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, specially 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 in this beach, so you can get some cool action shots as well.
If you pass this rocky area there is 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.