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Montara is a census-designated place (CDP) in San Mateo County, California, United States. The population was 2,950 at the 2000 census. Nearby communities include Moss Beach and Princeton-by-the-Sea. Nearby Montara Mountain, part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, rises to an elevation of 1,898 feet (578 m) above sea level. The mountain is accessible by a gravel fire road. On a few occasions light snowfall has fallen on the upper reaches of the mountain. The town is surrounded by open space (Rancho Corral del Tierra) and a popular recreation area includes Montara State Beach.

The nearly mile long stretch of sand drops steeply into the ocean making it hazardous for swimming. It is, however, a fairly popular surfing destination for experienced surfers. 10-15+ ft. waves can be common during winter storm swells. Real growth in Montara began in the 1950s as more people moved away from San Francisco during the postwar boom. As Montara has continued to grow, the community has still maintained its generally rural image. Most of Montara's streets were dirt or gravel until the early 1990s; the rustic quality of the town has not been lost since the streets were oiled or paved (only some of the streets are actually paved). Point Montara Light is a lighthouse in Montara, located just west of the Cabrillo Highway at Point Montara. The lighthouse demarks the northern point of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, a holding of Special Biological Significance owned by the State of California.

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