Half Moon Bay is a coastal city in San Mateo County, California, USA. Its population was 11,842 as of the 2000 census. Immediately at the north of Half Moon Bay is the Pillar Point Harbor and the unincorporated community of Princeton-by-the-Sea.
Half Moon Bay is located at (37.458840, -122.436848), approximately south of San Francisco, 10 miles (16 km) west of San Mateo, and 45 miles (72 km) north of Santa Cruz. Neighboring towns include Montara, Moss Beach, and El Granada to the north and Purissima, San Gregorio, and Pescadero to the south. Primary access is via State Route 1 (the Cabrillo Highway) from the north and south and State Route 92 from the east.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.5 square miles (16.8 km²), of which, 6.5 square miles (16.8 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.31%) is water.
It is situated on a bay of the same name. Major local industries include agriculture (houseplants, floriculture, Christmas trees, pumpkins, artichokes), fishing, and tourism. Historically, Half Moon Bay has been known as San Benito and Spanishtown.
A popular spot at Half Moon Bay is the 'Jetty,' or as it is sometimes called, 'The Breakwater.' This is a man-made break with unusual waves shaped by reflections from the breakwater at Pillar Point Harbor. Streams in Half Moon Bay include Frenchmans Creek, Pilarcitos Creek and Naples Creek.
The town is served by Half Moon Bay Airport. The local newspaper is the Half Moon Bay Review. The city has one of only two high schools along the Pacific coast between Pacifica and Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay High School, which is part of the Cabrillo Unified School District. Other schools include the Cunha Middle School and the Hatch Elementary School.
January is the coolest month with an average high of 58.0 °F (14.4 °C) and an average low of 43.4 °F (6.3 °C). September is the warmest month with an average high of 66.5°F (19.2°C) and an average low of 52.0 °F (11.1 °C). The highest temperature ever recorded in Half Moon Bay is 94 °F (34 °C), which occurred on August 29 1968; September 11 1983; October 4 1985; June 14 2000; and May 15 2008. For many years the record lowest temperature in Half Moon Bay was 27 °F (-2.8 °C); on December 3 1983, calm conditions, low humidity, and clear skies produced a low of 18 °F (-7.8 °C).
The most rainfall recorded in Half Moon Bay in one month was 15.70 inches (39.88 cm) in February 1998. The heaviest 24 hour rainfall was 5.33 inches (13.5 cm) on January 4 1982. There is an average of 94.6 days with measurable rainfall.
There were 4,004 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.3% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 23.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 28.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 112.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 115.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $78,473, and the median income for a family was $92,204. Males had a median income of $60,913 versus $41,265 for females. The per capita income for the city was $37,963. 6.1% of the population and 3.4% of families were below the poverty line. 7.0% of those are under the age of 18 and 6.2% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Half Moon Bay began as a rural agriculture area, primarily used for grazing of cattle, horses, and oxen used by Mission San Francisco de Asis (established in June 1776). In the early nineteenth century land grants were given to Spanish settlers, who established farms and ranches.
The community began to develop in the 1840s as the first real town in San Mateo County. Known originally as San Benito, the town was renamed Spanishtown and attracted a thriving fishing industry in addition to its continued importance to coastal agriculture. Spanishtown became a racially diverse community, settled by Canadians, Chinese, English, Germans, Irish, Mexicans, Italians, Scots, Portuguese, and Pacific Islanders. Regular stagecoach service was established with San Mateo; coaches also served the communities of Purissima, Lobitos, and San Gregorio. Levy Brothers opened a department store in downtown Half Moon Bay. Spanishtown was officially renamed Half Moon Bay in 1874.
The area grew very slowly, even after the Ocean Shore Railroad began serving the community in 1907. The construction of Pedro Mountain Road in 1914 provided better access to San Francisco and probably contributed to the demise of the railroad by 1920. During Prohibition "rum runners" took advantage of dense fog and hidden coves in the area to serve a number of roadhouses and inns, some of which operate today as restaurants. Real growth in the area came after World War II with the construction of numerous subdivisions, eventually leading to the incorporation of Half Moon Bay in 1959. The city preserves a historic downtown district which includes historic buildings dating as far back as 1869.
The Pillar Point Harbor at the northern edge of Half Moon Bay offers a protected landing for boats and provides other marine infrastructure. In the late 1980s a new master plan was developed for the Harbor. A variety of fish species have been identified in the harbor area. The most abundant fish include flatfish, particularly the speckled sandcrab (Citharichthys stigmaeus) and the commercially important English sole (Parophrys vetulus), several species of rockfish (Sebastes sp.) with boccacio (S. paucispinis) most abundant, many members of the surfperch family, the most abundant being shiner (Cymanogaster aggregata) and dwarf surfperches (Micrometrus minimus), and the commercially important Pacific herring (Clupea harengus). Smaller populations of many other species, including significant commercial or sport species such as various surfperch, flatfish including halibut (Paralichthys californicus), lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), and cabezon (Scoraenichthys marmotarus) also are found in the harbor during the summer. Abundant winter species include starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) and topsmelt (Atherinops affinis). Pillar Point Harbor is home to the famous Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, known for its homemade beer, nightlife, and ocean views.
Half Moon Bay hosts its popular "Art and Pumpkin Festival" on Main Street downtown in October.
The Odd Fellows Building at 526 Main Street, Half Moon Bay has been the home to Ocean View Lodge #143, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) since April 18, 1868. Ocean View Lodge members were instrumental in the incorporation of the City of Half Moon Bay. The first Mayor John "Nick" Carter and the original city councilmen were members of this fraternal benevolent society. Ocean View Lodge donated land for the first developed city park- Ocean View Park and developed the first low cost senior housing facility on the San Mateo County Coastside- Ocean View Plaza, which it sponsors to this day as part of its ongoing benevolent work for over 140 years.
Cameron's Pub restaurant, located in Half Moon Bay, owns the "World's Only Double Decker Video Game Bus." For the adults, Cameron's also owns the "World's Only Double Decker Smoking Bus".
The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, located on the Pillar Point Harbor, is the only brewpub on the San Mateo County coast.
There are two hotels by the Pillar Point Harbor: the Oceano Hotel and Spa and the Pillar Point Inn. On the weekends during open season fresh local fish is available to the public to purchase directly from local fisherman at the Harbor. Barbara's Fish Trap will cook fresh fish purchased at the harbor and serve it in their restaurant for a small fee.
The remnants of the village of Purissima, perhaps the only ghost town in San Mateo County, are four miles (6 km) south of the city, near the junction of State Route 1 and Verde Road.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain operates a hotel on the coast in the city.
Montara Mountain, located North of Half Moon Bay, is a popular outdoor recreation spot, and home to the old Highway 1.
Half Moon Bay, and the areas immediately around host several state parks and beaches, including: