A Day at the Santa Cruz Beach

With today being Memorial Day, I had an entire day off of work. The roommates and I decided to make the best of our time and head to Santa Cruz to explore the nearby beach. Needless to say, the weekend has been a blast after it first started with a trip to San Francisco. Here’s my day of exploration (and relaxing) at the beach.

Traffic is notorious into Santa Cruz so we decided to leave early in the day to avoid the traffic and the crowd. It turned out to be worth getting up early since we were able to find a parking spot fairly easily which didn’t seem so easy by the time we left. The beach area is large and has more to see and do than we could manage in one day. There was an exploration center, an amusement park, surfing rental, kayak rentals, enough shops to make most people happy, plenty of food, and of course a beach with everything that has to offer.

After initially arriving at the beach and relaxing a bit to admire the environment, I decided it was time to knock an item off my bucket list: swim in the Pacific Ocean. And when I mean swim, I don’t mean putting my feet into the ocean; I mean completely submerged and swimming at least a short distance. I convince the others to join in as well even though they know that the water will be extremely cold without a wetsuit. As we approach the water, we notice the part of the beach and shoreline we are at is completely filled with seaweed. We decide to therefore grab our gear and move down to another part of the shore that we see is a bit more water than mostly seaweed. On the water to another part of the shore, we run across some pretty awesome sand art.


I was pretty impressed and grabbed a picture of the great work of some unknown individual right before a kid accidentally ran over a portion of the art. Here’s the damage moments after I took the picture above.


I felt bad for the others beside us that were unable to get a picture of the art before it was somewhat destroyed. Even though I don’t use my art abilities often, I thought this was the perfect moment to put them to use so that a few more people could get pictures with the art before it was damaged or destroyed again. I went down to the now broken M and E and started to build the letters again. I first completely fill the broken section with sand and patted it down before I start to carve out the M and E again. After 10 minutes or so, I was able to get the general appearance back to how it was originally. Not wanting to keep people waiting to get a picture, I did some quick last minute smoothing and got out of the way. I think I did a decent job since people said some kind words to me afterwards.

Here’s the result after I fixed the M and E letters.


I continued on and met with my roommates to continue our original plan of getting into the Pacific Ocean. Originally, I was the only one who planned on actually swimming but I convinced the others that they had to at least fully submerge themselves for a moment. After some hesitation they agreed and we headed to the water line. The ocean was so cold that the air temperature by the water line was significantly lower than the temperature 20 feet away. We slowly started walking into the water and we were all physically shocked as the water hit us. Slowly walking into the water probably made the experience much worse. I think most people would probably turn back and head to dry land immediately after feeling how cold the water is. We finally made it far out enough to where the water was at our chests and we counted down to 0 before we all went underwater for a few moments. It was freezing but as soon as we came back up to the surface, it felt pretty good. After a few more minutes of lingering in the water, we headed back to the shore to warm up and dry off.

Next, we decided to walk out on the pier nearby since we heard the barking of sea lions coming from that direction and were interested in seeing where they were located. After walking about half way down the pier, we saw a flight of stairs that led down to a platform that a lot of sea lions were laying on. We found them and it was enjoyable watching them bark at each other and swim around in the water. There was even a baby sea lion that used all the other sea lions as walking path to transverse the platform.


After viewing the sea lions for a bit, we decided to continue down the pier since one of the group members was determined to find a restaurant that served fish tacos. After we finally found a suitable restaurant, I continued to the very end of the pier to see the surrounding area. Here’s two panoramas I took on each side of the pier.



We decided to head back to the area we set up on beach to relax and have a true contest. It would be a race to run and swim out to a certain point and then back. The other guys were less enthused with this idea than I was but I was once again able to convince them (or most of them). It was us three and just as we had determined the race, one roommate decided to immediately start the race gaining a hard start on us. I was quickly on his heels though and we ran full speed into the freezing Pacific. However, running in water is hard and we both ending up tripping and stumbling multiple times before we resorted to swimming. The end result: I lost. However I learned that running full speed into freezing water is easier than easing into it slowly. So next time you are faced with a situation where you have to swim in cold water, just jump in completely and get the shock over with quicker.

That pretty much sums up my day off from work. I did get a chance right before I left the beach to meet the artist who made the original sand art before I fixed it. It seemed like this art was something he did often since he stated he was planning on making a new piece of sand art that said “Santa Cruz Beach”. I was unable to see the end result but I’m sure it turned out great.

Here’s one last picture of the shoreline: