There are very few choices for dog owners who would like to get outdoors and enjoy a walk along the beach with their pets in San Mateo county. Because of environmental concerns for an endangered ground-nesting shorebird called the Snowy Plover, dogs are generally forbidden at most public beaches. However, three locations have been reserved as “dog friendly” beaches where a leashed canine is permitted anywhere along the shoreline.
Bean Hollow State Beach, Pescadero, CA
Bean Hollow state beach is located near the southern end of San Mateo county’s coastline, in a remote area approximately three miles south of the town of Pescadero. The beach is made up of a sizable flat, sandy area as well as a rocky terrace where a nature trail has been established.
It is common to see dogs on-leash at both the sandy part of the beach as well as on the walking trail, and there are areas along the walking trail at the water’s edge that offer interesting tide-pooling opportunities. Compared to beaches in the Northern part of the county, Bean Hollow State Beach is relatively uncrowded although the parking facilities can still reach capacity at peak times such as Summer weekends. The beach is designated as a day use area and is officially open from 8am to Sunset although gaining access earlier in the morning is possible.
Blufftop Coastal Park, Half Moon Bay
Locally known as Poplar State Beach, the Blufftop Coastal Park is located within a few blocks of downtown Half Moon Bay. It is one of the area’s larger beaches with ample sandy shoreline for relaxing, an extensive picnic area, and a hiking trail that connects up with the larger Coastside trail that stretches north to Pillar Point Harbor.
Poplar Beach is a popular destination for coastside residents. In addition to dogs being permitted at this beach, horses are also allowed everywhere. More so than accomplished riders, most of the visitors on horseback are relative novices who have rented their steeds from nearby tour operators, and this can make for a potentially chaotic blend of beachgoers, excited dogs, and skittish horses.
Montara State Beach, Montara
Rounding out the list of dog-friendly San Mateo county beaches is Montara State Beach, located eight miles north of Half Moon Bay. Featuring a modest beach area as well as a steep approach from the small parking lot, this locale may be the least frequently visited of the beaches that welcome dogs and their owners. Visitors report that most of the beach area here can be immersed at high tide, so going on a stroll at Montara State Beach may require more advance planning that at the other locations where you are permitted to walk your dog in San Mateo county.