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Two surfers ride a wave at sunset

Eco Adventures

The wild coast that hugs Half Moon Bay is home to otters, whales and countless species of birds. Hike or bike the area’s trails, and you’re sure to spot loons and kingbirds. Take to the sea by kayak, stand-up paddle board or surfboard, and you’ll likely meet a resident seal. Quiet evenings revolve around watching sunsets, sipping locally made beer and wine and enjoying fresh-caught seafood at both quaint eateries and fine-dining restaurants.

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Day

1

MORNING
  • Sea Safari.

    Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. leads excellent, informative tours of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, leaving from Pillar Point. Paddle through the sea stacks and along rugged cliffs and observe seals, sea otters and seabirds. During migration months, keep an eye out for blasts of spray from a humpback or pilot whale.

MIDDAY
  • Farm-to-Table Feast.

    Starting daily at 11 a.m., Chef Michael Riddell of The Conservatory, a restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, prepares handmade dishes from his homegrown California menu. Nearly all of the ingredients come straight from the myriad local famers in the region. 

AFTERNOON
  • Natural Giants.

    Be awed by California’s iconic redwoods during a hike along the Purisima Creek Trail in the Purisima Redwoods Open Space Preserve. These ancient trees grow up to 360 feet, making them the tallest in the world. They’re also one of the oldest, dating back thousands of years. Pack a camera. The trail overlooks Half Moon Bay from the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, providing postcard-perfect vistas. And you’ll want an Instagram shot of you being dwarfed by a coast redwood to put the tree’s majestic size in perspective.

EVENING
  • Sunset by the Sea.

    The Ocean Lawn at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is one of the best spots in the area to catch sunsets. Cozy up by one of the fire pits with a local craft brew, like Mavericks IPA, and ingredients for s’mores. The resort even has a bagpiper who serenades the sinking sun. 

Side-by-side patios overlooking the ocean with Adirondack chairs and fireplaces

Day

2

MORNING
  • Healthy Start.

    Grab house-made, vegan or gluten-free baked goods and made-to-order smoothies packed with superfoods like chia seeds, avocado, kale and flaxseed at Granola’s Coffee House. 

  • Hang Ten.

    Surfers from around the globe head to Half Moon Bay each winter in hopes of riding the big waves at Mavericks, the legendary surf break where waves can reach 60 feet in the right conditions. When the swell is mellow, nearby Princeton Jetty is a great spot for beginners to get wet. Surf, Sun & Fun offers lessons (and provides wetsuits) and will have you up and riding like a pro. If you’re lucky, the resident dolphins and seals might come surf with you.

MIDDAY
  • Farm Tour.

    Tour Harley Farms, a local goat dairy farm known for its delicious cheeses. Meet the baby goats, get a lesson in cheese-making and taste the final product, which you’re sure to spot on the menu at area restaurants.

AFTERNOON
  • Fish Fight.

    Originally a roadside shack with eight tables, Flying Fish Bar & Grill earned such a loyal following that the owners had to move into larger digs up the road on Highway 92. Locals will debate what’s better, the fish and chips or the fish tacos. Both are delicious options.

EVENING
  • Seafood with a View.

    La Costanera has long been a favorite local haunt thanks to its bright, grand space and views overlooking the water. Enjoy fresh Peruvian-style seafood paired with a stunning view of the Pacific.  

Day

3

MORNING
  • Walk with Seals.

    At Año Nuevo State Park, naturalists lead guided 2.5-hour walks around the resident elephant seal colony. Expect to hike three to four miles over varied terrain, including sand dunes. Have your camera ready, as the seals are known to show off for visitors.

MIDDAY
  • Global Flavors.

    Adventurous eaters can try dishes from South Africa, India, Thailand, India, Mexico and more at Chez Shea, a charming, organic restaurant in downtown Half Moon Bay. The falafel and the bobotie, a South African twist on a sloppy joe, are both standouts.

AFTERNOON
  • Spot a Kingbird.

    Pack your binoculars and head to Blufftop Coastal Park, a coastal prairie nestled between Half Moon Bay State Beach and Wave Crest. Steep descents can be challenging so wear sturdy hiking boots or trail sneakers and take it slow. Keep a sharp eye out for loons, pelicans and kingbirds.

EVENING
  • Award-Winning Chowder.

    Just steps away from the fishing fleet at Pillar Point Harbor, Princeton Seafood Company is both a full-service fish market and a delicious restaurant. The family-run spot is a local institution, and foodies make the pilgrimage just for the award-winning clam chowder.