The sound of bagpipes draws us to the window. We have just returned from a long walk along a beautiful stretch of beach but the lament of the pipes draws us back outside. On the back lawn, a lone piper stands, playing the sun to bed.
As the dying rays of a glorious sunset sink into the sea, the last strains of Amazing Grace drift to silence. It’s a perfect moment.
We’re at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Resort, in the eponymous town. It looks for all the world like one of the grand hotels which proliferated at the start of the 20th century, but this one was 100 years late. Built in 2001, it has the sort of peaceful elegance one expects of those older properties. And its setting, hanging over the cliffs of this bay, provides oceanfront views. We will sleep to the music of surf washing on the beach below.
Ed points out the window toward the setting sun, “If you discount Hawaii, the next land that way is Asia.” (Neither of us can place Hawaii in relation to Half Moon Bay but we’re impressed by those thousands of miles of ocean!)
Our walk along the coastal trail took us along miles of beach, and in November, what a delicious treat to take off our shoes and sink toes into the sand. A dog apparently felt the same delight, he rushed back and forth with glee. It was good to walk off our lunch at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.
Located near the famous Mavericks beach, where surfers gather to test their mettle against some of the world’s highest breakers, this little spot is a microbrewery worthy of the name. We tested their Dark Horse, Mavericks Amber ale and Session ale. Then we had to taste Saison, a brew made with Peruvian cat’s claw and hibiscus, which tastes almost like a classic shandy. Profits from this brew go to Not for Sale, a program to stop human trafficking.
We can’t resist a lunch of the gorgeous Dungeness crab, in season now. The food is terrific; Travel + Leisure selected this spot as one of America’s Best Beach Bars. Best of all, this spot serves only sustainable seafood. After lunch, we have to check out all the Mavericks memorabilia here. A surfboard belonging to surfing pioneer, Jeff Clark, graces the wall of the bar, and a poster for the movie made about Mavericks is signed by all the surfers in the film.
Half Moon Bay actually offers a few interesting options for dining from the ocean’s local bounty. Sam’s Chowder House is also sustainable. And a bowl of their rich New Orleans gumbo is not to be missed. But I’m eternally grateful to them for my first taste of soft serve ice cream drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt! I know, I know….insane! But it’s delicious!
This pretty little town has so much going for it – blessed with fresh produce from the acres of farmland as well as bounty from the ocean. And then there’s the castle by the sea.