Santa Cruz Ocean Front

Introduction:

Where? : The one mile long beach of Santa Cruz is located right in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and to the south.

Google Map Link




 

What? : The famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with the friendly amusement park and roller-coasters, the long Wharf getting into the bay and the large sandy beach in the protected bay make the visit here as a must visit.

 

When? : Year round, the amusement park is open during summer days.

 

Due note 1: It is crowded here during summer weekend, challenging to find parking spot.

 

Due note 2: I highly recommend coming with bike, you can cover and visit a lot more places and you can park your car in less crowded place.

 

My thoughts: Although Santa Cruz at summer weekend is very crowded city and some places may be consider as “tourist attraction” it kept the unique surfing town charm.

I really like to come with bike and cover a lot of places in one visit.

I will not recommend this for beach activity, there are so many nearby other places that are much less crowded.

 

The visit:

There is a big parking lot in front of the main boardwalk building or at the south side of the road, just before the bridge.

 

Walk the long wharf all the way to it end, enjoy the beach view from the ocean side, there are few restaurants and at the end you can look from above the colony of sea lions warming up and the mid-section below.


 

When it is active it is nice to spend some time with the kids at the “old school” beachfront amusement park that offers a variety of games & some nice rides.

On the right side of the bay there is a good place to learn how to surf.



 

You can walk on the top of the cliff for 1 mile all the way to the Lighthouse and the small Santa Cruz Surfing Museum at the end of the bay, more expert surfers are catching the larger ocean wave over here.


 

From the lighthouse you can keep walking north additional 2 miles up to Natural Bridges State Beach (see this blog). This easy hike will take you above the ocean cliff, you will bird below and wave crashing onto the cliffs. This ocean cliff walk provides excellent view of the sunset in the west.





The beach front is cutoff at its south side by the San Lorenzo River, you can cross it by walking/biking the bridge at the old railroad bridge. Once crossing the bridge go all the way to the end of E. Cliff Dr. and turn right to the Cliff Drive Vista Point. From here you have nice view of the beach below.



Few hundred feet to the south and you will find the beach access. This beach section and it is less crowded from the main beach. If you will go all the way to the south, you will reach the beautiful, tall, white Walton Lighthouse at the end of the harbor jetty. This lighthouse is new one from 2002

 

From here in order to go south you need to go half a mile all the way to the car bridge, here you can cross the marina harbor to the south side. You can also hike/bike al the way to the far and of the marina and go from the other side.

Keep going on the south side of the marina all the way to the beach at 5th Ave road. Here you have few restaurants, beach access and a nice sunset view with the lighthouse on the other side of the waterway.


 

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