Santa Cruz County

Sandy beaches and dunes predominate along the southern Santa Cruz County coast, which is on the north shore of Monterey Bay, though you'll find sloughs and wetlands around the mouths of rivers and creeks. At Seacliff State Beach near the the town of Aptos, you can view Monterey Bay from a paved promenade and see an old scuttled concrete freighter from the accessible fishing pier. In the city of Santa Cruz, you can take a water taxi tour of the harbor or visit the surfing museum at Lighthouse Field State Beach, where you can also pick up the bicycle path that runs for three miles to Natural Bridges State Park and its Monarch Butterfly Nature Preserve.

Northern Santa Cruz County, backed by the Santa Cruz Mountains, is characterized by uplifted marine terraces and steep cliffs. At tiny Davenport Landing, you can explore tidepools with a beach wheelchair or enjoy a picnic at sunset, while at nearby Scott Creek Beach you can watch kiteboarders from the beach overlook.

 

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