Most of the time I’ve only stayed at hostels as a last resort. I would much rather camp. It’s quieter and cheaper most of the time and I like being outdoors. Camping gives me a greater sense of the differences in my surroundings depending on where I am in the country. But there are some hostels that are situated in such amazing locations or in such unique buildings that they are destinations in themselves. And there are two such hostels located just south of San Francisco in the old buildings surrounding two lighthouses.
And while both of the actual lighthouses are closed to the public, staying in the same buildings that the lighhouse keepers and their families once lived in gives you a sense of what it was like to call these rocky shores home. During the day you can walk down on narrow paths to the beach coves below. Don't expect it to be warm, but there are some beautiful views.
Back when the lighthouses were in use, part of living here meant dealing with isolation from the rest of the world. And that's still pretty much true today. There really isn't much else to do around the area. But you can eat your dinner while watching the sun set over the ocean from the huge picture window. To be able to stay at a place with this kind of view for a hostel kind of price, it's worth any moments of boredom.
Half Moon Bay itself is a pretty small town. When I visit the area I like to stop by the bakery and antique stores and then I head inland to Purisma Redwood Preserve. It’s one of the only places I know where you can walk among giant redwoods and not be surrounded by other tourists. It’s very quiet and peaceful there with the creek running along the wide and shady path. And it’s an excellent place to spot banana slugs. They're hard to miss.