Most Santa Cruz residents and visitors explore the town from its shores and beaches, enjoying its quintessential beach town vibe while biking and strolling through its shops, eateries and pathways. But one of the best ways to experience Santa Cruz is to set sail on its waters and glimpse its beauty from afar.
Sailing is a popular pastime in Santa Cruz, with billowing sails scattered along the waves on a daily basis. The Santa Cruz Yacht Club, founded in 1928, offers its members an array of sailing, racing, cruising and other social events all revolving around the love of boating and the beautiful Monterey Bay.
Each Wednesday evening from April to October, local enthusiasts set sail from the Santa Cruz Harbor for the weekly sailboat race. Though many take part in the race as spectators from shore, lining the harbor and filling its restaurants to watch the spectacular parade of boats as they slice through the waves, an even more exciting way to experience the race (and Santa Cruz itself) is by being out on the waters of the Monterey Bay.
There are numerous local charter companies that offer sailing excursions for groups of all sizes. Many even set sail during sunset and most offer hands-on sailing instruction as well as narrated tours providing information about key landmarks around the Bay.
The top 5 local charter companies in Santa Cruz are:
- O’Neill Yacht Charters
- Chardonnay Sailing Charters
- Stagnaro Fishing, Charters and Whale Watching Cruises
- Pacific Yachting
- California Classic Sail
Each of the above companies offer private and public charters as well as daytime and sunset excursions, both which offer unparalleled views of the Santa Cruz coastline, its landmarks and the marine life that abounds in its waters. O’Neill Yacht Charters offers a Wednesday Regatta sail, which gets you right into the midst of the race.
California Classic Sail offers two-hour excursions on the bay on their classic yacht, “Sarah”. Their sunset sails are never more than 6 passengers and includes a ‘toast to the evening’ with a glass of Santa Cruz wine or locally brewed ale.
For those interested in whale watching, Stagnaro has two luxury charter boats, their 60-foot Velocity and the 56-foot Legacy. They also have fully narrated scenic and sunset cruises which visits the historic cement ship, the kelp forest off the point of Santa Cruz, Steamer’s Surfing area and a cruise through the Santa Cruz yacht harbor.
Chardonnay Sailing Charters offers a variety of public charters, including those revolving around food and drink (how does a sushi charter, pizza charter or winemaker charter sound?) as well as sunset and Wednesday Regatta excursions.
So set sail along the coastline. Feel the breeze, embrace the excitement and experience Santa Cruz in an entirely new way: from the waters of the Monterrey Bay. See the Boardwalk, the harbor, the lighthouse, the abundant marine life, the colorful homes lining the cliffs of Capitola from a completely new vantage point.