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Welcome to Montara

Montara is a sleepy beach community located north of San Francisco along California’s Pacific Coast. Though a part of San Mateo County, Montara bears little resemblance to the technology dominated cities along the San Francisco Peninsula. Undeveloped land and an unconcerned community define this census designated place.

Lay of the Land

Montara is positioned along the edge of the Pacific Ocean approximately 20 miles south of San Francisco and 50 miles north of Santa Cruz. While Montara is an isolated rural community it does have a few notable neighbors, including Moss Beach, El Granada, and Half Moon Bay. While the area is mostly dominated by its beaches and aquatic state parks it is also in extremely close proximity to the Santa Cruz mountain range, which makes for dynamic contrasts in elevation and natural scenery. Montara Mountain, the local peak, is accessible from the town via a gravel road.

Montara has a total population of approximately 2,909 full-time residents, though the total does spike slightly during seasonal vacation periods. The estimated median income for residents is $155,380 and estimated home value is $769,852.


Travel into the town by car is accomplished via the surprisingly busy coastal highway 1 which moves north and south along the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Despite its isolated coastal location, the city also features SamTrans bus service. The busses travel from Daly City to Montara and several of the other smaller locations along the coast. Once at the Daly City SamTrans location it is relatively easy to access several of the other San Mateo and Silicon Valley transportation options. These include CalTrain commuter train services as well as Bay Area Rapid Transit services.

Local Highlights

Operated by the California Department of Parks and recreation, Montara State Beach is the primary natural attraction of the area. While the beach is open to the public it is relatively difficult to access thanks in large part to the suddenly plunging sandy cliffs that surround the beach. While it does have two beach access points it is a location mainly visited by expert surfers and dedicated hikers. The beach features numerous hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. However, camping, fireworks, or fires of any sort are strictly prohibited. It is also the location of one of several lighthouse based hostels in the region.

The Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel is one of 8 hostels in the region. The hostels were originally founded in 1858 and are operated by a nonprofit organization. The hostel features several private rooms and typical basic amenities. However, the hostel is designed as an affordable lodging option for travelers and not as a luxury location. Guests are generally in the area to enjoy one of the numerous local natural sights, which include gray whale migrations and the nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Guests also use the hostel as a location for aquatic activities, including windsurfing, kayaking, and beachside horseback riding.

The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a stunning four mile stretch of protected California coastline. The reserve is designed to protect the numerous aquatic species that make their home in the incredibly fragile inter-tidal ecosystem. During periods of low tide visitors can explore the numerous tidal pools and enjoy viewing an array of organisms, including crabs, sea stars, mollusks, and rare fish that make their home on the reserve.

Finally, Montara is also extremely close to San Pedro Valley State Park located in nearby Pacifica. San Pedro Valley provides guests with over 1,100 acres of coastal mountain terrain in which to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Unlike many of the more “unsettled” natural attractions in the area San Pedro features a visitor’s center, gift shop, library, and numerous picnicking areas for guests to take advantage of.