Hiking at Mavericks
Mavericks is best known for its annual big wave surfing competition where riders take on waves nearly as large as those found at Pipeline in Hawaii. In the off season the cliffs and beaches found in this area, just West of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, afford visitors beautiful views and a wonderful set of short hikes.
A dirt parking lot is situated just at the base of the cliffs where the white radar sits. From here you can go straight out and follow the beach around the base or you can cut right, cross the paved road, and hike up and around the cliffs. In the video below we explore the cliffs and point out where surfers go for the competition as well as smaller waves that can be enjoyed when the swell is lower.
The Mavericks surf competition is held once a year here and is called one day in advance (it all depends on what the waves are doing). While I have been here, on the cliffs, for the competition the view was very poor, binoculars were required it became obvious that the crowds of people were aggravating the local habitat. One great alternative to actually being at Mavericks for the competition is to go to the Giant’s Stadium in San Francisco where a live video feed is shown. This is a lot more fun in my opinion, most people save gas and end up with a much better perspective this way. For more information visit Mavericks Surf website.
Mavericks was discovered by Jeff Clark, a local Half Moon Bay surfer, who would go out on his own and conquer the waves while his dog, Maverick, would hang out on the cliffs and watch over him. In recent years many surfers have died at Mavericks from the heavy waves, being pushed into the rocks, being trapped in under water caves, and great white sharks. The official “big waves” are situated ~1 mile off shore and are only surfable when the swell is double to triple overhead, that is why the competition is called so late. Surfing here is for experts and a jet ski with surf sled is recommended, less intense waves can be found closer in to the right of the point as shown in the video.
- GPS Location:
- Jeff Clarks Mavericks Shop:
- Dogs: Yes, with leash
- Open Times: 8am to Sunset
- Parking: Dirt lot
- Restrooms: No, Restaurants in Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point Harbor area
- Distance: 2 miles of beach, 2 miles of cliff side hikes
- Difficulty: Easy with ~100ft elevation change
- Exposure: Very exposed, can be cold and foggy, windy, dangerous cliffs
- Traffic: Light (except on competition days)
- Hiking Montara Beach
- Linda Mar & Rockaway Trail
- Arastradero Preserve Trail
- Mendocino Waterfall Loop Trail
- Angels Landing Trail