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How to See Highway 1 By Bus: Eating and Traveling Bits of California’s Coast

Updated: Jan 21, 2016 01:10
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point montara

Point Montara | Photo by: illyanna Maisonet

I’m independent and I don’t own a car. If you’re a traveler like me, then you probably try to exhaust all resources before renting a car becomes an option. I find that you can sightsee more when you’re not worried about driving on a winding road along treacherous sea-hugging cliffs. I’m always trying to find a way to see the most of a destination. But, by getting there via public transportation. Recently I figured out how to nab a view of CA Highway 1 without driving and instead opting to take public transportation from downtown San Francisco to Pacifica and onward to Half Moon Bay, where I hit a road block. This is for an afternoon ride to Pacifica. During commuter hours you can get to Pescadero and then take a cab from there to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, 18 minutes down Highway 1. But, only one commuter bus goes to Pescadero a day and you might get stranded.

pigeon point

Pigeon Point Lighthouse | Photo by: illyanna Maisonet


Here are the instructions on how to get from Downtown San Francisco to bits of Highway 1, with the first stop being Gorilla Barbecue –

Take BART – From the Embarcadero Stn take Richmond/Millbrae train twrds Millbrae – $3.50

Get off at Daly City stop (18min ride)

Walk to Daly City BART Bay-7 (4 min walk)

Catch samTrans 110 – twrd Linda Mar Park and Ride – $2.00

Get off at Hwy 1 and Reina Del Mar Ave (33min ride)

Gorilla Barbecue is across the street


At Gorilla Barbecue I decided on a 1 meat option + beans and rice + 2 sides ($12.99). They only offer outdoor seating, but you’re practically sitting in a coastal forest under a canopy of Cypress trees where the spongey floor is a collection of conifer needles that naturally compost the bits of meat that fell off the corners of your mouth.  It’s incredibly relaxing and satisfies our primordial instincts to gnaw flesh cooked on an open fire outdoors. The 1 meat plate had three ribs, pinto beans and rice, cornbread, corn on the cob and potato salad (I should have gotten zucchini instead of salad) and a little side of bbq sauce. The corn gleaked juice into the air when I bit into it, the glistening pink hued rib meat stayed on the bone when I greedily lifted it to my gob and yet pulled clean off into submission without a fight. The cornbread had kernels of corn but was a little dry. And that sauce was not unlike the one I make at home: thick, sweet spicy and tangy. I didn’t feel like I had been ripped off.




Alternative eating option:

If you’re truly broke, you can opt to surpass the $13 meal at Gorilla BBQ (which you’d be insane, but I know what being broke is like), you can stay on the 110/112/118 and get off at the Linda Mar Park and Ride Shopping Center. Head towards the stop light, cross the street, walk through the parking lot to the right and head towards the Taco Bell  that sits on Pacifica State Beach. It has an outside walk-up window on a wooden pier for the dudes/dudettes that you were just watching surf the waves outside the huge picture window.

You get a fine dining view for $3.


From Gorilla BBQ to Miramontes Point

Take the 110/112/118 at the corner of Highway 1 and Reina Del Mar Ave for 6 mins – $2.00

Get off at Linda Mar Park and Ride and take the samTran line 17 towards Miramontes

The 17 goes along highway 1 where you’ll be able to see the world famous surfing spot, Mavericks. You’ll be able to jump off and see Montara Lighthouse and/or Half Moon Bay State Beach. More importantly, you can just sit on the bus and watch the wild Northern California Pacific Coastline.


Mavericks | Photo by: illyanna Maisonet

The entire trip in motion is a few hours. The cost for a one-way trip will run you $7.50.

The 17 will also take you to the corner of highway 1 and San Mateo Road, where there is New Leaf Community Market. You could get some picnic items (like prepared kale salad and organic veggies), cross the street and walk South along Highway 1 (this part has a sidewalk because it’s in town), make a right on Kelly Ave and that leads all the way to Half Moon Bay State Beach. Mind you, it’s a good stretch of the legs.

Common sense tips: You can also Google the directions from SF to Pacifica/Pescadero Post Office. Take a look at the Samtrans website for a timetable of how often the buses run. When you get on the bus ask if they give transfers. You can get to Montara Lighthouse/Hostel via samTrans line 17. But, you can’t get to (the more impressive) Pigeon Point Lighthouse/Hostel without a car. Just note, use common sense when you’re dealing with this area. It is indeed a highway, albeit scenic. Although there are often people walking on the side/across/along this highway, I wouldn’t suggest walking for long portions of it. The samTrans line 17 will drop you off in front of  Cameron’s Pub, but the bus stop going back towards Pacifica is on the opposite side of the highway near the Fire Station. I would recommend getting back on the 17 going towards Miramontes and then just catching it on it’s loop back to Pacifica. Hell, I wouldn’t even suggest Cameron’s Pub for food, I hear it’s really lackluster, and anything along the coast is going to be high in price. But, it’s a good spot for a pint and a rest.

Money and time are often a compromise when you don’t want to be forced to rent a car to see a parts of an area that you’d normally find inaccessible. And even though I spent a few hours, a few dollars and a few transfers to reach the wild coast by bus…I was just happy that it was accessible by public transportation.

All photos are by author.
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  1. March 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Although I champion the experience of doing these multi-transit journeys — it’s important to step out of our bubbles, etc. — sometimes time is of the essence. In which case (forgive me if you already know this) there is a rental car company that begins with the letter “E” that offers a weekend special of $9.99 a day.


    • illyannam
      March 26, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      Howdy there Sylvie,

      I am aware of multiple rental car agencies, including Zip. However, not everyone has a driver license (especially in large cities, this isn’t unheard of) or a credit card (or a $500 deposit amount) in which to rent a car. Which is why this is a great alternative, compromise, and mostly the people I had in mind when writing this. The affordability behind it came third.

      So, like I said in the piece, “Money and TIME are often a compromise when you don’t want to be forced to rent a car to see a parts of an area that you’d normally find inaccessible.”

      Thanks for leaving a comment!