Part 1 – Four Mile Beach
- Before going anywhere always check the weather, you don’t want to drive an hour or more and then find the weather is not ideal for shooting.
- Do a quick search and look for a webcam in the area so you can confirm the coast is clear, a little bit of fog can add some drama to your photos, but if the fog is too thick most likely the light is not going to be great.
- Bring water and please use a reusable bottle.
- Dress in layers, California coast can get really cold really quickly, also a beanie sometimes can come handy.
- If possible wear waterproof shoes or have a second pair in your car. Sometimes waves can catch you off guard and you don’t want to drive back home with your feet wet.
- Don’t forget your tripod.
How to get there
Traffic to Santa Cruz can get really bad, especially on the weekends if the weather is good, so what I usually do is I leave late in the afternoon so I can get there around 1 or 2 hours before sunset. In this way, I avoid traffic since most people at that time are leaving Santa Cruz but I get there with enough time to explore, set up and shoot the sunset.
The parking is a dirt road on the side of Cabrillo Highway 1, once you are there you need to make a short walk down to the beach, around 10 min.
What to do
Once you get down to Four Mile Beach there are several options, I have usually just gone to the left where there are some rocks that depending on the tide can be a lot of fun because you can do long exposures of the water flowing down the rocks or capture the waves when they strike the rocks. You can also find a lot of surfers at this beach, so you can get some cool action shots as well.
If you pass this rocky area there is a more sandy beach where you can catch the sunset, play with long exposures, whatever you want to experiment with.
- Lillian’s Italian Kitchen: best Italian food in the area. Make sure you have a reservation.
- Tramonti: best pizza, no reservation needed.
- Crow’s nest: great seafood, reservation is recommended.