COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

City of Santa Cruz Beaches remain closed from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm during Memorial Day weekend

Beaches: Effective May 1 at 11:59 pm and in compliance with the updated Santa Cruz County Shelter-in-Place Order issued April 30, City of Santa Cruz beaches will be closed from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, daily until further notice. Additionally, curfews for Cowell and Main Beach will also be in effect from midnight to one hour before sunrise as stipulated in the City of Santa Cruz Beach Management Plan and in accordance with City municipal code 13.04. 

During the times that beaches are closed, the ocean will remain open for water sports (e.g., surfing, boogie-boarding, swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, boating, etc.), and individuals may cross beaches in order to access and leave the ocean. 

During the times that beaches are open, they are to be used only for active recreation, such as running, walking, water sports, or other form of physical activity. All other non-exercise, passive, or sedentary activities at beaches are prohibited. Please continue to observe safe distancing while at our beaches and comply with all posted signs and notices. 

The Shelter in Place order limits non-essential travel and is being enforced, and visitors are advised that there is no essential travel that requires crossing county lines for recreational purposes.

Allowed during beach closure from 11:00am-5:00pm:

  • Crossing the beach to access and leave the ocean for water sports:
    • Surfing
    • Boogie-boarding
    • Swimming
    • Paddle-boarding
    • Kayaking
    • boating

Allowed activities during beach open times:

  •  Active physical activity such as:
    • Running
    • Walking
    • Water sports

 Prohibited on beaches ANYTIME by the Shelter in Place Order:

  •  Sedentary activities such as:
    • Sitting
    • Sun-bathing
  • Umbrellas
  • shade structures/tents
  • barbecues and grills
  • coolers
  • any item for sitting or lying, ie beach chairs, blankets, towels

Parks, open spaces remain open: Outdoor exercise continues to be allowed in parks and open spaces while following safe distancing guidelines. However, large gatherings are a violation of shelter-in-place orders meant to protect public health. In consideration of everyone, if the area you want to visit is crowded, consider altering your schedule to do so when there are fewer people. Be advised that due to reduced staffing levels, shared park amenities are not being regularly cleaned or sanitized. 

Skate Parks: City of Santa Cruz skate parks are open for active recreation. Visit for updated information.

Disc Golf Course:
 DeLaveaga Disc Golf course is open with restrictions. Visit for updated information.

The following amenities have been closed until further notice at all City parks:

  • Playground Areas and Equipment
  • Basketball Courts
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Lawn Bowling
  • Parking lots along West Cliff, East Cliff Drives and parking along Swanton Drive near Natural Bridges State Beach
  • The Depot and Sanctuary Exploration Center parking lot

For more information visit Parks & Recreation COVID-19.

List of amenities and park features that have been affected countywide.

Social Distancing in Parks NRPA

Main Beach
108 Beach St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Cowell Beach
21 Municipal Wharf 
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Cowell Beach closed midnight to one hour before sunrise.
Beach visitors are allowed to cross the beach to access the water. 

Lifeguard Headquarters
#1 Municipal Wharf 

Lifeguard service is provided daily in summer months (Memorial Day-Labor Day) and on the weekends in spring (Easter-Memorial Day) and fall (Labor Day-October).  Service hours are 10:00 am - 7:00 pm but may vary depending on the weather conditions.  Service area is from Cowell Beach to the San Lorenzo River.

Surf Schools
A permit is required to conduct commercial surfing lessons in the City of Santa Cruz. For surf school regulations see ordinance (13.14). Note that all surf schools are required to have their students and instructors wear colored vests while conducting lessons. Permitted surf schools with their vest colors are as follows:
Adventure Out - Red
Club Ed - Blue
Richard Schmidt Surf School - Purple
Surf School Santa Cruz - Gray
To report violations or for questions about concerns on the ordinance, call the Parks and Recreation Department at (831) 420-5270.

Public bathrooms
Public transit nearby 
16 Volleyball Courts

Helpful Information
When visiting our City beaches, please follow the rules below. Rules have been established to enhance your beach experience, preserve the environment and provide for your safety and the safety of others around you. Thank You!

  • Propane and Butane barbecues are allowed if they have stable legs that can be raised six inches off the ground and the gas cylinder is not exceeding 20 pounds. As of 2016, coal-burning barbecues are not permitted.
  • Glass is not allowed.
  • Alcohol and Smoking are not allowed.
  • Dogs and other Pets are prohibited.
  • Please clean up after yourself so that others may enjoy the beauty of these beaches.
  • Fireworks are not allowed.
  • Open flames, including candles, tiki torches and Sky lanterns are not allowed.
  • Camping is not permitted.
  • Campfires are not allowed on Main or Cowell beaches.
    They are allowed in fire rings at the following State Beaches:
    New Brighton State Beach       Twin Lakes State Beach
    831-464-6330                              831-427-4868
    Seabright State Beach
  • Wildlife is best left alone and unfed. If an animal is in distress or needs aid you can contact one of the following:
    Marine Mammal Center            Native Animal Rescue
    831-633-6298                              831-462-0726

Reserve the Beach 
Reserve the beach for everything from sporting events to weddings or corporate events. Call 831-420-5270 or email us. Visit the Fire Department website for Beach Wheelchair information. Main Beach is open 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. Cowell Beach has a 12:00 am to one hour before sunrise curfew. If you are driving to these beaches, to the Boardwalk or Wharf you might want a closer look at the roundabout at Ocean Street and Front Street.

Informational Links 
Junior & Little Guards
Main Beach Volleyball 2020 Tournament Guide
Main Beach Volleyball Tournament Application Packet  
The Surfing Way: Surf Etiquette Brochure 
Beach Safety 
Water Quality 
National Weather Service Marine Forecast 
Best Beach Towns