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Overview

Tucked in by a namesake bay, the lovely seaside village of Half Moon Bay is full of craft shops and souvenir stores, drawing visitors who like "quaint" with their panoramic ocean views. The main draw is Half Moon Bay State Beach - a four-mile-long swathe of sandy beaches. Pack your walking shoes (or bicycle) to follow the Coastside Trail, which connects the four beaches. There's even a horse trail that runs parallel. Swimming is not a good idea - the waters are extremely cold and strong riptides are a constant danger. Leave the surf to the pros, who tackle Mavericks, where waves as high as 40 feet crash ashore off Pillar Point. Golfers ...

Tucked in by a namesake bay, the lovely seaside village of Half Moon Bay is full of craft shops and souvenir stores, drawing visitors who like "quaint" with their panoramic ocean views. The main draw is Half Moon Bay State Beach - a four-mile-long swathe of sandy beaches. Pack your walking shoes (or bicycle) to follow the Coastside Trail, which connects the four beaches. There's even a horse trail that runs parallel. Swimming is not a good idea - the waters are extremely cold and strong riptides are a constant danger. Leave the surf to the pros, who tackle Mavericks, where waves as high as 40 feet crash ashore off Pillar Point. Golfers familiar with Gleneagles in Scotland will have déjà vu at Half Moon Golf Links, with rippling fairways overlooking the windy ocean. At the north end of the bay, Pillar Point Harbor has a marina from where boats set out to catch flatfish and crabs. Inland, the valleys are farmed in vegetables, not least pumpkins: the town's annual Pumpkin Festival, in October, draws 250,000 people. In winter, migrating Gray Whales come close to shore. A good place to spot them is from Pigeon Point Lighthouse, where you can overnight at a hostel.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summers can be cold and foggy. Spring and fall are warm and clear.