Half Moon Bay State Beach





Golden State Gathering Spot

For a serene beach experience along the windswept Pacific coast, make the trip to Half Moon Bay State Beach, a protected area nestled within a public park system. Like other sand-strewn havens in the Golden State, this beach is a gathering place for surfers in search of massive waves (in fact, they can get as high as 80 feet). Every year, these wave-hungry enthusiasts come in droves for the surfing competition held at Mavericks Beach along the bay’s northern curve.

Water and Land Activities

Thinking about hitting the water yourself? Just remember that the water here stays cold year-round, and that strong rip currents are an ever-present concern. If you prefer the warmth, find the perfect spot on the beach to bask in the sun, have a picnic, or set up for a leisurely afternoon of fishing.

Active travelers should check out the Coastside Trail, a nearly three-mile track designed for brisk walks and jogs, created on a former railroad track. Next to the Coastside Trail, you’ll see the equestrian trail, where horse owners can get some fresh air and enjoy sweeping coastal views.

Wildlife (and City Life)

Wildlife is abundant at Half Moon State Beach, in the water and on land. Herring, lingcod and starry flounder flourish in the deep sea, and sea lions, dolphins, whales and seals are occasionally spotted in the area. The park is home to a western snowy plover colony; birdwatchers will delight in catching a glimpse of one of these rare creatures.

If you want to sample some city life after a day surrounded by nature, you won’t need to go far. With San Francisco to the north and San Jose to the southwest, urban adventures abound.

Half Moon Bay State Beach at a Glance

City:Half Moon Bay

Country or State:California

Length of Beach:4 miles

Access:By car

Best time to visit:Year-round

High Season:Summer months

Low Season:Winter months


  • Shops and restaurants in town

Beach Type:

  • White sand
  • Saltwater
  • Secluded

Special Events:

  • The Mavericks surfing competition