Located in San Mateo County, the coastal town of Half Moon Bay is about 30 miles south of San Francisco, 10 miles west of San Mateo, 45 miles north of Santa Cruz. Primary access to Half Moon Bay is via HWY 92 West from either HWY 101 or HWY 280 or Via HWY 1, Cabrillo HWY from San Francisco or Santa Cruz.
To the locals, the Half Moon Bay coast includes the towns of Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Moss Beach and Montara. The Coast is well known for surfing, commercial fishing and weekend tourism. There are numerous bed and breakfasts, EcoTourism activities, horseback riding, tide pools, hiking, floral farms, restaurants and shopping. The coast acts as one larger community and has a combined population of 22,469 per the 2000 census.
Half Moon Bays 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. As one would expect from the name, the "Half Moon" bay is semi-circular, with sea access to the south.
Half Moon Bay was the first town established in San Mateo County. The town was then called San Benito and began to develop in the 1840s. The town then renamed itself to Spanishtown and again to Half Moon Bay in 1874.