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These Are The 7 Best Beaches in Half Moon Bay

These Are The 7 Best Beaches in Half Moon Bay

Find the best Half Moon Bay beaches for you. This guide recommends beaches for surfing, strolls, tide pooling, and more.


4 min read

September 01, 2022

David Oliphant, the founder of Ocean Blue Real Estate, is a community-focused realtor in San Mateo County. Ocean Blue Real Estate is a member of the Recommended Businesses Program.

Disclaimer: is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products mentioned in this article.


Half Moon Bay is where you’ll come across some of the most incredible beaches on the California coast. The city’s location is part of the reasons why it is such a frequently visited area of the state, as there are many cool destinations you can reach from here.

The name Half Moon Bay comes from the crescent moon shape of the bay and adds to the flair of the area. This city is full of mesmerizing beaches and is a testament to the wonders found in California, one more beautiful than the next. Like most places in California, there is a high chance you're going to end up falling in love with its natural charm.

1. Surfers Beach 

Surf’s up! Grab your boards and head on over to Surfers Beach.

Before setting out on your coastal journey, it is recommended to check weather conditions as Half Moon Bay tides can be quite moody – from weak to monstrously strong.

Located right outside the rock jetty of Pillar Point Harbor across Highway 1 from the community of El Granada, Surfers Beach is an ideal surfing spot. The jetty helps the waves gain that perfect curve for a thrilling session out on the water.

There are multiple parking spaces available for all kinds of vehicles, RVs with full hookups, and a paved coastal trail where you can ride your bikes or simply walk.

2. Pillar Point Harbor Beach 

Let the beautiful colors of Pillar Point Harbor Beach sunsets take you away from the stress of daily life.

Many of the Bay Area beaches have tide pools around them, especially along Half Moon Bay. These rocky pools of salt often only appear at low tide, when you will see a wide variety of exotic marine life, wild land animals, flowers, and colorful plants. Most of these tide pools are protected to ensure the preservation of these organisms; visitors are strongly encouraged to take nothing but pictures.

Pillar Point Harbor Beach is home to two of the many Half Moon Bay tide pools, located in the northern part of the city.

3. Francis Beach 

Experience the amazing scenery that surrounds Francis Beach.

Francis Beach, otherwise known as the main hub of Half Moon Bay State Beach, is located on 95 Kelly Avenue. This Half Moon Bay beach is often frequented by people wanting to stay overnight and experience the color changes of the environment. There are tent and RV campsites, with electric hookups if you wish to use them. You can soak in the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean while you relax at your campsite with friends and family.

Francis Beach also has a nice verdant grassy park where visitors can make use of the many picnic tables and barbecue stations/grills available on the site. This beach is one of the most popular ones, so you can expect crowds of people. 

4. Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach awaits your arrival just south of Half Moon Bay Downtown. This is one of the Half Moon Bay beaches that adheres to the adventurous spirit of its visitors. You will come across many trails perfect for exploring, eroded bluffs along the long sandy beach, and a reef for tide-pooling. This area is also quite convenient, as you can walk to Half Moon Bay State Beach if you wish to explore more beaches.

Right behind Redondo Beach is where you’ll find the Wavecrest Open Space, the single most important site for wintering raptors on the San Mateo Coast. As birdwatchers know, this is an amazing place to catch our avian fellows in their natural habitat, like Northern harriers, white-tailed kites, and American kestrels. If you’re planning a weekend in Redondo Beach, you can expect to indulge in outdoor activities on the Wavecrest Trail like horseback riding, hiking, and dog walking.

5. Dunes Beach

Dunes Beach is one of the northern beaches of Half Moon Bay State Beach. It is accessible from Highway 1 via Younge Avenue and awaits your arrival with miles of soft sand. This Half Moon Bay Beach is one of the less crowded ones within the city, which makes parking spaces easier to come by as well. Once you park your vehicles, there are multiple sandy trails to choose from that lead to the beach. The California Coastal Trail is also right behind the parking lot if you wish to get active and either hike, bike or ride a horse.

North of the access is where you will see the beach’s namesake dunes; an interesting sight in a coastal area, as dunes are usually associated with the dry desert. 

6. Venice State Beach 

There aren’t many things that are as beautiful as a sunset on a beach in California.

Venice State Beach is among the most accommodating Half Moon Bay beaches, with easy access, restrooms, large parking lots, and picnic tables. The west end of the Boulevard is where you’ll find parking spaces, and the trails will lead you down to the beach. It is also right in the middle of five other Half Moon Bay State Beach beaches, adding to the convenience of the area.

Venice State Beach is also right between two creeks called Pilarcitos and Frenchmans which sometimes breach and flow into the ocean. Those interested in wildlife can watch the birds that flock to these freshwater creeks. If you wish to discover the surrounding beaches, take the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail; it runs north and south and grants you easy access to the other beaches.

7. Montara Beach

Looking for the perfect coastal getaway? Montara Beach has got you covered!

Montara Beach can be found just eight miles north of Half Moon Bay. Known as one of the cleanest beaches in the Golden State, a trip to this Half Moon Bay Beach never disappoints. There are so many things to do on this fantastic beach, but it is commonly a gathering spot for surfers and fishing enthusiasts. The low hills surrounding Montara Beach give it a rather unique feeling and make for some effortless photo op opportunities.

If you’re willing to drive a few hours from Half Moon Bay, there are endless possibilities for weekend getaways near the Bay Area you can choose from!

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