Museum of Natural History, Santa Cruz

Across the street from the beach is the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History with a life-size whale sculpture to climb on.


Lifeguard tower, Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz

The life guard towers are stored out of harms way in the off season.


Teens at Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz

Seabright Beach is 1/2 mile long bordered by the Yacht Harbor (and mini lighthouse) on the east side and the cliffs along the San Lorenzo river on the west.


Laura Hecox, Santa Cruz, CA

Laura Hecox, amateur marine biologist.


Cave at Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz

At the northern end of the beach lies a cave.



Sea Cave, Santa Cruz

Seabright State Beach and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Directions from Downtown Santa Cruz: East on Soquel Avenue for 1 mile. Right on Seabright Avenue for 1 more mile. Right on East Cliff for 100 yards.

On the east side of Santa Cruz lies beautiful Seabright State Beach. To reach there from downtown Santa Cruz head east on Soquel Avenue (just over 1 mile) and turn right on Seabright Avenue. One block from the water turn right on East Cliff Drive and Seabright Beach is on your left.

On your way out of downtown, stop in at The Buttery, one of the best bakeries in town, on the corner of Soquel and Branciforte Drive (5/8 mile from downtown). Try the excellent sandwiches or black bottom cupcakes. One of our favorite things to do there is order a fresh squeezed orange juice and watch them make it with the cool Zumex machine from Spain. Also at this intersection is Shopper's Corner, the oldest family run grocery in Santa Cruz. Locals shop here for excellent wines, produce and the busy butcher shop at the back of the store.

Continuing east on Soquel Avenue you come to the Rio Theater on the left. The Rio is a former 750 seat movie theater that became one the town's premiere venues for live concerts, lectures, and film screenings. At the Rio turn right onto Seabright Avenue. You then travel through the residential heart of the Seabright district for another mile. Just before the ocean turn right on East Cliff.

At the bottom of the hill Seabright State Beach is on your left and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is on your right. This little gem is worth a visit to see permanent collections of fossils and artifacts, a tide pool touch tank, and changing exhibits. Of special interest here are the collections and notes of Laura Hecox, who in 1883 took over her father's duty as light keeper in the Santa Cruz Lighthouse. She served in the post until 1916. While living on Lighthouse Point she became an avid amateur marine biologist. Her well organized records and collections were donated to the city in 1902 and are on display at the Museum.

Venturing back across the street to the beach, pass through the white metal gate to the sand. The gate roughly resembles a castle because this used to be called Castle Beach, after a building and restaurant once located on the bluff above the beach. This 1/2 mile stretch of sand is great for body surfing, jogging, swimming, and just plain lounging around. You'll find several fire rings for evening bonfires and BBQ's.

This spot is not easy for tourists to find and is therefore a neighborhood beach for locals. If you walk to the sandstone bluff at the far right side of the beach you may find a large cave to explore. The cave is not always accessible due to shifting sands and high tides. If it is open, go on through and you will emerge on the banks of the San Lorenzo River mouth. If you are brave enough to wade across the river, you can visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But that's another story....

If you walk all the way to the left end of the beach you come to the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor (Yacht Harbor). In 2002 private investors completed a 41' high lighthouse on the jetty that protects the harbor. This structure holds a small light and fog horn. Climbing up on the concrete jacks of the jetty is good fun. Once on top, you can walk out to the harbor mouth and watch the sailboats go by. If seas are rough be watchful for rouge waves that often break over the jetty.

On Wednesday nights from April to October, local sailors get out during the early evening for friendly races. A good time to get to the harbor is 5:30pm when you can see the boats parading by. The big restaurant on the other side of the harbor mouth is the Crow's Nest. It is the place to be on Wednesday nights. To get there from the lighthouse side, walk back down the jetty to the Murray/Eaton bridge. Cross there and walk back toward the beach.