Is this Californian beach worth visiting?

Not far from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a perfect fusion of West Coast beach culture and small town charm. With heart-pounding swells, pristine beaches, vintage architecture, and artisanal businesses, this city exemplifies the best parts of Northern California. In addition to the human-centric charms, Half Moon Bay is a perfect spot for seal and whale watching! Find out why this California beach town is worth a visit.

Why is Half Moon Bay worth visiting?

Nautical sports

First and foremost, Half Moon Bay is another California hub for water sports. Surfers can catch some of the strongest tides on the Pacific coast, and there are plenty of opportunities for kayaking, sailing, and paragliding. However, this is only a tiny part of what the city has to offer.


Small town charm

Overall, when visitors enter Half Moon Bay, it’s common to feel much further away than they actually are. That’s the effect this town has. It’s almost impossible to believe that this level of rustic charm is available just minutes from Silicon Valley. There are hundreds of small family farms growing everything from wine to bees. Downtown, there are century-old bakeries and quaint curio shops reminiscent of bygone times.

Related: These are the best beaches in California, according to your favorite beach activity

dog friendly

One of Half Moon Bay’s most popular draws is that it’s an extremely dog-friendly town. Visitors can take their friendly dogs to most beaches and enjoy delicious meals at the various beachfront restaurants that allow dogs. Sam’s Chowder House is one such restaurant with an outdoor porch where dogs can partake in the festivities on an equal footing.

  • Restaurant: Sam’s Chowder
  • Address: 4210 CA-1, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA
  • Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Price: $$$
  • Recommended: Buttered lobster rolls are a must!

marine life

Visit the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve for a closer look at rare and fascinating aquatic animals. It’s a great option for the whole family, and guests can explore the rocky shoreline to learn about the life and times of crabs, anemones, starfish, and starfish. There are also unique tidal pools where mini eddies naturally form in rock structures.

White sand beaches

Poplar Beach is a popular dog-friendly beach in Half Moon Bay. This beach offers a good mix of quiet relaxation and adventure. It is a good place to hike as there is a vast forest above elaborate rock caves and tidal pools. Poplar Beach is less popular than the other beaches in Half Moon Bay, which means it’s usually quite empty and quiet.


Like any small town, Half Moon Bay has a main street where all the action takes place. Here there are hundreds of small businesses, each with unique and somewhat anachronistic characteristics. Festivals, concerts and competitions take place on Main Street, and on calm days, if visitors want a guarantee of fresh food, there are a number of gourmet restaurants with farm-fresh ingredients.

Check out the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company for interesting food and local craft beer.

  • Place of interest: Half Moon Bay Brewery
  • Address: 390 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
  • Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Price: $$
  • Recommended: Baja Fish Tacos accompanied by a Half Moon IPA


Elephant seals make famous appearances on many beaches in Half Moon Bay, especially in winter when they are most active.

Similarly, in the fall, gray whales head to shallow waters to mate and feed. Visitors can see the action without leaving the languid beaches of Half Moon Bay.

Related: 10 best places to watch whales

When to visit Half Moon Bay?

For non-water sports activities, the best time to visit Half Moon Bay is in the fall, specifically October, when the town holds its annual Pumpkin and Art Festival. Like any small-town festival, there’s a pie contest, live music, and pumpkin weigh-ins. It’s amazing how well pumpkins can grow when there’s a contest to be won.

How to reach Half Moon Bay?

Half Moon Bay is about 26 miles south of San Francisco. Public transport options are limited, so it’s best to drive or call an Uber from the nearest city, which is San Francisco. Non-California natives will be best served by renting a car to get around. Although Half Moon Bay is a relatively walkable and bikeable town, visiting some hiking trails and farms will require a car. Fortunately, parking is free almost everywhere in town.

Next: You Can’t Have a Glass Beach Drink and Other Things to Know About This California Coast

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