View from Beach House

View from Beach House

By Eileen Ogintz

HALF MOON BAY, CA, (Day five of seven) — I wake up to the bleating fog horn and the chattering sea birds.

Our room—actually a spacious suite—at the Beach House Half Moon Bay overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Pillar Point Harbor that is home to commercial and sport fishermen as well as plenty of sea birds in Half Moon Bay. The famous Coastal Trail—a 7-mile-long long walking trail along the water—is just outside our door. Nice!

The hotel is set on a bluff overlooking the harbor a short drive from Half Moon Bay’s Main Street. It’s small—just 54 rooms–and convenient with fridge, small stove, pull out couch, outdoor hot tub and pool—ideal for families, couples or girlfriend getaways, my daughter and I think.

My daughter, Regina Yemma, loves this area—having spent a year working here teaching underprivileged city kids about the environment at Vida Verde, a nonprofit educational organization, and she and her fiancé Dan Foldes are now planning their wedding in nearby San Gregorio. “We want our guests to be able to experience a place we love so much,” she says.

I see why she and her fiancé love this area. The Coastside is between the mountains to the East and the Pacific to the west. The best part—it’s not busy or crowded, though we’re less than hour’s drive from San Francisco.

There are endless opportunities to walk and play on the beach, explore tide pools, visit farm stands for local artichokes and other veggies, berries, eat local seafood and hike amid the Coast redwoods.

I learn that Cabrillo Highway—California Route One along the coast and San Mateo Road (highway 92) over the mountains follow the earliest trails used by the Coastanoan Indians who lived here for thousands of years. The first Western settlers were the recipients of Mexican land grants and five of those grants make up what is Coastside today.

This is a very cosmopolitan community, as Italians, Portuguese, Pacific Islanders, Chinese and others settled. This was a thriving fishing community and in the years of the early 20th Century, a railroad from San Francisco brought people here for fun on the beaches.

Harbor seals basking on beach

Harbor seals basking on beach

Today, visitors come not only for the beaches—miles of white sandy beaches—the famous redwood forests and fields of wildflowers in the springs, the fishing and watersports but for the farms, some of which date from the 1800s.

The restaurants here have a commitment to farm-table too like Pasta Moon on Main Street in downtown Half Moon Bay that has been here for 28 years. I had the best eggplant parm I’ve ever eaten; my daughter had fresh scallops with pasta and local veggies. All of the pasta is homemade; there are battered local green beans, a pea and fava bean antipasti and salads with local lettuces. The restaurant’s website even has a San Mateo County Produce Calendar chart that tells you what is at peak freshness and what is in season. Families love this place for the simple pizzas and pastas.

Let’s not forget the Tiramasu for desert!