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Beaches in Santa Cruz

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Natural Bridges State Beach
This park and beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, as well as seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, public access tidepools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub and grasslands, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. Moore Creek flows through the park, forming freshwater wetlands and a salt marsh before it reaches the sea.
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West Cliff Drive
West Cliff Drive ridiculously, scenic pathway traverses one of the most inspiring settings along the California coast. Hugging the shoreline of the majestic Monterey Bay, the waterfront thoroughfare stretches from the sandy beach at Natural Bridges State Beach to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Along the way, you’ll pass vivid, succulent-covered cliffs, secluded beach coves, and some of the region’s most famous sights including big wave surfers at Steamer Lane, playful pups at Its Beach, and the Santa Cruz Surf Museum at Lighthouse Point.
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Pleasure Point
The small surf community of Pleasure Point is located in an unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, nestled between Moran Lagoon and 41st Avenue, adjacent to the Monterey Bay. Nearly a dozen famous surf breaks make this an ideal destination for skilled surfers. It’s a classic beachside town and the genesis of surf culture in Santa Cruz – home to wetsuit pioneer Jack O’Neill – where locals mix effortlessly with visitors eager to capture that authentic surf vibe.
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Fort Funston Beach
Another San Francisco beach located near an old fort. Fort Funston a rugged beach with crashing surf at the bottom of 200 foot cliffs, just south of Ocean Beach. Very popular with dogs, as well. When the winds are blowing, you'll see hang gliders soaring from the cliff tops.
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Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is the grand-daddy of San Francisco beaches, stretching out for three miles along the entire western edge of San Francisco. This wide, flat expanse of sand is the best beach for long walks or a run. It's also the most popular, which means lots of people on our warm, sunny days. This is a great surfing beach, and dogs can be off-leash in certain parts.
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China Beach
China Beach is a great little local beach in San Francisco. The China Beach Cove is protected by rock walls on both sides creating a protected area that once was a camp for Chinese fishermen, hence the name. China Beach faces north toward the Marin Headlands and has a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge too. It’s not a large beach so when the tide is up and the summer sun is out, it can be hard to find a spot that is dry and isn’t already taken. At low tide there are tide pools to discover. Like all the beaches in this area, China Beach is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Swimming isn’t safe at China Beach for many reasons including the lack of lifeguards. The area just south of the cove is called Lands End and has many hiking trails to explore.
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Aquatic Park Cove
Aquatic Park Cove has a narrow sandy beach and a grass park at the end of the Hyde Street Cable Car line on the San Francisco Waterfront. The cove is located at the north end of Hyde Street and Van Ness Avenue near Fisherman’s Wharf. Boats are allowed to anchor in the protected harbor in the cove. It is protected by a long curved municipal pier that should not be missed if you have time to walk out on it. The view from the pier includes the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco skyline. Nearby Hyde Street Pier has historic ships to see as well. The Marine Museum sits at the center of Aquatic Park Cove near the beach. Behind that is Ghirardelli Square. Aquatic Park Cove is part of San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, a district within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The large park at Fort Mason is a short walk away up the trail to the west.
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Baker Beach
Baker Beach is a large popular beach not far from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. On sunny weekends both parking lots could be full and all the spaces along the entrance roads too. This popular spot is one of the many beaches in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Just north of the main parking lot is the Battery Chamberlin, a large historic military gun installation that was built in 1904. It is worth checking out especially if you have kids. Be aware as you explore the north end of Baker Beach because North Baker Beach is a clothing-optional area. All of Baker Beach is an unsafe swimming area because of cold water and frequent rip currents in the surf.
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Mile Rock Beach
At the western tip of San Francisco, jutting out into ocean, is Lands End: a nature park of steep cliffs with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. It has a small, rocky beach, called Mile Rock Beach, accessible from the Coastal Trail. Wonderful beach to walk to.
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Crissy Field East Beach
Just inside the Golden Gate, Crissy Field has a wide, sandy beach with a pretty view of the bridge and Alcatraz. It's a short, 10 minute walk from Fisherman's Wharf. Of the San Francisco beaches, this one's the most popular with windsurfers.
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Zuma Beach
Everything for an exciting day out whether you want to climb a rock, surf, swim or just relax in the sun. Check out the nearby restaurants for full sit-down meals with great views over the sea. Hike the ridge, or watch the Dolphins and Seals. It's all hear at your beach, Zuma Beach!
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Point Dume State Beach
Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. The beach is presently operated by Los Angeles County, which also operates Zuma County Beach. These facilities are noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Point Dume is a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the December to mid April migration period. At the end of Westward Beach Road, access to Point Dume Nature Preserve begins from the cul-de-sac. A gradual ascending trail leads to an ancient coastal bluff sand dune. Visitors are asked to stay on the trail in an effort to help reserve this unique sand accumulation. An incredible view encompassing the entire Santa Monica Bay, north Malibu Coast, inland Santa Monica Mountains and distant Catalina Island may be enjoyed from the top on a clear day. A boardwalk, just below the summit, leads to a viewing platform - it tends to be more sheltered on a windy day. A stairway from the east side of the bluff-top preserve allows access to a more isolated beach and fine tidepooling opportunities.
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Malibu Pier
Malibu Pier isn’t one of the longest piers in California, but it is in one of the best locations. West of the pier you can walk for several miles when the tide isn’t high. In that direction you’ll cross Carbon Beach, La Costa Beach, and Las Flores Beach (the latter two are not easily visited from Pacific Coast Highway). East of Malibu Pier is Surfrider Beach where longboard surfers and stand-up paddleboarders play in the mild rolling break. Farther to the east, Malibu Lagoon State Beach offers a unique setting without million dollar mansions behind (although they are never far away in Malibu). The Adamson House and Garden (Tour) between the lagoon and the pier is cool to see when it’s open. Malibu Farm Cafe and Restaurant is at the end of the pier and has healthy food for hungry visitors. Nobu and other restaurants are nearby as well. Parking is available in the lot next to the pier and along PCH.
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Lovers Cove
Lovers Cove is on Pebbly Beach Road just a short distance east from Avalon on Catalina Island. It is a short walk to this cove from town and even shorter from the Catalina Express ferry landing dock. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a beach between the road and the water at this location. This rocky shoreline is mostly a snorkeling destination. Inquire in town about nearby snorkeling spots and they might send you to this location. Snorkeling gear, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, bikes, golf carts, and more can be rented in town to explore the area. The Catalina Express operates boats daily to Catalina Island from the mainland in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Dana Point.
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Point Defiance Park
Point Defiance Park sits on 702 acres at the northern tip of Tacoma and features the best of everything, with miles of forested hiking and walking trails, beautiful rose gardens, picnic areas, beachfront access, and a 29-acre zoo. It’s no wonder over 2 million people visit each year – once you come here, you won’t want to leave!
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Stanley Park
Welcome to Stanley Park, Vancouver's first, largest, and most beloved urban park! Designated a national historic site of Canada, Stanley Park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the heavily built urban landscape of Vancouver. Explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest and enjoy scenic views of water, mountains, sky, and majestic trees along Stanley Park's famous Seawall. Discover kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, local wildlife, great eats, natural, cultural and historical landmarks, along with many other adventures. The park offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences for all ages and interests, including Canada’s largest aquarium.
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Playa Miramar
If you love water sports, you have to visit Playa Miramar. The sea is calm almost all year round. It is ideal for activities like swimming and kayaking.
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Bradford Beach
One of the top urban beaches in the nation, Bradford Beach is the hottest place to be on a summer day. It's clean, full of activity, great views, and plenty of space to spread out, sunbathe, and swim.
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Grand Haven State Park
48-acre park with the beautiful sandy shore of Lake Michigan along the west side of the park and the Grand River along the north side of the park. The park consists entirely of beach sand and provides scenic views of Lake Michigan and the Grand Haven pier and lighthouse. A popular destination located on Lake Michigan’s sandy shores. Activities include camping, fishing, sunbathing, volleyball and swimming, Modern lodge is available for rent.
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La Quebrada
La Quebrada is one of the most famous and original traditional activities of Acapulco. In cliffs of forty-five meters high, the local divers, who begin their training as children, launch themselves towards the waves of the Pacific in a pit scarcely four meters deep. Admire the ability of those who climb to the top and jump into the void at the moment when the waves are highest. It vibrates with the night show of the Quebrada in which the experienced divers dive one by one, or up to three at a time, holding torches in their arms that mix the fire with the sunset and illuminate the night. Observe sitting peacefully in the Mirador at the foot of the mountain or at the La Perla nightclub that has been serving the fans of Acapulqueño divers since the forties.
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La Roqueta
La Roqueta island that served as shelter to the pirates that besieged the Nao of China, is now an ecological reserve that holds numerous species of flora and fauna.
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Roll Acapulco
Amusement park for the whole family. Enjoy swimming pool, water slides, dolphin shows and restaurants.
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Honeymoon Island State Park
A short drive from Tampa, beautiful Honeymoon Island offers visitors an escape from the bustle of city life. One of Florida’s best-loved state parks, Honeymoon Island has more than four miles of beach to explore along with a three-mile trail through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests. Looking skyward, eagles, osprey and great horned owls can be seen, while ground animals include gopher tortoises, raccoons and armadillos. A trip to the Rotary Centennial Nature Center helps educate visitors about the park’s history and natural resources. Find out how Honeymoon Island received its name! Swimming, fishing, shelling, hiking and bicycling are all popular activities that make Honeymoon Island State Park an ideal getaway. The park is also the ferry terminal for access to another unspoiled state park, Caladesi Island.
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Clearwater Beach
With hundreds of things to do on Clearwater Beach, the main attraction is still its perfect beach! Wonder what it takes to be named the #1 Beach in the U.S.? Beautiful white sands and clear, shallow water make this beach an ideal playground for families. But really, everyone loves a beach this gorgeous. From the activity along the palm-lined Beach Walk Promenade to the serene shores of Sand Key Park, you're sure to find your perfect spot in the sand on Clearwater Beach. Rent a cabana or beach chair and beach umbrella from a local vendor (simply choose which one you want, settle down and wait for an attendant to come by for payment), or walk toward the more residential north side of the beach for a little serenity away from the bustling scene of Pier 60 and Clearwater Marina. Getting here is a breeze, too. Take advantage of free parking in downtown Clearwater, then hop on the Clearwater Ferry for a traffic-free, sunshine-filled ride to the beach.
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Hanauma Bay
Every year, more than a million people get to swim with the fishes in a marine ecosystem located on the southeast coast of Oahu, 10 miles east of Waikiki. Hanauma (or curved bay) Bay is a former volcanic crater that became a protected marine life conservation area in 1967. Since then, it’s become an underwater park for snorkel enthusiasts, swimmers and anyone desiring to see more than 400 species of Hawaiian fishes including Hawaii’s state fish the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, turtles and other marine life. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open year-round, except for Tuesdays, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plan to arrive as early as you can or wait until the crowd trickles out in the mid-afternoon. During summer, the state park opens at 6 am and closes at 7 pm. It closes at 6 pm in winter.
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Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is the name of Belize's largest island. The history of the island goes back to the days of the Maya, European Pirates, and Mexican Refugees who fled during the Caste War. The descendants from Mexico make up most of the island's population today. The economy of the island was once dependent on the coconut industry, followed by the fishing industry, but it is now dependent on tourism. Ambergris Caye is the largest of some 200 cayes that dot the coastline of Belize. Ambergris is 25 miles long and a little over a mile wide, in some places, and it is located in the clear shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea just off the tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Her coastline is protected by the 190 miles long Barrier Reef, the second largest living coral reef in the world. In Mayan times, Ambergris Caye was a trading post. San Pedro Town is the only inhabited area on the island. It's atmosphere is that of a small bustling, fishing village but with "hot spots" of events, restaurants, and entertainment.
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Boardwalk
Atlantic City Boardwalk is known for the roaring sea and dozens of confection shops and amusements. It is the cherished blue property of the most popular board game in the world. It is truly the walk that inspired many more, but can never be duplicated. Over a century after its emergence and evolution, the Boardwalk still stands as a historic American symbol of good times and rich culture. Some may still believe that Atlantic City’s future rides on the roll of a dice. They just might want to take a stroll on that timeless Boardwalk to realize this city is going nowhere but up. Place your bets!
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Playa Jibacoa
Playa Jibacoa area, mostly chosen by Cubans, is located on the north coast of Mayabeque. It has resorts and several camping sites of good quality. The area is notable for the beautiful typical landscape with a deep blue sea, surrounded by cliffs, on the side facing the land, and rocky hills where are located the hotels. The excellent beaches are famous for their clear and shallow water and is a local and tourist favourite for snorkeling from the beach. It is worth noting the scuba diving area opposite the shore, where you'll find coral reefs and a good amount of fish and shellfish. There is a wide range of activities to practice in the area, from small hiking to horseback riding or it may be good to rent paddle boats
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Virginia Key Beach
Virginia Key Beach - North is located at 3701 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne. A big wooden sign marks this historic beach, which is located just past the Rickenbacker Causeway across from Miami Seaquarium. Virginia Key Beach - North was the location of the famed,but now closed Jimbo's, a former movie-set-turned-hangout for some of Miami's eccentric local characters. Windsurfing and ultra light seaplane rental are available here. Enjoy great views of Brickell Avenue and downtown Miami skyline.
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Crandon Park Beach
Crandon Beach is one of Miami's greatest park treasures. A beautiful, sprawling campus of beaches and amenities, Crandon Park is more than a beach. At Crandon Park Beach on Key Biscayne, there's a Family Amusement Center, a Nature Center and even a place to rent cabanas. The beach remains the main attraction at the luscious and family-friendly Crandon Park. Gear up for a friendly game of beach volleyball or unpack your picnic and bring some supplies for the on-site grills. There's almost always a birthday party or event taking place somewhere at this site. At the south end of Crandon Park Beach, there are cabanas for rent. Cabanas have showers and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Cabana renters are assigned a parking space and exclusive picnic tables on the beach. It's fun to explore the various ecosystems at Crandon Park, including dunes, mangroves, coastal hammock and sea grass beds. The Crandon Park Nature Center is home to exotic plants, rare fish and wildlife, and Bear Cut Preserve, a natural Environment Study Area. Take a tour with a naturalist and explore all that this nature hotbed has to offer.
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Paradise Cove
Paradise Cove offers direct access to Deadman’s Reef on the island’s southwest side, which is rated the best reef on Grand Bahama Island. The reef is within swimming distance of the beach and teems with tropical marine life. You can explore the reef in a glass-bottom or ocean kayak. A snorkel tour is available that includes transportation, equipment and floatation belts. Available Equipment: Snorkel Gear, Wet Suits, Ocean Kayaks, Glass-bottom Kayaks, Sea Scooters, Floats with window, Lounge Floats. Amenities: Volleyball, Lounge Chairs, Beach Umbrellas, Covered Deck, Games, Bar and Grill, Gift shop, Rest Rooms, Fresh-water Shower. Site is available for exclusive functions.
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Grand Lucayan Bahamas
Coconut palms sway in a fragrant breeze and crystal-clear turquoise waters lap gently along the shore. There's no impatient crowds, no rush to grab beach chairs, no boring restaurants. At Grand Lucayan, we work to strike the perfect balance between the luxuries of a modern-day resort and the magic of one steeped in Bahamian culture.
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Pirate's Cove Zipline & Water Park
Oceanfront activity center offering floating bouncy slides, a bar & grill, banana boat rides, jet skiing, zip lining, and much more. One of the newest attractions on Grand Bahama Island, Pirate Cove sits on nearly 7.5 acres of beachfront property where there is an array of energizing and tranquil activities for the entire family.
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Bay of Pigs
The name Bay of Pigs immediately brings to mind the failed invasion by a US-backed army of counter-revolutionaries that happened here in 1961. Nowadays however, it is a destination that is increasing in popularity for tourists for its natural beauty, birding and variety of wildlife, and as a place where excellent diving and snorkelling can be done from the shore. The waters are warm, clear, calm, and brimming with sea life. Back from the shoreline is some dense forest much of which is protect in national parks. There are some interesting excursions that can be done through these forests with local park guides, to caves and natural swimming holes.
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Governor
Governor's Beach is a relaxing spot within Seven Mile Beach, located beside and in front of the Governor's home. With families visiting in the morning and games played in the afternoon, this shore sees all the action. Governor's Beach is excellent for snorkelling, a picturesque stroll or floating on the water with a cold drink. Beachgoers can enjoy the shade while snacking on the sea grapes that fall from the trees in June and July. And as with all views to the west here, you’ll witness the most memorable sunsets.
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Rum Point
Located on the picturesque north side of the island, “Rum Point” is famous for its island atmosphere, white sandy beach and shallow clear waters. It is an ideal spot for swimming and snorkelling. The beach hammocks, shady trees, picnic tables and delicious food beckon visitors and locals alike seven days a week. Rum Point also offers changing rooms, showers, huts, hammocks, snorkelling and volleyball nets. About 45 minutes by car from most hotels and the cruise terminal, Rum Point is well worth the day trip. Another option for accessing Rum Point is by ferry! With affordable prices and killer views, this is a great way to get here and relax or enjoy a wonderful lunch or dinner.