Ah, Half Moon Bay on a sunny September day. Eight miles of beach and that farm-meets-coast atmosphere. It’s a classic getaway. The cherry on the top of this sundae is a little-visited slice of sand called Cowell Ranch Beach. To get there, head south of Half Moon Bay. Just past the Ritz Carlton, you’ll find a tiny parking lot. Look for the sign that says Cowell Ranch Beach. Follow the flat half-mile trail through an artichoke field—and thank the Peninsula Open Space Trust for preserving this working farm from development. At the end of the trail, descend a wooden stairway about a hundred feet to a crescent-shaped beach that’s tucked away from the rest of the world by towering cliffs. Enjoy the ocean breeze, watch the harbor seals play, and relish a different side of Half Moon Bay.
Directions: Head south on Highway 1 through the Half Moon Bay. At three-quarters of a mile past Miramontes Rd. (which goes to the Ritz), look for a small parking lot on the right. If it’s full, park one-quarter mile down the road on a turn-out on the right. Dogs not allowed.