Santa Cruz: A Beautiful Place to Nurse an Injury and Watch Whales

A quiet monday morning and I was itching to get out of the house, despite nursing an injured knee. Hmmm…no hiking, no steep cycling…how about a low-key fall outing along the Santa Cruz coast?

(“Injured knee” you ask? I recently tumbled off my bike twice, which makes it a grand total of 3 times since I was about 13 years old. The first recent tumble involved a low-speed U-turn and hitting the lip of a sidewalk slab on a construction detour around the new Niner’s stadium. Scratched the side of my helmet, tweaked my neck just a bit, and bent-up the front rim on my old road bike. The second recent tumble was following a friend on his soft tail (which I don’t have) on a twisty singletrack that he knows very well. Hit my right pedal on a rock and fell on my left knee. The knee is still sore and a bit puffy after 5 days.)

Anyway…so I drove over to Santa Cruz and parked near Costco. Costco is near where Highway 17 ends at Ocean Street and where all the (mostly friendly and harmless) homeless come wandering out of the woods in the morning. From there I gently cycled through downtown and past the Santa Cruz boardwalk.


…and towards my favorite morning spot on the Capitola waterfront.


If you’re familiar with Capitola, you’re probably familiar with the weekend beach crowds. On an autumn weekday morning it’s quite peaceful. Even Zelda’s, which was serving breakfast on the beach, had plenty of seats and sunshine with no waiting!


While hanging out and checking my e-mail, I noticed people talking, pointing, and looking through cameras and binoculars. “Lo and behold” I see whales off the beach! They’re breaching, spouting and circling. With the birds circling overhead, it appears to be the feeding frenzy I read about in the local paper. Big schools of anchovies were coming close to the shore and the whales were following. Unfortunately, my iPhone 4s was not up to the task of zooming-in properly, but I definitely saw tail fins and waterspouts with my eyes.

On my lazy way back to the car I grabbed a picture of the Capitola pier


…and stopped to watch the surfers at the famous Pleasure Point.


I stopped for a yummy lunch at the Surfrider Cafe, which is in an area of Santa Cruz that I hadn’t been before, but it Yelped very well. I’d definitely go back for the fish tacos with “avocado fries”. (a small wedge of avocado, breaded and deep-fried)

Oh yeah, don’t forget the slogan “Keep Santa Cruz Weird”! This is a Mazda Miata parked on the street.


After about 6 hours of wandering around and about a dozen slow bicycling miles, all was well with the world, except my knee, which was a bit more aggravated than when I arrived.

Worth it? Yes

Will I still make it to the long hike I commited to for later this week? I’ll take a few Ibuprofens (“Vitamin I”) and give it a go!

Santa Cruz and Capitola: give it a try when everybody else isn’t!

About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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