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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 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, which you can purchase online here.
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.
Read More: Get the full downlow on all CA parks with this complete California State Parks list.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Catch a Killer Sunset
Pescadero Beach faces directly west and is a great spot for watching a classic California sunset.
More Fun Things to do in Half Moon Bay and the Coastside
- Get more beach action by checking out one of the three beaches that are part of the Half Moon Bay State Beach Park.
- Visit the tiny Gray Whale Cove beach (and take a selfie on the beach swing).
- Take a hike on the Devil’s Slide.
- If you are visiting in the fall, be sure to check out the Half Moon Bay pumpkin patches.
- Book a beachy weekend getaway at one of these cool coastal Airbnbs in Half Moon Bay.
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