Best Beaches Between Santa Cruz And Monterey

When in California, it’s difficult for one to resist the urge to explore some of the magnificent beaches between Santa Cruz and Monterey. One can find several beaches along the bay between the two counties, and one might wonder which of those beaches is best to visit.

Listed here are some of the best beaches between Santa Cruz and Monterey:

  1. Lover’s Point Beach
  2. Asilomar State Beach
  3. Del Monte Beach
  4. Salina’s River State Beach
  5. Seabright Beach
  6. Twin Lakes State Beach
  7. Capitola Beach
  8. Manresa Main State Beach
  9. Seacliff State Beach
  10. Rio Del Mar Beach

To have the best beach day experience possible, you must plan for your outing properly and consider certain factors that might affect your choice. Before visiting the beach, you must ensure that the beach you decide to visit caters to your needs and expectations regarding your planned activities. Here we list the best beaches and what they have to offer you.

Planning A Visit To One Of Monterey Bay’s Finest Beaches

Apart from location, one must consider whether certain activities such as swimming, fishing, or bringing your dog along for the day are permissible at the beach that you choose. Here is a guideline with activities allowed at each of these beaches.

Beach nameSwimming allowedFishing allowedPet-friendly
Lover’s Point Beach    Yes  Yes  No
Asilomar State Beach  Yes  NoYes
Del Monte Beach  YesYesYes
Salina’s River State BeachYesYesYes
Seabright Beach  YesYes (off pier only.)Yes
Twin Lakes State Beach  YesYesYes
Capitola Beach  YesYesYes
Manresa Main State Beach    YesYes (only with a fishing license.)Yes (on leash only.)
Seacliff State Beach  YesYes (off pier only.)Yes (on leash only.)
Rio Del Mar Beach  YesYes (only with a fishing license.)Yes (on leash only.)

What Do Monterey Bay’s Beaches Have To Offer?

All these beaches meet most, if not all, the basic requirements you’re looking for when deciding on which beach to visit. However, one might find that one beach may be a better fit than the other. Each beach has a unique feature that sets it apart from the rest.

Here is more information about each beach to help you decide which is the best suited to your needs.

Be Captivated By Sunrises At Lover’s Point Beach

Lover’s Point beach faces East, which makes it one of the very few spots where you can see the sun rising over the water of the West Coast of California. It has been a popular beach in California since the late 1800s. Lover’s Point is most well-known for swimming and boating activities. It has recently been a popular spot for surfers to catch some great waves.

The beach also has volleyball courts available for public use and is a fun and scenic spot for visitors to enjoy picnicking, outdoor painting, and photography.

Connect With Nature At Asilomar State Beach

This beach is part of a Marine Protected Area known as the Asilomar Marine Reserve. Therefore no fishing or collecting of shells and rocks is permitted as all the wildlife and features are protected. There are a few walking trails between the dunes and rocky coves which make up the beach.

Visitors can walk along the boardwalk through the dune ecosystem, where they will come across a native plant greenhouse where over 450 000 plants have been planted with the intent to preserve the dunes. The boardwalk also has lookout points providing scenic panoramic views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Enjoy Some Privacy At Del Monte Beach

Del Monte Beach is less busy than other beaches on this list because it is relatively hard to find if you’re not explicitly looking out for it, as it hides behind a local coastal housing community. Benches and picnic tables are located amongst the dunes of this beach. Many surfers also enjoy coming here to catch some waves.

Take A Horse Ride On Salina’s River State Beach

Salina’s River State Beach is a popular fishing beach for anglers. It has a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and is home to many diverse bird species. This beach sports an equestrian trail for visitors to take outrides along the beach. The trail runs below the high tide line to protect and conserve the surrounding wildlife and vegetation.

Swimming at this beach is not advisable due to the cold-water temperatures and strong rip currents, which are considered quite dangerous. One will catch only the most experienced surfers surfing these waves.

Visit The Walton Lighthouse At Seabright Beach

At Seabright beach, one can visit the Walton Lighthouse, located at the jetty’s tip. Seabright is much smaller than many other beaches situated along the bay but is well known for its tranquil and calm setting. Many people who come here enjoy swimming, the views of captivating sunrises and sunsets, and bringing their dogs along for the day.

People also like to have bonfires here and sometimes walk along the jetty to see the boats departing from Santa Cruz Harbor.

Enjoy The Birdlife Around Twin Lakes State Beach

Twin Lakes State Beach is conveniently located next to Schwan’s Lake, a popular bird-watching destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The beach has a mile-long shoreline which is most well known as a destination for swimming and picnicking.

Eat Out And Let Loose At Capitola Beach

Renowned for its numerous restaurants and shops that line the beach, Capitola Beach is the right choice for those who enjoy gorgeous scenery while dining. This beach is a good place for amateur surfers to practice as it has some of the most mellow waves of all the beaches along the bay. It is also a prime year-round event location for shows, concerts, and marathons.

Go Fishing At Manresa Main State Beach

The locals know this beach as a prime fishing location, but a sports fishing license is required to angle at this beach. Unlike most beaches mentioned so far, Manresa beach charges an entrance fee of $10 per adult. The currents are powerful here so it’s not very good for swimming and it is only suitable for the most experienced surfers.

Walk On The Pier At Seacliff State Beach

Seacliff is known as an excellent beach for swimming and sunbathing. The beach has many shady picnic areas for families to enjoy. It also has a massive fishing pier and an oceanfront campground where visitors can park their RVs.

Observe The U.S.S Palo Alto Shipwreck At Rio Del Mar Beach

Rio Del Mar beach is most well known for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming. It is a fun beach for families to visit. Visitors to this beach can also see the famous U.S.S. Palo Alto concrete shipwreck and walk on the pier.

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When choosing a beach to visit, several considerations need to be kept in mind. Among these are the location and what resources or equipment are required for the planned activities at each beach. Also, be aware of any restrictions that may be in place at the beach that you have decided to visit.

While in California, one might consider visiting one or more of the beaches between Santa Cruz and Monterey. The best of these beaches includes Lover’s Point Beach, Asilomar State Beach, Del Monte Beach, and Salina’s River State Beach.