"Santa Cruz Area" Top 5 Page for this destination Santa Cruz by trvlrtom

Santa Cruz Travel Guide: 288 reviews and 637 photos

North Coast Beaches

There are many great beaches in and around Santa Cruz, and each has its own characteristics. Main Beach at the boardwalk gets the most visitors and is great for the scene, activities, shops, boardwalk rides and tourist restaurants. But depending on your time and interests, others in town may be preferred: Natural Bridges, Its, Seabright (aka Castle), Twin Lakes... take your pick.

North of Santa Cruz you will find several other more rugged beaches, visited more by surfers, fishermen and those wanting a more secluded or "off the beaten path" experience. These beaches are unmarked, don't have official parking lots and have no services or lifeguards. You can find most of them just by spotting cars parked near access points.

Pacific Avenue

Pacific Avenue is the epicenter of Santa Cruz. Eccentric and colorful, the half mile long stretch from Water St. toward the beach has plenty to see and do for shopping, dining and people watching. It has taken a long time for the empty lots to all be rebuilt since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but fortunately the new buildings have been designed thoughtfully; they maintain the character and charm of earlier days.

Nearby Capitola

Capitola is a popular beach and surfing town a few miles south of Santa Cruz. I worked here for two years and got to know it rather well. Not to be missed are
1 - Capitola Village, for its interesting shops and restaurants;
2 - Capitola Beach, for the relatively milder waters and proximity to the village,
3 - Pleasure Point, to see the surfers,
4 - Pleasure Point at 41st Avenue, for surf shops, funky shops and restaurants.

My Capitola page has some details on this fun little area.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Many options for food, beaches and fun.
  • Cons:Litter and garbage left on beaches
  • Last visit to Santa Cruz: Jul 2010
  • Intro Updated Jul 19, 2010
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Reviews (33)

Comments (4)

  • Herwig1961's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2009 at 6:58 AM

    Pity that I couldn`t visit this place.There is so much to see it looks.Great tips and fotos!Thank you

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2009 at 3:59 AM

    Excellent page - well written & informative. I remember stopping here for breakfast (NOT in Starbucks!) while on a driving tour of California years ago. Clearly we should have stayed a bit longer to check out these beaches - oh, and the 99 Bottles bar ;-)

  • Apr 15, 2008 at 6:45 PM

    I love this beach picture!

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Nov 13, 2007 at 1:22 PM

    Santa Cruz would make an interesting day trip. It's been a while since I've been down that way. I wouldn't have expected a nice wine tasting room -- I'll have to check it out. It's also good find to beaches where dogs are welcome.

trvlrtom Used To Live Here!


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