Fly in California

for Flight Training and Recreation

Fly-in Destination: Half Moon Bay KHAF

Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point from the southHalf Moon Bay is a popular fly-in destination from the Bay Area, and for good reason! The airport is close to the marina and beach at Princeton by the Sea, within very easy walking distance to a great choice of restaurants. It's a fairly short flight over the mountains, with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and coast, and your lunch or dinner here can be combined with a Bay Tour for a perfect sight-seeing day with friends!

This is a favourite fly-in lunch place for many of our pilots, because it has such a great collection of eateries within walking distance of the tie-downs. No car needed! It's also a wonderful place to take a walk along the beach and breathe that sea air! Don't forget to bring your camera!

Coastline south of Half Moon BayDo watch out for the coastal fog, and check the weather before you go!

Getting There

Half Moon Bay is 34 nautical miles due west from Reid Hillview. I like to fly across to Santa Cruz first and then follow the coast north. The views of the coastline are amazing! The erosion of the coast by the incessant pounding of the waves is so very clear from the air, when you can see the forces at work. Of course you can also fly more directly over San Jose International (KSJC) and pretty much directly west from there.

The Airport

Half Moon Bay airport is actually a few miles north of the town of Half Moon Bay, but is right next to the smaller town of Princeton by the Sea. Flying north along the coast you will first come to Half Moon Bay - the bay, not the town. It looks like a smaller version of Monterey Bay, with the same great sandy beach, but not the buildup of houses.

HAF AirportFollow the shore, but beware that whichever runway is in use (usual winds favour rwy 30), the downwind leg of the pattern is on the land or East side of the runway, and your 45deg pattern entry will be over some hills. Right traffic for runway 30 and left traffic for runway 12. Sometimes, as in the picture below, the fog forces landings on runway 12 and takeoffs on runway 30, making for interesting times.

To get to Princeton, tie down at the South transient parking, away from the more obvious tie-downs by the fuel island (24hr self serve) and the Three Zero Cafe, and then cross the bridge over the small stream and there you are. Must be the shortest walk from the airfield to town center anywhere!

HAF in the fogWhen taking off on rwy 30, the huge SFO Class Bravo mushroom comes down to 1500' just a few miles north of the airport, so care is needed. From Half Moon Bay, you can follow the coast north to do the Bay Tour around San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

What's There? Princeton by the Sea

Princeton is a great little place, with many great restaurants, a marina, a working harbour with fishing boats and some great deals on really fresh fish. It also has a nice beach, and you can even watch the surfers take on the famous Mavericks.

The very first restaurant you come to is the Mezzaluna, housed in the old and beautifully restored Princeton Inn. It's hard to believe this Inn used to be a famous house of ill repute during the prohibition. Now it is an Italian restaurant with average prices, but above average food and ambience. Definitely recommended.

As you continue down the road, the next eatery you come to is the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Good food, great atmosphere, and for those not flying, great beer. You can sit on a nice outdoor patio protected from the sea breezes, or inside in either a bar or a restaurant setting. They have several of their own beers on tap, and unlimited refills of lemonade for the pilot.

Barbara's Fishtrap has the best seafood in the vicinity. It doesn't take credit cards though. There is usually a line, but worth the wait. Weekends there is also an outside counter.

If these places do not turn you on, keep walking past the yacht harbour and you'll reach the fishing harbor. This is full of working boats and a number of them sell their fresh catch right off the boat. Strictly speaking you have left Princeton by now and are in Pillar Point Harbor. Facing the boats is a row of buildings where most of them seem to be restaurants too. Probably the best known is the Ketch Joanne, though the others look good too.

Half Moon Bay is always popular for fly-in lunch or dinner, or a day out at the seaside. On the way out, after dinner, you also get some beautiful sunsets.