There’s quite possibly nothing better than a day at the beach, and when you stay at HI Point Montara Lighthouse hostel, you have access to some of the most beautiful pieces of the coast in California. The only question is, what are you looking for on your ideal beach day? Some people are all about the action of shore-side games and water sports, while others are content with a towel and a good book and sweet sunshine. Whatever your need, you can find it not too far from the hostel. There’s even a little cove right in front of the hostel if you don’t want to venture too far, but if you do, there are plenty more excellent options for all types of ocean-lovers. So get your supplies and sunscreen, because we’re going to the beach!
Montara State Beach
Go a little north of the hostel and you’ll find the little sandy stretch of beach protected by low hills on either side. Montara State Beach is a good one for folks who like to play games in the sand like Frisbee or volleyball, and there are even poles to set up a game, though you’ll have to bring your own net. There are also excellent views from the parking lot of the beach, and since it’s not too far from HI Point Montara, it’s good for a quick drive to catch the perfect sunset.
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
If you’re looking for a few more amenities and a few more people to complete the beach vibes, then go a mile north from Montara State Beach to Gray Whale Cove, which is accessed from a long stairway that leads to the little cove. As the name suggests, this is a great place to see the great whale migration each winter and spring, and it’s a favorite of those who fish. There’s also a picnic area at the top of the cliffs offering beautiful views, so you can plan to spend a full day here just relaxing and looking for creatures from the deep.
Surfers don’t need an introduction to this beach, which attracts wave-riders from around the world each year for the Titans of Mavericks competition. Known for its unbelievably high breaks, Mavericks waves are definitely not for beginners or the faint-hearted, but the beach is a good place to go and see those who defy the laws of nature riding the giant barrels. If you’d like a less intimidating spot to surf, there’s Ross Cove just before the peninsula point at Mavericks, which is a little better for intermediate surfers and is a hub for local surfers.
Sometimes you’re just in need of some beach solitude so you can contemplate life alongside the ocean. Dunes Beach, further south down Highway 1, is a long continuous stretch of soft sand with tall dunes. It’s perfect for solitary beach combing and long, uninterrupted hangouts with friends since it doesn’t get as busy as other local spots tend to. While the active folk run and bike on the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail, which runs adjacent to the beach, you can take shelter between the dunes and watch the waves. It costs $10 to park in the lot for Dunes Beach, or you can park further away near the main road.
HI USA Tip: Get tide pooling and birdwatching while you’re in the neighborhood!