Pillar Point Harbor

If you travel southbound on Highway 1 out of San Francisco, you’ll eventually come to San Mateo County, the seaside towns of El Granada and Princeton-by-the-Sea and Pillar Point Harbor, one of the best places to bike, hike, kayak, stroll, dine and generally enjoy yourself on the California coast. Located on the northern end of Half Moon Bay, the Harbor is home to a large commercial fishing fleet, as well as charter boats eager to take visitors sport fishing, whale watching, sightseeing and other fun activities.

As one of the busiest harbors on the coast, there are always plenty of different types of seagoing vessels coming and going from the Harbor. Grab an outdoor table at one of the nearby cafes and you’re likely to see a commercial fishing boat coming back with a hold full of the day’s catch, a Coast Guard rescue boat heading out to save a disabled boater, kayakers heading out to observe wildlife on Half Moon Bay, local pleasure boaters heading out for some deep sea fishing and charters boats packed with guests heading out to watch whales, great white sharks, sea lions and more in the waters near the Farallones or the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries.

There’s just something about breathing in the fresh air off the sea, smelling the salty tang of fresh seafood being unloaded and taking in the sights and sounds of a working harbor that is restful and exciting in equal measure. Surely part of the pleasure of visiting Pillar Point is knowing that the freshest possible seafood awaits at local eateries and the chance to bend an elbow and a story with local fisherman at one of the local bars after their catch is unloaded and sold at market. Buy a round and they may share their insight on the best places to fish for rockfish, spot migrating grey whales, see a great white breach and dispatch a 900-pound sea lion and other cool things to see and do.

Getting down to Pillar Point Harbor is an easy day trip from San Francisco but you may also want to stay a day or two and get a better feel for the area and the many opportunities for hiking, backpacking, biking, kayaking and more. If you visit during the winter months and conditions are favorable, you may also get to see the huge waves generated by offshore storms and the undersea terrain at Mavericks, located just outside the harbor. No matter what you choose to see and do here, you really should plan on spending some time on this portion of the coast. It’s beautiful, the food is great, the people are genuinely happy to see you, the views of the sea and land are spectacular and you just might have a wonderful time!