Pillar Point Harbor (buy fish, eat fish, more fun!)

Maverick Kelly’s 52 Day Trips
5 min readMar 7, 2021


We began by searching for grub at Pillar Point Harbor at 1 Johnson Pier, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.

Pillar Point Harbor Map

Pillar Point Harbor is a working harbor of boats (many of which sell fish):

Pic of Pillar Point Harbor from Robert E. Nylund — Personal Photos. Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Matt.T using CommonsHelper.

Here’s the freshly-caught fish that were on sale during a couple of visits we made in 2021:

Fish for sale on Johnson Pier of Pillar Point Harbor, March 7, 2021
Pic of the fish available at Pillar Point Harbor, October 16, 2021

You can walk down Johnson Pier and buy directly from the fisher-folks — most take cash only but many take credit cards and alternative payments.

We got there at around 9am and we picked Ketch Joanne Restaurant for breakfast as they were open early (7:30am!). Their address is 17 Johnson Pier, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.

They have eating outside (in front next to this pirate!):

Pirate in front of Ketch Joanne Restaurant in Pillar Point Harbor

This was pre-COVID and we ate indoors:

…including this nice booth we scored:

The bar area is a fun scene including for watching sports on TV:

We had grilled cod and eggs with hashbrowns for $15. It was yummy. Our server was Jesus and he was super-attentive.

We also got pancakes with fruit. They add blueberries and banannas to the pancakes right before they go on the griddle…and then they top them with strawberries.

Next door to Ketch Joanne’s is the Mavericks Surf Company store (25 Johnson Pier, Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019). It’s named for the famous Mavericks big-wave surf spot nearby. It’s got a ton of fun surf merchandise and we bought a couple of hats, including a Maverick’s Surf Shop visor.

Brunch at Barbara’s Fishtrap

Another time we had 11am brunch at Barbara’s Fishtrap at 281 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019We ordered from the takeout window seen below…

…and had yummy fish and chips and fresh crab:

Lunch at Sam’s Chowder House

You can walk south along the shoreline just past the Half Moon Bay Kayak Company to a set of steps leading from the sand to the back entrance of Sam’s Chowder House and Oyster Bar (4210 North Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay). There are several inviting seating areas that are protected from wind by glass dividers, and heated by heat lamps if needed.

The menu offers a variety of delicious seafood options, including seasonal steamed crab, fish and chips, oysters and both Manhattan and New England style clam chowder — both versions are outstanding.

They also offer a variety of savory and sweet cocktail options as well as Shirley Temple’s (complete with cherries) for the younger ones.

During busier times, plan on being here by 11:30am to avoid lines and longer waits. Sam’s has parking options along Highway 1 as well, but walking from the Pillar Point Harbor is a more pleasant way to arrive for a mid-day meal.

Pillar Point Harbor Beach

Right below Sam’s Chowderhouse is Pillar Point Harbor Beach. It’s a beach between jetties and attracts a bunch of kayakers, crabbers, clammers and fishing folks.

Kayakers at Pillar Point Beach Harbor
One entrance to Pillar Point Beach Harbor (it’s the one right next to the RV Camping area)
Here’s a stone jetty that a bunch of people fish and crab from.
Some crabs that a family caught within the rocks of the jetty (they caught them with balloon string tied to a chicken leg!)


  • Park on the street in front of Sam’s and you can walk down to the beach (Pillar Point Harbor Beach ( where people clam and fish off the rocky jetty pier) and eat at Sam’s later.
  • The beach next to Pillar Point Harbor Beach (south of it) is called Surfer’s Beach and is popular with surfers.
  • Mavericks Beach is nearby to Pillar Point Harbor — Check out our “Hike to Mavericks Beach”

Get Coffee/Pastries at The Press (in El Granada)

We wanted a soy latte for Rob so we headed over to The Press in El Granada just a minute down the road (107 Sevilla Ave, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019).

They have a nice coffee/espresso counter and the soy latte was delicious.

They also have some tasty pastries:

And they had this cool rainbow bagel that is homemade. Not only does it look cool but it’s super-yummy:

One super-cool thing we learned about The Press: they are open very early in the morning. Check out the hours!:

Monday:4am to 3pm
Tuesday:4am to 4pm
Wednesday:4am to 4pm
Thursday:4am to 4pm
Friday:4am to 4pm
Saturday:5am to 4pm
Sunday:5am to 3pm

Next Time in Pillar Point Harbor

Next time we go to Pillar Point Harbor we’d like to bike the California Coastal Trail (you can walk too).

One bike route we’ve got our eye on is from Pillar Point Harbor to The Ritz Carlton. It’s 7.4 miles and goes along what looks like some epic coastal bluffs!




Maverick Kelly’s 52 Day Trips

Hi! I’m Maverick. My mommy, daddy & me are on a mission to take 52 day trips around the San Francisco Bay Area! Thx for joining in the fun!