Capitola, a seaside community on the north shore of Monterey Bay, claims to be California’s oldest beach resort. The town, founded in 1874, faces New Brighton State Beach. The city is located on a scenic stretch of SR 1 that extends from San Francisco south to San Luis Obispo.
By the beach, downtown is laid out for strolling, where cutesy shops and touristy restaurants inhabit seaside houses. Drop by local operators to rent water-sports gear or, if you book ahead, take surfing and SUP lessons.
For a list of all the area beaches << Click Here >>.
Weather (When to Go)
The best time to visit Capitola is from September through November when the summer tourists have returned home, leaving a bit more room on the beaches, walking paths and other attractions. December, January and February see a slight dip in temperatures, which nonetheless are warm enough for the monarch butterflies who overwinter at Natural Bridges State Beach. The months between April and May are characterized by mounting temperatures and special events.
Attractions in Capitola
Capitola City Beach is a sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay in Capitola, CA. It’s a popular urban beach that can be jam packed on sunny days and during beach events. This south-facing beach has a large fishing pier, Capitola Wharf, that sticks out into Soquel Cove where the water is usually calm due to protection from land west of here. The point beyond the east end of the beach gets waves and is a popular surfing area.
New Brighton State Beach
New Brighton State Beach is a wide sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay. This state park has a large hillside campground in a wooded area surrounded by homes in Capitola and Aptos. Inside the park are trails to explore and they are open to hiking with dogs on leash. Because there are lifeguards and protection from the west in Soquel Cove, this beach is safer for small kids and for swimmers most of the time. North of the beach are steep cliffs and a rocky narrow shoreline, but south of here you can walk for miles to Seacliff State Beach and far beyond.
Seacliff State Beach
Seacliff State Beach is a long sandy beach on the waterfront of Aptos, CA. This is a great place for sunbathing or walking the sandy shores of Monterey Bay in either direction. Seacliff State Beach has it all with a popular swimming beach, shaded picnic areas, an oceanfront campground for RVs, and a huge fishing pier to explore. At the end of the pier there is an old rotting concrete ship called the USS Palo Alto that is worth walking to the end to see.
Pleasure Point Beach
Pleasure Point Park is a small park on the bluff above a popular surfing spot in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz. Climb down the stairs from the park to the beach below, what little there is of it, and don’t expect much beach-wise. Except at low tide, this spot below the bluff will be all wet, but there is a rock shelf to sit on. The surfers don’t mind the lack of sandy beach and will be going out from this spot to a nice break just offshore. Those not surfing can just rest here and watch the surfers from the rocks or from benches and picnic tables in Pleasure Point Park.
West Cliff Drive
West Cliff Drive is a scenic, 3 mile walking and biking path along the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz. Watch surfers, observe wildlife or just admire the incredible ocean views. Start your walk at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and head past the iconic Santa Cruz Dream Inn to watch some of the best surfers in the world catch a wave at world-renown Steamer Lane. Stop in for a little surfing history at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum or watch for whales and dolphins at Lighthouse Point.
Things to do in Capitola
O’Neill Yacht Charters
Experience an exciting sailing adventure aboard the luxurious 65′ Team O’Neill catamaran on the Monterey Bay! Sailing activities include afternoon cruises, sunset sails, local wine and beer tastings, seasonal firework cruises, live music sails and wildlife tours, each offering an exceptionally smooth and thrilling experience. For more information call +1 831-818-3645, or visit them on the web at O’Neill Yacht Charters.
Stagnaro Sport Fishing Charters & Whale Watching Cruises
The Stagnaro family has been serving the Santa Cruz area for over a century, ever since Italian patriarch Cottardo Stagnaro settled in Santa Cruz in 1879. This historical landmark business is still leading the way in ocean fun on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. There is something for everyone: Whale Watching, Scenic Bay Cruises, Fishing Trips and Private Parties for any occasion. For more information call +1 831-427-0230, or visit them on the web at Stagnaro Sport Fishing Charters & Whale Watching.
Capitola Surf & Paddle
Their shop is located in the heart of Capitola, they are Capitola’s only SUP shop! They provide SUP lessons, SUP rentals with their quiver of stable and performance SUP boards. They have wetsuits, plus surfboard rentals! All lessons are provided by their expert instructors trained in life and water safety!. For more information call +1 831-435-6503, or visit them on the web at Capitola Surf & Paddle.
Surf School Santa Cruz
Welcome to Surf School Santa Cruz, the best-rated surf school on the West Coast. They accept students of all ages and skill levels and guarantee a quality, safe, and fun learning experience. This surf school was created because of their passion for surfing and developed because of their desire to share it with the world. They believe that surfing is not just a sport, but is actually therapy for life. For more information call +1 831-428-3647, or visit them on the web at Surf School Santa Cruz.
Providing a premiere 6 pac sport fishing adventure aboard the Taylor-Gene, a 34′ Hatteras sportfisher. They are located in Santa Cruz within the Monterey Bay of California. They target King Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod, Rockfish, White Seabass, Albacore and Bluefin Tuna. All bait, tackle and gear is provided, they are fully licensed and US Coast Guard approved. For more information call +1 831-336-2244, or visit them on the web at Chartle Charters.
Best Capitola Restaurants
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ – $$$ Avenue Cafe
Fresh and Authentic… Whether you eat-in or take-out, they take great pride in making sure you get delicious food made from quality ingredients. Serving all your favorite traditional dishes for breakfast and lunch at excellent prices is what they do. For more information call +1 831-515-7559, or visit them on the web at Avenue Café.
$$ – $$$ Wharf House Restaurant
The Wharf House provides ocean lovers with a feast for both body and soul. The restaurant offers a sweeping view of Monterey Bay, while the menu reflects its constantly changing seasonal harvest. The specials board is usually chock full of seafood. Dinner guests can watch dramatic sunsets, then wait for the moon, stars and comets to do their stuff. For more information call +1 831-476-3534, or visit them on the web at Wharf House Restaurant.
$$$$ Shadowbrook Restaurant
Located beside lush Soquel Creek in Capitola-by-the-Sea, the world-fam ous Shadowbrook Restaurant is best reached by its own quaint cable car or a meandering garden path. Since 1947 Shadowbrook has continued to provide fine wines and liqueurs, excellent food and world-class service in an atmosphere of Old-World charm and grace. For more information call +1 831-475-1511, or visit them on the web at Shadowbrook Restaurant.
$ Paradise Beach Grille
Paradise Beach Grille’s menu features a wide variety of attractive salads and appetizers, fresh local and Hawaiian seafood and Black Angus Beef from Braveheart. The Paradise wine list is extensive, featuring California wines, including wines from over 15 local wineries with more than 45 wines by the glass. Our chef designs weekly specials and we offer a bar menu with special Happy Hour pricing. For more information call +1 831-476-4900, or visit them on the web at Paradise Beach Grille.
$$ – $$$ Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine
They use imported materials and local organics too. The chef always has specials (because he love’s food). It serves pizzas that are meals, not snacks. The chef makes his own tiramisu, heavenly cappuccinos and Italian classics. Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine is a family-run restaurant in the heart of Capitola Village. We are proud to have been serving authentic Italian cuisine to Capitola residents and visitors. At Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine, our menu of traditional Italian cuisine along with several daily specials, are sure to please. For more information call +1 831-465-9040, or visit them on the web at Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine.
Best Capitola Nightlife
The Sand Bar Capitola
No-frills haunt featuring bar grub & daily breakfast, plus live music nights in snug, seaside digs. For more information call +1 831-462-1881, or visit them on the web at The Sand Bar Capitola.
The Crow’s Nest
Situated right on the beach at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, the Crow’s Nest has outstanding views of the Monterey Bay. Upstairs has a spectacular open air deck and features live entertainment and dancing nightly. Full Bar. For more information call +1 831-476-4560, or visit them on the web at The Crow’s Nest.
Over The Hill Gang Saloon
A “vintage” bar based upon Wild West themes still supported by The Locals over on the east side of Santa Cruz, Calif. To enter, just push through the heavy wooden saloon doors, Pardner! Everything inside is original old school wood. For more information call +1 831-476-3679, or visit them on Facebook at Over The Hill Gang Saloon.
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
Snug brewery featuring old-world-style ales with a twist & a comfy tasting room with a relaxed vibe. For more information call +1 831-462-1227, or visit them on the web at Sante Adairius Rustic Ales.
Cork & Fork Capitola
Great staff. Wonderful wine, not over priced. Jam nights and meatballs on Wednesdays. For more information call +1 831-477-4455, or visit them on the web at Cork & Fork Capitola.
Best Capitola Hotels
Inn At Depot Hill 4.5
The Inn at Depot Hill offers an intimate location for a sumptuous, relaxing getaway. A working train depot well into the 1950’s, the historic Inn at Depot Hill offers guest rooms decorated in the style of famous travel destinations. From the romance of Paris to the serenity of Kyoto, each guest room boasts feather beds, luxury Italian linens and a crackling fireplace. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Inn at Depot Hill.
West Cliff Inn, A Four Sisters Inn 4.5
This fully renovated Victorian inn features a breezy, coastal-inspired decor including fabrics in crisp blues and whites, rattan furnishings with a mix of recycled woods and locally found artisan accessories. Many guest rooms feature ocean views and oversized jetted spa tubs. Rates include their celebrated amenities including a delicious breakfast buffet, afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres, evening turndown service on request, a morning newspaper available in the lobby and their delicious cookies waiting for you upon arrival. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit West Cliff Inn, A Four Sisters Inn.
Hotel Paradox, Autograph Collection 4.5
Hotel Paradox strikes the perfect balance between nature and urban design without excessive fuss. A Paradox is meant for discussion and questioning the obvious. This Autograph Collection Hotel will challenge you with bold contradictions. The engaging staff invite you to enjoy an experience where the ambiance is contemporary, inviting and a little bit mysterious. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Hotel Paradox.
Pacific Blue Inn 4.5
Nestled halfway between Santa Cruz’s world famous Beach Boardwalk and the bustling Downtown area, Pacific Blue Inn offers you a quiet secluded courtyard hotel room to get the perfect nights sleep, right within walking distance to restaurants, cinemas, performance theatre, music venues, bookshops, galleries, the beach, surfing as well the world famous Beach Boardwalk amusement park and wharf. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Pacific Blue Inn.
Sea & Sand Inn
They want every guest to have a special experience at the Sea & Sand and enjoy their time in Santa Cruz. Their great reviews are a pretty good indication of what you can expect at our ocean-front inn. Guests appreciate the scenic location, friendly staff and complimentary amenities. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Sea & Sand Inn.