Sunday, January 15, 2012

Santa Cruz - Lighthouse Fields State Beach, Municipal Wharf and Wilder Ranch State Park

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Lighthouse Fields State Beach or Point Santa Cruz

What: Long stretch of road along the ocean (West Cliff Drive); Breathtaking view of the ocean; Surfing; Walking/Jogging; Surfing Museum; Lighthouse
More Info: There are parking spaces at several spots along the road and parking is free

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse

We parked the car on West Cliff Drive, at one of the parking spots near the lighthouse. Adjacent to the lighthouse is the California’s first surfing museum, which has lots of pictures and information that enlightened us about how the Hawaiians introduced surfing to the Californians. To the far left are the Municipal Wharf and the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

View of the Pacific Ocean, Municipal Wharf and Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The vibe of the people there who were strolling along the ocean, jogging, playing with their dogs, etc was just so energizing. It was beautiful to see the surfers waiting for the waves and surfing near the coast. 

Hole-in-the-rock formation

We walked down to the beach to get a closer view of the natural hole-in-the-rock formation. The sight of the dogs having so much fun in the beach was certainly entertaining.

Municipal Wharf

What: Fishing, Restaurants and Little Shops
More Info: Free parking for the first 30min; $1/hour parking fee for 4 hours and $2/hour parking fee after 4 hours

Municipal Wharf (as seen from West Cliff Drive)

We parked the car in the wharf and strolled along it till the end. It was captivating to see the ocean on one side of the wharf and the Santa Cruz boardwalk on the other side. I believe it is also a popular place for fishing as we noticed several people waiting with their fish poles to catch the prey.

As we were walking, we heard the barking sound of the sea lions and walked around the Dolphin restaurant at the end of the wharf to see several sea lions and sea otters.

Wilder Ranch State Park

What: Scenic paved trail along the ocean
Info: There is parking space on the Cabrillo Highway and parking is free. There are restrooms at the trail head.

Wilder Ranch State Park

We walked on a ~2 mile paved trail along the cliff that took us through the unruffled Santa Cruz coastline. The beauty of the ocean waves hitting the rocks and frothing was mind blowing and we saw a few seals basking on the rocky shores. The natural cave formation of the rocks tempted me to walk down to the beach (it is safe in a few places), but the weather was freezing our tails off; hence decided to put off my adventurous gimmicks to another day. We certainly intend to visit this place another day and explore more!

Sunset from Wilder Ranch State Park

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