Pillar Point Harbor and Half Moon Bay offer a variety of opportunities for visitors. Half Moon Bay's historic downtown contains a wide range of shops, art galleries, and lodgings that will accommodate any budget. Local beaches and parks are easy to reach by pedestrians, bikers, and equestrians. The city also offers two outstanding golf courses and many farms and nurseries. Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point Harbor make up an unusual and charming rural community within a short distance from one of the country's most sophisticated metropolitan areas. There are many wonderful beaches in Pillar Point Harbor and Half Moon Bay.
Pillar Point Harbor enjoys a mild climate throughout the year. Hot and cold weather extremes are rare. While fog and clouds are common a night and in the morning, sunshine is the norm. Sea breezes keep the temperature comfortable when inland areas are hot and humid. Most of the rainfall occurs in the winter from November to April. Temperatures range from an average high of 19 °C (66 °F) in August and September to an average low of just over 6 °C (43 °F) in January.
Bean Hollow State Beach and Pebble Beach near Pillar Point Harbor are popular for their self-guided nature trails, while swimming is discouraged due to the heavy surf and rip tide. The beach is popular with fishermen, picnicker, and beachcombers. Tide pools hold anemones, sea urchins, crabs, and other marine life.
Dunes State Beach, part of the Waterfront Coastside Trail system, is a sister beach to Venice and Francis State Beaches. This Half Moon Bay/Pillar Point Harbor beach offers four miles of wide sandy beach that is ideal for fishing, picnicking, and sunbathing. The beach offers a campground for those who want to stay longer.
A clothing-optional beach, Gray Whale Cove State Beach (also known as Devil's Slide) near Pillar Point Harbor gets its name from the gray whales that can be viewed from the beach and from the steep trails in the park. The beach has a sheltered cove surrounded by steep cliffs leading down to the beach. A small picnic area on the bluff above the beach offers great views of Gray whales that swim close to the shore.
Another popular attraction near Pillar Point Harbor and Half Moon Bay is the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at Moss Beach where visitors can take docent-led tours through the nature trail and preserve. Visitors can see the San Andreas Fault among other geological formations. There are also wonderful tidepools that are home to starfish, sea urchins, and anemones. The Reserve is a natural refuge for animals and plants that thrive near the sea.
The Mavericks and Pillar Point Marsh stretches from Highway 1 to Pillar Point Harbor. Home to the famous Mavericks Surf Contest, the area is not good for swimming, as the huge waves make swimming dangerous. Surfers are the exception to this rule.
The Waterfront Coastside Trail stretches from Pillar Point Harbor to Miranda Road. The trail system passes through Naples and Roosevelt Beach, Dunes Beach, Venice Beach, Francis Beach, and Bluff Top Coastal Park. The trail is an easy and scenic hike that measures almost ten kilometers round trip.