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Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay
This delightful little beach town possesses serious surf DNA and is just a short drive from San Francisco

Half Moon Bay is situated 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, but it might as well be half a world away. Home to the world-famous monster waves at Mavericks, Half Moon Bay is a sleepy beach town with a strong connection to the ocean—a perfect place for a walk along the beach or dinner at a local seafood spot.

You’ll definitely want to spend as much time as possible by the Pacific, and several miles of the border-to-border California Coastal Trail run through Half Moon Bay. One particularly nice section begins at Poplar Beach and travels down the coast above the waves. Just north of town at Moss Beach, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a great place to see harbor seals and explore tide pools—look for purple sea urchins and sea stars in the craggy rocks.

The dining is steeped in tradition: Sam’s Chowder House is famous for its lobster roll sandwiches and cioppino, as well as views that look out over the harbour and to Pillar Point. With its neon fish sign outside and nets dangling from the ceiling, funky Barbara’s Fishtrap sits along the harbour and has drawn big crowds since 1971, thanks in part to some of the best fish-and-chips anywhere in California.

There’s also great eating (and shopping) on Half Moon Bay’s historic Main Street: Pasta Moonsources from area farms and fishermen for its spaghetti puttanesca, which features day-boat sea scallops, clams, and mussels.

As for Mavericks, only the most skilled surfers should consider tackling the challenging waves that can reach heights of 50 feet or more. But you can get a taste of the local surf scene (and pick up cool hoodies to impress your inland pals) at Mavericks Surf Company, owned by Jeff Clark, a big-wave legend. For something a little more sedate, the company’s Mavericks PaddleSports offers stand-up paddleboard rentals and lessons on the flat waters of Pillar Point Harbor.

And for anyone looking for some pampering after a day exploring the coast, the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay commands a bluff overlooking the ocean. Its spa features treatments inspired by the area’s natural setting—it’s an ideal spot for some rejuvenation.

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the San Francisco Bay Area

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12
November
Average (°C)
Sept - Nov
26°
High
7°
Low
Dec - Feb
16°
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5°
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Mar - May
23°
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8°
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June - Aug
27°
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14°
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A crimson bridge, cable cars, a sparkling bay, and streets lined with elegant Victorian homes—San Francisco is undeniably one of the world’s great cities. Located along the Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend in the coast, the region has an alluring magic that stretches beyond the bay to diverse cities with nightlife and trend-setting cuisine. 

"I left my heart in San Francisco, High on a hill, it calls to me."  –singer Tony Bennett

The Bay Area is also home to some of the world’s finest wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma, plus waterfront towns, dramatic beaches, and the tech-savvy southern end of the bay known as the Silicon Valley, where lunchtime ideas at Google, Facebook, and Apple, turn into the next brilliant innovation. 

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