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Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

Washington, DC
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Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

I visited Half Moon Bay in late July on a Sunday and did not find the beach or the town very scenic (Being from VA, I'm used to East Coast beaches). The area seemed a little run down and the beach area straight down from town also seemed less than idyllic. I'm wondering if the Santa Cruz area is nicer and maybe sunnier. I'm not looking to disparage HMB, it's just not what I expected from my East Coast expectations.

Bloomington, Indiana
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1. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

In general I wouldn't say east & west coast beaches are that close to being the "same."

Certainly northern CA beaches are different (colder water, fog, less sun, etc.). Now by the time you to So Cal beaches (LA, SD, etc) you're getting closer, but even these are different in my mind.

Now all that said, I wouldn't say that Santa Cruz is anything close to being identical to HMB. There's the boardwalk and everything associated with it and even the whole "viibe" of the town is different.

I'd say that Santa Criz is closer to what you're looking for, but still not sure it's close enough. You're unlikely to spend the entire day basking in the sun broken by occasional dips in the warm water to splash around & cool off.

It might help if you indicated *what* you're lookIng for/want in your west coast beach experience. Then we could weigh on whether we think SC will fit the bill or not.

hlo

Grover Beach...
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2. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

Santa Cruz will likely be sunnier, but some of the area near the beach and boardwalk can also be described as "run down". Now if you drive over to West Cliff, it becomes more scenic and you can spy the surfers out in full force... usually.

As hlo pointed out, you might find the So Cal beaches more to your liking, as these are usually sunnier and warmer compared to the beaches north of Santa Barbara.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

Having grown up on the Santa Cruz beaches ----- and my family lives in Maryland so I'm on Chesapeake Bay beaches near where you live fairly regularly ---- I can't see any comparison. They are totally different. Pacific vs. Atlantic. Different kinds of sand, activities, etc. The East Coast beaches cannot be compared to the West Coast beaches.

As a 5th-gen Californian, I've only been to Half Moon Bay twice. Nice place for photographs but not a beach community, in my mind. Spent two weeks in Santa Cruz every year of my life up until the 60's. It's a semi-dated beach community but downtown is very cool and, for a tourist, I'd still say it's a fun Pacific alternative to Ocean City, NJ or Ocean City, MD. Salt water taffy, Boardwalk, etc.

When you say "nicer," it depends on what you are looking for. I can't even get my daughter-in-law (born in south Jersey --- they live outside DC and have a vacation house in Ocean City, NJ) to come out and walk on a Pacific beach (she doesn't like the color of the sand) so it's difficult to know what your criteria is.

We spent 3 days in Santa Cruz a few months ago and just enjoyed walking on West Cliff Drive and marveling at the cliffs and wandering into the little shops and the surfer museum, etc. Yes, it was windy much of the time. We loved it --- considering I first went to SC over 60 years ago, and have been to many Caribbean and East Coast beaches ---- it still holds something magic for me.

It's all personal taste.

San Jose, California
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4. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

I'd say yes, SC is nicer. It's a much bigger town than HMB, lots more to do. The area right around the Boardwalk is a little sketchy, buts that not the real Santa Cruz to me.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

Yes, you can't compare East and West Coast beaches. You can't even compare Northern and Southern California beaches.

The main beach in the town of Santa Cruz has an historic, 100-year old amusement park (NOT a theme park) called the Boardwalk. During the summer it has free concerts, and Chinese gymnasts and etc. The merry-go-round has the original wooden carved Looff horses, beautifully restored, and the original calliope. It has a beach in front of it and also on the side where beach volleyball happens. But south of there are some very long and wide sandy beaches...going all the way past Aptos.

The main part of town, Pacific Aenue, however is not on the beach...you have to drive a few blocks.

As mentioned, West Cliff Drive is good to experience, with the cliffs and the surfers at Steamer Lane. If you drive to the end you come to one of the best beaches in the area, Natural Bridges State Park. This has a nice beach and picnic tables under trees and a Visitor Center with a good exhibit about the Monarch Butterflies who come to hibernate in the winter on their migration journey to Mexico.

You may be disappointed in the beaches, but do stroll pretty, tree-lined Pacific Avenue in town for the boutiques and galleries and sidewalk cafes and bookstores.

Here is a traveler article on Santa Cruz which describes it more.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g33048-c133677/Santa-…

Are you planning on visiting the area?

Pacifica, California
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6. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

If you want great golfing, go to HMB.

Otherwise, Santa Cruz is the better beach town. Maybe a few too many hippies, but it also has two famous attractions in the Bigfoot Discovery Museum and the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. Those are Puter's favorites!!

yelp.com/biz/bigfoot-discovery-museum-felton

http://www.mysteryspot.com/

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

>>Those are Puter's favorites!!<<

simba. You are SO naughty. You know I don't like those places. And your comment about "hippies" is SO dated. It ain't the '70's anymore. They are an extinct species.

Anyway, all of my husband's students from that era are now either successful businessmen or running the Genome Project. Yes, they cut their hair.

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

Right, puter --- as I've told you before, my brother graduated from UCSC in 1972 and is/was a highly (super-highly) successful businessman, including being a successful musician. USCS is a wonderful place which grows creative genius, so what's wrong with that?

There is so much to Santa Cruz besides the aging, 20th century stuff (even though that's rather delightful also). I just wish it wasn't so expensive.

Anyone who wants to rent a bicycle and get going along the coast will have a treat.

One of my favorite bookstores of all time is on Pacific Avenue (name please, puter?) and the festivals and restaurants and little shops are draws always. I repeat though --- it is above our budget these days, much to our chagrin lately. My grandparents used to live on Pleasure Point (visited them many times in the 50's/60/s) and it stuns me these days that I can't even afford to eat in that area these days.

Dublin, California
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9. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

We go to the Half Moon Bay dock to buy fresh fish. Can't do that in Santa Cruz. So for us the answer is no, Santa Cruz is not nicer than HMB.

They each have their individual charm, so the question is really unanswerable.

Santa Cruz...
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10. Re: Is Santa Cruz nicer than Half Moon Bay?

>>We go to the Half Moon Bay dock to buy fresh fish. Can't do that in Santa Cruz. So for us the answer is no, Santa Cruz is not nicer than HMB.<<

What an outrageous remark. The Santa Cruz Wharf has fish that was caught that very day. Stagnaros not only has a fish market, but runs fishing boats out every day. Why don't you come down and catch your own?