My Favorite Travel Camera + Add-On Lens + Accessories
Nikon 1 J2 10.1 MP HD Digital Camera with 10-30mm VR Lens (White)
People travel from all over the world to visit the beautiful California Beach Towns. The diversity of our west coast shores is endless. They range from the gorgeous Southern California beaches, with their warm waters coated with sunbathers in barely there bikinis, to the Northern stretch that are slightly more frigid, encrusted with cliffs that give you a birds-eye view of some of the most popular surf destinations in the state.
Although the beaches in Southern California are inviting for summertime sun soaking and to see the famous Surf City, experiencing a different view of the west side coast is a must.
Based in Northern California, Half Moon Bay is nestled down the 92 freeway in San Mateo County. Down the winding road, through the coastal forest, past the organic farms and ranches, the road opens up to gorgeous cliff-lined beaches and drops you down on the charming Main Street where family-owned coffee shops, restaurants, and whimsical stores fill their sidewalks. Typically overcast (unless you hit the sweet spot of summertime there) make sure you come dressed in layers for the ever changing weather. It could start out sunny and warm (the mid-60s) during the day. By the end of the day as the sun begins to set, expect to put on your sweaters and jackets to shield you from the crisp air.
Side note: Half Moon Bay is the pumpkin capital of the world.
When you are making your day trip to Half Moon Bay, plan to begin your adventure at Mavericks. Grab a coffee at Peet’s Coffee & Tea on the right as you enter the beach city, and make your way North on Cabrillo Highway (Route 1).
When you arrive at the majestic Mavericks, park your car in the car lot on the left. From here, you have two options, and I suggest you take both.
1. There’s a path you can walk that lines the cove, opening up to ground zero at Mavericks. As you walk the path, you will see the locals taking their before noon strolls with their pups chasing the birds and playing in the water. As you come around the bend, it opens up to the beach. You can walk all the way to the end to see part of the huge waves that roll in and crash against the rocks in the water. If you are feeling brave, roll your pants up and take your shoes off to walk in the shallow, freezing water.
2. There is a path you can walk up, to the right of the Air Base outside the parking lot. Take this road all the way up to the top of the cliff to witness the daring surfers take on the Maverick’s waves. The waves are typically larger mid-January- early February due to the winter storms coming from the North. During this stormy time is usually when the annual Mavericks Big Wave Surf Competition takes place.
Side note: The date of the Mavericks Surf Competition is determined only 24 hours before the event is held.
When you think of going to the beach, wine tasting may not cross your mind. However, with Half Moon Bay so close to Napa, it is very prevalent in this area! Less snobby than the wine connoisseur town, you will find the tasting rooms here in people’s garages, casually set at a table with mismatched chairs and casual attire. My favorite wine experience here was at the Trojak Knier Winery. We stumbled upon this hidden gem leaving Mavericks on our way to lunch. We decided a little wine tasting before we find our crab and chowder could be fun. We were greeted by Sasha, the winery German Shephard, eager to play catch, as she came up to see who you were. The winemaker, Mr. Knier, was a beach town guy who just loved to make a drink wine. He chatted us up before opening the fresh bottles for the day, making you feel like a guest in his home. We had arrived at the perfect time before it got crowded (11am-12pm). It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Trojak Knier gets their grapes from exclusive vineyards in Napa and makes all of their wines in-house at their Half Moon Bay Winery. They are known for the Sangiovese, and their Chardonnay is a must. If you are fans of Kistler Chardonnay, do yourselves a favor and try thiers.
Helpful Hint: Don’t play catch with Sasha.
For lunch, of course, you should opt for seafood. As you drive along the roads you see the crab traps, fishing gear, and fishmongers; you know the ocean fare is fresh. For oysters, cioppino, and Manhattan clam chowder, head to Sam’s Fish House. The wait will be long, however, worth it for the vibe and seafood. Put your name in, grab a drink at the bar, and enjoy the view. For crab sandwiches and New England clam chowder head to Barbara’s Fishtrap. It’s cash only at this joint, so bring your dollars and your appetite!
Walk off your lunch by cruising Main Street. Grab an espresso and biscotti from Moonside Bakery & Cafe and check out the local shops of eclectic clothing and kitchen stores. It’s a charming little town worth exploring post-meal.
(photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton)
One of the most beautiful views in Half Moon Bay comes from the gorgeous Ritz Carlton. Sitting atop a cliff, overlooking the beautiful sea, you will find this five-star hotel that offers not only beautiful views, but an excellent selection of wines, cocktails, and sea-to-table cuisine. End your adventurous day sitting by a window overlooking the picture perfect scenery, staying cozy by the fire.
There is so much exploration to be had in Half Moon Bay. You can ride horses along the beach, wine taste on Main Street, go whale watching, drive the coast to see the many different beaches, choose from a number of restaurants, partake in water sports, or lounge around on the sand. Whatever it is that you choose to do, you are bound the enjoy yourselves while experiences one of the greatest gems in California.