Santa Cruz County
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Beach shuttle, restrooms, wharf
Rather than the long expanses of sand that you find at many other beaches, Capitola's intimate beach is shielded on either end by cliffs. In the winter Soquel Creek empties into the ocean through the middle of the beach, but in the summer the creek becomes an inland lagoon, its diminished flow seeping into the sand rather than crossing it.
Capitola Village merges so smoothly into the beach that one cannot really be separated from the other. Visitors meander back and forth between village and beach, often taking a break for refreshments in a nearby restaurant before returning to the sand. The 855-foot wharf attracts anglers and sightseers. Out in the bay small boats rest peacefully on their moorings.
Tame waves usually make Capitola a great place to play in the surf, to try your skill at stand-up paddle boarding, to skimboard, swim, and kayak. Of course, rip currents are always a danger on any California beach and occasionally a shift in the wind can bring in larger breakers.
The village of Capitola is adjacent to the beach, making it very convenient to stroll into town for anything you might need or want. Restaurants along Riverview Ave. and elsewhere in town cater to beach visitors. Out on the pier the Wharf House Restaurant is a favorite stop for hungry visitors.
Parking can be difficult on busy summer days in Capitola. Knowing where to park can save you a lot of time and aggravation. Bring lots of quarters for street parking or $1 bills or credit/debit card for the Beach and Village parking lots. Parking meters operate from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Residential areas close to Capitola Village are restricted to permit parking only.
The small area of beach west of the wharf is known as Hooper Beach. Limited boat storage is permitted there along the base of the rocks.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety