Bean Hollow State Beach

Spring Summer Fall Winter

Bean Hollow, looking south, January 2009 (Jennifer Rycenga)


This small beach park, located between Pescadero and Pigeon Point, has two major entrances along SR1 (Coastal Highway). The northern entrance is also known as Pebble Beach; the southern entrance has a larger range of birding possibilities. At the southern entrance, there are a number of small habitats bunched together. The rocks on either side of the aptly-named Bean Hollow can have roosting gulls, cormorants, and rocky shorebirds. Small lagoons on either side of the highway can harbor Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, American Coot, and Black Phoebe, as well as migrant shorebirds. From Bean Hollow Road you can gain access to overlooks on Lake Lucerne. This large body of water has been a regular site for Osprey, Western and Clark's Grebes, and a modest assortment of waterfowl in winter, including Hooded Merganser.

One can walk the ocean cliffs from Pebble Beach to the south entrance to Bean Hollow; there are some areas good for sea-watching along this stretch. Long skeins of migrant Sooty Shearwaters are visible in late summer and early fall, especially in the morning hours. Pink-footed and Buller's Shearwaters have been spotted by intrepid scopers from this site. This entire one-mile trail gives the hiker access to rocky shoreline, so remain attentive for rocky shorebirds. At nightfall, Great Horned Owls sometimes use the power line wires as perches.

In the winter of 2010-2011, a pregnant Blue Whale died at sea, and her carcass, and that of her fetus, washed up into a cove at Bean Hollow, between the two parking areas. The carcass was too big to remove or destroy, so the state parks let nature take its course. This created an avian spectacle rarely seen: a feeding frenzy, lasting for weeks, of Northern Fulmars, so close to shore that one could practically feel their wing beats! This event attracted birders and nature-watchers in large numbers, and helped swell the number of eBird entries for this park.

Jason Crotty filmed the spectacle of the many Northern Fulmars feeding on the Blue Whale carcass in the winter of 2010-2011.

Look For These Birds

Brant, Cackling Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, California Quail, Wild Turkey, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Clark's Grebe, Mourning Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Rock Pigeon, Band-tailed Pigeon, Vaux's Swift, Anna's Hummingbird, Allen's Hummingbird, Virginia Rail, Sora, American Coot, American Avocet, Black Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Whimbrel, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Sanderling, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pomarine Jaeger, Parasitic Jaeger, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Marbled Murrelet, Ancient Murrelet, Cassin's Auklet, Black-legged Kittiwake, Bonaparte's Gull, Heermann's Gull, Mew Gull, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Western Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Iceland Gull thayeri, Glaucous Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster's Tern, Elegant Tern, Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Northern Fulmar, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Brown Pelican, Brandt's Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Green Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Barn Owl, Burrowing Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, Hutton's Vireo, Steller's Jay, California Scrub-Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Bushtit, Wrentit, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Rock Wren, House Wren, Pacific Wren, Marsh Wren, Bewick's Wren, European Starling, California Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, Western Bluebird, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, House Finch, Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Yellow-breasted Chat, Western Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Western Tanager

Rarities Seen Here

In this guide, "rarities" are defined as those species given an County Abundance Code of 4, 5, or 6.

Rock Sandpiper (1980s), Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Red-necked Grebe, Glaucous Gull, Black-vented Shearwater, Tropical Kingbird, Yellow-breasted Chat (2011), White-throated Sparrow, Golden Eagle


From anywhere on the Peninsula, you can get to Bean Hollow by taking State Route 1, (the Coastal Highway) about two miles south of Pescadero Road, and three miles north of Pigeon Point.

Interactive Map

Red Markers: Parking Area or Trail Head
Hover mouse pointer over marker, or click marker, for identification.


There is no fee at either parking lot.


The main gate to the parking lots opens at 8:00 AM; these gates are usually locked soon after sunset. It is also possible to access the trails from the roadside at any hour.


There have been break-ins to parked cars along SR1 on the San Mateo coast; it is best to not have valuables visible. As mentioned above, the riptides here are particularly dangerous, especially since they could propel you into the numerous rock outcroppings. Sometimes Harbor Seals and other pinnipeds are hauled out along the beach from Pebble to the South lot; they are protected by the Marine Mammal Act, and should never be harassed. If you find a sick or stranded pinniped or cetacean, please contact the Marine Mammal Center, as they have a rescue operation that extends to San Mateo County. 415-289-SEAL (415-289-7325).


The park features well-maintained outhouses at both lots, along with picnic tables, and recycling bins. Somewhat sheltered from the wind, the south parking lot is a great spot for a picnic. However, it is rather small, and can be full by mid-day. Dogs are permitted on leash. The water is cold, and features dangerous riptides, so swimming is not recommended. For children (with or without leashes) who are not tempted by the ocean, Bean Hollow is protected enough to provide some nice sandy areas for play. Closest supplies are in Pescadero village to the north, or the Gazos Grill to the south.


Avian Research Status

Bean Hollow State Beach has three hotspots in eBird. The principal one, entitled Bean Hollow SB, has 40 of 48 time quadrants covered, yielding 131 species. The northern end of the park has its own hotspot, "Bean Hollow SB--Pebble Beach (SM Co.)" with 26 of 48 time quadrants yielding 96 species. Finally, the eastern end of the park is included in "Lake Lucerne--Bean Hollow Rd." (which necessarily extends outside of the boundaries of the park, overlapping with Bean Hollow Lakes, an access-restricted preserve and extensive private property) which has data covering 141 species in 32 of 48 time quadrants. Visit eBird.

Information page for main hotspot Bean Hollow SB on eBird.

Information page for north coastal hotspot Bean Hollow SB--Pebble Beach (SM Co.) on eBird.

Information page for eastern hotspot Lake Lucerne--Bean Hollow Rd on eBird.

Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) maintains a long-running study of Western Gulls; if you see Western Gulls with colored leg bands, note the respective legs and colors, and contact PRBO to forward this data to the researchers on this project.

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) is conducting a long-range study of gull movements in the Bay Area. California Gulls have been leg-banded with plastic colored bands. If you see any of these gulls, please note the leg and the color of the band; if it is possible to read the number on the band, record that also. This information can be shared directly with Carly at SFBBO ( If the birds also have a metal band, and you can read that number, too, please report that to the National Bird Banding Lab.

The iNaturalist place location is here.

Additional Photos

Mew Gull, December 2016 (Jennifer Rycenga)

Glaucous-winged Gull with a Super-Sized Slow Food Meal, Bean Hollow State Beach, November 2008 (Jennifer Rycenga)

Wandering Tattler, Bean Hollow State Beach (Michelle Brodie)

Author: Jennifer Rycenga
Uploaded: March 6th, 2009
Last Update: March 30th, 2020, 3:31pm

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