Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz

Twin Lakes Beach Sign

Twin Lakes State Beach, located south of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor in coastal Santa Cruz County, California, is a popular seaside destination that offers a myriad of water activities and scenic views. The beach stretches along the Santa Cruz coast, providing a beautiful backdrop for an array of outdoor activities and wildlife spotting. The beach’s close proximity to the harbor and Schwan Lake makes it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. If you want to learn all you need to know for a great visit to Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz, keep reading!

About Twin Lakes State Beach

Twin Lakes State Beach, nestled in the heart of Santa Cruz, presents a sandy shoreline that is popular with locals and visitors alike. Favored for swimming and picnicking, the beach is situated adjacent to the Santa Cruz Harbor, making it one of the area’s most frequented local beaches. It’s also extremely popular with the evening beach bonfire crowd

Furthermore, the nearby Schwan Lake Park provides visitors with an easy walking trail through a natural preserve of aged oaks and coastal grasslands. It’s an ideal location for dog-walking, bird watching, and appreciating scenic views of the lake and bay.

The beach and the area around it are named for Schwan Lake and the Santa Cruz Harbor – which have a similar shape.  Before Santa Cruz Harbor was a harbor, it was known as Woods Lagoon and was more of a lake than the harbor it is today.

Twin Lakes Beach Santa Cruz

Twin Lakes Beach Santa Cruz

Location and Directions

With coordinates at 36°57′44″N 121°59′59″W, Twin Lakes State Beach is easily accessible from Highway 1. For those driving, take Soquel Avenue to 7th Avenue. The 7th Avenue culminates at Twin Lakes State Beach.

For public access to Schwan Lake Park, visitors can use the Simpkins Family Swim Center off of 17th Avenue, and then walk through the trails at Schwan Lake Lagoon to make it down to the beach. Alternatively, for those opting for public commuting, Santa Cruz METRO routes 66, 68 or 69W are convenient options for reaching the beach.

Operating Hours

The day-use area of Twin Lakes State Beach is open from sunrise to sunset, allowing visitors to take advantage of the beach’s amenities and enjoy the breathtaking views of the sunrise and sunset.

Things to do at Twin Lakes State Beach

Beach Area

Twin Lakes State Beach offers an assortment of exciting beach activities, from boogie boarding and surfing to stand-up paddle boarding. The warm waters and the sandy shoreline make it an ideal spot for swimming.

Hiking Trails

For those who prefer land-based activities, the trails around Schwan Lagoon offer a great opportunity for exploration. It’s also a good spot for birdwatching, with a variety of bird species inhabiting the area.


For a cozy evening by the beach, the beach provides fire rings for bonfires. However, visitors are reminded that bonfires are only permitted inside these rings.

Live by the Beach


Twin Lakes State Beach is committed to ensuring that all visitors can enjoy its natural beauty. The beach provides beach wheelchairs for use. It is recommended to make reservations by contacting the State Park Special Events Office at [email protected] or calling 831-335-8487, Monday to Thursday excluding holidays, between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Email is the preferred method of contact.

Fees and Passes

Street parking is available and free of charge. However, during peak seasons, finding a parking spot might be a challenge due to the high number of visitors. That’s why it may be better to park at the Simpkins Swim Center and walk from there through the Schwan Lagoon grasslands along the trails to get to the beach.

Services and Facilities

Twin Lakes State Beach provides a range of services and facilities to ensure a comfortable visit. These include restrooms, outdoor showers, fire pits, and a lifeguard on duty during the summer. Beach wheelchairs are also available for day use by reservation.

A Glimpse into History

Twin Lakes State Beach is situated on the unceded homelands of the Awaswas-speaking Ohlone Tribe known as the Uypi. The Uypi have been stewards of these lands since time immemorial. Today, their descendants continue to care for the land in partnership with State Parks.


To ensure an enjoyable and safe visit, visitors are reminded to adhere to the following regulations:

  • Dogs are permitted on a leash.
  • Fires must be confined to the provided fire rings.
  • Alcohol is not allowed on the beach or in day-use areas.
  • A fishing license is required.

Recreate Responsibly

Before visiting, it’s advisable to check the Recreate Responsibly page. Visitors are encouraged to protect themselves, their families, friends, and the community by observing these measures.

In conclusion, Twin Lakes State Beach is a remarkable destination that offers a wealth of outdoor activities, scenic views, and a rich history. Whether you are a local resident or a tourist, this beach is a must-visit spot in Santa Cruz. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable beach experience!

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