West Coast Sailing Destinations: Santa Cruz

Destination #2 in our West Coast Sailing Series is sunny Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz has a wonderful mix of calm waves and rugged coastline, making it a perfect cruising destination. You can expect the conditions on Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz to be ideal with winds from 15-20 knots and a moderate swell of 2-4 feet. 

Santa Cruz Wharf

A good lunch anchorage is North of the Santa Cruz Harbor at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, only 15 minutes from the Santa Cruz harbor. There’s no shuttle boat at the wharf so you can’t go ashore, but it’s great to anchor off of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk beach and watch the roller coaster from a distance.

The Capitola Wharf

Capitola is one of the best and nearest destinations to stop for a day sail on the Monterey Bay leaving the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. This idyllic waterfront village is reminiscent of a European village on the Mediterranean with its pastel buildings and shoreline dotted with café patio umbrellas. Moorings are available for rent from May 1 to September 30.


Monterey is about 21 nautical miles south of Santa Cruz and has some excellent restaurants a short walking distance from the Marinas, historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and more. Before even leaving the harbor, you are likely to see Southern Sea Otters, Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions. The lucky sailor might even encounter a few Humpback whales and some Rizzo or Common Dolphins. Monterey has 2 Marinas: The Monterey Municipal which accommodates boats on a first-come, first-served basis, or Breakwater Cove which is a private marina and offers reservations.

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