Santa Cruz County Beaches
Santa Cruz County is home to some of the best beaches on the West Coast. Spreading 29 miles along the coast, these beaches offer something for everyone, tourist or local. Whether you're looking to play volleyball, surf, attend a concert or just relax in the sun, there's a wide array of beaches to choose from to meet your interests!
Below you can find information about particular beaches in the individual cities within the county.
Natural Bridges State Beach: Named for the natural rock bridge formed in the shore line, Natural Bridges is a great family spot with an abundance of things to explore. With a butterfly migration preserve and exhibit, picnic areas and tide pools at low tide, there's no wonder this is one of Santa Cruz's most popular beaches. Don't forget your camera so you can capture this beach's highly photographed natural icon during the day or at sunset!
For park hours, parking information and much more, visit this website.
Santa Cruz Main Beach: Also known as Boardwalk Beach, this beach spans the whole length of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Although this beach is quite big, it does often get crowded with tourists and locals on sunny days. With volleyball courts on the beach, volleyball has become a popular activity amongst the beach-goers. Behind the beach you can find roller coasters, arcade games and many restaurant options. The Santa Cruz Main Beach is definitely a go-to spot for first time visitors, Santa Cruz natives and frequent visitors!
For hotel information, attractions and much more, please click here.
Seabright State Beach: Nestled between the boardwalk and harbor, Seabright beach is the perfect spot for a relaxed beach experience. With bonfires at night and your four legged friends allowed on leash, it is often described as the most classic beach hangout in town. Nearby are restaurants, a natural history museum and scenic beach houses and cottages which provide a variety of options to do when visiting this amazing beach.
For hours, nearby restaurants and much more, please click here.
For a complete list and information about other Santa Cruz beaches not mentioned above, please visit this website.
Capitola Beach: Located at the north end of Monterey Bay, Capitola Beach is a popular, urban spot for a warm, sunny day. This beach has a prime fishing location with calm waters and a large fishing pier. It is also a popular spot for surfers who can catch waves just beyond the east end. Built right along the sand, the brightly-painted Venetian townhouses provide a beautiful backdrop to this beach. When the days start to get warmer, the Capitola Beach shows movies, has concerts and art shows!
For information on parking, amenities and much more, please click here.
New Brighton State Beach: This state park is located at the north end of Monterey Bay, and includes a large hillside campground surrounded by the woods. There are numerous trails to explore and hike, and leashed dogs can accompany you too! Picnics, fishing and the Pacific Migrations Visitor Center (open Spring and Summer) are other fun things to do at this state beach.
For more information about New Brighton State Beach, please click here.
For a complete list and information about other Capitola beaches not mentioned above, please visit this website.
Seacliff State Beach: Known for its half sunken concrete freighter, Seacliff State Beach has loads to offer for your next beach trip! With a fishing pier, shaded picnic area, RV camping and perfect water for swimming, it is no wonder Seacliff State Beach is described as a perfect family beach. Take a walk to the end of the pier to see the historic concrete freighter, The USS Palo Alto, although closed to explore, it is a great sight to check out. This beach also has a visitor center that includes an aquarium and a tide pool tank.
For directions, nearby attractions and much more, please visit this website.
Rio Del Mar Beach: Rio Del Mar Beach is the main beach for the community of Rio Del Mar in Aptos. Visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, fishing and much more. Keep an eye out for seal lions, dolphins and whales which can sometimes be seen from the shore! Bonfires are allowed, as well as dogs on leashes. Rio Del Mar Beach is the only beach that has a Little Guard program as well as a Junior Lifeguard program.
For more information about Rio Del Mar Beach, please click here.
For information regarding the Lifeguard Programs, please click here.
Dolphin Beach: Known as Beer Can Beach to the locals, this beach is perfect if you're looking for a less congested spot. Since access to this beach is located in a neighborhood, parking is free and generally easy. Surfing and fishing are popular activities at Dolphin Beach as well as sunbathing. Although it is not as common to see wildlife here as others beaches, the ice plants that decorate the cliffs make for a beautiful atmosphere.
For weather updates, photos and much more, please visit this website.
For a complete list and information about other beaches in Aptos, please click here.
Sunset State Beach: Bordered by agricultural farms, sand dunes and pine trees, Sunset State Beach is definitely a spot to check out! Sunset has a well-developed campground along with picnic areas that are great for barbecuing. Toy airplane and kite enthusiasts gather at this beach because of the great winds coming off the dunes. Keep an eye out for California Quail and brush rabbits in the shrubs, along with blackberry thickets and wild lilac.
For information about camping, directions and much more, please visit this website.
Manresa State Beach: With sand going on for miles in both directions, Manresa State Beach is a great place to stop if you're looking for a less-congested beach. Perfect for families, this beach has a nearby campground, bonfires and a Junior Lifeguard Program. If you're hoping to see wildlife, then you've come to the right beach because sea otters, gray whales and dolphins can be seen from Manresa's shores.
For more information about Manresa State Beach, please click here.
For a complete list and information about other beaches in Watsonville, please visit this website.
Davenport Landing Beach: Whether you're looking for a romantic trip away or a perfect surfing spot, Davenport Landing Beach can fulfill what ever your interests! This beach is one of a kind with its very own bench swing, surrounded by green grass and views of the water, it makes for a very romantic spot. Local surfers often venture to Davenport Landing Beach to catch some waves off the north end. If you're planning on visiting for more than a day, there are nearby vacation rentals overlooking the water. Dogs are certainly welcomed at this beach, on leash of course.
For more information about Davenport Landing Beach, please click here.
Bonny Doon Beach: This beach is definitely one of the more unique beaches in the county. Bonny Doon Beach is a peaceful, clean and secluded beach with a clothing optional area. Since it is located at the base of a cliff, the weather is often very nice with the cliff blocking the wind. Swimming here can be dangerous because of the rip currents, so be careful when getting into the water. If you're looking for a warm, secluded beach to spend the day, Bonny Doon is definitely the spot for you!
For information regarding nearby restaurants, hotels and much more, please click here.
Waddell Beach: Known around the county as simply Waddell Creek, this beach is known for being the best spot for windsurfing and kite surfing. Surfing is also pretty popular here; several surfing competitions have been held at Waddell Creek. The main section of the beach is part of the Big Basin Redwoods State Park which has nature trails and exhibits. Nearby is also the Theodoor J. Hoover Natural Preserve where you can go bird watching.
For more information about Waddell Beach, please visit this website.
For a complete list and information about other beaches in Davenport not mentioned above, please visit this website.