Sunset view of a large grassy area with houses around the perimeter

Planning Your Trip

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This exclusive spot on the California coastline is a true gem among luxury resorts. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is a launching point for outdoor adventures and a prime golf getaway. Here is what to bring to make the most of it all.

An ocean-view lawn with lounge-like seating areas
An ocean-view lawn with lounge-like seating areas
Planning Your Trip
What to Pack

Here's what to pack when planning a trip to Half Moon Bay, California.

Outdoor Adventure

Though it’s just 20 miles from the San Francisco airport, this resort feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city streets. Make the most of it by packing outdoor gear that is prepared for the varying weather of this coastal spot.

 

  • Although temperatures are mild throughout the year in Half Moon Bay, lightweight layers are a must as the weather can change throughout the day Pack light down jackets that are rainproof and warm if the wind kicks up or the clouds roll in.
  • In summer, bring sturdy sandals to manage the steep (but gorgeous) trail down to the beach or to bicycle along the California Coastal Trail, which passes right through the resort.
  • A fashionable scarf is the go-to accessory for Bay Area residents. Pack a versatile one that matches the rest of your packing list.
Golf Getaway

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay offers access to two courses with unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean and challenging play along rugged terrain. Here is what to put on your packing checklist to make sure you are ready for all 18 holes.

 

  • A lightweight rain jacket and rain pants are essential as Half Moon Bay sits right on the ocean and the weather can change in minutes. Slip your rain gear into the side pocket of your golf bag so you have it if you need it.
  • Half Moon Bay Golf Links require a polo shirt or turtleneck for male golfers. While women can wear outfits without collars, T-shirts and tank tops are discouraged, so women should try to also pack polo shirts or turtlenecks.
  • Spikeless golf shoes are also a must-do at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. You can also wear sneakers or sandals in a pinch, but the rugged terrain of this course definitely deserves solid golf footwear that honors its long green legacy.    
Day Trips

Just miles from San Francisco and a quick chauffeured drive to Santa Cruz wine country, this resort offers myriad opportunities for exciting day trips and unforgettable adventures. Don’t forget these essentials as you plan your trip.

 

  • Whether you are a birder or a nature fan in general, the Bay Area offers unbelievable wildlife sightings from majestic gray whales to adorable sea lions and great blue herons. Bring your binoculars for up-close views.
  • There is no better way to experience this breathtaking locale than on horseback, so bring your cowboy boots (or sneakers). You can gallop along mountain trails or just trot along the coast to take in sweeping Pacific views.
  • Bring sturdy wet shoes for ocean adventures such as surfing the Mavericks or sea kayaking in Pillar Point Harbor. There are rocky coastlines to be wary of, and though they are spectacular, they harbor sharp rocks and angles.
View of a large building complex on a cliff that?s hugged by the ocean below
View of a large building complex on a cliff that?s hugged by the ocean below
Planning Your Trip
What to Reserve

Half Moon Bay is a mecca for relaxation, whether your brand of leisure is a five-course meal or a long, languid day at the spa. Here’s what to get on your itinerary before you even check in.

The resort’s signature restaurant Navio serves exceptional ocean cuisine crafted with produce from local farms, while overlooking the breathtaking Pacific Coast. Guests have the option to select a three-course Dinner Prix-Fixe Menu, or experience Chef de Cuisine Francisco Simón’s multi-course Chef’s Tasting Dinner Menu, which highlights innovative and sustainable seasonal presentations. On weekends, guests can indulge in an à la carte Brunch at Navio, a tour de force that features individually plated dishes which can be ordered in any quantity during the two-hour experience.

There is so much to take in at Half Moon Bay that you will likely need some time to unwind. The first stop should be the spa, where locally based treatments will help you recharge. Reserve the Coastal Lavender Indulgence, which lets you relax in a warm, fragrant cocoon followed by a light massage, or the Redwood Forest Ritual, which uses earthy herbs and wood blends in a variety of treatments that include a hot poultice massage and a scalp massage. Or choose from the resort’s “secret” spa menu, an ever-changing and highly limited selection of extraordinary seasonal spa experiences.

California’s coastline offers the best of what golf should have: scenic bluffs, unique terrain and holes that are challenging enough to keep you coming back. Reserve your tee time at the par-72 Ocean Course before you arrive — ranked among the best courses in California, it has a Scottish vibe and amazing ocean views. Just as worthy of your attention is the resort’s Old Course. Redesigned by Arthur Hills in 1999, it has fairways lined by cypress trees and a home hole that plays next to the ocean.

Pillar Point Harbor is a protected harbor along the San Mateo coast. It is a refuge to brown pelicans and, in certain seasons, a place to spot majestic gray whales. You can sea kayak right out into its gorgeous waters with a guided tour or all on your own. Contact the concierge to set up your experience. You’ll also want to experience all the Coastal Equestrian Trail has to offer. Local guides at Sea Horse Ranch offer daily trail rides that skirt the fabulous shores of Northern California, giving you panoramic views to snap from your phone and the chance to gallop through fields of wildflowers.

View of a large building complex on top of a cliff in the distance with the ocean and beach below
View of a large building complex on top of a cliff in the distance with the ocean and beach below
Planning Your Trip
Itineraries

Quintessential Northern California, Half Moon Bay is one long stretch of gorgeous, wild coastline. Developed as a beach resort in the early 1900s, this tiny coastal community that lies between San Francisco and Santa Cruz now attracts die-hard surfers and city dwellers looking for a laid-back weekend beach escape. While you can catch glimpses of Silicon Valley success here (multimillion-dollar digs along the beach), Main Street is very much trapped in time with knickknack shops and beloved eateries housed in historic buildings. Nature is the big draw, so pack a sweater (the ocean fog has a biting chill) and your hiking boots. Enjoy days spent exploring the coast’s rugged beauty, then retreat back to the secluded setting of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay to watch as the sun dips behind the Pacific Ocean.

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 noon. The conservatory serves a homegrown California-inspired lunch menu. Nearly all of the ingredients come straight from the myriad of local farmers in the region, including steaks off the grill.

 

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.

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.

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

Farm-fresh classics. Located in a historic train caboose, Dad’s Luncheonette was founded by “Dad” Scott Clark, a former three Michelin star chef de cuisine. Featuring a creative spin to classic roadside bites and inspired by local farm ingredients, Clark’s menu features items such as a grass-fed beef sandwich, a mushroom sandwich, homemade potato chips, and weekend specials. Open Thursday through Sunday.

 

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.

Morning

Coastal views. Highway 1 is one of America’s most iconic drives. Half moon bay sits about 30 miles south of San Francisco and 40 miles north of Santa Cruz. The stretch of road that lies between offers jaw-dropping views of jagged cliffs and rolling green hills. Pack your camera and be prepared to pull over at least a few times to snap photos of the dreamy view.

Pizza for breakfast. Drive to historic main street for breakfast at Moonside Bakery & Café. The menu has the usual suspects — omelets, pancakes, breakfast burritos — but the local go-to is the breakfast pizza created with their own dough and cooked in the hardwood-fire pizza oven.

 

Midday

Surf’s up. Meander the mavericks cliff trail, a 2.5-mile walk that overlooks the beach and a world-renowned surf spot. Even on a low-swell day, you’re bound to catch a glimpse of surfers hanging 10 or even migrating whales.

 

Afternoon

Beer with a view. Relax in the afternoon with a pint at half moon bay brewing co. The craft brewery pulls pints of styles ranging from IPA to kölsch, and the patio is dotted with fire pits (it’s also dog-friendly). Lunch on beer-steamed prawns and the Dungeness crab roll. Each month the social-minded brewery hosts a speaker series that tackles topics ranging from politics to environmental issues.

Tee off. Bay area golf fanatics make day trips just to play the two championship courses at the Ritz-Carlton, half moon bay. Set along picturesque coastal bluffs, the historic parkland-style old course is dotted with cypress trees and the 18th hole overlooks the ocean. The ocean course offers more of a challenge as well with an ocean view from every hole.

 

Evening

East coast meets west. Inspired by new England-style seafood restaurants, Sam’s Chowder House, has a straight-from-the-sea menu of oysters, lobsters, fish and chips, and a highly lauded lobster roll that has been called one of the five best sandwiches in America. Choose to cozy up fireside in the dining room or by a fire pit on the patio. The desserts are made on-site. Save room for the Straus organic soft-serve. The vanilla-chocolate swirl is a staff favorite.

Morning

Paddle alongside seals. Stop by granola’s coffee house for a coffee or a healthy smoothie, like the blue avocado (blueberries, spinach, flaxseed, banana, avocado and almond milk) then bundle up for a kayak adventure. Half moon bay kayak co. Rents kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, and it’s not unusual for the bay’s resident wildlife — otters dolphins, and seals — to swim up right next to your kayak.

 

Midday

Decadent brunch. San Francisco is often heralded as America’s top food city, but the bay area’s best weekend brunch is found at Navio in the Ritz-Carlton, half moon bay. Seatings start at 11 a.M. And reservations are a must. Expect to spend two hours or more savoring every bite as well as the dining room’s stunning ocean views.

 

Afternoon

Wildlife hike. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the coastside trail in half moon bay state beach. The path runs parallel to the ocean, with multiple access points to popular beaches like Venice beach. Bird lovers should bring their binoculars. Blue herons, red-winged blackbirds and red-tailed hawks are frequently sighted on the trail.

Find serenity. Relax post-hike at the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Half Moon Bay, where the Redwood Forest ritual will take you on a journey that stimulates your senses and revitalizes your soul. Using a variety of indigenous earthy herbs and wood blends, this ritual will leave you feeling grounded, complete and restored.

 

Evening

Sunset dining. Score a table on the waterfront deck at Miramar Beach restaurant and time your reservation to catch the sunset. This popular spot serves super-fresh seafood dishes, like the signature crab and shrimp linguine.