La Selva Beach, California

This small coastal community is located near the Manresa State Beach. Highway 1 runs parallel to the town. La Selva Beach is part of the Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California metro area.

Part of the Pajaro School District, Renaissance High School in La Selva Beach is mostly Hispanic, serving the farming communities where crops such artichokes, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables are grown in this fertile region with temperate climate close to the coast. Addresss: 11 Spring Valley Road, District: Pajaro Valley Joint Unified, School Enrollment: 215, White students: 9.8%, Hispanic students: 85.1%, Dropout rate: 18.6%

A Women's Country Retreat By The Sea, located on The Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz, California, 20 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz and 30 minutes from Monterey. It includes an artist's mini-farm, with peacocks, cats, chickens, ducks, geese and a poodle, where there are two beautiful cottages available to women travelers. Each cottage has a fireview woodstove, queen-size bed, and fully-equipped kitchen. A shared hot tub is located on a deck with a view of the Pacific ocean. Take beautiful sunset strolls on a long, spectacular, uncrowded beach 8 minutes away, where dolphins play in the surf and sand dollars are abundant at certain times of the year. The Chalet and The Cottage are a few steps away from the outdoor hot tub and sundeck. Location: 40 Lily Way , La Selva Beach, CA, 95076 Phone: 831 724-3459
Clientele: Lesbian Straight

La Selva Beach Library has served the Santa Cruz County southernmost community of La Selva Beach since 1968. The 2,200 square foot branch houses a collection of books, videos, books on tape, and other items, including approximately 40 periodical titles. The collection of the entire system is accessible through the online public access catalog; books may be requested from any branch for delivery to La Selva. Magazine articles, many of them with the full text, may also be searched with an online database. Internet access terminals are available for browsing the World Wide Web.La Selva Branch Library, 316 Estrella, La Selva Beach, CA 95076-1724. Call: (831) 420-5349 * * TDD (831) 420-5733

Welcome to The Grove: A Women's Country Retreat By The Sea, located on The Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz, California, 20 min. from downtown Santa Cruz and 30 min. from Monterey.

An artist's mini-farm, with peacocks, cats, chickens, ducks, geese and a poodle, where there are two beautiful cottages available to women travelers. Each cottage has a fireview woodstove, queen-size bed, and fully-equipped kitchen. A shared hot tub is located on a deck with a view of the Pacific ocean. Take beautiful sunset strolls on a long, spectacular, uncrowded beach a short walk (8 min.) away, where dolphins play in the surf and sand dollars are abundant at certain times of the year.

The Chalet and The Cottage are a few steps away from the outdoor hot tub and sundeck.

40 Lily Way , La Selva Beach, CA, 95076 Phone: 831 724-3459
Clientele: Lesbian Straight

The beaches start just past New Brighton State Beach in Capitola and extends to the Pajaro River some 10 miles south. The bluffs, for the most part, are set back from the water's edge. The largest developments include Las Olas Dr. (Seacliff); Rio Del Mar; Seascape; and Place De Mer and Sandollar (La Selva Beach). There is one highly polluted creek (Aptos Creek in Rio) and many runoff points. Residences from La Selva Beach south to the Pajaro River are all septic tank sewage systems. Agricultural lands are abundant with runoff points at dozens of spots throughout the bluff line.

The bluffs south of La Selva Beach has seen a proliferation of huge mansions set curiously and, in my opinion, dangerously close to the bluff's edge. The bluffs consist of sandstone materials that tend to erode at a fairly quick rate.
There are several developments which have houses at the base of the bluffs and have houses dangling over the bluff above (Las Olas Dr., Rio Del Mar, and Place De Mer Condos just south of Manresa Beach.

There are 5 state beaches along this stretch of coast. New Brighton, Seacliff, Manresa, Manresa Uplands, and Sunset. All are developed with parking lots, bathrooms and at New Brighton, Manresa Uplands and Sunset, camping services.

http://www.surfridersantacruz.orgAptos Beach Inn
La Selva Beach, California
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A historic replica of Abraham Lincoln's Springfield home, this Neo-Georgian farmhouse sits on three acres within an easy walk to a 22-mile sandy beach. The upscale amenities and variety of activities found at an oceanside resort are enjoyed at this coastal inn. Play tennis on clay courts. Choose a selection from the book and video library to enjoy by the fire in a spacious suite or guest bedroom that feature adjustable massage beds, and two-person, eight-jet spa tubs with showers. Swim or surf at nearby Manresa and Sand Dollar state beaches.

Historic Interest: First farm house of this stature built by German farmer who brought modern farming techniques to the Pajaro Valley. It is also a replica of Abraham Lincoln's Springfield home. Photographed and visited by Ansel Adams.

Aptos Beach Inn
1258 San Andreas Road
La Selva Beach, CA 95076

Rates: $125-195
Rooms: 5


La Selva Beach Improvement Association received County Board of Supervisors approval for road closure to hold a 4th of July Parade and celebration. La Selva Beach
La Selva Beach Improvement Association’s Fourth of July Celebration
Be independent at the La Selva Beach celebration, which lasts the entire day and is sponsored by the La Selva Beach Improvement Association. Start with some breakfast, or get some exercise at the bike ride or the Fun Run. The day is full of activities, including a pet show, a parade, a flag presentation, a watermelon-eating contest, bike decoration and a sand castle contest. There will also be plenty of games, including horse shoes, an egg toss, corn shucking and a tug-o-war, as well as balloons and face painting for the kids. The day ends with a pot luck barbecue — last names beginning with A-L are asked to bring a hot dish or a salad; last names beginning with M-Z are asked to bring a dessert. Don’t forget to bring your own meat.

WHEN: Bike ride 7:30 a.m.; Fun Run registration 7:45 a.m., run begins 8 a.m.; breakfast 8 a.m., refreshments 10:30 a.m.; pet show registration 8:30 a.m., pet show begins 9 a.m.; horse shoes adult singles 10 a.m., adult doubles 1 p.m.; food booth 11 a.m.; parade line-up 11:30 a.m., parade begins noon; flag presentation 12:45 p.m.; sand castle contest 3 p.m., prizes awarded 4:30 p.m.; pot luck barbecue 6 p.m.

WHERE: Bike ride, Fun Run and horse shoes at Triangle Park, corner of Playa Boulevard and Solano Avenue, La Selva Beach; breakfast, refreshments, pet show, games, food booth and flag presentation at Florido Lawn, corner of Playa Boulevard and Estrella Avenue, La Selva Beach; parade lines up on Benito Avenue, La Selva Beach; sand castle contest at La Selva Beach.

COST: Tickets for food and games 50 cents.

DETAILS: Bob Zottarelli, 684-1220.
Manresa State Beach features a beautiful expanse of sea and sand, with surf, fishing, surfing, and recreation.

From Highway 1, south of Aptos, take San Andreas Road southwest and continue for three miles to Manresa State Beach. It is the first beach access you will reach on the coast.

Camping is not available at Manresa State Beach.
Camping is available at Manresa Uplands Campground, 1 mile south.

Outdoor shower
Ramp to the beach

The weather varies from cool and foggy to windy to bright and sunny. Layered clothing is advised.

Outdoor shower
Food, lodging, and supplies available nearby

Educational Activities
Junior lifeguard program

400 San Andreas Road
La Selva Beach, CA

831- 724-3750

Sunday - Saturday 8am to .5 hour after sunset.

Map to Park

$5 for day use

Manresa State Beach features a beautiful expanse of sea and sand, with surf, fishing, surfing, and recreation.

From Highway 1, south of Aptos, take San Andreas Road southwest and continue for three miles to Manresa State Beach. It is the first beach access you will reach on the coast.

Camping is not available at Manresa State Beach.
Camping is available at Manresa Uplands Campground, 1 mile south.

Outdoor shower
Ramp to the beach

The weather varies from cool and foggy to windy to bright and sunny. Layered clothing is advised.

Outdoor shower
Food, lodging, and supplies available nearby

Rio Del Mar Beach
Rio Del Mar Blvd.
Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 429-2850

A long strip of white sand. You can take your dog for a walk here (with a leash). Also enjoy fine restaurants and shopping nearby. No day fee. Open sunrise to sunset.

Seacliff State Beach
201 State Park Drive
Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 685-6444

An expansive white sand beach offers picnic facilities for day use, and RV camping. There is fine fishing off of the "Palo Alto" beached cement ship. Call for RV reservations. Open sunrise to sunset.

"The Palo Alto"
Cement Ship

Outside Aptos

Lighthouse Field State Beach
West Cliff Dr. & Pelton Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 429-3777

Streamer Lane, widely considered the birthplace of mainland American surfing, is here. You'll find the surfing Museum housed in the lighthouse.

Manresa Uplands State Beach
205 Manresa Rd.
La Selva Beach, CA
(831) 761-1795

The perfect beach for a picnic and playing in the surf. There are fire rings on the beach and picnic tables available. Tent camping sites on the bluffs are plentiful, but no RV hook ups. Day fee. Open sunrise to sunset.

Natural Bridges State Beach
West Cliff Drive, west of Swift Street
Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 423-4609

Named for its water sculpted rock formations. Surfing, wind surfing or just sunbathing. Guided tours of the Butterfly Natural Preserve are offered on weekends.

New Brighton
State Beach

New Brighton State Beach
1500 State Park Dr.
Capitola, CA 95010
(800) 444-7275 Reservations
(831) 464-6330 Information

Cypress and Pine trees surround this tranquil camping beach known for its surf fish and clams. There is a fee for day use and reservations are required for overnight camping. No RV hook ups are offered. Open sunrise to 10 p.m.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 423-5590

West Coast's only seaside amusement park: 27 rides, miniature golf, Casino Fun Center.

Capitola City Beach and Wharf
Esplanade St. & Monterey Ave.
Capitola, CA
(831) 475-6522

Half-mile swimming and fishing beach with charming boutiques, restaurants and galleries. Public fishing pier with bait & tackle, rod & boat rentals, sailing charters, etc.


Aptos Village Park
100 Aptos Creek Road
Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 454-7956

A lovely creek-side park with picnic tables and a grassy play area. The park building has a full kitchen and fireplace, ideal for weddings and parties. Open 9 a.m. to sunset or by reservation.

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Aptos Creek Rd.
Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 763-7064

This lush Redwood forest park has over 30 miles of hiking and trails, one of which leads to the epicenter of the 1989 earth quake. Horse-back riding, dogs, and biking are allowed in portions of the park. There are day use picnic areas available and camping at the Westridge Trail Camp requires reservations.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
101 N.Big Trees Park Road
Felton, CA
(831) 335-4598

Hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, picnics, gift shop. Self guided tour through the Giant Redwoods.

Big Basin State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
(831) 338-8860

First State Park in California. Hiking, camping, picnics, tent cabins. Over 50 miles of trails through redwood forests and waterfalls.

Elkhorn Slough Reserve
1700 Elkhorn Rd.,
Watsonville, CA
(831) 728-2822

Five miles of hiking trails through grassland adjoining fresh and saltwater marshes. Great place to view shorebirds.

Wilder Ranch State Park
1401 Coast Rd.
Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 426-0505

Historic ranch has hiking, bike and horseback riding trails. Old d farm buildings dating back to the 1880's contain historic exhibits of interest to kinds and adults. Live farm animals.

Polo Grounds Regional Park
(831) 454-7956 Reservations
(831) 454-7900 Information

Renaissance Ranch is an equestrian riding facility where people of all ages can learn to ride, improve their riding skills, attain riding goals and challenge themselves at whatever level they are striving to achieve!

We focus our attention on boarding horses, training horses, and training riders of all levels. We are one of the few facilities in the area that provide school horses to learn on and one of the few facilities who will teach both children and adults. We provide a safe, educated, and fun approach to learning how to ride.
Our focus is on Dressage and jumping, with an approach to teaching skills that give the rider an opportunity to achieve and meet expanding challenges.

Please call or stop by for a personal introduction to our facility and the programs that we offer.

We welcome visitors when we are teaching and we are always happy to answer questions regarding our services. We strive to be an asset to the community in hope that you will take advantage of it.
BEST BEACH FOR AVOIDING TOURISTS: Head north to Davenport Landing off Highway 1 where locals gather to surf. Or you can head south to La Selva Beach where steep climbs down the bluff keep tourists at bay. Just be aware that both these beaches can have powerful rip tides and surf.

We’d also pick Hidden Beach in Rio del Mar, except that once, a 16-year-old girl had to have her leg amputated from the knee down after a brush with a shark there. We know it’s been a long time and some people think tourists are as bad as sharks, but it still makes us
Archived News

Founder Of Disc Golf Dies at age 78.
“Steady” Ed Headrick 001
June 28, 1924 to August 12, 2002.

The inventor of the modern-day Frisbee may be gone, but his spirit — and his ashes — will continue to fly high into the great blue yonder.

“Steady” Ed Headrick, who also invented the sport of disc golf, died in his sleep early Monday, August 12, 2002, at his home in La Selva Beach. He was 78.

No services are planned. Headrick’s ashes will be molded into a limited number of memorial flying discs with distribution to be determined later. A memorial fund will be created by the family to establish the Steady Ed 001 memorabilia museum.

In an interview with the Sentinel last October, “Steady” Ed Headrick, well-known for his sense of humor, said, “I felt the Frisbee had some kind of a spirit involved. It’s not just like playing catch with a ball. It’s the beautiful flight.”

“We used to say that Frisbee is really a religion — ‘Frisbyterians,’ we’d call ourselves,” he said. “When we die, we don’t go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.”

Headrick, who had high blood pressure, had suffered two strokes while attending the Professional Disc Golf Association Amateur World Championships in Miami last month. The strokes left him paralyzed on his left side and weak on the right. Still, he had remained in high spirits — even signing autographs on Frisbees from his bed at a Miami hospital.

He returned home to California Aug. 6 after doctors determined that physical therapy would not aid his recovery and that his condition would continue to deteriorate.

On Saturday, friends and family held an open house. Several longtime friends visited with Headrick throughout the daylong celebration of his life, according to his youngest son, Gary Headrick.

“We had a really nice party for him on Saturday and he was conscious, with eyes and ears open,” Gary Headrick said. “He continued to decline (on Sunday), but remained comfortable. And he had all of us around him ... when he passed on (early Monday.)”

Steady Ed Headrick was born in South Pasadena on June 28, 1924. He had lived in Santa Cruz County for the past nine years.

Headrick invented the Frisbee while working at San Gabriel-based Wham-O in 1964. In the 1970s, he created the sport of disc golf, which involves throwing a Frisbee at a metal cage. Headrick had donated disc golf equipment to a number of recreational programs for under-privileged youth nationwide.

He is survived by his wife, Farina Headrick of La Selva Beach; one daughter, Valerie Headrick of Quincy; three sons, Ken Headrick of San Juan-San Ramon, Costa Rica, Daniel Headrick of Laguna Beach and Gary Headrick of San Clemente; and 11 grandchildren.

Disc golf fans also plan to approach the City of Santa Cruz about the possibility of dedicating a portion of an area park in memory of Steady Ed Headrick, according to Gary Headrick.

Photo courtesy of

Story courtesy AP

Santa Cruz

Nude sunbathers and suited swimmers and surfers mix it up in a genial way at beautiful Scott Creek Beach, which features a lagoon and a large stream in the middle of the sand most of the year. Bring a book or a picnic and enjoy the scenery and the half-mile-long beach, which, except for hot summer days, is usually peaceful and devoid of crowds. The surfing spot, used mainly from October to May, is on the north side of the shore. There are sudden undertows, so use caution when swimming. Just north of here, Año Nuevo State Reserve's protected colony of elephant seals is worth a visit.

Directions: Look for Scott Creek three miles north of Davenport, off Highway 1, and 15.5 miles north of the junction of Highways 1 and 17 in Santa Cruz. It's also 35.8 miles south of the intersection of Highways 1 and 92 in Half Moon Bay. Check for Swanton Road, shown on some maps. There are two turnouts for parking. You can walk to the beach from either north or south of the bridge. Rating: B

Along Highway 1, just south of the town of Davenport's public beach, is a little clothing-optional cove that's worth exploring. Even though the water is often too cold for swimming, the wind-sheltered beach, which faces a jutting rock formation in the sea that looks like a shark's tooth, is quite good for sunbathing. A steep trail takes you to a cave you can explore (some water pours into it) and some interesting rock formations. "Avoid the area at night, though," advises recent visitor Russ Lucas of San Jose, who has heard stories of rowdy partyers "terrorizing others" who remained after dark. A new sign about beach hours (it's closed after dark) has been posted near the end of the trail.

Directions: Look for Davenport Cove off Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz. The turnoff is 39.1 miles south of the junction of Highways 1 and 92 in Half Moon Bay and 12.2 miles north of the meeting of Highways 1 and 17 in Santa Cruz. Park at Davenport Beach, find the railroad tracks, and take the trail that starts there a half mile south to the cove. Or check for a turnoff half a mile south of Davenport, pull off the highway, park in the rutted 10-car lot, and go around a long metal gate to a path that leads to the sand. It has a poor, steep trail that winds down and over the tracks, but it will take you directly to the cove. Rating: C

Highly Recommended!
For those who've never visited a nude beach before, Santa Cruz's beloved Bonny Doon may be a good place to start. "It was scary at first," admits a 35 year old male reader who never imagined himself going to a clothing-optional site until seeing our guide last summer. "I played in the water but kept my suit on and just got the feel of the place." He liked what he saw: "It was a nice, small, very clean beach. So I went back the next weekend, took my suit off, and, after a while, had a very enjoyable experience." Bonny Doon has more of a community feel (volunteers from the Bay Area Naturists stage a trash pickup each September and hold a New Year's celebration on the sand) and more of a mixed crowd of men, women, singles, couples, straights, and gays than most nude beaches. A local pagan group sometimes visits; so do dogs and, offshore before July, whales. Dick Smith, who says he's never been hassled there, adds that although the cliffs provide wind protection, there's been erosion. The cove is one of two adjoining beaches (the other is clothed) slated to become a state park, which may put a stop to auto burglaries (lock your car) and nighttime drinking parties and raves.

Directions: From San Francisco, go south on Highway 1 to the Bonny Doon parking lot at milepost 27.6 on the west side of the road, exactly 2.4 miles north of Red, White, and Blue Beach and some 11 miles north of Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, head north on Highway 1 until you see Bonny Doon Road, which veers off sharply to the right just south of Davenport. The beach is just off the intersection. Park in the lot to the west of Highway 1; don't park on Bonny Doon Road or the shoulder of Highway 1. If the lot is full, drive north on Highway 1 and park at the next beach lot. Or take Santa Cruz Metro Transit District bus route 40 to the lot. To get to the beach, climb the berm next to the railroad tracks adjacent to the Bonny Doon lot, cross the tracks, descend the berm, and take one of several trails to the sand. Walk north past most of the beach to the cove on the north end. Rating: A

Some of the area's best sand is at small but picturesque Panther Beach, around 10 miles north of Santa Cruz. Naturists, whale watchers, suited sunbathers, surfers, and swimmers (beware: the water is cold and sometimes hazardous) all seem to coexist peacefully at the site, which has high rock towers, natural bridges, and a wall of rocks, complete with caves, on the south end.

Directions: Panther Beach is situated between mileposts 95 and 96 on Highway 1, some 10.6 miles north of the junction of Highways 1 and 17 in Santa Cruz and 40.7 miles south of the intersection of Highways 1 and 92 in Half Moon Bay. Park on the small dirt road on the west side of the highway, where you'll see other cars. The rutted parking area lies on a ridge between the highway and the railroad tracks. From the north end of the lot, cross the tracks and follow the steep, sloping, somewhat crumbly trail to the main part of the beach. Good walking shoes are recommended. Rating: B

Don't even think about coming to Hole in the Wall at high tide, visitors advise. But if the water is low enough, this quiet, pristine site is a special treat, which is separated from the south part of Panther Beach by a wall of rocks with, you guessed it, a hole in it. The 200-yard-long beach, which attracts up to 50 persons on the hottest days, has tall cliffs that end in a rocky shelf. The tide sometimes rushes in quickly. In November 2002 an unexpected wave swept two men through the tunnel-like "Hole" and into the sea; one never returned. In October two people drowned; two others died in 1998.

Directions: From Panther (see above) walk south along the sand through the hole in the wall, and you're there. Rating: B

Want to become a naturist who's also a naturalist? Take a trip to Laguna Creek Beach. At this warm, inviting swath of sand, you can relax, work on your "total body tan," and watch birds along the shore and at a nearby lagoon (common species include grebes, gulls, and song sparrows). The half-mile beach widens to the south, but the north end is warmest, according to visitor Bill, who likes Laguna Creek's small protected coves. Even on warm days, fewer than 50 people, and often just one or two, show up. The beach has become somewhat of a gay hangout, especially in the middle part.

Directions: About 9.8 miles north of the Highway 1 and 17 junction in Santa Cruz and 41.5 miles south of the Highway 1 and 92 junction in Half Moon Bay, look for Laguna's dirt parking lot on the inland side of Highway 1 or the unmarked side road (Laguna Road) next to the lot. Park there and head for a road on the west side of the highway that faces the lot, where Laguna Road and Highway 1 join up. Just north of that road, follow a narrow path through the bushes. It will become a jeep path. Take it to the north end of the beach, where you may see some skinny-dippers. Or walk along the water's edge to the south end, which gets both suited and nude use. Rating: A

Highly recommended!
At Red, White, and Blue, where visitors are enjoying what Mike Oropeza, Webmaster of the beach's new site (, calls "the best sand since 1990," you can camp overnight nude, use the barbecue pits with just your oven mitts on, play volleyball in the buff, or even get out of your car in the parking lot au naturel. "It's a freedom-loving place," says Oropeza, who likes the extra two feet of sand Mother Nature has piled on the beach this season. "It's the best beach around," agrees a visitor named Craig, who's been coming there up to eight times a summer since 1978. New horseshoe pits have been added recently, but the best news is the change in the beach's creek channel, which has started flowing south, instead of north. "It's freed up the north end of the beach, which is wind sheltered," Craig says. Sunbathe, whale-watch, or just hang out, but – except for occasional holiday parties – don't expect the social scene of Bonny Doon or Marin's Red Rock. "It's a good place to swim, but I didn't like the spread-out feeling," says a first-time user from Santa Clara who visited last summer. Crowds of several hundred gather on the hottest days. Beach use is $10 a day or $15 a night per person.

Directions: The beach is at milepost 24.9 on Highway 1, 4.1 miles north of the Santa Cruz city limits and 43.2 miles south of the Highway 1 and 92 junction in Half Moon Bay. Look for a large red, white, and blue mailbox numbered 5021 on the west side of the highway. Rating: A

Although it's usually a haven for surfers and families, Wilder Ranch State Park still gets visits from buff bathers on weekdays and when crowds are almost gone. Most of the nudists prefer the south end of the sand. Oropeza says he's also tried "the Table Rock area near this blowhole there, where the waves crash" and the north side of the beach, once the wave riders who frequent it were gone. On a typical afternoon, only 5 to 10 visitors, and often even fewer, use the nude area.

Directions: Four Mile Beach is off Highway 1, four miles north of the junction with Mission Street in Santa Cruz and 3.6 miles north of the city limits. San Franciscans may want to call it 44 Mile Beach because that's its distance south of the junction of Highways 1 and 92 in Half Moon Bay. Look for the Wilder Ranch parking lot a mile or so north of the Western Drive stoplight. Or park where you see a group of cars pulled over on the unpaved turnout next to where Highway 1 crosses Baldwin Creek. Take the dirt road that begins here. Stay on the road as you cross the railroad tracks and wind left of the marsh. In less than 10 minutes, the walk will take you to the beach. Rating: B

Want to visit the Garden of Eden? Now's your chance. The Garden of Eden is one of three inland "sun spots" on the San Lorenzo River, in Henry Cowell State Park between Santa Cruz and Felton, where skinny-dippers head when fog hugs the nearby coast. To find these easy-to-miss swimming holes, look for cars pulled over on Highway 9, next to the state park, which bans nudity but seldom sends rangers to patrol the creek. "It's a beautiful area for hikes," says Russ Lucas of San Jose, who visited in April. "We saw very little litter along any of the trails. There were quite a few small groups of people, including one couple nude, about 50 yards upstream from the main [Garden of Eden] beach at the foot of the trail. But I was told by a woman that there are many more 'nudals,' as she called them, in the summer." Some poison oak and occasional rowdy types seem to be the only problems.

Improved directions: From Santa Cruz, drive north on Highway 9 and look for turnouts on the right side of the road. The first, a wide turnout with a tree in the middle, is just north of Santa Cruz. Rincon Fire Trail starts about where the tree is, according to reader Robert Carlsen. The many forks in the trail all lead to the river, down toward Big Rock Hole and Frisbee Beach; Carlsen says the best area off this turnout can be reached by bearing left until the end of the trail. Farther up the highway, 1.3 miles south of the park entrance, is the second and biggest turnout, leading to Garden of Eden Beach. Park and follow the dirt fire road across the railroad tracks. Look for a sign with park rules and hours and, to the left, a trash can. Ox Trail, which can be slippery, then winds down steeply to the creek. "At the stream, the path continues to the left, where there are several spots for wading and sunbathing," Carlsen says. The main beach is only 75 feet long and 30 feet wide but fairly sandy. Carlsen's favorite hole is accessible from a trail that starts at the third turnout, a small one on the right side of the road, about 4.5 miles from Highway 1 and just before Felton. A gate marks the start of the path. The trail bends left. When you come to the road again, go right. At the railroad tracks, go right. From here, look for the river down the hill on your left; many paths lead to it. "When we got to the water, we walked upriver until we saw skinny-dippers," says a visitor from Monterey named John. Rating: C

New listing!
After many years, one of Santa Cruz's most charming parks has started attracting a few naturists again. The park is known for the remains of its famous natural bridge, its tide pools, and Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve, the only official state monarch preserve in California, where up to 100,000 monarchs form a "city in the trees," roosting from mid October until the end of February. Whales, seals, and otters can also be seen offshore from the beach. The emerging nude spot is a tiny, 150-foot-long "hidden" section of the beach, located around the collapsed natural bridge. "No one can see you there, and nobody patrols the area," says George, a UC Santa Cruz student. "The beach gets fewer nudists than 2222, but it's far less visible to the prying eyes of ogling tourists than Its Beach." Park budget cuts have worked in the nudists' favor, causing what George calls a "drastic reduction of lifeguard and ranger staff." Last summer there were lifeguards only on weekends and holidays, and just on the main part of the beach. One drawback: reaching the nude spot can be intimidating, according to George. "You walk down to the main beach, keeping tight to the cliff, and then simply go around the point. Depending on the tide, your shorts might get wet and you might even be temporarily stranded on that side."

Directions: Take Highway 1 to Swift Street in Santa Cruz. Follow Swift to the sea and turn right on West Cliff Drive. Head north along the bluffs that start near the Santa Cruz Pier, and you'll end up at the beach. Rating: C

One of four nude spots in the city of Santa Cruz, Its Beach has its own landmark. Find the lighthouse at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive, and you're almost there. The site is close to one of America's best surfing sites, Steamer Lane, just around the point. Surprising the local wave riders, a few nudists started showing up eight years ago. Santa Cruz Sentinel columnist Don Miller has called them "mostly middle-aged guys," and one woman has "passionately complained" about the nudists to city attorney John Barisone, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Sand is usually widest in late summer and early fall; winter often leaves only a narrow strand of dry sand near the cliffs, and by late January the beach may be submerged at high tide. Also check out the butterfly refuge at Natural Bridges State Park, just east on West Cliff; the Santa Cruz Pier to the west; any of the bed-and-breakfasts along the way (also on West Cliff); and the surfing museum in the lighthouse.

Directions: Take Highway 1 to Swift Street in Santa Cruz. Follow Swift to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff Drive. Follow West Cliff until you see the lighthouse. Park and walk down to the little, pebble-strewn shore. Rating: C

Picture a cove the size of your average backyard – that's 2222, one of the world's smallest nude beaches. "When I went a few months ago, it was spectacularly beautiful," says Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco, who saw evidence of erosion-control efforts there. Called 2222 because it's across from 2222 West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, the beach is regularly used by a handful of college students and other local residents. But don't even think about coming here if you're not prepared to handle the site's steep, fairly dangerous paths. "Don't go with a baby stroller, but if you're agile, you can do it," Pasco says. Users are visible to people walking along West Cliff Drive above the beach, but most tourists and residents never look down.

Directions: The beach is a few blocks west of Natural Bridges State Park beach and about 2.5 miles north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From either north or south of Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 to Swift Street. Follow Swift 0.8 miles to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff. Keep your eyes open; 2222 is about 0.4 miles or five blocks away. Past Auburn Avenue, look for 2222 West Cliff Drive on the inland side of the street; the beach is across the road. Park in the nine-car lot next to the cliff. If it's full, continue straight and park along Chico Avenue. Follow the path below the lot to the sand. Rating: A

Not a true beach, the deck next to the ocean at Cowell State Beach does get occasional nude use on the hottest summer days. We've seen people sunbathe in the altogether there or jump into the water nude. Usually you'll find surfers at Cowell Steps, which lead down to the deck and are often used as a launching point.

Directions: Head to West Cliff Drive (see above) but park when you first turn onto it. Spaces are often easy to find. Walk to the beach stairway at West Cliff and Monterey, on the west side of West Cliff. Leave your clothes on the deck, where access to the water begins (there is no beach per se). Watch out for frequent rough waves. Skinny-dippers usually prefer to stay near the shore. Rating: C

New listing!
It isn't unusual for women to sunbathe "top-free" at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Beach and Capitola Beach, which have long histories of permissive attitudes by lifeguards and rangers.

Directions: For Boardwalk Beach, from downtown Santa Cruz, go west on Front Street until it ends at Beach Street, across from the Municipal Pier. Park on the pier or turn left onto Beach and find parking on any of the next few side streets. Then walk over to the beach. For Capitola, take Highway 1 south past the city of Santa Cruz or north past Aptos to the Capitola Avenue exit. Follow Capitola Avenue west to Capitola State Beach. Rating: C

A line of four beaches with dunes in southern Santa Cruz County and northern Monterey County begins at Rio del Mar, close to Aptos. Stay between the grassy, sloping sand hills close to the cliffs and you probably won't be hassled. But if you see cops, suit up quickly. "The state police who patrol Manresa do drive beyond their assigned borders and down to this beach, but they've never bothered me," one reader says. "And I like the safety factor of having them there." Most of the naturists are gay men, but straight singles and couples show up too.

Directions: Look for the beach 0.8 of a mile north of Manresa State Beach and 2.1 miles south of Aptos Beach State Park, just south of the town of Aptos. Take Highway 1 to the Rio del Mar exit. Go all the way to the coast (about a mile or two), then turn left (south) on Sumner Avenue. Follow Sumner, continuing past Seascape Boulevard, for about two miles until it ends. The nude beach is just south of the Seascape condos and inn. Park near the end of the road, walk toward the condos, cross over the train tracks, and follow a nearby wooden staircase down to a path that will take you through greenery to the sand. Or, at the end of the road, look for a security fence over a gully and take either of the well-worn paths that are on either side of the fence to the dunes near the gully. The nude area is about 800 feet south of where you'll enter the beach. Rating: C

Although La Selva Beach is mostly a clothed, family area, a few diehard naturists use this traditional site for avoiding tan lines by doffing their togs in the dunes on weekdays or when there aren't many visitors around. Be discreet. "It's duney but also so wide open in places that rangers can drive up and down and harass people," a regular visitor says.

Directions: La Selva is just south of Rio del Mar. Drive to Manresa State Beach (see next entry), then walk north along the sand. Head for the dunes before and after homes overlooking the ocean. Rating: C

The state parks chief for the Bay Area remembers what it was like encountering naked people when he was a ranger at Manresa. "In some of the more remote areas there were people who would sunbathe without clothing," says Ron Schafer, now the San Francisco Bay Area district superintendent for the state Department of Parks and Recreation. "It was a plain old nonissue [to rangers]." Years later some naturists still keep coming back to Manresa. In return for hiking to the sand dunes on the north end of the property, they usually get lots of sun and few hassles. The rest of the beach is mostly flat, sandy, and gorgeous. But in areas frequently used by families and other visitors, rangers will likely ask you to suit up. Elsewhere, enforcement of the park's nudity policy seems to be left up to the individual ranger.

Directions: From Santa Cruz, follow Highway 1 south past Watsonville to the Larkin Valley Road exit and look for the town of La Selva Beach. Turn right on San Andreas Road. Follow San Andreas to its terminus near the beach. Walk north to the dunes near the beach boundary, just south of La Selva Beach. Rating: C
La Selva Beach Surf Shop
308 Playa Blvd., La Selva Beach, CA; Tel. 831.684.0774

Top Ten Santa Cruz Surf Spots
A local's guide to great surfing locations in and around Santa Cruz, California, home of the world famous Steamer Lane.

Airports Distance Driving Time 
San Jose International   35 miles 45 Minutes 
San Francisco International   62 miles   90 Minutes 
Oakland International   60 miles   90 Minutes 
Monterey Peninsula Airport   43 miles   40 Minutes 
Watsonville Municipal Airport   14 miles   20 Minutes 
Highway Access    Five State Highways: 1, 9, 17, 129 & 152 (Providing access to U.S. 101) 

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