Location: San Mateo County, CA (but many still consider Santa Cruz)
Features: This beach is located about 20 miles to the north of Santa Cruz. You need to take car to get there, and you should look for a sign off of highway 1 to get there. It is a good beach for experienced surfers, and there are very few surfers during the week. It can get quite crowded on the weekend. Año Nuevo is a very special place to some surfers, and it’s hard to catch it when it’s just right, but it’s great when the waves are up.
Beach: This beach is a breeding ground for elephant seals, and it is also a place for great white sharks to congregate. Take proper precaution when you’re surfing there. You might even sea seals washing up on the beach with chunks bitten out of them. This beach can be a little dangerous because of the shark risk, but it’s not a major risk to most surfers. If you surf inside the cove where the wave wedges up, you’ll be just fine. Most of the locals who surf here are very friendly, but you might see some pretty annoying Santa Cruz residents here from time to time.
Top 3 Adventure Hacks
1) Bring your outdoor towel
It’s important you stay dry as soon as you get out of the water.
2) Keep your distance from seals
Elephant seals are dangerous wild animals and are protected by the park. Harassment and disturbance of elephant seals are prohibited by state and federal laws.
3) Go surfing
The Año Nuevo Beach is known for the waves it produces and a gem to experienced surfers. Don’t surf here unless you are an experienced rider. Remember, this spot also is a breeding ground for sharks. Be careful!