Top Outdoor Activities To Do in Santa Cruz, California - Intentional Travelers
Things to Do Outdoors in Santa Cruz, California

19 May Top Outdoor Activities To Do in Santa Cruz, California

We had the opportunity to explore Santa Cruz for the first time last year, and it quickly became one of our favorite spots in California. So when Jenna reached out to us to share a guest post about this ocean-side city, we were happy to oblige.

Santa Cruz, California is famous for its temperate climate, beautiful scenery, and especially its bounty of entertaining, oceanic activities to experience. Here are four unique, affordable, and amazing ways to get the real Santa Cruz experience.

1. Surfing

They don’t call Santa Cruz “Surf City” for no reason. Some of the best surfers in the world have honed their skills on the quality waves in the region. If you are a beginner, you are better off taking a private lesson with one of the many surf schools in the area. Spots like Capitola Jetty and Cowell’s are perfectly suited for surf lessons, with their mellow, user friendly waves. If you are experienced and want to test your luck in some of the more advanced breaks, Pleasure Point and Steamer Lane can serve up some large swells, but remember, don’t get in over your head; surfing is a very difficult activity to master.

Surfing in Santa Cruz | Intentional Travelers

2. Ocean Kayaking

When most people think about kayaking, they envision white water rapids or a placid lake. There is another form of kayaking, only this one takes place in the ocean. You can rent ocean kayaks at Kayak Connection right next to the water’s edge in the Santa Cruz Harbor. These vessels are built to handle ocean energy, and are safe if used correctly. Kayak Connection offers tours and lessons, where an expert will guide you from the Harbor to the open seas. The views are breathtaking and you might get an up and close view of the diverse wildlife that inhabit the area like sea otters, seals, seabirds and even dolphins and whales!

3. Stand Up Paddling

supBetter known by it’s acronym, SUP, Stand Up Paddling has been gaining popularity in the past decade. Celebrities such as Rhianna, Will Smith, and Ben Stiller have been known to practice this unique oceanic workout. Basically, you stand upright on a large surfboard and use a paddle to propel yourself through the ocean. Not only do you get a killer core workout, you are able to experience the sights and sea life of Santa Cruz, much like kayaking. It’s very user friendly, and a great way to test your skills is to practice your technique in the Santa Cruz Harbor. Once again, Kayak Connection has rentals and lessons with professional instructors to help you enjoy SUP’ing safely and appropriately. I must-try for the active and adventurous type.

4. Visit the Seymour Discovery Center

Want to experience the wonderful wildlife of the Monterey Bay, but don’t feel comfortable on the open ocean? There’s a very special place on the west side of town, perched above the sea cliff, where marine scientists perform their ocean studies. Powered by the Long Marine Laboratory, a world-renowned university research facility, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in a spectacular world of ocean exploration and discovery. With a 20,000-square-foot visitors center, can touch marine life in the aquarium such as sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and sea anemones. It’s a truly revealing experience to get such firsthand knowledge about, and encounters with, the wildlife that calls Santa Cruz home.


For a complete list of things to do in Santa Cruz, visit .

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