TripAdvisor ranks it as Santa Cruz’s top attractions.
Yelpers give it five stars.
The local tourism office recommends walking the entire length of it.
Many visitors describe it as the “highlight of their trip.”
In spite of all those indicators, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the West Cliff Drive.
And, Santa Cruz is famous for surfing. Right? If the waves are good, the aesthetics of the place doesn’t matter.
The West Cliff Drive is a 3 mile path connecting the Natural Bridges State Beach to the Boardwalk. It is equipped with a bike path and part of it is wheelchair accessible (the path is relatively flat).
This is confession time. I was wrong. This drive is absolutely gorgeous and I ended up impressed. I lost count of the stops I made during the short drive.
It all starts (or ends) at the Natural Bridges State Beach, famous, as the name implies, for a tall, natural arch and for being a hotspot to see Monarch butterflies during their migration.
The road then passes coves, massive headlands, colored cliffs, other arches and many surfing spots.
Between the ends of the drive, you pass thru the Lighthouse Field State Beach. The area is home to the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse which houses the world’s first surfing museum. The lighthouse is named after the surfer who died in the nearby (and famous) Pleasure Point break.
The museum has exhibits about how Hawaiian princes brought surfing to the continental United States using Santa Cruz as a spring board. Of course, you know Santa Cruz claims to be the original “Surf City USA” (disputes the title with Huntington Beach).
The path ends by reaching the Wharf and the Boardwalk.
I do not want to keep describing the drive with words. I will leave the rest to the pictures.
What is you favorite coastal drive?
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