Three outings at Martin’s Beach in Half Moon Bay in December

There are many scenic beaches in Half Moon Bay, but from a photographic perspective, Martin’s beach is right there at the top. Part of the attraction is that it’s relatively new to most of us, having been opened up to the public recently. Back in 2008, Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla bought a large plot of land in 2008 that included the access road to the beach, which he then proceeded to make private and remove public access to the beach. After a lengthy battle between the state and Kosla, the road leading to the beach is now accessible, but perhaps not for long due to the ongoing saga. During typical day time hours, the locked gate is now open, and you can drive partway down the road and park for a fee, or you can park on Highway 1 and walk approximately a quarter mile down the road to the beach. 

So, what’s the attraction for photographers at Martin’s Beach? To start, it’s a wide beach that’s about 3/4 mile long with a cove in the middle, and bluffs on both ends of the beach. It also has a small creek and a large tide pool at the entrance that seems to be permanent. The main attraction, however, is a tall sharkfin-shaped rock that’s relatively close to the beach that dominates the landscape. 

In December, based on the likelihood of a decent sunset, I made the trip to Martin’s beach to take photos in the golden hour. To my pleasant surprise, I found that I had also stumbled upon a negative tide that conveniently coincided with sunset, which, of course, exposed a significant part of the beach towards the sharkfin-rock with interesting tidepools in the midst. The sunset was fantastic – a color show that started orange and ended purple. Also, there was only one other photographer on the scene, so it was nice to have the whole beach to explore. With a negative tide comes many exciting opportunities, with the ability to explore unique angles, from tidepools to eroding sandbanks. You can see these unique perspectives in the images below.

A few days later, we made a family trip to Half Moon Bay and decided to stop by Martin’s Beach for sunset. The negative tide was still in effect, but the landscape was different, and many other unique angles to explore. I only got the opportunity to snap a few frames based on family commitments. As you can see below, the landscape looks pretty different from the last time.

The trio of visits was completed on the last day of the year, as I snuck out to take some photos while spending the night at Half Moon Bay. The negative tide was gone, but that there were plenty of other unique angles to explore. Again, the landscape on the beach had changed, and my focus was mostly on the big tide pool at the entrance to the beach.