We haven’t had long trips for more than a year because of busy work schedule, instead, we have been doing short excursions to local attractions that we oversight before. During the last Labor Day weekend, we went to Half Moon Bay and stayed one night there.
We checked into Oceano Hotel and Spa at 3pm. We fell in love with the hotel once we stepped into the lobby. The lavishly furnished lobby lounge has a high glass ceiling and furniture throughout the hotel retains the distressed look but in fact well maintained. Our room is on the third floor. It’s spacious and has a balcony with panoramic views of the harbor.
The hotel and Sam’s Chowder House that we went to a couple of months ago sit on the opposite side of the harbor. We had a short walk to the restaurant. We stopped at the Harbor Village at the back of the hotel but found that only a handful stores were open. On our way back, we bought a cup of chowder and a beer at Barbara’s Fishtrap right across the street. We took a rest and enjoyed the view on our balcony.
Our activity before the dinner was going to see tide pool at Moss Beach, which is only two and a half miles to the north. The low tide is at 6:40pm. On our to the beach, we saw a beautiful pumpkin field by highway 1. Weren’t they matured too early well before the Thanksgiving?
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve was established by the State of California to protect flora and fauna around the Moss Beach. We parked our car at Lake Street, walked along the bluff trail to the Cypress Ave. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is mostly covered by dense Cypress trees. Even without the tide pool, hiking in the forest and along the bluff is a nice experience.
Going down two flights of stairs, we got to the beach. The tide pool on this side is a bit of small and we had to walk 30 feet over thick seaweeds. Somehow I had an unearthly feeling whiling plodding forward in the seaweeds by the beach. Sea anemones and hermit crabs were everywhere, several larger crabs could be spotted too, but didn’t see any starfish.
Wearing flip flops or wet boots is recommended. We didn’t. Standing on the slippery rocks, surrounded by seaweeds, we witnessed one of the clearest and complete sunset we’ve ever seen.
Driving north for another 2 miles, we had our dinner at La Costanera. The location is perfect for this Peruvian restaurant. Their dishes have the Peruvian look but lack the charm and passion that real Peruvian food brings.
La Costanera is right next to the three-quarter-mile-long Montara Beach. It’s 10 o’clock after our dinner. We walked down to the beach. There were still two groups of people around their campfires under the cliff, but beach were all ours.
The next morning, we get up early, before the crowd comes, we had a walk around the harbor. This is an advantage of living by the sea. The air was cool and soft. All we heard were seagulls cawing, seals barking and gannets diving into the water for fish.
We had the breakfast at Ketch Joanne. Their plates come with big portions.
After the big breakfast, it’s time to have some exercises. Driving north for 5 miles, only a couple of minutes north to the La Costanera restaurant, we park the car on the east side of highway 1 across Gray Whale Cove State Beach. Montara Mountain, positioned between Montara and Pacifica, offers various options of hiking trails, from easy ones along the coastal lines to more challenging one to reach the mountain summit.
The trail rose quickly to about 200 ft onto the coastal ridge. We took the easy Gray Whale Cove Trail to the south. The trail is almost flat and winding along the coast. There are a series of bluffs providing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. We turned back at Montara Mountain Peak Trail junction, climb the Montara Mountain for half a mile and eventually descended to Gray Whale Cove State Beach through a steep slope of the mountain.
We checked out from the hotel at noon. At the summit on Route 92, we turned right to Skyline Blvd. This is the first time that we drove on this road. While running along the ridge of the mountain, at this section, I saw no vista point that allows us to have a clear view of the San Francisco Bay. The annual Kings Mountain Art Fair was holding among the redwoods every Labor Day weekend. It’s some place we can visit next time.