Jutting over half a mile into the vast Monterey Bay plus snuggled between the majestic Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Steamer Lane, the Santa Cruz Wharf offers staggering views along the beautiful California coastline.
Constructed in 1914, the Wharf is the longest pier on the west coast. And it’s famed for its fine dining spots, enthralling boat tours, fishing, and bustling nightlife.
Also, the Santa Cruz Wharf offers peerless sea lion and other water creatures spotting opportunities. So, with a little luck and some planning, you can spot some seals, and dolphins basking near the pier.
In addition, the wooden walkways of the Wharf are packed to the brim with seafood eateries, gift shops, nature & historic displays, and a myriad of seasonal events. Here is a guide to some of the best things to do and see in the Santa Cruz Wharf;
Things to do and see in the Wharf
Explore the Monterey Bay
Monterey Bay is one of the most exquisite attractions in Santa Cruz. And also one of the best places to come up close to the county’s marine life.
To immerse yourself in the natural splendor of the Bay, you can visit The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which is situated a stone throw away from the Wharf and the ocean.
This reserve center boasts ultra-modern exhibits and displays showcasing the phenomenal underwater environment of the county.
Experience seasonal events
There is always something captivating going on around the Wharf especially the annual events that draw thousands of spectators. Such events include;
- Woodies on the Wharf – one of the most acclaimed woodies show in Northern California which features over 200 elegant pre-1900 wood-bodied vehicles. This event that celebrates Santa Cruz’s surf culture is free to watch. Mostly. It takes place in June and gets better and bigger each year.
- Wharf to Wharf – organized by volunteers, Wharf to Wharf is a community event where locals participate in a 6-mile race weaving through the scenic seaside lanes of Santa Cruz all the way to Capitola Wharf. The event takes place on the last Sunday of July every year.
While many people show up for fun and sun, serious athletes are eager to test their true mettle against the best. Unfortunately, the race is limited to 16,000 participants which means the tickets are sold out pretty fast.
- Jazz on the Wharf – jazz music fanatics light up the streets of Santa Cruz with beats of both classic and contemporary tunes. With Monterey Bay offering a bewildering backdrop, Jazz musicians wander in restaurants and perform outdoors to celebrate all that’s cool in the county.
You can stroll through Wharf as you soak up in the soothing Jazz melodies while enjoying fine dining, shopping, and scenic views.
Explore the waters
Right at the base of the Wharf, you can rent kayaks, motorboats, or paddleboats to enjoy the views of the coastline from the ocean.
Alternatively, you can join a whale-watching trip, guided kayak adventures, or even try out fishing. You don’t need to have a license to fish along the pier.
Try the food
If you’re a foodie, the Wharf offers much more beyond awe-inspiring ocean views. In addition, the pier is lined with a huge selection of restaurants offering fresh seafood delicacies. Pause and grab a bite to recharge before watching the sun go down. Sunsets are magical here!