One of the most popular and well-known beaches in all of Northern California, Santa Cruz Main Beach is absolutely packed with things to do and sights to see. Enjoy the sun, sand, and surf, go kayaking or paddle-boarding, and fish off of the wharf. Or visit the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk where you’ll find amusement rides, mini golf, arcade games, and a number of different shops.
The iconic Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is also located at Santa Cruz Main Beach. There you’ll find boat tours, restaurants, fishing, shopping, and night clubs. Sea lions are also known to hang out in the area surrounding the wharf.
Swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, volleyball, mini golf, arcade, amusement park, boating, and bowling.
No dogs are allowed on the beach.
Santa Cruz Main Beach has been known to receive poor water ratings at times. Check the water quality online or with a lifeguard before going swimming.
Restrooms, lifeguards, volleyball nets, wharf, boardwalk with arcade and amusement park, kayak rentals, dining, shopping.
Boardwalk Bowl is right across Beach Street behind the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
West of Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is Cowell Beach. There you can surf, sunbathe, and play volleyball. Water quality is also poor here at times, be sure to check online or with a lifeguard before swimming or surfing.
Santa Cruz Main Beach is right near Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center. There you can learn about the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of largest marine sanctuaries in the country, through interactive exhibits, video presentations, and guided tours.
Nearby Steamer Lane is a famous surfing spot for expert surfers and it’s a great spot for surfing spectators.
The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse on West Cliff Drive near Steamer Lane. The museum was established in 1986 to document the history of surfing through photographs, videos, and surfboards.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was founded in 1907, making it the oldest amusement park in the state of California.
The Giant Dipper, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s iconic wooden roller coaster, was opened in 1924 and still stands today. It was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
The Santa Cruz Looff Carousel on Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was built in 1911 and it contains a 126-year-old pipe organ inside of it. It was also registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Location: 399 Beach Street in Santa Cruz, California
Season: Year round