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Best Santa Cruz County Beaches!

View of picturesque colorful seaside village in Capitola, CaliforniaBest Santa Cruz County Beaches!

Of course Santa Cruz is known for its beaches, but if you are new to the county, you might be wondering which ones you should go to. You’ve probably explored Main Beach, and maybe Capitola Beach, but do you know about these other local’s favorite beaches?

Read on for the best beaches in Santa Cruz:

Best spots if you are heading out with the kids

  • Main Beach, in front of the Boardwalk, is an easy family favorite. Lots of space, close to refreshments and other entertainment, and if you need some shade you can head under the wharf.
  • Twin Lakes is also a fun one with kids. You can park close to the sand, there’s a lifeguard and restrooms. There are also fire rings available to extend your stay into the evening.

Best beaches for surfing

  • Cowell’s has family-friendly, long waves. If you sign up for a surfing class, this is most likely where you’ll meet, and for this reason it can get crowded in the summer.
  • From Cowell’s, you may see  surfers jumping in from the rocks closer to the lighthouse – that’s Steamer Lane. This spot it for more experienced surfers so it’s not recommended to start here if you are a beginner.
  • If you are surfing on the east side of town, 30th and East Cliff is a great spot for experts looking for a challenge, but any beginner should definitely sit this one out and enjoy this spot as one of the best places to watch surfers in Santa Cruz. The swells are aggressive and the waves are short and good for advanced tricks.

Beach for dogs

Two great dog beaches are all close to each other along West Cliff Drive: Lighthouse Field State Beach (also known as It’s Beach), and just down the way, Mitchell’s Cove. Things to know: Leashes are required (though that rule is not always followed) and Mitchell’s Cove can collect some pretty stinky seaweed in the summer months.

Best for a beach bonfire

  • Twin Lakes has fire rings on the beach, though they fill up fast, so arrive early to grab a spot. The beach is staffed with lifeguards during the day and there are designated areas for swimming and surfing.
  • Seacliff Beach also has designated fire pits, but they are up off the sand, along the parking lot.

What’s your favorite beach in the county?


Gina Odom, Realtor

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