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Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, California

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One of the best boardwalks in the state of California is right here in Santa Cruz. And we stopped here because the beach was so inviting; wide, open space with a good mix of people from all walks of life. Interestingly enough, this area has some great history that makes it fascinating.

You can’t walk far down the boardwalk and you’ll see and feel what we mean. It is the feel of old California fused with the new, eclectic vibe that makes you feel you just walked out of an Endless Summer movie carrying a Harry Potter book.

Tanning in the sun at Santa Cruz Beach, California

If you ask anyone who’s been to Santa Cruz, they’ll probably tell you it’s the Boardwalk you want to see, and the beach is just a showcase. It’s always fun and takes you back in time where you can stroll along (yes, it’s actually made of boards) and people watch, or take in the beautiful, but cool Pacific Ocean, or buy something special at one of the many shops that line the boardwalk.

Get crazy and you’ll end up riding the rides here. There are ferris wheels, and roller coasters, and almost everything in between. It’s a kaleidoscope for the senses and the dark blue waters that come ashore on this powdery tan sand have been doing so for eons. The kids will want to kick up and play in the waves, but you can lay back and listen.

Playing on Santa Cruz beach, CaliforniaGranted, you’ll need to get yourself to the California coast, but once here you’ll find these beaches much less crowed than the beaches at top Caribbean destinations, or the East Coast for that matter. And one thing you can’t forget is that the water temperature here will take your breath away at times. It can get pretty chilly, even in mid-Summer. Locals have wetsuits, and you may find a local surf shop that rents them. You’ll be glad you had it on if you plan to spend any time at all in the water.

But you can’t really snorkel here because you won’t see much, and Santa Cruz Beach area is really where the cruise ships come in to dock. If you want to snorkel here, try La Intrega Beach. You may not see too much, but it’s always fun to say that you did snorkel off the California coast. There are some nice rocks on that beach with some fish, and you’ll always see your share of sea grass. Make sure you take a partner to keep tabs.

Speaking of water temperatures, swimming may be out of the question if you don’t have something to keep you warm. Santa Cruz Beach is a beach of contrasts. For example, you can set your beach umbrella up on the sand and the sun will warm you. Most beaches are the same, but this beach is one of contrasts. The Arctic Stream flows right down the California Coast, and waters can get in the 50’s! That’s quite a contrasting beach – sun and heat and water and cool… all in one place.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

How can we mention the beach without mentioned what really made the beach famous? Well, we can’t. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been enjoyed by tourist for over 100 years. In fact, the Giant Dipper roller coaster was built there in 1924 and hails and one the funnest wooden coasters in America. Down on the boardwalk there are tons of small shops and galleries; something for the whole family.

Santa Cruz Beach BoardwalkNow we found that both the beach here and especially the boardwalk area can become very crowded during the weekends in summer. Plan ahead. Arrive early or come during weekdays.

Free entertainment on weekends and tons of rides (did I say that already?) Our favorite is the Sky Glider that runs from one end of the boardwalk to the other with fantastic views of Monterey Bay.

It’s worth a trip here and you won’t be disappointed.

Beach Index:

– Tan sand, loamy in areas
– Facilities abound
– Chilly water year round
– Lifeguards

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Meliha June 30, 2010, 12:03 am

    I’m not so sure they DO have lifeguards at Santa Cruz beach.

  • Meliha June 30, 2010, 12:06 am

    The Santa Cruz beach boardwalk area is ok if you like amusement park rides or have kids that like them. If you don’t fall in either category, I highly suggest driving a little farther south to Capitola, where the beach(es) are slightly nicer (and sometimes less crowded).

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