Pescadero State Beach: Everything You Need to Know

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Pescadero State Beach is 15 miles south of Half Moon Bay and is part of a chain of Coastside beaches that string together some of California’s best coastline. In addition to a nice mile-long stretch of sand, this state beach park has a few surprises in store for you. This guide for Pescadero Beach will help you plan a day trip there, with suggestions for what to do, when to go and where to park.

Pescadero State Beach arch
The arch on the south end of the sandy beach.

Pescadero State Beach FAQ

Where is Pescadero State Beach?

It’s located on Highway 1, 15 miles south of Half Moon Bay at Pescadero Creek Road.

Where to Park for Pescadero State Beach?

There are three parking lots for Pescadero beach.

The north lot is before the Pescadero Creek outflow. This is the smallest lot (~20 spots), but also the one where you’ll find the State Parks payment kiosk. The central lot is immediately after the bridge that crosses over the creek and has ~30 spaces. The South lot is just south of Pescadero Creek Road and it has ~50 spots. There is also some parking along the eastern side on Pescadero Creek Road, which offers access to the Marsh trail, but it isn’t a good place to park for the beach.

If you want access to the sandy beach, use the north or central lots. If you want access to the marsh trails, use the central lot. If you want access for tide pooling, use the south lot.

Are there Day Use Fees for Pescadero Beach?

Yes. The day use fees are $8 per car, which you can purchase on the north end kiosk. You can also use the annual pass hangtag. Use our guide to find your best option for a CA state parks pass.

Can I Bring My Dog to Pescadero Beach?

Sadly, no. The nearest dog-friendly beach is Poplar Beach which is just south of Half Moon Bay State Beach Park, near downtown.

Are there Restrooms?

Yes, there is a single restroom at each parking lot.

Are There Food or Activity Consessions?

No. Bring your own food, chairs and beach toys. You can get sandwiches at the small grocery store in nearby Pescadero. There are picnic tables at the south parking lot.

Can You Swim at Pescadero?

Coastside surfers do go into the water. However it’s a very cold 50-60’F and the surfers are doing it in wetsuits. The area beaches also have riptides. It’s fine to play along the edges of the water on a calm day, but be very careful to keep an eye on the surf.

Can You Light a Fire?

There is driftwood on the beach and you will see evidence of fires. However, the State Parks authority specifically forbids fire on the beach.

What are the Park Hours

This is a day use beach and there is no camping. You can visit the park from 8am-sunset.

Half Moon Bay Pescadero beach rocks
Rocky section of the north end of the beach.
Girl on Pescadero state beach
Girl playing at Pescadero beach.

Read More: Get the full downlow on all CA parks with our complete California State Parks list (with map).

Fun Things to do at Pescadero State Beach

Stroll the Mile Long Sandy Beach

The beach between the north and south parking lots is a mile long. It’s a nice wide stretch of sandy beach which is perfect for strolling, even during a high tide.

Pescadero beach marsh driftwood room
The driftwood room in the estuary.
Pescadero driftwood pile on beach
Driftwood sculpture on the beach.

Make a Driftwood Sculpture

Pescadero and Butano Creeks run right out of the nearby redwood forests, down the hill and into the ocean. So, there is quite a bit of driftwood that ends up at Pescadero, much more so than the other nearby beaches. You and the kids can have a lot of fun arranging and rearranging the wood into cool shapes. In fact, there is a large driftwood “room” just east of the freeway overpass on the estuary beach.

Pescadero marsh trail and trees
The trees and trail along the marsh.

Take a Hike in the Marsh

The Pescadero Marsh is a 600 acre preserve visited by 230 species of birds. It’s a low wetland fed by the 62 square mile Pescadero watershed. In the winter, the strong tides pull sand out of the estuary but in the summer, the creek redeposits the sand, creating a lagoon.

From the central lot, you can easily access the 1.8 mile Sequoia Audubon trail, which goes along the levee into the interior of the marsh. Or you can access the Levee walk from Pescadero Creek Road.

If you like a good long stroll, you should also check out our guide for hiking in Half Moon Bay. It features 10 more trails.

Pescadero marsh estuary and lagoon
View of the Pescadero Creek marsh.

Go Tide Pooling

The south lot isn’t a great place for accessing the long sandy beach, but it does have its charms. There are picnic tables with killer views and a small sandy cove which is accessible during medium-low tide. There is also a rocky promontory which is great for tide pooling. Check the Half Moon Bay tide charts so that you can time it right.

Pescadero beach stairs and grasses
The stairs down to the beach.

Catch a Killer Sunset

Pescadero Beach faces directly west and is a great spot for watching a classic California sunset.

Pescadero state beach view from cliff. sandy beach and grasses
View from the central parking lot.

More Fun Things to do in Half Moon Bay and the Coastside

Pescadero beach creek overpass
Overpass over Pescadero beach.

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4 thoughts on “Pescadero State Beach: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Hi! I am planning a little three days trip from SF to Pescadero Town but without a car. I would like to ask you if you think the road from Pescadero Town to the State beach is walkable or I am dreaming too much? I also notice there are no bike rentals in the little town either, so I am blocked in my planning for the moment. Your experience and answer could give me some light I am sure. Thank you before hand for this article as well.



    • It would be extremely difficult for you to get to and around Pescadero without a car. I would recommend taking the bus, but staying in Half Moon Bay where hotels, restaurants and beaches are closer to the bus line.

    • It would be tight. None of the three parking lots are configured for pull-through. If you went on a quiet weekday, you could just pull in sideways and take up 4 spots. Or park across Highway 1 in the small lot for the wetland. Half Moon Bay state beach at Francis has ample RV parking.


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