Half Moon Bay’s Four Miles of State Beaches

By Rachel Puryear

The San Mateo area – located about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose, and known colloquially as “the Peninsula” – is known as a bustling, densely populated region with a strong local economy and plentiful amenities. In many ways, it’s a smaller urban center that rivals the more famous cities it’s a suburb of.

Ocean, beach, and mountains. By Nadine Shaabana.

Just across the mountains from San Mateo, though, about 20 minutes west of Highway 92; is a whole different world – in the small coastal cities and towns of the Peninsula, one of the largest and best-known of which is Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay is a small beachside city with a relaxed and friendly vibe, and that’s just as cute as its name. For lunch or dinner, Barbara’s Fish Trap is a local favorite with a casual-but-fun ambiance, an ocean view, and delicious seafood for a good price. For more of a pub experience with a comfy and quaint feel, check out Cameron’s Pub.

Seashore landscape near Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay is also home to four beaches which make up Half Moon Bay State Beach: Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt Beach. All four beaches are grouped together, and span about four miles long.

Aerial photo of the ocean, beach, and mountains. By Sol Mitnick.

These beaches all offer gorgeous views that you can either hike, or just sit back and enjoy. You can lay on the sand, wade in the water (just beware of rip currents), or hike on more solid ground along the cliffs overlooking the beaches.

Seagull on the beach. By Cristina Glebova.

A few notes: Dogs on leashes are allowed in campgrounds and on trails, but not on the beaches. Trailers up to 40 feet are allowed in the campgrounds. The park is open 8 am to sunset. The parking lot charges an entry fee, but there’s also easy nearby neighborhood parking if you able to walk a bit. There are bathrooms, though Roosevelt Beach’s baths are currently closed due to a plumbing issue (not sure when that will be resolved). See here for accessibility information for the park. And of course, as always, leave no trace behind.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to amazing State parks.

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