Of all Half Moon Bay's beaches, Poplar Beach stands out not just for its beauty, but also for its freedom. While most Coastside beaches prohibit dogs and horses, both are welcome at Poplar, making this a favorite destination for animal lovers.
Drive to the end of Poplar Street in Half Moon Bay and you'll find Blufftop Coastal Park, home to Poplar Beach. It's located about a half mile south of Half Moon Bay State Beach, and is operated by the City of Half Moon Bay and the County of San Mateo, unlike most beaches in the area which fall under the jurisdiction of California State Parks.
Admission to the beach is free, but there is a $2/hour fee for parking. If you're only planning to spend a couple hours at the beach, parking in the Poplar Beach lot is actually cheaper than in the State Parks operated lots at other beaches.You can pay for parking at a self-serve kiosk that accepts credit cards and debit cards, but don't let the lack of on-site staff give you the impression that no one is keeping track - local law enforcement does cruise through the lot and ticket cars that park without paying.
Dog Friendly Beach
Poplar Beach is likely the most dog-friendly beach in the Half Moon Bay area. Dogs are allowed on the sand, unlike most of the state-run beaches. Your dog does need to be on a leash, but there are rule-breakers so you should be prepared to encounter off-leash pets as well.
Lodging: Nantucket Whale Inn (.8 mile), Coastside Inn (.9 miles), Mill Rose Inn (1 mile), San Benito House (1 mile), Half Moon Bay Inn (1 mile), 1855 Zaballa House (1 mile), and Best Western Plus - Cameron's Inn (1 mile) are all within reasonable walking distance of Poplar Beach.