Arata’s Pumpkin Farm, atop a hill in Half Moon Bay and dotted with orange pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, boasts a haunted house, a petting zoo and a wide variety of gourds for sale. It also has a hay maze inspired by Greek mythology that’s probably the most intense experience of its kind in the entire Bay Area.
The haunted house lasted all of five minutes, and was as underwhelming as you might expect for what’s primarily a pumpkin farm along the coast.
So you can imagine my surprise when what I thought would be a brief jaunt through Arata’s “Labyrinth” hay maze turned into a 90-minute, sweat-inducing adventure. When I finally escaped, sunburnt and exhausted, my Apple Watch said I’d walked more than two miles in the beguiling maze.
Arata’s owners, Chris and Sunneva Gounalakis, have been working on the 90-year-old farm since 1991 and became its owners in 2017. Chris, who is from Crete, had the idea to build a maze fashioned after the Labyrinth from Greek mythology, complete with a Minotaur monster in the center. (In Chris’ version, the Minotaur is played by a real person who hands out small golden pumpkins to kids.)
The maze is built with thousands of hay bales, requiring three months to design and construct each year. Sticking with his Greek mythology references, Chris calls its construction a “Herculean task,” albeit one he derives great pleasure from.
“We don’t advertise at all,” says Chris. “People talk to one another, and families come out. One family will bring a whole neighborhood.”
185 Verde Road, Half Moon Bay | Attractions open Oct. 1-Oct. 31
Sophie Bearman can be reached at [email protected]