Aerial drone shot of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with the colourful amusement park next to the beach with mountains in the background.
Osprey Creative/

Santa Cruz Main Beach

Updated by Sasha Yanshin on February 14 2024

If you fancy a visit to a beautiful sandy beach with incredible views, where you can enjoy water sports, historic attractions or simply laze by the water, then a visit to Santa Cruz Main Beach ticks all those boxes and more! This pretty beachfront promises a fun-filled and memorable visit, just a short drive from the bustling center of Santa Cruz.

A quick overview of Santa Cruz Main Beach
Street Address📍108 Beach St, Santa Cruz 95060
Facilities at this beach

🕒 Opening hours (7am-10pm)

🚗 Parking ($5-10 per vehicle)

🛟 Lifeguard station

🚻 Public restrooms

Where can I find the Santa Cruz Main Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway?

Santa Cruz Main Beach is located on the northern part of the Californian coast, just a short 5 minute drive from the center of Santa Cruz.

From the Pacific Coast Highway, head towards the signs for Santa Cruz city center to reach the beach and iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Metered parking spots can be found along Beach Street, which runs alongside Main Beach, or at the entrance to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Santa Cruz is a popular coastal stop between San Francisco and Monterey. From San Francisco it is around 1 hour 40 minutes drive to reach Santa Cruz Main Beach.

Why we love visiting Santa Cruz Main Beach

You can be sure of a fun-filled visit stop off at Santa Cruz Main Beach when you are making the scenic journey along Pacific Coast Highway.

Here you can enjoy beautiful sandy shores for some much needed relaxation, or take part in many water sports on offer. It promises to be a fun-filled visit, and that's even before stepping foot on the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It is the ideal destination for those looking for coastal charm with a lively oceanfront.

[th]Feature[/th][th]Our rating[/th]
How we rate the different aspects of Santa Cruz Main Beach
Natural beauty and scenery⭐⭐⭐
Cleanliness and water quality⭐⭐⭐
Peace and quiet⭐⭐
Activities on offer⭐⭐⭐⭐

Santa Cruz Main Beach is ideal for beach volleyball, surfing, and other beachfront activities. Its lively atmosphere is appealing for locals and visitors looking for a fun day out.

Santa Cruz is best known as "Surf City". Spots like Steamer Lane offer world-class waves, attracting surfers from around the globe.

A big attraction is the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Enjoy both modern and vintage rides along the oceanfront during your visit.

Popular coastal highlights include Natural Bridges State Beach. Make sure to visit this beautiful and interesting area close to Main Beach.

Ariel view over Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with vintage rides and roller coaster along the beach front
Make sure to visit the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk during your visit.

What else is there to do near Santa Cruz Main Beach?

You can be sure of a packed visit when you stop off at Santa Cruz Main Beach, with plenty of ways to have fun in the sun. However if you are looking for something a little different, or to extend your stay, then check out some of our local highlights.

  1. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - This historic oceanfront amusement park, boasting a mix of vintage and modern rides, offers plenty of seaside fun.
  2. Santa Cruz Wharf - Stretching out into the waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Cruz Wharf is a vibrant pier known for its seafood restaurants, and ocean views. A must-visit spot for both dining and sightseeing.
  3. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum - Found within the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum shows the rich history of surfing locally, with vintage boards, photographs, and artifacts to view.
  4. Pacific Avenue - As the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, Pacific Avenue is a lively area lined with eclectic stores, restaurants, and cafe.
  5. Museum of Art & History - Located in the heart of the city, this museum displays contemporary art, local history exhibits, and interactive installations.

Santa Cruz is one of the most popular stopovers as you head along Pacific Coast Highway. Visit our dedicated article about where to stay during a visit, and other popular places to stop for the night on this route.

Common questions about visiting Santa Cruz Main Beach

The pretty shores of Santa Cruz Main Beach, and historic, buzzing local sites, make this area a popular place to head, particularly as it is easily accessible with plenty of facilities open year-round.

Is Santa Cruz Main Beach accessible and open year-round?

⭕ Yes, Santa Cruz Main Beach is accessible and open-year round.

Can I enjoy water sports at Santa Cruz Main Beach?

⭕ Yes, you can enjoy water sports at Santa Cruz Main Beach. You can also rent kayaks and boats on the nearby pier.

Is Santa Cruz Main Beach easily accessible for those using wheelchairs or strollers?

⭕ Yes, Santa Cruz Main Beach is easily accessible, with walkways down to the beach for those with lower mobility.

Is there anywhere to buy refreshments at Santa Cruz Main Beach?

⭕ Yes, you can buy refreshments at Santa Cruz Main Beach. There are several concession stands and eateries along the beach.

Are dogs allowed on Santa Cruz Main Beach?

❌ No, dogs are not allowed at Santa Cruz Main Beach, unless they are service dogs.

Are there any changing facilities at Santa Cruz Main Beach?

❗ There are no specific changing facilities at Santa Cruz Main Beach, however there are restrooms for changing and outdoor showers.

Are there any beach chairs or umbrellas to hire at Santa Cruz Main Beach?

❌ No, there are no beach chairs or umbrellas to hire at Santa Cruz Main Beach.

Is there anything else to watch out for when I visit Santa Cruz Main Beach?

The beach is a hotspot for beach volleyball. Throughout the summer plenty of volleyball courts are set up on the sand, and the beach hosts a variety of tournaments.

With its proximity to attractions like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Main Beach can get crowded, especially at weekends.

2 people on a morning Surf in Santa Cruz, CA
Head out on an early morning surf to catch the renowned and impressive Santa Cruz waves.
Tommy Kirkpatrick/