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

Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, California Quail, Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Grebe, Clark's Grebe, Brown Pelican, Brandt's Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Northern Fulmar, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, American Coot, Black Oystercatcher, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Whimbrel, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Sanderling, Heermann's Gull, Mew Gull, California Gull, Western Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Thayer's Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Black Phoebe, Hutton's Vireo, Western Scrub-Jay, Common Raven, Barn Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Wrentit, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Brewer's Blackbird, House Finch

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), Glaucous Gull, Yellow-breasted Chat (2011), White-throated Sparrow


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 is a hotspot in eBird, but data is only recorded for 8 of 48 calendar quadrants so far; please contribute your sightings to bump up the records for this location. Visit 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.

Additional Photos

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: January 29th, 2014, 11:19am

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