The San Mateo coast is a reasonable facsimile of the acrophobic cliffscape an hour and half further south in Big Sur. When visiting guests want oceanic California panoramas head to Highway 1 between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. Save four hours at least.
Easily the most dramatic views are the rocky, cliffhangers around Devils Slide. Winter washouts closed the road regularly which is why a tunnel bypass is now under construction.
There are a number of great beaches to visit but swimsuits are not necessary. One, because there is a sanctioned nude beach at San Gregorio and two, because the water is too damned cold (in the 50’s) and too dangerous (strong undertows) for anyone but a seasoned surfer to brave. The best of these wave riders gather at the end of summer in Pacifica for the awesome Maverick contest.