The beaches of Half Moon Bay  draw visitors from over the hill and farther afield all year long. As with most of the northern Pacific, summer can be a chilly, foggy time on the beaches here. For the best beach weather, plan your Half Moon Bay trip for September or October.
Perhaps the most famous beach in the area is Mavericks (Pillar Point Marsh parking lot, past Pillar Point Harbor). Named for the unpredictable immense waves that pile up to crash into this beach, Mavericks holds a legendary place in the California surfing world. Each winter during storm season, the Mavericks Surf Contest (http://maverickssurf.com ) happens here. Novice surfers beware! Mavericks is not a beginner’s break, especially in winter. The giant breakers can be deadly. If you aren’t positive you’re up to the challenge, don’t paddle out.
Half Moon Bay State Beach (www.parks.ca.gov ) actually encompasses three discrete beaches stretching four miles down the coast, each with its own access point and parking lot. Francis Beach (95 Kelly Ave.) has the most developed amenities, including a good-sized campground with grassy areas to pitch tents and enjoy picnics, a visitors center, and indoor hot showers. Venice Beach (Venice Blvd. off Hwy. 1) offers outdoor showers and flush toilets. Dunes Beach (Young Ave. off Hwy. 1) is the southernmost major beach in the chain, and the least developed. The whole beach complex has wireless Internet access, but use care bringing sensitive electronic devices onto a sandy, salty, windy beach!
Just north of Half Moon Bay , Montara State Beach (2nd St,. Montara, www.parks.ca.gov ) appeals to tidepoolers and surf fishermen as much as to picnickers and beachcombers. Bring your dogs for a wonderful walk on this windy, sandy, life-filled beach.