Capitola Beach, located at the northern end of Monterey Bay in California, is a mesmerizing seaside town with a rich history and an array of attractions that make it a perfect destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. The town is renowned for its sunny beaches, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant events. Let’s dive into the captivating world of Capitola Beach and explore the myriad of experiences it has to offer.
Capitola Beach: An Overview
Situated on the serene shores of Monterey Bay, Capitola Beach is a sandy sanctuary that offers a breathtaking view of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The beach is south-facing, offering a large fishing pier, known as Capitola Wharf, that extends into Soquel Cove, where the water is usually calm due to the protective land to the west.
The eastern end of the beach, beyond the jetty, is home to larger waves, making it a popular spot for surfing enthusiasts. The lagoon behind the beach, formed by Soquel Creek, is a haven for various bird species, providing an entertaining spectacle for tourists. If you’re into stand-up paddleboarding, the calm waters of this lagoon are perfect for a relaxing paddle.
Parking at Capitola Beach and Village
Parking in Capitola can be challenging on busy summer days. Knowing where to park can save you a lot of time and frustration. It can often be very difficult to find parking in Capitola Village itself, especially down by the beach and Esplanade. However, there is a Capitola Beach pickup / drop-off zone near the restrooms and showers offering 3-minute attended parking which is very handy. There are also two good-size municipal parking lots in Capitola within about a 5-10 minute walk of the beach, and there is almost always parking available there.
Capitola Venetian Hotel
Adjacent to the creek, you’ll find the iconic Capitola Venetian Hotel, an area filled with townhome-style units built directly on the sand. This picturesque hotel is accentuated by bright multi-colored facades that create a stunning backdrop to the beach. The Venetian Hotel has been subjected to periodic flooding due to its proximity to the sand, but it the frequency and severity of storms has increased this in recent years.
Activities and Amenities
Capitola Beach offers a variety of activities including volleyball, fishing, sunbathing, birdwatching, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Amenities include a fishing pier, volleyball courts, lifeguard services, restrooms, showers, driftwood, shops, creek, restaurants, and benches.
Capitola Beach and Village Map
The Quaint Seaside Village
Capitola Village started as a humble tent camp along the Monterey Bay shoreline, known as Camp Capitola, welcoming its first guests in 1874, making it the first beach resort in California. A few years later, it premiered a grandiose Victorian-style hotel, echoing grand contemporaries like the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego and San Francisco’s original Cliff House.
The heart of the town still lies along Capitola Beach and the bench-filled Esplanade Park that faces it. Beachgoers perch themselves on the wide seawall lined with colorful tiles painted by community members and take in the panoramic beach scene. It’s all about the bustling scene here.
Capitola Village is a mecca of shops, restaurants, galleries, and seaside lodgings. In summer, the Capitola Beach Company rolls out its rental trailer stocked with beach essentials including boogie boards, beach chairs, and sun umbrellas. Their boutique down the street is filled with men’s and women’s beach apparel.
Capitola has a fascinating history. If you’re interested in the events and forces that shaped the local landscape, drop by the Capitola Historical Museum for a peek into the town’s rich past.
Capitola Beach: A Surfing Haven
Capitola Beach is an ideal spot for surfing and other water sports. The beach is shielded on either end by cliffs, making the waters calm and perfect for beginners. Capitola Village merges smoothly into the beach, allowing visitors to meander back and forth between the village and the beach.
Next to the Venetian is the Capitola Wharf, a wooden pier that attracts anglers and sightseers. The wharf was severely damaged by a storm in January 2023, but plans are underway to rebuild it.
Experience the Local Cuisine
Cocktails, coffees, burgers, burritos, savory treats, and sweets — Capitola Village has it all within a few blocks. After enjoying a latte and croissant at Mr. Toot’s Coffee or ice cream from Polar Bear Ice Cream, grab a seat at one of the restaurants lining the beach for a complete dining experience.
Dining at Capitola Beach and Village
The restaurants along the Esplanade offer incredible vistas of Capitola Village. With the beach, river, waves, wharf, palm trees, and candy-coated hues of the Venetian Hotel, these waterfront restaurants are hard to beat when it comes to views and vacation vibes. Popular restaurants along the beach are Paradise Beach Grille, Margaritaville, Zelda’s, and the Britannia Arms. Popular fast-food options are of course Pizza my Heart, Mijo’s Taqueria, and Tacos Morenos.
Engage in Water Sports
The calm waters of Capitola make it a great place for water sports. You can rent surf and paddle boards from local shops like Capitola Beach Company or Capitola Surf and Paddle. The area also offers excellent spots for swimming, kayaking, and more.
Explore the Local Shops
Stroll through the streets of Capitola Village and stop by the locally curated shops full of art, clothing, textiles, and more. From beach apparel to unique handmade treasures, Capitola Village offers a shopping experience like no other. To explore the various shopping options by Capitola Beach, I recommend using Yelp.
Stay in Comfort
Capitola offers a variety of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences. From hotel rooms with unforgettable views to apartments or houses right on the river, beach, or Esplanade, your stay in Capitola will be unforgettable. I recommend checking on TripAdvisor to find good places to stay in Capitola.
Capitola: A Blend of History and Modern Charm
Rich in history and brimming with modern attractions, Capitola Beach offers a unique blend of the old and the new. From its humble beginnings as a tent camp to its present status as a popular beach resort, Capitola has always been a place that captures the hearts of those who visit. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply looking for a relaxing beach vacation, Capitola Beach has something for everyone.
Capitola Village and Beach Sunset Walking Tour
Capitola Beach and Village Photo Gallery
Gorgeous Capitola Homes for Sale