This state park features a four mile long stretch of wide, sandy beach that has become a favorite destination for beachgoers throughout the Bay Area and visitors from around the world.
Half Moon Bay State Beach is a single state park made up of four beaches: Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt Beach. It's a favorite spot for sunbathing, picnics, surfing, fishing, and camping.
On the south end of the park is Francis Beach, also sometimes called Kelly Beach for its location at the western end of Kelly Street in Half Moon Bay. It's home to the Half Moon Bay State Beach Visitor Center, which is open on weekends and offers visitors a chance to learn more about the park's ecology and history. The California State Park Ranger Station for the area is also located at Francis Beach.
Dogs (and Horses!)
On-leash dogs are allowed in the picnic areas, trails, and campground, but not on the beach. This is true of most local beaches, with Poplar Beach to the south and Montara State Beach to the north being notable exceptions. Horses are allowed on the designated horse trail only. You may see horses passing through the state park on their way south to Poplar Beach, which allows horseback riding right up to the water's edge.
Day Use Activities
Picnicking is a popular activity at Francis Beach, and numerous picnic tables and grilling stations are available to accommodate visitors on the short bluffs that overlook the ocean. Many visitors enjoy sunbathing, fishing, and long walks in the sand as well. You'll often see people wading into the water or surfing the waves, but please use caution around the ocean. The water here can be very cold, and rip currents can pull even experienced swimmers out to sea.
Francis Beach has a campground with 52 campsites, suitable for both tent and RV camping. Some sites have electrical hookups, but water and sewer hookups are unavailable. Coin-operated hot showers are also available. Campground reservations are available online through ReserveCalifornia.
Lodging: Coastside Inn (.5 miles), Mill Rose Inn (.7 miles), San Benito House (.9 miles), Half Moon Bay Inn (.9 miles), 1855 Zaballa House (.9 miles), and Nantucket Whale Inn (1 mile) are within walking distance of Francis Beach.
Venice Beach is the next beach north of Francis Beach; it can be found at the western end of Venice Boulevard off of Highway 1. You'll usually have an easier time parking here than at the more popular Francis Beach, but the shoreline is equally beautiful and less crowded. Venice has two parking lots to accommodate extra cars, public restrooms, and outside showers to help you wash the sand off before you leave the beach.
Venice beach is bordered by Pilarcitos Creek to the south and Frenchman's Creek to the north. Depending on water flows, these creeks either flow to the ocean or create shallow lagoons. Sweetwood Campground is also located just north of Venice Beach; it offers tent camping for larger groups (up to 50 people), and reservations must be made in advance through ReserveCalifornia.
North of Venice Beach is Dunes Beach, reachable from Highway 1 via Young Avenue. Like Venice Beach, parking here is usually easier to come by and crowds are less likely. A number of short, sandy trails lead from the parking lot to the beach below. Restrooms are available in the parking area.
The paved California Coastal Trail (and the adjacent dirt trail for use by horses) runs behind the Dunes Beach parking lot and intersects Young Avenue by the entrance to the parking lot. Use caution when driving through, as the Trail can be quite busy on weekends with bicyclists, horseback riders, and walkers (often with their dogs).
Lodging: The Miramar Inn and Suites (.5 miles), Quality Inn (.5 miles), Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach (.8 miles), and Pacific Victorian Bed & Breakfast (.8 miles) are within walking distance of Dunes Beach.
Roosevelt Beach, also known as Naples Beach after a nearby road, is the northernmost beach in the State Park.
Roosevelt Beach is the least accessible beach in the Half Moon Bay State Beach complex. It was once served by a small parking lot accessible from Young Avenue (the same road that leads to Dunes Beach) via a narrow one-way road. In recent years, erosion has made this small road unsafe and the road to the parking lot is closed to vehicle traffic. But lack of easy car access is to your benefit if you want to find some empty sand! A short walk north from the Dunes Beach parking lot (either on the beach or via the now closed access road) will lead you to Roosevelt Beach, where you should find the sparsest crowds and a clear view of Miramar and Pillar Point Harbor to the north.
Lodging: The Miramar Inn and Suites (.25 miles), Quality Inn (.25 miles), Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach (.5 miles), and Pacific Victorian Bed & Breakfast (.5 miles) are within walking distance of Roosevelt Beach.
Additional information about Half Moon Bay State Beach can be found on the California State Parks Website.