California Coast: Santa Cruz to Monterey
- Visit the vibrant coastal city of Santa Cruz
- Walk the coast of the spectacular Monterey Bay Peninsula
- Enjoy numerous wildlife viewing opportunities - spot whales, seals, and more
- Hike through towering redwood groves and along peaceful sandy beaches
- Follow in Steinbeck’s footsteps along famous Cannery Row
ItineraryDay 1: Arrive in Santa Cruz and Overnight
Your adventure begins in the energetic coastal city of Santa Cruz, known as the birthplace of both surfing and mountain biking as well as host to many beautiful beaches. Arrive at your leisure, and if time permits, enjoy either a six mile round trip walk to the gorgeous Natural Bridges State Park, an eight mile loop walk to the fascinating Seymour Marine Discovery Center, or a casual stroll downtown.
The Dream Inn is a beloved local landmark on the historic Beach Boardwalk. The hotel features a retro-chic surf style and ocean views with every room.
Say goodbye to Santa Cruz this morning as you make your way along the ocean on a mix of paths and sandy beach, passing the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the harbor, and quiet coastal neighborhoods. Stop at the colorful, trendy seaside beach town of Capitola for lunch, and continue on to your accommodation in the beachfront town of Aptos.
Step into the Seascape Resort for a spa-like experience during your overnight stay. Several pools and spas on the grounds are available just steps from the beach, and from your room enjoy breathtaking views over the Monterey Bay.
Find peace and solitude today as you leave the more populated beaches behind and walk on long, quiet stretches of sandy beach, speckled with beautiful shells, marine life, birds, and driftwood. Cross the calm Pajaro River, and walk to the mouth of Moss Landing Harbor, home to the birder’s paradise of Elkhorn Slough. Arrive in the town of Moss Landing, known for its many antique shops, restaurants, and easy access to fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities.
The Captain's Inn is a small guesthouse set among the stunning wetlands of Monterey Bay. The outdoor decks are perfect for wildlife viewing at this charming and historic inn.
Inn at Moss Landing Point is a 30 room brand new boutique hotel located right by the Moss Landing harbor in a quaint historic fishing town.
This morning, take advantage of optional activities such as whale watching or touring Elkhorn Slough by foot, boat, or kayak, or simply relax over breakfast before heading out for the shortest yet most challenging walk of the trip. Enjoy another peaceful day on this quieter stretch of white sand shoreline and dunes.
Located near Marina State Beach, this hotel has comfortable rooms, and breakfast and wi-fi included!
The Sanctuary Beach Resort invites guests to experience California’s Central Coast from an undisturbed stretch of shoreline. The beach-hugging bungalows all showcase water views from your private terrace or deck.
Follow in John Steinbeck’s footsteps today as you set off for Monterey, home to stunningly gorgeous coastline and one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems. Choose to walk either through Fort Ord Dunes State Park on a paved path or along the high dunes of quiet beaches. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as seals, sea lions, sea otters, and seagulls. Arrive at your hotel on the famous Cannery Row, and if you wish you can visit the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Soak up the spirit of Monterey at the Monterey Bay Inn. The spacious rooms each offer balconies overlooking the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, San Carlos Beach, or historic Cannery Row.
After breakfast, continue on with your onward travels. If interested in an additional night here to explore Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, speak with your adventure specialist.
Other InformationIs it for me?
This tour is graded as moderate, with daily hikes averaging around 8 miles a day. This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the expanse of the Marin Headlands and Sonoma by foot and with free time to enjoy wine tastings and to explore the cute towns. Hikers should expect walking along dirt trails and varied terrain. Trails are well-signed, maintained, and traveled frequently. Enjoy staying at charming hotels each night.
Slower Adventures | Where walking and cycling meet easy-going exploring, our Slower Adventures are the perfect combination. Most days are filled with picturesque journeys with some free time to dive into the destination and experience the people, local food and culture as you go.
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 12 Years
The hiking on this trip is moderate, averaging 8-9 miles per day.
The trails used on this trip are well-established, thoroughly waymarked, and highly traveled. However, conditions vary including mud, rocks, and sand. You should be accustomed to hiking for several hours at a time and will enjoy your tour much more if you are well-prepared. Some hiking experience is necessary.
You will stay in carefully selected 3-4* small hotels. Your room will always have an ensuite or private bathroom. A delicious breakfast is also included.
On this tour twin rooms (with 2 beds, either single or double) are challenging to confirm. This may involve either sharing a king bed, or bringing a cot into the room as the extra bed, which may involve a supplement. We will endeavour to work out the best scenario for you, but please bear this in mind when considering booking this tour if you require this type of rooming.
If you require single rooms within your party we will always try and accommodate you subject to availability. A single supplement is payable.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch is included on days 3, 4, and 5. Other lunches and dinners are not included so you are free to choose from the surrounding options. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or at nearby restaurants.
Navigating is easy using your handmade guidebook provided on arrival. The guidebook provides route notes, and turn-by-turn directions. There are also suggestions on places to eat, points of interest, and local history You will also have 24/7 telephone support from us here at Macs Adventure.
- 5 Nights at hand-selected lodges and hotels
- 5 Breakfasts & 3 lunches
- Detailed pre-departure information pack
- Turn-by-turn route notes provided on arrival
- Daily baggage transfer
- 90-minute wildlife & otter boat tour at Moss Landing
- Support from our Local Partner and 24/7 telephone support
- Travel to Santa Cruz and from Monterey
- Travel Insurance
- Personal Equipment
- 2 Lunches, 7 Dinners
- Additional Nights
We offer this trip year-round and there are plenty of reasons to visit in each season based on your goals. Throughout the year the average high temperatures are in the upper 60s Fahrenheit, with lows in the 40s and 50s.
Although it is possible to book over bank holidays, for example. Memorial Day (May 30th), Independence Day (July 4th),and Labor Day (Sept 5th) etc, there will extra supplements to pay if you want to travel at these bank holiday times. This also included over Christmas and New Year.
This trip is available any time of year and can depart on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. We suggest booking as far in advance as possible for a better chance of securing your desired dates.
However the following 2022 dates are unbookable due to the listed events:
Feb 3-6 (AT&T Pro-Am)
Apr 24-25 (Big Sur Marathon)
Aug 12-22 (Concours d’Elegance)
Sept 9-11 (Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey/INDYCAR Race)
Sept 23- 25 (Monterey Jazz Festival
These are dates that are busy but may be bookable:
Apr 7-10 (Sea Otter Classic)
Jul 27-29 (Produce Marketing Association Conference-PMA)
Nov 11-13 (Monterey Bay Half Marathon)
Nov 16-20 (CALPELRA)
Nov 24 (Thanksgiving)
It's about a 40-minute drive between San Jose and Santa Cruz. There are plenty of car rental options at the airport, or you can take the Early Bird Shuttle. There is also the public bus, Santa Cruz Metro route 17 Express that connects Santa Cruz to the Airport.
Your tour ends in Monterey. The nearest airport is San Jose International Airport. You could also fly out of San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport. There is also the Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) with limited domestic flights.
You can take the Amtrak from Monterey to San Jose Airport in roughly 4 hours.
Baggage transfer from San Francisco to Sonoma is included in the cost of your holiday. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 22 kg / 50lbs per person.
Our pre-departure information pack includes a detailed equipment list on what to take with you. This includes warm and cold weather gear, hiking boots, rain gear, and lots of other specifics. If you have any questions about what to take, we'd be happy to share our own top tips and advice.
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At Macs, we don’t do tour buses, groups, or guides. Instead, we give you the freedom and confidence to have your own self-guided walking or cycling adventure.
This is active travel led by you.
You choose your departure date and who you travel with, we do the rest.
We sort accommodation and luggage transfers and provide your route in an easy-to-use app.
We give you everything you need to travel independently but we're here 24/7 if you need us.
Getting from A to B under your own steam is intensely rewarding. With Macs, you'll see the world, and yourself, differently.