With its gorgeous setting on the cliffs, sweeping coastal views and outstanding dining options, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay offers a very fine guest experience. The Half Moon Bay resort, 20 miles south of San Francisco, has a ton of activities to keep you busy—plus hiking, wineries, local markets, farms, and more nearby.
Here are six reasons why this place is stellar:
1. Rooms with views and marble bathrooms
Rooms have feather beds and duvets, 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, sweeping views of the coast, and elegant marble bathrooms. Each suite features a separate bedroom, a stunning coastal view and a cozy fireplace.
2. The Navio dining experience
Chef Kevin Tanaka told us he got a degree in finance and used it for three months in Santa Clara. We’re glad he only used that degree for three months because then he might not be at the resort’s restaurant, Navio, delighting guests with his California coastal cuisine! He began with the restaurant in 2005 as a kitchen intern and worked his way up to the top rather quickly. Well-deserved for sure.
Not only is Chef Kevin a down-to-earth guy (I noticed him on several occasions out mingling with the guests), but he’s also passionate about food—and it shows when you watch him cook in the open kitchen at Navio. He describes his cooking style as “French meets Pacific Rim with a California farmer’s market influence.”
The Ahi Tuna Poke (and especially the sauce) is the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s apparently Chef Kevin’s family recipe from growing up in Hawaii. Chef humbly says it’s the quality of the fish. I think it’s both! We loved the Sashimi of Hamachi. It had avocado “Marble” at the bottom (which was really cool to look at) and pickled jalapeno relish. We also enjoyed a farm-fresh strawberry and rhubarb salad with Ouroboros Farms baby lettuce with balsamic crumble, ricotta salata panna cotta and balsamic vinaigrette. We also enjoyed the Lobster Bisque and Sea Scallops.
Tip: Navio hosts an amazing brunch buffet with 200 different items including California sourdough French toast, “coastal” eggs benedict and three different types of caviar.
3. S’mores overlooking the ocean
Guests can enjoy roasting s’mores out at the fire pits on the Ocean Terrace. At the end of our dinner, we got a classy little to-go box filled with Godiva chocolate, marshmallows, gram crackers, and roasting sticks. What a great way to end the evening!
4. Resort activities
You can easily find plenty to do starting right at the resort. You can bike along the path in front of the resort for a pretty view of the ocean. You can pick up beach cruisers at the Colony Club. You can golf on the two championship golf courses at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.
Golfers will delight in the incomparable setting while enjoying the variety of play offered on Arnold Palmer’s classic American parkland-style Old Course and the Scottish-links-style Ocean Course designed by Arthur Hills. You can also simply visit the resort spa or the beach in front of the property for some relaxation.
5. Nearby Pillar Point Harbor
As we walked along this little harbor area, we saw local fishermen on the docks selling fresh seafood directly off of their boats. We talked to a couple that just raved about the cheap and fresh sea urchin!
For a local hangout that’s laid back, check out Ketch Joanne’s. It’s located just off the harbor. We had some awesome Bloody Marys that the bellman at the hotel talked about. We also loved our grilled Dungeness crab sandwich, grilled artichokes and oysters from Fanny Bay, BC.
Tip: Do not leave Ketch Joanne’s without trying the carrot cake. Yum!
6. Signature scenic drive
I thought the signature drive idea for guests was such a great idea! Guests can request a map at the concierge, which recommends a coastal route to drive. What’s not to love about taking in beautiful northern California scenery? The drive is 65 miles and highlights five different micro-regions.
The drive starts with the historic Main Street area with shops, restaurants and galleries. The Pumpkin Region is the farm-to-market area where you can pick your own produce from pumpkin patches and local farms. The third stop is California’s Redwood Forest, a must for its ancient, giant Redwood trees. The Santa Cruz Mountains offer more than 60 wineries such as La Nebbia Winery and Thomas Fogarty Winery and Vineyards. Finally, the drive ends at the Pacific Coast region, which is that beautiful coast right in front of the hotel.
At the San Francisco Bay Area’s only oceanfront resort, Ritz-Carlton’s Half Moon Bay, guests receive a relaxed yet refined experience for romantic getaways, meetings or special events.
All photos credited to Caitlin Martin.