Sunset State Beach

Location: Sunset State Beach, California
Directions: 16 miles south of Santa Cruz (from Hwy 1, take Andreas Rd exit to Sunset Beach Rd)
Day-use fee: $10
Parking: end of Shell Road
Date: April 2016

We have been coming to Sunset State Beach for years now. We discovered it one day when we were checking out beaches south of Santa Cruz. It was the last and best beach we visited that day (in our opinion of course) and we happened to be at Sunset State Beach at sunset. We had gone down the main park road, Shell Road, just to check out the campgrounds, and by chance we happened to drive the road all the way down to the parking area. We walked up the dune, sat near the top all by ourselves and watched the sun go down. We were just awe struck by this place and couldn’t wait to come back.

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First time at Sunset Beach in 2o12

What we like about Sunset beach is that it has parking close to the beach (we always forget something) and it never feels crowded. There are restrooms with flush toilets, lifeguards and an expansive beach to take long walks.

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From Shell Road which descends down to the beach you can see the parking lot and a day-use area with grills and picnic tables. It’s only a short walk from the parking lot, over the dune to the beach.

Last weekend we were able to meet up with some friends for a beach day. The weather was supposed to be in the mid 70s, but the wind coming over the ocean cooled things down a bit. That’s the thing about Sunset beach, you never know what the weather will be like, so bring layers.

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We staked out a spot and waited for our friends
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The view for the day
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Looking southeast you can see all the way down to the Moss Landing smoke stacks. You can take a really long walk on this beach.
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Looking northwest you can see the Capitola/Santa Cruz area

Our crazy kids still wanted to put their wetsuits on and go boogie boarding in the frigid water, so we, the even crazier parents, let them. To their credit, they did last about an hour before they moved on to their next (warmer) endeavor.

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Body surfing even with a wet suit was a bit cold, but during the summer months when it’s warmer, this beach is great for water activities (water is still cold though).
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The dads on watch patrol
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Sand crabs are bountiful here
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Our friend took his kayak out and was “surfing” the waves
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Getting past those waves was no joke!
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Yup, I liked taking pics from the safety of my beach chair, thank you very much
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Sandpipers (and kayak dude photobombing my picture 🙂 )
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Kayak dude is still out there (see his head?)
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The kids found a cool hang out
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That water was freezing! You get a jolt when the water first touches your feet.
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Love being able to spend time with good friends at the beach! Five hours flew by and it was time to get going, the kids (ok, the adults) were getting hungry.
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There are showers by the restroom (flush toilets) where you can rinse off before you head out

If you are in need of a place to eat after a fun-filled day at Sunset State Beach, Burger. (“burger dot”) in Aptos is a great casual burger restaurant. They do burgers well and the restaurant itself is a fun, kitschy place with various rooms and outdoor areas to dine. Half the fun is standing in line (to order at the register) and going through their extensive burger menu trying to decide what you’re going to get. I always change my mind at least 3 times because everything looks so good. (FYI – they have a gluten-free bun option as well). DSC_4622

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The Vader Tator on their specials menu: tator tots smothered in cheese and topped with crispy bacon and jalapenos. Although it was delicious it was a meal on its own.
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A nice cold beer (the Pineapple Sculpin) complimented dinner nicely
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This unassuming burger, the Luther, would be my top reason for coming back. This burger with melted cheese is sandwiched between a soft, glazed donut. I love me a donut, but it’s that salty sweet combo that takes it over the top. (There are those strange individuals, who call themselves my family, that don’t like that salty sweet combo, and therefore didn’t like my burger, what?? I want my bite back!)

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