Explore Santa Cruz County
About Santa Cruz County
The Santa Cruz County coastline is south of San Mateo County on the San Francisco Peninsula and just a short drive from San Jose and the southern San Francisco Bay Area. The city of Santa Cruz is in the middle of the county coastline and has many urban beaches tucked into coves that are filled with local beachgoers. Tourists pack the city waterfront where they enjoy an amusement park, arcades, a boardwalk, a fishing pier, and a wide sandy beach. South of Santa Cruz the beaches are on the northern shore of Monterey Bay in the cities of Watsonville, La Selva Beach, Rio Del Mar, Aptos, and Capitola. These southern Santa Cruz County beaches are in state parks such as Sunset SB, Manresa SB, Seacliff SB, and New Brighton State Beach. The small town of Davenport is the only city along the northern Santa Cruz County coast. These northern Santa Cruz beaches include Wilder Ranch SP, Bonney Doon SP, and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. In between these parks are many other great beaches that offer sand and secluded coves. Note that some of these remote beaches are considered clothing-optional so read our beach descriptions to find them or avoid them.