San Gregorio State Beach (near Half Moon Bay, CA)

Estuary at San Gregorio State Beach

San Gregorio State Beach happens to be the closest beach coming over the mountains on Highway 84. I am not-so-secretly planning to visit every beach from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, but this week I just wanted the closest bit of sand and ocean possible.

Once we turned onto Highway 1 the turn into the San Gregorio parking lot was only about 400 feet. The cost to park is $10 or they accept the California Explorer Pass, which we have.

The kids and I stopped at the bathrooms and then walked down the path to the estuary.

Path to San Gregorio State Beach
Not a bad first glimpse, San Gregorio State Beach and estuary

The estuary was warmer than the ocean and several children were swimming or floating. I was waiting for a call so we played here for 30 minutes where the cell signal was strong. The kids climbed on the rocks and trunks and on the side of the cliff. HJ claimed the cliff as her throne and K fell into the estuary and busted his lip.

Playing on the cliffs

HJ and K on the tree trunk
If she can do it, why can’t I? K climbed on the trunk to copy his sister and fell in on his face. He was soaking wet with a busted lip. Is it bad parenting to tell your kids “I told you so?”

After I’d taken care of my call we continued to the beach. There is no path and people seemed split between climbing over the rocks or wading around them. We went over and found it pretty easy, even with the kids.

I chose to bear right at the beach and found a nice quiet spot near a sea cave. The sea cave smelled like bonfires but was in good enough shape for the kids to explore and play. I picked up some trash, but only enough to fill a small sand bucket. Names and messages were written all over the cave in

Sea Cave at San Gregorio State Beach
Everyone loves a sea cave!

From there it was just plain old beachy goodness! The kids made friends, we stuck our feet in the water, and we built sand castles. The kids also did some more climbing on the cliffs.

HJ leading me into the water K on San Gregorio State Beach


There were some paths on the cliff but we didn’t have time for hikes. I will definitely check them out in the future, especially since this beach is so conveniently located!

If you’re interested in other beaches we’ve checked out in the area read Hikes and Rambles: Gray Whale Cove and TrailNatural Bridges State Beach (Santa Cruz)Wilder Ranch State Park, and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (near Half Moon Bay). Once I get everywhere from Santa Cruz to San Francisco I’ll put together a master post of my favorites. In the meantime, I just have to get to all those beaches! What a sacrifice. ?

If you have pint-sized children like I do, check out The Ultimate Beach Packing List for Babies and Toddlers.

4 responses to “San Gregorio State Beach (near Half Moon Bay, CA)”

  1. I want to sacrifice my family as well for beaches of California. Planning actually a road trip there next year. Hopefully I will do it.


    1. magnetsfromeverywhere Avatar

      You definitely should! We are new to California from the east coast and we were blown away by the beaches here! Something about looking at the ocean and then turning around to see the mountains. ❤️


  2. We’ve never been to California, maybe in the future!


    1. magnetsfromeverywhere Avatar

      Definitely! It’s a beautiful state with lots to offer! ?


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