Beautiful Moss Beach in San Mateo County is a community within the James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. You'll find the reserve where California Avenue meets Beach Street. Featured in the recent issue of National Geographic, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Park is about 40 minutes south of San Francisco.
This designated Marine Protected Area has rocky shores that provide kayaking opportunities and ocean sports, but also serves as an outdoor classroom at low tide, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the diversity of marine life. On any given day you'll likely see sea urchins, sea stars, harbor seals, various mollusks, and even the elusive red octopus. Keep reading our Moss Beach CA travel guide and start planning your vacation to beautiful Moss Beach CA. For all the great area beaches, click here.
Weather – When to Visit Moss Beach
Average temperatures in Moss Beach CA vary little. If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit, the hottest months are July thru September. The temperature highs during this time average 78°F with temperatures rarely dropping below 57°F at night. The busiest time for tourism in Moss Beach, CA, is June thru August. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months, though you can save if you purchase well in advance.
Moss Beach Attractions
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and its tide pools are part of a San Mateo County Park located in Moss Beach, CA, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco. The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve tide pools are one of the most beautiful and easily accessible natural wonders of the Northern California coast.
Seal Cove Beach
This secluded cove is within Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and is a real treat at low tide when tide pools are exposed for exploration. Behind the beach are trails that lead into a cypress forest that feels like something out of the movies with long shadows and unique tree trunks. It’s a fun hike with great vistas out over the ocean.
Montara State Beach
Montara State Beach is a wide mile-long beach just north of Montara along the San Mateo County Coast. Behind the beach are stunning sculpted sandstone cliffs making this a very photogenic spot.
Mavericks Beach at Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, CA is the site of the annual big wave surfing competition called Maverick’s. The big wave surf area is located a quarter-mile offshore from the bluff top viewing areas outside the Air Force military installation on Pillar Point. A huge white ball marks this spot on the bluff from miles away.
Moss Beach Juliana Access
In Moss Beach is a little-known sandy beach below the eroding bluffs. Above the beach there is an undeveloped open space with a well-worn footpath that follows the bluff. A couple benches along this trail have superb views out over the ocean. Look for steep routes down to the beach near the parking area. There is a sea cave at the north end of the beach to explore when the tide is safe.
Things to do in Moss Beach
The Maverick Experience
A coastal first and approved by the Half Moon Bay Harbor Commission, their tours are educational and unique. Their guides actually surf Mavericks and can speak first hand about what it's like to ride it or in some situations, be under it! Surf Lessons are all about ensuring learning is fun, safe and convenient for all students; meaning they have everything you need covered! They provide boat, land, private, and celebrity tours as well as surf lessons. Telephone: 650-727-4455 Web: The Maverick's Experience
No matter the season, California Windsurfing has the perfect water adventure for you. Whether you’re vacationing or looking for something new and fun in your neighborhood. You want a better, or more fun and affordable place to Windsurf, Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak, or Ride a Pedal Boat than California Windsurfing. Telephone: 650-594-0335 Web: California Windsurfing
They are a passionate, dedicated team of instructors and gear specialists with over 30+ years of collective riding, teaching and technical experience. They will join you in your quest to learn windsurfing, kite boarding or stand up paddle boarding. They will help you to get the best and most appropriate equipment for your riding level, budget, and style. Telephone: 415-385-1224 Web: Boardsports California
SF on Tap Tours
They are the original Craft Beer Walking Tour Specialists! Visit Microbreweries and bars, go on a brewery mini-tour, drink and learn about great Bay Area craft brews. Get local insider perspectives, learn craft beer and SF history, plus enjoy funky stories about the area. Celebrate beer! Every tour is a party with your new friends by the end. Telephone: 415-938-4677 Web: SF on Tap Tours
The Huli Cat has operated out of Pillar Point Harbor for over 20 years. Capt Tom Mattusch took over in 1999 to continue salmon fishing, rockcod, Dungeness crab, albacore, whale watching, ash scattering, research or a boat for celebrating an event or team building. Telephone: 650-726-2926 Web: Huli Cat
Best Restaurants in Moss Beach
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ – $$$ Moss Beach Distillery
The Moss Beach Distillery sits at the edge of a cliff in Half Moon Bay, California overlooking the ocean. They offer delicious steaks and fresh seafood alongside a haunted setting provided by their resident ghost the “Blue Lady.” For the more casual outing we offer a heated outdoor patio that comes fitted with warm blankets and fire pits. Telephone: 650-728-5595 Web: Moss Beach Distillery
$$ – $$$ Barbara's Fish Trap
With its neon fish sign outside and nets dangling from the ceiling, funky Barbara’s Fishtrap sits along the harbor and has drawn big crowds since 1971, thanks in part to some of the best fish-and-chips anywhere in California. Telephone: 650-728-7049 Web: Barbara's Fish Trap
$$ – $$$ Sam's Chowder House
Sam’s Chowder House serves ocean fresh seafood, reminiscent of a New England style seafood house. Voted “Best Seafood in the Bay Area” by the 2017 San Francisco Bay Area A-List, and named “Top Three Outdoor Dining Spots in the Bay Area” by San Francisco Magazine, Sam’s serves lobster, crab, fish and chips, fried calamari, fresh oysters and clams from the raw bar, and many fresh fish dishes such as salmon and halibut. Telephone: 650-712-0245 Web: Sam's Chowder House
$$ – $$$ Pasta Moon Ristorante & Bar
Kim Levin – Chef/Owner of Pasta Moon strongly believes in giving back to the community and supporting local coast-side farmers, ranchers, fishermen and gourmet artisans. In fact, these elements are the core of the Pasta Moon identity along with Kim’s passion and creativity. Their menu rotates regularly depending on what’s in season, bringing our guests a contemporary Italian dining Experience that is unique and eco-friendly! Telephone: 650-726-5125 Web: Pasta Moon Ristorante & Bar
$$ – $$ Miramar Beach Restaurant
Enjoy incomparable views, exceptional food, and impeccable service that will exceed the expectations of everyone in your party. Except for those who have already enjoyed our seafood and steak restaurant dining experience! The menu consists of the freshest seafood, finest steaks and our world-famous seafood chowder. They also have a superb, hand picked list of wines, domestic and imported. Telephone: 650-726-9053 Web: Miramar Beach Restaurant
Best Moss Beach Nightlife
Moss Beach Distillery
Professional friendly staff, great food, tasteful and clean facility. Tremendous sunset views of the Pacific Ocean. Outdoor downstairs patio is very fun and romantic. Classy San Francisco historic vibe. Among the best seafood and best restaurants in the Bay Area. Telephone: 650-728-5595 Web: Moss Beach Distillery
The Wine Room
A great little wine bar. Coast-side cute on the outside. Modern on the inside. Nice and warm making for the perfect place to curl up with a friend, a group, or just you and your glass. The music talent is usually from the local area, but widely known and in many cases, published more than a few times. Telephone: 650-728-9463 Web: The Wine Room
Old Princeton Landing Public House & Grill
They host live music, private events, festivals, sporting events, plus pool and dart tournaments. Their garden back patio is dog friendly! Every weekend they host the best bands from around the Bay Area and coming through on tour. Telephone: 650-728-7096 Web: Old Princess Landing Public House & Grill
Cameron's British Pub
If you can’t find a beer you like here, you must not like beer. It’s an atmosphere that only a family run business can provide, a place where babies and great grandmums are welcome. Let’s not forget the great grub! Enjoy and don’t be a stranger. An English pub is a family place, unlike our American bar equivalents. Telephone: 650-726-5705 Web: Cameron's British Pub
From their brewing methods to their burgers and everything in between, they buck the system and challenge the norm. Find hand-made beers and fresh, creative eats. Telephone: 650-276-7029 Web: Sacrilege Brewery
Best Moss Beach Hotels
Sea Cove Inn
The Seal Cove Inn is truly a boutique hotel, surrounded by an oasis where you can enjoy secluded beaches, watch frolicking seals, and follow the tree-lined paths tracing the windswept Half Moon Bay ocean bluffs. The amenities continue with the beautifully appointed guest rooms, reminiscent of a European country inn. Each room is oriented toward the water, overlooking acres of beautiful San Mateo County parkland and the ocean beyond. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Seal Cove Inn.
HI Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel
Guests are accommodated in both shared and private rooms in former Coast Guard quarters and the historic fog signal building. Enjoy cozy lounges, a secluded beach cove with tide pools, and landscaped native plant gardens. Amenities include DSL Internet and free WiFi, on-site laundry, free parking, and an espresso bar. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the HI Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel.
Oceano Hotel & Spa
The Oceano Hotel is known for its casual luxury experiences. Each room features a bedroom and living area, as well as a fireplace for your comfort. The ideal location is nestled along the Pacific Ocean just south of San Francisco in Half Moon Bay. The Oceano Hotel is also the home of the Oceano Coastal Spa, Oceano Bar & Grill, and the Oceano Shopping Village. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Oceano Hotel & spa Half Moon Bay.
Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn
Guests at this beach bed & breakfast will appreciate convenient onsite amenities such as barbecue grills and a picnic area. All 11 rooms boast fireplaces and jetted tubs, while also providing free WiFi, free wired Internet, and flat-screen TVs with cable channels. Other amenities available to guests include furnished balconies or patios, DVD players, and refrigerators. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn.
Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach
The Cypress Inn in Half Moon Bay is located just 28 miles south of San Francisco and is a favorite weekend getaway destination. Guests of the Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach gaze upon the Pacific Ocean as they enjoy their breakfast from the comfort of their room. Let the soothing sounds of crashing waves lull you into blissful relaxation while you enjoy a massage by our in-house massage therapist. Enjoy the generous size, flat screen TV, and jetted tubs of our guestrooms. Join us at the Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach and unwind! For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach.