Half Moon Bay Campground – Location, Fees, Beach, Map, Reservations, and Regulations

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If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, look no further than Half Moon Bay Campground. Located on the scenic coast of Northern California, this campground offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches, and a variety of outdoor activities. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, you’ll find something to enjoy at this beautiful destination.

Half Moon Bay Campground
Half Moon Bay Campground

I’ve been camping at Half Moon Bay Campground several times, and I always have a great time. Here are some of the reasons why I love this place and why you should visit it too.

Consider reading: 7 Best Things to Do in Shelter Cove

Half Moon Bay Campground – Location and Accessibility

Half Moon Bay Campground is part of Half Moon Bay State Beach, which stretches for four miles along the coast. The campground is located at Francis Beach, which is the main hub of the state park.

You can easily access the Half Moon Bay campground by car from Highway 1, and it’s only about 30 minutes away from San Francisco.

The Half Moon Bay campground has 52 campsites, most of which can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40 feet long. Some sites also have electric hookups, but there are no water or sewer hookups.

However, there is a dump station and a water-filling station nearby. The campground also has restrooms, showers, firewood, and a visitor center.

If you’re looking for a more rustic experience, you can also check out Sweetwood Group Camp, which is located between Venice and Dunes beaches.

This site is for tent camping only and can host up to 50 people and 12 vehicles. It has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets, but no running water.

Half Moon Bay Campground Map view
Half Moon Bay Campground Map view

Download Half Moon Bay Campground Map.

You can make reservations for both campgrounds online at www.reservecalifornia.com or by calling 1-800-444-PARK (7275). Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak season (April to October).

You can also try your luck with walk-in sites, but they are very limited and may be released daily at 2 pm.

Here’s a summary of the key data information for both Half Moon Bay campgrounds:

CampgroundFrancis BeachSweetwood Group Camp
Number of sites521
RV/trailer length limit40 feetNone
HookupsElectric (some sites)None
Water/SewerDump station and water filling stationNone
Visitor CenterYesNo
Fee per night$35-$50$165
Key data for Half Moon Bay Campgrounds

Beaches and Trails at Half Moon Bay Campground

One of the main attractions of Half Moon Bay Campground is the beach. You can walk to Francis Beach from your campsite and enjoy the sun, sand, and surf. The beach is wide and clean, and the water is usually calm and clear.

You can swim, fish, surf, kayak, or just relax on the shore. There are also picnic areas, barbecues, and restrooms with running water.

If you want to explore other beaches in the state park, you can drive or bike to Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, or Roosevelt Beach.

Each beach has its own parking lot and amenities. Venice Beach has restrooms, showers, and a small picnic area. Dunes Beach has restrooms only. Roosevelt Beach has a small parking lot and picnic area, as well as pit toilets.

You can also enjoy the Coastside Trail, which runs along the eastern boundary of the four beaches.

The trail is paved and accessible for walkers, joggers, bikers, and wheelchairs. It offers spectacular views of the ocean and the cliffs, as well as opportunities to spot wildlife such as birds, seals, whales, and dolphins.

The trail is about three miles long one way, but you can extend your hike or bike ride by connecting to other trails in the area. For example, you can take the Blufftop Trail to Pillar Point Harbor or the Mirada Trail to Miramar Beach.

Half Moon Bay Campground Rules and Regulations

Below are key guidelines and regulations for your visit to Half Moon Bay Campground:

  1. Fires: Lighting fires on the beach is prohibited.
  2. Horses: Horses are only permitted on the dirt trail running parallel to the Coastside Trail, from Venice to Francis Beach. Horse trailers can only be parked at Venice Beach. Horses are not permitted on State Beaches.
  3. Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on the beaches. However, they are welcome in the campground, day-use picnic areas, and on the Coastside Trail, provided they are leashed and controlled (maximum leash length: six feet).
  4. Beach Wheelchair: An all-terrain beach wheelchair, which can be used without sinking into the sand, is available for public use at no cost. It can be obtained from the Francis Beach Entrance Station located at 95 Kelly Ave. This chair enables wheelchair users to access the beach at Francis. Its purchase was partially funded by a local chapter of the Lions Club.
  5. Drones: For the safety of visitors, and staff, and to protect wildlife and cultural resources, the use of drones, model aircraft, and gliders is prohibited in the park.
  6. Collecting: Removing shells, driftwood, and other natural features from the beach is prohibited.
  7. Fireworks: Fireworks are not allowed.
  8. Camping: Sites for both tent and RV camping are available. Some sites offer electric hookups. No sewer or water hookups are available, but there is a dump and water filling station. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.
  9. Length of Stay: A 30-day stay limit applies to all Santa Cruz District’s camping facilities. This limit applies collectively to all parks, including Big Basin Redwood SP, Butano SP, Half Moon Bay SB, Henry Cowell SP, Manresa SB, New Brighton SB, Portola Redwood SP, Seacliff SB, and Sunset SB.
  10. Dump Station: Located at Francis Beach, a $10 fee applies for use. Note that this fee is separate from the camping reservation fee. Visitors using only the dump station will also have to pay park entrance fees separately.
  11. Ocean Safety: Be cautious near or in the ocean. The water remains cold year-round, posing risks of cramps or hypothermia. Strong rip currents may also pull even experienced swimmers offshore.
  12. Permits: All events and weddings require permits. Additionally, a permit is necessary for all commercial photography. To obtain permits, contact the following:

Nearby Attractions

If you want to venture out of the Half Moon Bay Campground and explore more of Half Moon Bay and its surroundings, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Half Moon Bay Main Street: This charming downtown area has shops, restaurants, galleries, museums, and historical buildings. You can stroll along the sidewalks and admire the architecture or browse for souvenirs and local products.
  • Half Moon Bay Golf Links: If you’re a golf enthusiast or just want to try something new, you can play at one of the two 18-hole courses at this scenic golf resort. The Old Course features ocean views and classic design elements. The Ocean Course offers more challenge and variety with rolling fairways and coastal terrain.
  • Pescadero State Beach: This beach is about 15 miles south of Half Moon Bay and is worth the drive. It has a long stretch of sand, rocky coves, tide pools, and a marsh area. You can hike, bike, fish, or picnic here, or just enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility.
  • Ano Nuevo State Park: This park is about 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay and is home to a large colony of elephant seals. You can take a guided tour to see these amazing animals up close, especially during the breeding season (December to March). You can also hike on the trails and see other wildlife such as sea lions, otters, coyotes, and birds.

Final Thoughts on Half Moon Bay Campground

Half Moon Bay Campground is one of my favorite places to camp in California. It has everything I need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay: a comfortable campsite, a beautiful beach, a scenic trail, and plenty of nearby attractions.

I always have a memorable time here and I can’t wait to go back. If you’re looking for a coastal escape, I highly recommend you visit Half Moon Bay Campground. You won’t regret it!

FAQs on Half Moon Bay Campground

How much is it to camp at Half Moon Bay?

The cost to camp at Half Moon Bay’s Francis Beach Campground varies depending on the season and amenities. Rates range from 35$ to 50$ per night for tent camping and 55$ to 65$ per night for RV camping. It’s best to check the official website or contact the campground for up-to-date prices and availability.

Are dogs allowed at Half Moon Bay State Park?

Yes, dogs are allowed at Half Moon Bay State Park. While they are not permitted on the sand at Half Moon Bay State Beach, they can enjoy the Coastal Trail. This 11-mile paved trail offers stunning views of the coastline, including beautiful white sandy beaches. Keep your furry companion by your side as you explore this scenic park.

Are bonfires allowed in Half Moon Bay?

Bonfires are not allowed on Half Moon Bay State Beach. The beach prohibits fires, along with dogs, horses, and fireworks. However, dogs are allowed on the campground, day-use picnic areas, and Coastal Trail, as long as they are on a leash no longer than six feet.

Does Half Moon Bay Beach have bathrooms?

Yes, Half Moon Bay Beach has bathrooms. Francis Beach, the main hub of Half Moon Bay State Beach, has restrooms with running water. Visitors can take advantage of these facilities while enjoying the beach’s accessible location, paved ramps, and large picnic area with barbecues.

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