Venice Beach


A picturesque beach in Half Moon Bay with its own wetlands.

Beyond the generous Venice Beach parking lot is a cliff’s-edge view of the shore. Numerous social trails escort you right down to the sand. Alternatively, walk north towards the drainage and descend a staircase to the lovely little wetland area at the mouth of Frenchman’s Creek. Seagulls often bathe at this great birding spot. But leave them to it—this water is considered unsafe for human contact.

The streambed is backed by rising trees and shrubs; whatever water is left over from Frenchman’s mad rush to the sea winds idly through the sand. The small bluffs above Venice Beach give it an intimate feel while the sand stretching out in either direction invites investigation.

Back on the bluff, the Coastside Trail follows suit, enticing explorers along with rows of blackberries on the way to the bridge above Frenchmen’s. Wracked by horse hooves, the wooden crossing has seen better days.

Across the creek is a short loop stroll through a eucalyptus grove to the east, while the trail heads west to round Sweetwood, a shaded former campground and current popular picnic spot.

While “recurring rip currents” are warned of on the bluff, boogie boarders and surfers can be found in the waves. The beach drops off less steeply here than at Francis, but is still not fit for swimming.

THE PLACE TO bird-, ocean-, and people-watch.

NOT THE PLACE TO get away from it all; its proximity to Dunes Beach ups the crowd factor.

CREATURE COMFORTS Toilets, outside showers, trash cans and a pay phone (yes, they still exist!).

FOUND at the west end of Venice Blvd from Highway 1.

—L. Clark Tate

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