, four beaches are present in the area which offers the visitors with solace.

The beaches have hiking routes that are easy to tackle. The path of Coastside Trail is asphalt-paved so it adds to the advantage of the walker, joggers, skaters, cyclists and people who have to take the help of a wheelchair.

The coastlines and beaches contain with peculiar trees, creeks, wetlands, enigmatic flowers and grasslands that enhance the beauty of the place.

Whale- Watching tours are conducted during the migration season and spaces are flagged in the sea which is safe for people to use.

Visit a Reservoir

Crystal Springs Reservoir
Basheer Tome, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The city of Half Moon Bay recognizes the importance of nature; hence they have built two artificial lakes in the area of the Rift Valley, called the Crystal Springs.

The lakes are shrouded by various sorts of trees ranging from high canopies and small trees and shrubs such as madrones and oak that creates a serene ambience for people who walk the trail in the eastern side of the Crystal Springs.

More than one hundred and eighty species of birds inhabit the space along with various types of wildlife such as deer, squirrel, coyote and bobcat.

Except this, the area of Crystal Spring also has wetlands, centuries old Douglas fir forest, and a watershed area which is well protected and recently declared to be biosphere reserve.

To the Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Margaretha Maryk / Shutterstock.com

Pigeon Point Lighthouse was constructed in the year 1871 to solve the crisis of shipwrecks due to the dense layer of fogs.

The lighthouse stands 115 foot tall and it is the tallest in the United States. The classic white structure is located at the edge of a rugged cliff where the only sound that can be heard is the roar of the waves clashing against the rocks, creating an ambience of delight.

After decades of service, the fog horn has been turned off and the lighthouse is automated. The surround area of the lighthouse does not have any attractive beaches but it is rich in wildlife and different species of plants.

There is also a specific spot which opens from December to May for viewing marine wildlife, especially seals.

Even though the ancient lighthouse cannot be entered and viewed closely, a tour of the grounds are conducted with provides historical insight.

A Day at The Beach

Pescadero Beach
Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / Shutterstock.com

Situated on Highway 1, Pescadero Beach can be reached by travelling 14.5 miles south from the main center of Half Moon Bay.

Rocks, precipitous shorelines, jagged cliffs, coves and natural caves adds to the beauty of the place and makes it perfect for romantic outing, family picnic or even a leisure walk.

The offshore rocks not only makes it aesthetic for photography but also protects the main shoreline from aggressive waves, making the spot good for fishing as well as swimming.

The offshore rocks are also a resting place for sea lions before then dive underwater to resume their hunting expedition, visitors can get a glimpse of them while visiting the beach making it worth their time and effort.

Various species of bird which are common in Northern California also frequent the place. At the opposite side of Pescadero Beach there is a natural reserve named Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve which provides a suitable habitat for foxes, kites, deer, Skunks, Blue Heron, raccoons and many more.

A Realm of Marine Life

Tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
Lu Yang / Shutterstock.com

Located in Moss Beach, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a safe haven for the marine animals. The area covers at least three miles, and resides between low and high lines of tide.

Since the area is rich in unique marine animals, it was declared to be a reserve so that the uniqueness can be protected and maintained.

During the time of the low tides, the tidal pools present over there get filled with different types of fauna, for instance purple shore crabs, hermit crabs and starfish which attracts students from the community school and colleges.

Apart from these creatures, a variety of seaweeds, sponges, and mollusks are easily spotted. A plethora of plant species are available such as German ivy, Monterey and pampas grass.

Play Some Golf

Golf course in Half moon bay
Lynn Yeh / Shutterstock.com

Half Moon Bay houses the two most prominent golf courses which have been used for a number of times by U.S open qualifiers.

The ancient one is called The Old Course and was designed by the renowned Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane. It features the classic eighteen holes in the style of Parkland link design.

The golf course also provides a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean which appeals to a lot of tourists.

The new golf course was designed by Arthur Hills in 1997, who is a landscape artist and is called the Ocean Course.

Like The Old Course, the Ocean Course is also part of the Ritz-Carlton resort. This 18 hole- course is built in the style of Scottish links and to honor the Scottish tradition, bagpipes are played on the weekends.

Perched on a cliff this course gives a spectacular view of the ocean.

Eat Till You Drop

Half Moon Bay’s Downtown gives a glimpse of the past as the old but quaint cafes, restaurants, hotels, the old fashioned Bed- and- Breakfasts are still intact.

This center is a prominent place to collect souvenirs as it has a plethora of different types of shops lining the street; gears for beach activities and hiking are also available.

Pasta Moon is another famous destination of Downtown as it is a farm- to- table restaurant that serves only the best of the Italian Cuisine.

An English country style bed- and- breakfast named Mill Rose Inn is a much sought tourist attraction because of the serene ambience and splendid rose garden which adds to the beauty of the inn.

Try out A New Sport

Kayaks in Half Moon Bay
Alisa_Ch / Shutterstock.com

Half Moon Bay is a maritime town through and through as it offers a range of activities for the tourists to try out.

The Kayak Company of half Moon Bay aids to the desires of the visitors by conducting a tour on sea kayak, paddleboats, and bikes.

This gives an opportunity to the visitors be in close vicinity of the wild animals such as turtles, seals, birds etc.

Explore the protected areas of the Pillar Point Harbour and the wild waters of the Pacific Ocean. The company provides fishing as well as Crabbing tours on the kayaks.

Endless Sun and Sand

Francis Beach
Rep07, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

California is known for its sunny temperament and sunbathing tendency of the people and Francis Beach ticks the entire checklist.

Francis Beach is situated in the Kelly Avenue and is one of the most renowned beaches of Half Moon Bay.

Along with vast expanse of golden sand, the beach consists of a green grassy park which has several picnic tables and barbeque spots with the scenic view of the tumultuous ocean.

Even though swimming is not allowed in this region, it is the best spot for long leisure walks, romantic outings, family picnics and sunbathing.

A Glimpse of The Country Life

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve
Jeffrey Abate / Shutterstock.com

Cultivating and hand picking vegetables and fruits have a pleasure of its own.

There is a rural hamlet in Pescadero, a few miles away from the main center of Half Moon Bay which has large areas designed to cultivate lettuce, green beans and artichoke, the visitors have the opportunity to enter the farms and handpick the items they desire.

The Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve present in the area has creeks, salt water and tidal pools where a variety of marine animals are sighted. Pescadero State Beach is another attraction with its picturesque beaches.

A Day with Elephant Whales

Año Nuevo State Park has several geographical features such as dune fields, beaches, marshes and coastal shrubs which enhance the beauty of the place.

Located approximately twenty seven miles away from the Half Moon Bay, each and every year, from December to April, humongous elephant seals come to the shore for their breeding season.

This is known to be the largest breeding colony for the seals, as it encounters more than ten thousand seals sunbathing on the warm golden sand.

Visitors are only allowed when they are part of the guided tour, as the main aim is the safety of the seals. The tourist can even get a glimpse of female seals giving birth.

Another interesting event happens from April to August known as the molting season. During this time period, the seals shed their outer layer of the skin which is quite fascinating to watch and lasts around six weeks.

Surfing Time

Surfing at Half Moon Bay
Jeff Smith - Perspectives / Shutterstock.com

Except the sunny weather, California is famous for their surfers and the surfing tradition. To honor the traditional sport, Pillar Point Surf School was opened to take the activity forward.

Tourists can gain the basic training from highly professional surfers who pay heed to their safety and enjoyment.

There are classes for beginners and professionals as well. The lessons are conducted throughout the year for two hours for people with various skill set.

A Cozy Walk

Gray Whale Cove Trail
AJ9 / Shutterstock.com

Half Moon Bay is filled with a plethora of scenic trails which offers a spectacular view of the ocean; the Gray Whale Cove Trail is no different.

The 1.5 mile long trail has a picture perfect setting with roaring waves clashing against the Montara and San Pedro mountains.

The trail is more of a walk than a hike due to its gradual slope and the path is lined with several shrubs such as sagebush, coyote bush and many more.

During the spring season, the paths get decorated with wildflowers which brighten the glamour of the place.

Pumpkin Season

Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay
bteimages / Shutterstock.com

The most exciting and awaited season of Half Moon Bay is the Pumpkin season which usually happens in the month of October.

People from the neighbouring areas visit “World Pumpkin Capital” also known as the Half Moon Bay to participate in the process.

Rows and rows of fields are shrouded with this orange vegetable and the visitors have the opportunity to go to the farms and choose their desired Halloween pumpkin.

During this time of the year, the farms and barns are decorated to specific themes and with scarecrows which brings alive the spirit of the season.

The main festival Half Moon Bay is Art & Pumpkin, which lures the attention of the tourist as well as the locals alike, especially children.

The main Street of Half Moon Bay exhibits a series of art, parade, costume, craft and live music that brings live to the party.

There are several competitions conducted such as Jack- o- Lanterns, who owns the most gigantic pumpkin and Picasso of pumpkin carvers.