Fishing license required to take fish; check fishing zones and updates rules and regulations at wildlife.ca.gov
Leashed pets are welcome year-round
Surfing, Fishing, Hiking, Birding, Whale Watching, Dog Walking
Restrooms, Trails, Lifeguards, Fishing Piers
Free to visit
Free parking in Pillar Point Marsh parking lot
El Matador Beach
Mavericks Beach is a world-famous surfing beach on the California coastline. It's situated in San Mateo County in a small but lively coastal town known as Half Moon Bay. If you're interested in learning all about this fascinating and beautiful beach, continue reading!
Maverick waves are some of the biggest on the West Coast, reaching up to 25 feet high. This is why you'll mostly find surfers here. But, it's also a fantastic place to enjoy other water activities, a picturesque setting, and beach town vibes.
Mavericks Beach History
Mavericks has a captivating story, and it's come a long way. In 1967, a group of surfers was exploring the area with a large dog named Maverick. The dog belonged to one of the surfers, and he loved the water as much as his companions did. The beautiful beach was eventually named after him.
In 1975, Jeff Clark became the first person to surf Mavericks. He was a local who had been watching the waves for years, waiting for the perfect opportunity to ride them. He had the beach to himself for about 15 years until Mavericks became known worldwide.
It all changed in 1990 when a couple of surfing friends joined Jeff Clark, and Mavericks was no longer a secret. Surfing enthusiasts began to visit the beach after seeing photos in a surfing magazine.
In 1994, Mavericks Beach was the location of the movie "Chasing Mavericks," putting it on the map. Then, starting in 2012, a new set of big-wave surfers began to take on the swells. These include guys like Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Greg Long, and Shane Dorian.
Today, Mavericks Beach is still a popular spot to ride massive waves.
Getting to Mavericks Beach
Mavericks Beach is in Half Moon Bay, California. If you're coming by car, you'll take Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay. Then, take the Main Street exit, and you'll find the beach at the end of Main Street.
There is also a small airport in Half Moon Bay if you plan to fly in. You could also fly into San Francisco International Airport and take a shuttle or taxi to Half Moon Bay.
To access the beach itself, you'll go to the Pillar Point Marsh parking lot through the Half Moon Bay community. Then, you'll hike down the trail to the shore.
Where to Stay
Mavericks Beach is an excellent place for a vacation, and there are plenty of places to stay. You can find various hotels along Highway 1. We recommend checking out Beach House Hotel, a charming waterfront hotel, and Oceano Hotel & Spa, which offers a relaxing yet luxurious vibe.
Things to Do at Mavericks Beach
While big wave surfing is Mavericks' top attraction, there are actually many things to enjoy at and near the beach.
You can find many surfers from around the world at Mavericks. It's essential to remember that these are some of the biggest waves in the area, so you'll want to be aware of the conditions if you plan to get out on the water. Some people also come to enjoy watching the surfers.
Mavericks Beach is also a popular spot for surfing competitions. The first competition was held in 1998, and it was called the Mavericks Surf Contest. The event is now known as the World Surf League (WSL) Mavericks Challenge. If you want to watch the competition, the best place to view it is from the beach near Pillar Point Harbor.
If you're a beginner that wants to experience riding these huge waves, check out Open Ocean's Surf Lessons and Camps in Half Moon Bay.
Other Water Activities
Aside from surfing, other water activities visitors enjoy at Mavericks include bodyboarding and windsurfing. And, if you need gear, be sure to check out a local surf shop.
The big waves at Mavericks make bodyboarding an exciting challenge. And, while the water can be chilly and rough, advanced beachgoers enjoy swimming in the water. Just be careful!
It's also an ideal spot for windsurfing, especially with its winds and big waves.
If you're looking to explore away from the beach, there are some serene hiking trails nearby. The Coastal Trail is a popular option, and it leads to amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Many anglers enjoy fishing at Mavericks Beach. Even surfers have been known to bring in big catches. You can find several piers along the beach where you can catch salmon, rockfish, and perch. Check out updated tides for fishing and bite times here.
Due to the dramatic waves and magical rock formations at Mavericks, it's the ideal destination for photography. If you come at high tide, you may even be able to snap shots of sea creatures like seals, sea lions, and otters. Come here for whale watching and birdwatching.
As mentioned, you might spot sea creatures during high tide at Mavericks. But, no matter the tide, the beach is always a great place for whale watching and birdwatching.
Dining and Drinking
Many beachgoers enjoy hanging out at Mavericks for the entire day because it's easy to take a beach break for food and drinks. You can find several restaurants and cafes in the area. The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is a popular spot, and it's located just a few minutes from the beach.