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Pillar Point Harbor

Approximately 25 miles south of San Francisco, in the small town of Princeton, Pillar Point Harbor is a home port for commercial and sport fishing boats and a take-off point for whale watching, scuba diving, and kayaking in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The harbor is sheltered by the Pillar Point headland to the north and two large breakwaters to the south. You can stop for a meal or a snack on the lively little waterfront and, in season, go directly to the fishing boats to buy fish from the people who caught them. The docks themselves aren't accessible during low tide, but the fishers will bring the fish to you. You can also try to catch something yourself from the recreational fishing pier (42-inch railings).

For a ride that allows close-up observation of life in a saltmarsh, take the West Shoreline Trail. A half-mile section of the paved Coastside Trail takes off to the south from the end of the harbor road, traveling along the harbor to El Granada Beach. A lovely way to end the day is to dine at one of the ocean-view restaurants on Capistrano Road.

Trail/Pathway Details

West Shoreline Trail

Trailhead: At the parking lot off West Point Avenue

Length: 1-2 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Firm


As you roll out on the trail, the restored saltmarsh is to your left, with the harbor beyond. Romeo Pier, a rickety green shed perched at its end, juts far out into the water. The Pillar Point Air Force Station, a radar facility atop a promontory, is above you to the right, surrounded by a fence and Monterey cypress. Looking out at the breakwater, you may spot harbor seals lounging on the rocks or pelicans diving in the ocean; the quieter waters of the harbor are popular with kayakers and paddle-boarders. Farther along, at a small inaccessible beach, the trail climbs slightly, and with the cross-slope, wheelchair riders will want to hug the hillside. Someone has laid out stones in a maze here. The trail ends 50 feet from the breakwater.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Accessible Parking: Yes

Accessible spots are scattered throughout the harbor and boat launch parking lots, and one is in the gravel parking lot at the West Shoreline trailhead.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

Across from the Harbormaster's Office at the foot of Johnson Pier. An accessible portapottie is at West Shoreline trailhead. The restroom at the boat launch near the Coastal Trail is mostly accessible, but the entrance and the turnaround area are tight because of trash can placement, and the stall door is difficult to open and close.

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

Behind the Harbormaster's Office
A maze along West Shoreline Trail
A maze along West Shoreline Trail (Eileen Ecklund)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • boating
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • picnic

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: San Mateo County Harbor District
Address: 1 Johnson Pier, Half Moon Bay
Nearest City: Half Moon Bay
Phone: (650) 726-5727
Hours: Always open
Fees: None
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: SamTrans
Reviewed by Eileen Ecklund, July 22, 2012
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing