The over-a-century-old Santa Cruz Wharf is the longest wooden strucutre of its kind on the West Coast—a staggering 2,701 feet/823 meters long. Walk to the end to get a bird’s-eye view of Steamer Lane surfing to the north. Come at dusk to watch the lights glow on the colorfully lit Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Near the base of the wharf, rent kayaks, standup paddleboards, or motorboats. As you walk farther out on the wharf, strolling past the requisite fresh fish restaurants and souvenir and trinket shops, strike up a conversation with the local fishermen angling for perch, rockfish, and lingcod. Better yet, join ’em. You don’t need a license to fish from the pier; local tackle shops can get you fully outfitted too.
Along the waterfront, you can also join guided kayak paddles, take a whale-watching trip, or join a sailing cruise.