Heading south from San Francisco toward Half Moon Bay, a worthwhile stop is Princeton-by-the-Sea, a small fishing community with a great collection of seafood restaurants on a wharf overlooking Pillar Point, the site of the (mostly) annual Mavericks surf competition. In the winter, a unique combination of factors makes for monster waves that attract hard-core surfers to the invitation-only event. The rest of the year, fishermen moor their boats here and fish for salmon, Dungeness crab, and other fresh seafood in season, which they sell directly off of the pier. A reliably good place to eat is Ketch Joanne, serving great seafood dinners, as well as traditional breakfasts, sandwiches, and burgers. Their Dungeness crab Louie or cocktail is not to be missed.
Kayak rentals are available by the hour on Princeton’s harbor, which is protected from the ocean by a series of breakwaters.
Walking along the rocky jetty at Pillar Point on a breezy May afternoon, I found a bird skull (maybe from a seagull) and vertebra, as well as a lot of crab pincers and some seashells. You never know what you’re going to find at Pillar Point!