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 >>.
Capitola Weather (When to Visit)
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.
Best Capitola Area Beaches
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.
Hooper’s is known as the dog-friendly beach of Capitola and Aptos even though technically this is part of Capitola Beach and dogs are not allowed period. Local dog owners clean the beach regularly and citations are not issued for dogs that are under control of their owners.
Best Capitola Tours & Activities by Viator
Roaring Camp Steam Train Through Santa Cruz Redwoods
Board a historic steam train for a 1-hour ride through the Santa Cruz mountains from Felton’s Roaring Camp, and go deep into redwood groves and California’s past. Chug up the narrow gage tracks under trees that soar over 270 feet (82 meters) above the forest floor. Learn the history of the forest, the railroad and the logging camp it served. Stroll through the towering trees at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, visit an old fashioned general store and sheriff’s office and take in serenity of California’s ancient forests. Learn more about the Roaring Camp Steam Train Through Santa Cruz Redwoods.
Beginner Surf Lesson in Santa Cruz
Get wet while learning to surf in Santa Cruz, a picturesque coastal
California town popular with surfers. Your 3-hour lesson starts with the
basics of how to paddle out, pop up, balance, and catch a wave, along
with surfing etiquette and understanding the ocean. Your instructor has
you practice on the beach before accompanying you into a spot with
small waves that are ideal for beginners. Includes all necessary
equipment and instruction. Learn more about the Beginner Surf Lesson in Santa Cruz.
Wine Trolley’s Trolley Special
Let our Historic Trolleys “Glory” and the “Mona Lisa” take you on an unforgettable journey wine tasting through Carmel Valley, California. Pinot Noirs, Chardonneys, Cabernets, Viogniers, Reds and Whites, Sweet or Dry, our guides offer an insider’s perspective to the family of well-known producers and gems that call Carmel Valley home. Learn about the Wine Trolley’s Trolley special.
Santa Cruz Harbor Standup Paddle Board Rental
This rental is the perfect way to dip your paddle in the water without the half-day commitment. You can paddle free of the large swell from the open ocean in our protected Santa Cruz Harbor. After your paddle, you’ll have earned that beer & fish tacos at El Palomar, Crows Nest or Johnny’s Harborside. Wildlife spotting, adventure, and some iconic scenery make this paddle a must do. Ideal for beginners, or bucket-listers who want to get the most out of their Santa Cruz visit! Learn more about the Santa Cruz Harbor Standup Paddle Board Rental.
Beach Train from Roaring Camp through Redwoods to Santa Cruz
Pack in views of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the California redwoods, and the Monterey Bay during this beach train from Santa Cruz’s Roaring Camp Railroads. Along with a scenic train ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains, you’ll get a 1-hour stop in the middle of your route to relax or explore the area at your own pace. This fun experience is perfect for families, and children under two ride free as an added bonus. Learn more about the Beach Train from Roaring Camp.
Best Capitola Restaurants
Avenue Cafe $11 – 30
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. Telephone: 831-515-7559 Web: Avenue Café
Wharf House Restaurant $11 – 30
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. Telephone: 831-476-3534 Web: Wharf House Restaurant.
Shadowbrook Restaurant $31 – 60
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. Telephone: 831-475-1511 Web: Shadowbrook Restaurant.
Paradise Beach Grille $11 – 30
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. Telephone: 831-476-4900 Web: Paradise Beach Grille.
Caruso's Tuscan Cuisine $11 – 30
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. Telephone: 831-465-9040 Web: 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. Telephone: 831-462-1881 Web: 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. Telephone: 831-476-4560 Web: 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. Telephone: 831-476-3679 Web: 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. Telephone: 831-462-1227 Web: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales.
Cork & Fork Capitola
Great staff. Wonderful wine, not over priced. Jam nights and meatballs on Wednesdays. Telephone: 831-477-4455 Web: Cork & Fork Capitola.