California King Tides Presents Contrasting Experiences at Santa Cruz County Coastline

By Cicero A. Estrella

The California King Tides are returning to the Santa Cruz County coast, giving curious beachcombers two opportunities in the next few weeks to enjoy the season’s highest and lowest tides.

The earth, sun and moon will align to produce the naturally occurring phenomena from Dec. 13 to 15, and one more time from Jan. 11 to 12. The season’s first King Tides occurred in mid-November.

The predictable event provides contrasting experiences at the coastline in just a matter of hours. The ocean’s power is on display during high tide as strong waves crash dramatically against the sea walls.

But it is during the extreme low tides that visitors are given a unique perspective of such beaches as Natural Bridges, Davenport Landing, Santa Maria’s, West Cliff and Pleasure Point. The exposed tidepools reveal crabs, mussels, anemones and starfish, as well as rarer finds like urchins and octopus.

The low tides also reveal many locations that are usually unwalkable, allowing for long strolls on the beach. The nonprofit Visit Santa Cruz County recommends exploring the stretches from Aptos to Capitola, the Live Oak beaches, and the Watsonville beaches to Aptos.

During the high tides, some of the best spots to watch the waves from a distance include West Cliff, Pleasure Point and Davenport.

Visit Santa Cruz County emphasizes that timing is key, and recommends that visitors consult a tide chart for the highest and lowest tides. It is also offering a variety of lodging specials and promotions for those interested in a coastal getaway.

Visit Santa Cruz has launched a Safety Pledge campaign to remind residents and visitors alike to make safety the top priority during these times. It calls for everyone to wear masks and practice other social-distancing measures. For more information, visit

Photos: Visit Santa Cruz County and Paul Zaretsky


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