The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, nestled in the heart of the picturesque Monterey Bay, is a hub of maritime activity and an enticing getaway destination. This nautical paradise, with over 1,000 boat slips, offers a myriad of recreational opportunities, from boating and fishing to beach volleyball and sea life viewing. Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or a landlubber seeking seaside fun, the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor has something to offer everyone.
A Warm Welcome
The Santa Yacht Cruz Harbor Commission and District staff extend a warm welcome to all visitors and harbor users. With a wealth of amenities and activities available throughout the harbor, visitors can look forward to an unforgettable experience. The Harbor’s official website provides detailed information about its features and the activities available.
A Two-part Harbor
The harbor is divided into two sections: the south or “lower” harbor and the north or “upper” harbor. The lower harbor, completed first, can accommodate vessels up to 60 feet and houses the majority of the harbor’s slips over 40 feet. The lower harbor also contains a small Coast Guard facility and the Santa Cruz Yacht Club.
The upper harbor, separated from the lower by two fixed bridges, is home to powerboats and smaller sailboats. The upper harbor also houses the harbor’s maintenance base, two dry storage areas, and an RV park.
The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor offers a plethora of recreational activities for visitors of all ages and interests.
One of the harbor’s primary attractions is its picturesque beaches. Seabright State Beach, located between the harbor jetty and the San Lorenzo River estuary, boasts a large stretch of sandy shoreline perfect for sunbathing or beach games.
Harbor Beach, a cozy pocket beach extending east of the jetty, offers stunning views of Walton Lighthouse and the sailing boats heading out to sea. The beach is also home to three volleyball courts and hosts the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Visitors to Harbor Beach can explore unique art installations, including a human sundial and a topographical sculpture of Monterey Bay, which details the contours and depths of its underwater canyon.
Sea Life Viewing
The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, home to a diverse array of marine life. From the shoreline, visitors can spot harbor seals, giant kelp, and occasionally humpback whales and dolphins.
Exploring the Waters
Sailing & Fishing Charters
the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor offers various charter options for those wanting to experience the marine life-rich waters of Monterey Bay.
- Chardonnay II: This luxurious outfit offers catered outings aboard a 70-foot racing yacht.
- O’Neill Yacht Charters: Enjoy seasonal sailings aboard a 65-foot catamaran.
- Stagnaro Whale Watching & Fishing Trips: Known for their fishing and whale watching charters.
- Pacific Yachting and Sailing: This popular sailing school also offers sailboat rentals and chartered private parties.
- California Classic Sail: Enjoy a two-hour outing aboard classic wooden vessels.
Do not miss the popular Wednesday Night Regattas, which takes place from March through October.
Kayaks & Stand-Up Paddleboards
The harbor is an ideal location for self-propelled watercraft like kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Kayak Connection offers kayak rentals, classes, and guided tours, while the SUP Shack provides rentals for stand-up paddleboards.
The Crow’s Nest
The Crow’s Nest is a bustling eatery located on the sands of Harbor Beach, offering waterfront vistas and classic seafood dishes. Their outdoor deck overlooks Monterey Bay, making it a perfect spot for sunset dining.
Beach Market is a one-stop shop that offers casual meals and snacks, along with a range of beach essentials and coastal-inspired home goods.
Before Your Visit
The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor offers three paid parking lots open to the public. There is also a limited number of free parking spots surrounding the harbor and Twin Lakes State Beach.
The Santa Cruz Yacht Club
The Santa Cruz Yacht Club, founded in 1928, is renowned for its members who revolutionized sailboat racing in the 1970s by designing and building ultra-light displacement boats. The club hosts world-class regattas and other major events, including the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Day on the Monterey Bay Regatta, One Design races, and the West Marine Fun Regatta.
Harbor of Refuge
The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor promotes the enjoyment of marine activities and the preservation of local marine life. Part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the harbor is home to a diverse range of marine species, including 26 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, and 345 species of fish.
A Peek into the Past
The State Department of Parks and Recreation began acquiring land for the harbor between 1958 and 1960. In 1962, Congress appropriated $1.6 million for jetty construction and the dredging of the original south harbor basin. Construction began in 1962, with the facility completed in 1964.
The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor is governed by five Commissioners elected to four-year terms. The commissioners select a port district director who oversees the harbor’s affairs.
Santa Cruz Anchorage
The Santa Cruz Anchorage, located to the east of Point Santa Cruz and west of the Santa Cruz Breakwater Light, is a popular place for boats to anchor. It contains the Santa Cruz Wharf and is immediately south of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park.
In conclusion, the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor is a treasure trove of recreational opportunities and a haven for boating enthusiasts. From its beautiful beaches and fascinating sea life to its vibrant yacht club and mouthwatering dining options, the harbor promises a memorable experience for every visitor.
Please note that while every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, visitors are advised to check the official Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor website for the latest updates.
For those interested in learning more about the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and its offerings, the following resources may be helpful: