10 Best Santa Cruz Beaches Worth Visiting

Santa Cruz Beaches

Santa Cruz is a popular place in California in the United States for summer recreation where there are many sports activities including volleyball, boating, hiking, and many more. Besides that, several families love to visit the famous Santa Cruz beaches present there. Nature also appreciates its beauty as it is a mecca for surfers and sun-worshippers.

The most appealing things about these beaches are the breathtaking sceneries and refreshing sea breezes. These beaches represent a variety of seaside surroundings that enhance their beauty.

Alongside the Monterey Bay, Sandy beaches having gentle waves exist, while in the north, the beaches of Davenport wilder in nature are present.

10 best Santa Cruz Beaches Mou Must Visit Once

The old-fashioned town of Capitola has numerous fascinating beaches which are all covered in the best conditions for the visitors. A comprehensive list of the best beaches in Santa Cruz is presented below to invite you to visit all of them at least once in your life:

1. Santa Cruz Main Beach

The main beach in Santa Cruz is the most popular attraction for Californians due to its world-class surfing, stunning scenery, and nearby facilities.

Moreover, because of its splendid décor, it draws a diverse and eccentric crowd towards it. Walking on the side of the beach will give you a great opportunity to get a feel for the town.

Why do I recommend this beach?

It is one of the top surfing spots in comparison to all other beaches. Here several must-see attractions are available that include:

  • Amazing waves
  • Wildlife
  • Amusement parks
  • Arcade games
  • Tide pools, and many more


Expert tip

You should take our expert tip for Santa Cruz Main Beach  into consideration if you have planned to visit there.  


If you park your car close to this beach, you will have to pay some dollars, maybe 9 or 10. On the other hand, if you don’t mind walking a mile, you won’t have to worry about parking fees.

Public restrooms:

For the visitors, guestrooms are constructed over the boardwalk at a reasonable rent for a one- or two-nights stay. They make you feel as comfortable as you are in your own home.


When the beach water is a little bit wild due to weather changes, the beach attendants are there to secure and rescue the people in case any uncertain event happens.

Timing of beach:

The main beach is open 7 days a week for the visitors. Normal timings are early morning sharp 7 am to 10 pm at night.

Santa Cruz Main Beach

2. Mitchell’s Cove Beach

It is popular for dramatic sceneries from high bluffs that come behind the beach. It also presents the best scene for sunrise and sunset lovers and local artists looking to capture beauty.

A better idea for this beach is to go for a picnic lunch because swimming or sunbathing is not ideal for this beach. Just grab the novels, plan to stay there until the lazy sun disappears into the Pacific Ocean.

Why do I recommend Mitchell’s Cove Beach in Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz beaches always entertain you irrespective of site locations. Many pet parents go here for peace, kids also visit with their dogs and cats. It’s a complete package of joy for everyone.

Expert tip


Mitchell’s cove beach has free street parking. Neither any fee is charged by its visitors, nor any admission fee is collected by administrators of the beach.

Public restrooms:

No guestrooms or hotels are facilitated by the management of the beach. That’s why only the local public of nearby areas come and enjoy it. Visitors from outstations feel hesitant to stay as there is no stay area for families.


No precautionary measures are there to handle any unfortunate event. The public always demands that there should be at least beach attendants to protect people in case of emergency.

Timing of beach:

General timings by beach management for the visitors are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. For Sundays and events, the same time extends to 6:00 PM.

Mitchell's Cove Beach

3. Pleasure Point Beach

Out of all the popular Santa Cruz Beaches, this beach is located between 41st Avenue County park and Pleasure point county park. The scenery is magnificent here when the Sun rises or sets. Moreover, it is in the resort region which makes lodgings and the food places easy to find.

A substantial and tasty meal with reasonable prices is the most famous quality of this beach. It is also a great place to watch some talented surfers.

Why its visit is recommended

Whenever you want the live-streaming of endless waves, you should visit it, especially during the high tide. Beach walks, sunbath and picnic points are some famous entertainments provided by this beach to its visitors

Expert tip


Parking here is an issue as it has a small parking lot with a maximum capacity of just 15-16 cars. While street parking is absolutely free here.

Public restrooms:

Like scarce parking, only a few guest houses are available so come early to secure a spot and catch Pleasure’s point sunrise as a bonus.


Only a few rescuers and beach attendants are hired by the municipality of the beach. It raises a few questions about its safety but still, people love visiting it.


The most positive point that attracts its visitors is its operational timing. It’s open for more than 20 hours means almost all day, you can visit there any time you wish. Even at night, people come here to seek calmness and inner peace.

Pleasure Point Beach

4. Capitola Beach

The view inland, facing the town, will take your breath away. Some of the main activities to be done here include:

  • Checking out the pier
  • Cruising the streets of the town
  • Eat a sandwich or cappuccino
  • Check out any of the local artist’s work
  • Watching antique angular houses painted in colorful pastels that are the great art of work

Why its visit is recommended

Quietness and colors at Capitola beach make it a perfect beach trip for inspiration and innovation from an art block. Kite flying, skimboarding, sandcastle building, and many more things are present there to enjoy.

Expert tip


Here street parking is time based, which means the custodian of the car will be charged on an hourly basis. General rates are $1.5/hour. Long term parking is also offered upon cliff drive.

Public restrooms:

Like car parking system, guests are offered rooms and quarters on a timely basis, say $10 for 8-hour services by the guesthouse owner


During the summer season, this is a spell where the business of beach management is at its peak. The number of attendants is increased to handle all the administration efficiently.


It is open to the public from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM (12 long hours). It can also privately be booked for special events with a certain amount of money to be paid.

Capitola Beach

5. Seacliff State Beach

Seacliff state beach is one of the most beautiful among all Santa Cruz beaches. The reason behind this is its numerous amenities and beautiful sites that it offers to visitors. It’s a wide area and isn’t too menacing which is a good deal for families with kids.

There is a large dipped ship just at the corner of shore that has become home to countless pelicans. Beach water contains whales, dolphins, and seals.

Why its visit is recommended

This beach is referred to as the best beach spot in Santa Cruz. RV spots, abandoned ship ruins, stunning ocean views are top moments provided by it. Ocean theme celebrating the marine life in the beach’s water and the history of an abandoned ship are highlights of this area.

Expert tip


Commercial parking is offered by the beach at $10. If someone doesn’t want to park at these rates, he/she can enjoy free street parking near the beach.

Public restrooms:

Only a few guest rooms are available here due to which rates are a little bit high than others. On a first come first serve basis, customers are entertained.


Customers and visitors are fully secured and safe as there are high-security arrangements by management to make them feel comfortable like they are at home.


There is a little gift shop which is also called the Seacliff park store. This store opens 16 hours daily as it’s the beach timing for its visitors.

Seacliff State Beach

6. Panther Beach

Unlike other Santa Cruz beaches, it is difficult to access and its location is hard to trace. This beach doesn’t get the attention of the crowd like others. You have to descend the steepness and walk through a narrow trail to reach your destination.

The stunning rocks on the side of the beach give a wall structure where the visitors reach a private area. Film shootings and drama scripts are some of the most common activities here.

Why its visit recommended

Sandstone cliffs are present in its surroundings from which white sand and clear blue water can be viewed all the time. Those who are public welcoming may feel bored after coming here because they will feel a little lonely.

On the other hand, for the people who love to be alone, find this beach the best.

Extra Tip


Free unmarked parking is served about 1 mile from Bonny Doon beach at Bonny Doon road. Visitors didn’t mind walking one mile for free parking service

Public restrooms:

No guestrooms and play areas for the family are there. Management is taking approval from higher authorities for such a step so that families can plan their visit for weekends and some sort of special event days.


It has been protected by geological formations for privacy. Whenever waves and layers get too strong for swimming purposes, wardens are there to stop them from such activities and advise them to stay away from shore.


This beach is open for the public and guests from early sunrise to late sunset. However, timing can be extended for private events if you are willing to pay extra money other than normal hours rates.

Panther Beach

7. Natural Bridges State Beach

This beach is a favorite for nature lovers and is appreciated for the dramatic, natural, rock bridge offering a view from the sea offshore. In autumn and winter, it’s a great place to watch whales and wild water creatures as they just migrate here in these seasons.

Moreover, it is also a very fascinating place for children to research for any marine life as the tide recedes, isolated pools appear. Students who love research work and having a collection of sea stones from beach water are often found here.

Why its visit is recommended

There are very few beaches that offer monarch butterfly preserve, lagoons, flowering grasslands, and color-full tide surprises. Fortunately, out of all the top 10 Santa Cruz beaches, only natural state bridges entertain their visitors for such beauties.

Extra tip


There is a $10 per vehicle day. People may also have a free parking fee for their initial visit. However, the cost reduces to $7 if you have a membership in the parking area and you wish to visit here on and off throughout the year.

Public restrooms:

This beach offers good services to their customers and people who are there to enjoy with their family. Neat and clean rooms, separate playing area and many more facilities may be enjoyed here by the visitors.


When tides are low at Natural bridges state beach, it gives a view of an entire world meeting at the horizon. However, visitors are advised to go to the only pool during the low tide period as there are no lifeguards on duty during high tides.


Thousands of colorful marine creatures emerge from the underwater early morning here, so the beach is open for visitors from early morning at 6:00 AM till late midnight.

Natural Bridges State Beach

8. Twin Lake State Beach

It is the most famous of all Santa Cruz beaches for its surfing. Here, you will be able to see the scenic Walton lighthouse and rise behind it. Kite flying season is at its peak due to ample breezes which attract so many crowds at the beach simultaneously.

Moreover, when the tides are low, lots of interesting things wash up on shore that makes it a great place to have a long walk. If you are an adventurous beachcomber, the beach reveals a lot of exciting goods when tides recede.

Why do I recommend Twin Lake State Beach?

People love Twin lake state beach for picnics, sandcastles, and kite flying. Right next to the park, there exists a freshwater lagoon named Schwan lake where bird lovers come to feed birds.

Expert tip


Some park units and a spare area outside the beach are allocated for parking cars, buses, or private vehicles. They are charged a very low amount for car parks.

Public restrooms:

Guesthouse owners do not provide very good services . They lack facilities like proper bedrooms with all equipment. Even necessities of daily work life like soaps, towels, etc. are not served by them properly.


During the summer season, tides may become wide to wild waves in beach water. Lifesaver attendants are hired by beach authorities for save precious lives.


In the summer season, it is open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM while in winter and cooler rainy season, the same timing reduces to 6:00 PM in the evening.

Twin Lake State Beach

9. Waddell Beach

This beach is located about 20 miles from Santa Cruz in a big basin state park. If you are looking to do little fishing, or eager for kiting, it is the best place with a scenic drive.

It’s also a place where you may find world-class windsurfers showing their acrobatic stuff and hidden abilities to the public. Romantic picnic under an umbrella, a span of beach and unobstructed views are some famous things about this beach.

Why do I recommend Waddell Beach?

The stretch of Waddell beach is a piece of heaven on Earth. Despite its mountainous scenery and lust greenery view, it never gets crowded. One should take advantage of this and plan a trip with his/her family here to explore the magnificent beauty of nature.

Extra tip


Plenty of free space is available here for parking purposes along the highway facing the beach. Parking is absolutely free, not a single penny is charged from the visitors

Public restrooms:

On the corner end of the shore, a few newly constructed rest houses exist. As already described, this beach is never jam-packed so there are enough guest houses for approaching people.


No such life-savers are being hired as there are no chances of any unfortunate event there.


From sharp 8 AM to sunset, it is open 7 days a week. Many people are still unaware of its beauty and timing which is the main reason for less tourism here.

Waddell Beach

10. Cowell’s Beach

People also know it as ‘Surf City. It is the only beach from all the top 10 Santa Cruz beaches where you may see local sea lions who take their morning and afternoon naps in the shade of long trees that stick out into the sea.

Swimsuits are available near shops close to the beach, but be careful about prices as the shopkeepers may charge you high because of monopoly and price-cartel created by them for the visitors.

Why do I recommend this great beach?

It’s a little too crowded, but there is a separate place where people move to smaller Cowell’s beach. Beginner surfers often visit the beach for surfing in its milder waves. Surf groupies and those who just like them should visit there at least once.

Extra tip


Limited metering parking in front of the beach is a sigh of calmness for the visitors. Closed parking may prove to be a difficult task, especially during summer. If you are lucky enough to nab a space, free street spots are accessible.

Public restrooms:

These are located nearby on the beach. Well furnished rooms and restaurants are always attractive.


Limited attendants are there to maintain discipline on the beachside. However, no such permanent staff is hired that shows it’s a safe place to visit.


Cowell’s beach opens for the public at sharp 12:00 AM and closes just one hour before sunrise. Plan your trip for here for afternoon lunch always.

Cowell’s Beach

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the 10 best Santa Cruz beaches in California. Why I have recommended these as the best beaches as per my observations, for the others, the list may vary.

I would like to ask some questions about Santa Cruz beaches, and I hope you would answer in the comments box or by sharing your thoughts to us via our email at seopro937@gmail.com

  • Have you ever visited any of the Santa Cruz beaches? If yes, Which one? and also share your experience for that great Santa Cruz beach or beaches. 
  • By reading our article on Santa Cruz beaches, have you planned to visit any of the beaches?
  • What great things you have from Santa Cruz beaches you can’t forget?
  • How do you feel about our expert guide and tip during Santa Cruz beaches visits?

Found the article great? Don’t forget to share the great things with your friends and family. Also subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get travelling updates. 

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