How to Achieve Summer Beach Bliss in Half Moon Bay


The pumpkins are a work in progress, but don’t let that keep you from thinking about a getaway to Half Moon Bay. Just a little more than half an hour south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is the perfect place to get your summer beach fix.

Montara State Beach

It's technically not in Half Moon Bay, but if you’ve got time constraints, you can’t find beach bliss much closer to home. Montara State Beach is a favorite of locals and visitors. If you’re interested in some hiking, Montara mountain, also called McNee Ranch, is part of Montara State Beach and just on the other side of the highway.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

If you spend much of your time on the beach hunched over looking for treasures at your feet, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a must visit. The tide pooling is fabulous, but you have to work with the tides. During low tide you’ll discover anemones, barnacles and all sorts of sea life moving about. High tide creates a completely different beach.

Dunes Beach

This soft, sandy beach is at the end of Young Avenue off Highway 1. Quiet and typically not crowded, but depending on when you visit you might catch some junior lifeguard training. There is a fee to park that can be paid either at the kiosk if it’s manned or the self-pay box by the bathrooms.

Half Moon Bay State Beach, Francis Beach

Francis Beach

This is the beach where folks go to get together and have a party. Dozens of picnic tables, charcoal barbeque grills for use and plenty of parking. Even though Francis Beach is popular, there’s plenty of space, so it doesn’t feel crowded. The Blue Whale skull on display near the entrance is worth checking out. A post about 100 feet to the south helps you realize how big these creatures really are. Francis Beach is at the end of Kelly Avenue off Highway 1. There is an entrance/parking fee.

Ride on the Beach

Want to do more than just walk on the beach? Sea Horse Ranch is located right on Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay. Helmets are mandatory for riders under 18 and you have to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Cell phones and cameras are a no-no, so leave them in the car. Rides cost $55 to $75 depending on duration.

Coastal Segway Tour

Roll along the Beach

See the coast in a way you can brag about when you get home. The Ritz-Carlton offers Segway tours along sections of the coastal trail. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to take part, but you do need a reservation. All the equipment you’ll need (including helmets), a training session and guided tour costs $75. Plan on an hour and 30 minutes total. 

Don’t Want to Go Home?

If you’re up for a splurge, don’t go home. The Ritz-Carlton is where Scotland and Coastal California collide in stunning fashion. The large tiered patio has fire pits and plenty of chairs to get comfy and take it all it. Even make a s’more or two. If you don't want to sit, Miramontes Beach and Cowell Ranch Beach are within walking distance of the resort. Both are beautiful, walk to extra fifteen minutes to Cowell and you might have the place to yourself. Be back by sunset when the resort’s bagpiper makes sure everyone is watching and listening. If sundown leaves you starving head to Navio for dinner. After a million dollar renovation, fun ocean décor sets the tone for its delicious Ocean Cuisine.

Dogs are a regular sight at the Ritz-Carlton. If you’re coming to town with man’s best friend, check to see if they have a Yappy Hour planned while you’re in town. Typically the last Thursday of the month, 5 to 8 pm, this cocktail party is for canines and their companions. Guests and locals are encouraged to dress their pup in costumes that fit monthly themes like July’s Surfboards and Swimsuits.  A portion of the proceeds go to the Peninsula Humane Society.

Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann

Dana’s trip was hosted by The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.

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