A short heat wave passed through Silicon Valley last weekend: Friday was hot, and Saturday was a bonafide scorcher. My family escaped to the ocean both days. We live in a hot home without air conditioning which makes us especially quick to pile in the car and set up camp on the beach.
Any Silicon Valley resident is acutely aware of the stressors that come with living here: cost of living and workaholic culture. To thrive here, it's essential to recognize the perks that make this place unique and partake. We live a very short drive from the ocean and many people disregard this luxury. Once you're on Highway 17 in Los Gatos, you are a mere 25 miles from the ocean—it's one marathon away.
This summer, I challenge you to explore and find a beach you love—your own special cove to beat the heat. Here are my essential tips to make the most of living close to the ocean:
1. WATCH THE WEATHER
- Know when the heat is coming. If it's going to be 90°+, you'll want to be at the ocean. You can take a spontaneous drive to the beach on a weekday, no problem. But on the weekend, early birds get the worm: make sure you get onto Highway 17 (the Santa Cruz highway) before 10 am, 9:30 am is even better. Otherwise, your beach day dreams will become a bumper-to-bumper reality.
2. CHECK SANTA CRUZ WEATHER
- Microclimates is the name of the game in the Greater Bay Area: weather can be vastly different in neighboring regions. It could be an inferno here and overcast and cold in Santa Cruz. Make sure you check so your beach day isn't met disappointment. 70° and above is a great beach temperature. This past Friday, the high at the beach was 73°; on Saturday, the high was 82°. Both days felt gloriously warm to me, and I'm sensitive to cold.
3. PACK AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE
- The more you haul to the beach, the less enjoyable the experience will be. Travel light. Bring a sweatshirt in case you have to wait for some fog to burn off, or if you end up lingering longer than the sun. Parents of babies can be intimidated to go to the beach, but children love the beach and any sand they eat will quickly pass through their system. Buy one of those half dome beach tents, and you'll be able to lay your baby down for a nap in the shade. Naps can also happen on the drive there and on the drive home.
My favorite beaches are along E. Cliff Drive in the Opal Cliffs neighborhood of Santa Cruz. There is a walking path along the cliffs and the people watching is top notch. I'm tempted to snap a photo every time someone pedals past me with a surfboard on their bike.
Santa Cruz ocean water is usually icy cold, but the water was shockingly delightful last weekend. My disdain for cold water has earned me the nickname, "Water Whimp," so trust me when I say it was pleasant; there's a warm current coming through. The tide was low and we were able to walk all the way to Capitola along the beach, wading a bit to get there.
Some of my favorite places to stop on a beach day:
- Açai Bowls at Amazon Juices.
- Breakfast at Café Brasil.
- Slices of pizza at Pleasure Pizza.
- Shopping in Pleasure Point at the surf shops Billabong, O'Neill, and Rip Curl.
- Beers at New Bohemian Brewery.
- Dinner at Nonno's in Redwood Estates on the drive home. It's a rustic, relaxed setting with wood fired pizza and bocce ball courts.
Ride that wave and take advantage of living so close to the ocean. Use the comments for any questions you might have. Happy Summer to all!