Half Moon Bay is a beautiful city along the Pacific Coast in San Mateo County, California. If you live in the Bay Area, and want to get a feel of the scenic Big Sur, or the Morro Bay ambiance, without having to travel too far, this is the place to go. The city is super charming, it offers more than what meets the eye.
We went there for the first time this weekend, and for us, these are the things to enjoy in Half Moon Bay:
First thing, the main reason why we headed there quick was to catch a glimpse of a Ross’s Gull, a rare arctic bird that’s been seen in California only one other time in record. The bird must have been brought there by the storm over the past couple of days, and being very rare, birders rushed and flocked to see the rare beauty. We rushed and got there by around 10 am, and saw the Ross’s Gull by the airport, alone, but not. What, with about over thirty birders watching from afar, like us.
A bit of a tragedy, although this is a side note — at around 2 pm, the bird got predated by two Peregrine falcons, and was eventually taken by one 🙁 The photo on the left is one we took about five hours before the bird got taken away.
Nature is a mystery. Anyway, the Ross’s Gull is not the only bird sighting to get excited about at Half Moon Bay. Any time of year, there are many species of waterfowl, raptors, gulls, pelicans, and songbirds that can be seen around the area.
2. Get your fill of delicious and fresh seafood.
Over at the port, people can buy freshly-caught crabs direct from some of the many boats docked at the marina. We were quite surprised to see a lot of people with their coolers ready, as they haggle to get their seafood fix.
For people who are not as prepared (like us!), you can still have a taste of their harvest as there are also restaurants along the side where you can have as many calamaris, rock fish, salmon, as you want. We had lunch at the local favorite, Princeton Seafood, and everything we ordered — salmon salad, rock fish sandwich, and chips — was delicious.
The waters are just the perfect kind of calm — not too still, still had a bit of waves to make kayaking a bit exciting. The Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. rents out kayaks (fishing, double, single) and even paddle boards. The area to kayak is expansive, we paddled for about 45 minutes before we got to the beach. The marine life is also abundant. Though we did not get to see some seals and otters, we did see a lot of birds as we kayaked — mostly pelicans and gulls. Note: If you’re up for an even crazier adventure, Half Moon Bay is a famous spot for surfing just outside San Francisco.
4. Experience the beach.
We were lucky to have such perfect sunny weather when we went this weekend. It wasn’t that cold, and the waves, not too crazy that we were even able to stand by this side of the beach and watch a few fishermen in action. On the right side of the beach is an area wide enough for lovers to walk by, or to place and build sand castles. Beware though, that this is not always the case. There is danger when the waves are strong or when the tides are high!
Or shall I say, walking for a bit. To get the best views of the ocean, you can walk a bit up the hills (there are trails so you would not miss them!). The hike is not really much, you can get to the top in five minutes, so be sure not to miss it.
How to get to Half Moon Bay: From the Bay area, if driving, take State Route 92 West til you get there. If commuting, from San Francisco, take the bus to San Mateo.
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