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Mavericks, Half Moon Bay

#2 of 14 in Beaches in Half Moon Bay
Beach · Landmark
Mavericks is a surfing location in northern California about 2mi from shore outside Pillar Point Harbor, just north of the town of Half Moon Bay at the village of Princeton-by-the-Sea. After a strong winter storm in the northern Pacific Ocean, waves can routinely crest at over 25ft and top out at over. Routinely, waves that break can be recorded on seismometers. The break is caused by an unusually shaped underwater rock formation.
Mavericks is a winter destination for some of the world's best big wave surfers. Very few riders become big wave surfers, and of those, only a select few are willing to risk their lives under the hazardous, sometimes deadly, conditions at Mavericks. An invitation-only contest is held there most winters, when the waves come.
In early March 1967, Alex Matienzo, Jim Thompson, and Dick Notmeyer surfed the distant waves of Pillar Point. With them was Matienzo's roommate's white-haired German Shepherd, Maverick, who was accustomed to swimming with his owner and Matienzo while they were surfing. The three surfers left Maverick on shore, but he swam out to them. Finding the conditions unsafe for the dog, Matienzo tied him up before rejoining the others. The riders had limited success that day as they surfed overhead peaks about 1/4 mile from shore, just along the rocks that are visible from shore; they deemed the bigger outside waves too dangerous. The surfers named the location after Maverick, who seemed to have gotten the most pleasure from the experience.
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214 reviews
  • Once a year, the best big wave surfers on earth have 24 hours notice to reach Half Moon Bay, CA. Their goal is to compete in a surfing competition with one of the biggest paddle-in waves in the...  more »
  • We sat and watched the surfers and the surf pounding the jetty for hours, while waiting for our table at Sam's Chowder house.  more »
  • Quiet little cove with the beautiful ocean on one side and sheer cliffs on the other. Very scenic and quiet when we visited on a Thursday. You park on a lot and walk about a mile to the main beach area. There are other beaches nearby, which are in the bay and protected from waves due to the rocks. So idea for those people that are looking for a quiet place to wade and build sandcastles. There are outhouses and it is dog friendly. Definitely worth a visit if nearby.
  • This is home of the biggest waves in America. I can see why. The ocean was relentless. You park 15min away and walk around the hill. There, you’ll see a pretty beach with a great view of the ocean. We saw a few seals. They also had a porta-potty conveniently at the start of the mini hike. There’s also a handful of benches in spots for great views

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