Residents of Half Moon Bay have strived to protect the natural beauty of the ocean, beaches, harbor and green space.  As a result, Half Moon Bay has many eco-friendly activities that will cater to just about any outdoor enthusiast., such as exploring local tide pools, hiking open space preserves, or simply taking in the breathtaking beauty of our local beaches.  (In the above photo, families enjoy exploring the tide pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.)

Año Nuevo State Reserve –  Located between  Half Moon Bay & Santa Cruz on Hwy. 1

New Year’s Creek Road, off Hwy 1, Pescadero, CA   (650) 879-0227

This 4,000 acre Reserve is a major gathering area for northern elephant seals, which may be seen year-around.

During the breeding season, December through March, the males battle for mates on the beaches. The females give birth to their young on the dunes.  By early March most of the adult seals are gone, leaving behind the weaned pups who remain through April. The elephant seals return to Año Nuevo’s beaches during the spring and summer months to molt and can be observed during this time through a permit system.

During the breeding season, December 15 through March 31, daily access to the Reserve is available only via guided walks. Advance reservations are recommended for walks.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park — Rancho Del Oso, Hwy 1   831-338-8860

Located 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy. 1, the park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. Maps

Bird Watching

Half Moon Bay and the surrounding areas are ideal for attracting birds and those who watch them.  The best bird watching times are late fall and early spring.

Coastside Trail — Half Moon Bay State Beach

95 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA  (650) 726-8819

The Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail runs along the eastern boundary of the four Half Moon Bay area beaches providing close to three miles of multi-use trails to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach

PO BOX 451, Moss Beach, CA  (650) 728-3584 County Parks Reservation line (650) 363-4021

The Reserve is set aside to protect this complex but fragile community for us and future generations. Within the reserve, most marine life is protected. The Reserve is popular with school and community groups for its educational value.

Directions: Take California Ave. off of Hwy 1 in Moss Beach.

Half Moon Bay Beaches and Parks

Half Moon Bay is home to some wonderful parks, beaches, and preserves.  Click on the link for a complete list and descriptions.

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

Highway 1 & Pescadero Rd., Pescadero, CA  650-879-2170

Across the highway from the Pescadero State Beach is the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, a popular spot for bird watchers and other naturalists. The Reserve is a refuge for blue heron, kites, deer, raccoons, foxes and skunks.

Directions:  The beach is located 14.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway One.

Purissima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Half Moon Bay, CA  (650) 949-5500

The 3,120-acre preserve is located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Half Moon Bay. The preserve was established with a gift of $2 million from the Save-the-Redwoods League.

The centerpiece of the Preserve is Purisima Creek Canyon, with its towering redwoods, creek, ferns, berries, and wildflowers. Coastal scrub, tanoak, madrone, and Douglas fir border the canyon. The coast and Half Moon Bay are visible from the northern part of the preserve.

Whale Watching –  Central Coast Santa Cruz, Monterey, Half Moon Bay

Gray Whales – 20,000 Gray Whales pass by the Central Coast two times every year. During December through mid February, the whales migrate south from the arctic waters off the coast of Alaska to their winter birthing grounds off of the Baja Peninsula. Then from mid February through April, they return to the arctic waters to feed.  Peak viewing times are usually mid January and mid March.   More background on the Gray Whale >>

Humpback Whales – Spending the winter months off of the Mexican Coast to breed and give birth, the Humpback Whales migrate north to polar waters to feed during the summer months.  Humpback Whales are most common off the Central Coast from April through November.  More background on the Humpback >>

For more information, please visit the Oceanic Society’s Web site  at  Boating excursions depart from Pillar Point Harbor, 4 miles north of Half Moon Bay.