A number of things have contributed to California’s reputation as an attractive destination. Sunshine, good vibes, and the Pacific Ocean have brought millions of people to the Golden State over the years. All these are found in abundance in Santa Cruz.
The fact that it is deemed the surf capital of California (if not the world) says a lot about Santa Cruz. The things surfers love about Santa Cruz apply almost as much to non-surfers, so the city is well worth a visit whether you like to hang ten or keep your feet on the ground.
Waterbound activities aside, Santa Cruz is worth visiting for its laid-back culture, hippy history, historic buildings, and land-based natural beauty. There are a number of popular hiking trails, including the Redwood Grove Loop, one of the most gorgeous wheelchair-accessible routes in the country. The historical Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and its rollercoaster are certainly not to be missed.
Just south of the Bay Area, Santa Cruz is classic California, an easily-reached town that captures the essence of the West Coast. To discover why so many millions have headed west over the decades, take a look at the 10 best Airbnb rentals in Santa Cruz. While we (unfortunately) weren’t able to personally stay at each vacation rental, all properties in our list have excellent guest reviews and most are managed by Airbnb Superhosts. They can accommodate a range of guests, but each property is right on the water.
Capitola Village StudioRent Now$298/nightly avg
An ideal getaway for couples keen on exploring California’s surf capitol, this cozy apartment in Capitola Village is ready for bookings. Capitola is a vibrant hub of restaurants and bars on the eastern banks of Soquel Creek, where stream meets ocean.
This third-floor apartment is part of an oceanside complex. It has a full kitchen, a balcony, a bedroom with two queen beds, and sea views on two sides. But no one comes to Santa Cruz just to stay in an apartment. This home is great for those ready to explore. To help guests in that endeavor, two cruiser bikes are provided.
Heron HouseRent Now$600/nightly avg
A surfer’s dream beach bungalow, Heron House offers guests the sort of coastal experience which has made Santa Cruz famous. Nothing more than a few palms and a short stretch of sand stand between this three-bedroom home and the Pacific Ocean.
When not out on the beach, guests will enjoy the luxury afforded by hardwood floors, granite countertops, and fine wooden furniture. The house has cushy outdoor areas on both sides. These include an ocean-facing hot tub and a fabulous veranda for alfresco dining.
Villa VistaRent Now$629/nightly avg
If access to the water is your number one priority, the oceanfront Villa Vista might just be your best option. Open any window or pull open the sliding doors of the downstairs living room and be met with a rush of ocean mist. The sea is just yards away.
But the home has more than just incredible views. It features roomy living areas and a kitchen perfectly suited to prepping meals. There are three bedrooms with king beds and a trio of full bathrooms. In addition to the ocean, Lake Moran is just steps away from the home.
Pleasure Point PalaceRent Now$641/nightly avg
There’s something for everyone at this exquisite home above Pleasure Point, one of Santa Cruz’s hottest surf spots. It’s located on a triangular lot, separated from the cliffs by a road. It features spacious rooms and a plethora of awesome family-friendly activities and gadgets. These include a ping pong robot, a sauna, a hot tub, dart boards, and four e-bikes to help get you around with ease.
For fun on the water, there is a kayak, stand-up paddleboards, and surfboards. As if that weren’t enough, the home itself is gorgeous, with beautiful woodwork and beach decor. The master bedroom has a fireplace and the other two bedrooms (both queens) don’t fall short. Even the fold-out sofa in the living room is made of comfortable memory foam.
Pet-Friendly House On The West SideRent Now$750/nightly avg
A single-family home with endless possibilities for memory-making, this beachfront property is yet another great way to enjoy the California coast. A two-lane road is all that separates you from the beach (and it’s crossed easily enough thanks to a crosswalk just steps away from the patio’s lounge chairs).
Let your dog romp in the enclosed backyard while enjoying drinks, bites, and the warmth of a fire. The interior features hardwood floors, quality cabinetry, and the squeaky clean feeling that comes with a remodeled home. Perfect for a small group or family, the house has three king bedrooms.
There’s more to do than just watch the waves, of course. Take a short walk and you’ll find tennis courts, a skate park, a dog park, and much more besides.
Pet-Friendly Four-Bedroom Home In AptosRent Now$895/nightly avg
With three stories, four bedrooms, and 180 degrees of ocean views, this building in Aptos is, by any count, an excellent spot to unpack your worries and enjoy the California lifestyle. The two king bedrooms — with their balconies and hammocks — are special treats, but the other two bedrooms are nothing to scoff at. Choose between outdoor dining at home or any one of the local restaurants within a few minute walk.
Gem Of A Home On The Opal CliffsRent Now$1,161/nightly avg
At first glance, this splendid home looks like a typical suburban abode. The only difference is that the manicured lawn doesn’t end at the street but extends all the way to Santa Cruz’s famous Opal Cliffs. It is a short walk from surf shops, restaurants, and the beach, so getting around town is no concern.
Given the location, it’s no surprise that the home has copious windows to ensure that the ocean is always in view. With a king bedroom, a queen, and a room with four single beds, there really is room for the whole family.
Architectural Wonder With Private BeachRent Now$1,295/nightly avg
Every waterfront rental in Santa Cruz offers jaw-dropping ocean views, but few can promise interiors with the same level of wow factor. This four-bedroom gem in Aptos does just that. Aptos is a few miles east of Santa Cruz Proper, offering guests easy access to all of Monterey Bay’s attractions.
Featured in Architectural Digest, the “beach house” is notable for its ingenious use of space and unique stairway. Those who need to work in between stints on the private beach will appreciate the home’s workspaces. The playroom is another highlight. It has ping-pong and pool tables and a large television. Other perks include a tiled deck, fireplace, and hot tub.
The Marvel At Mitchell’s CoveRent Now$1,600/nightly avg
The look of this five-bedroom house on West Cliff Drive has changed recently thanks to a brilliant bit of remodeling, but the view from its stunning location has been the same for thousands of years. That’s because it looks straight out onto the timeless and seemingly endless Pacific Ocean.
But there’s more to it than just waterfront views. The home is a beauty in and of itself, fitted with excellent furniture and brand-new appliances. Each bedroom has a large bed and all but one come with elegant en suite bathrooms. The West Cliff walking path runs through the edge of the property and numerous bars, shops, and restaurants are to be found in the immediate vicinity.
Historic Bed And Breakfast By The BoardwalkRent Now$1,643/nightly avg
The perfect base for a large family heading to the beach, this historic home across the street from the water can accommodate up to 16 beach-hungry guests. Each of the eight bedrooms is fitted with just one bed, ranging in size from doubles to kings.
Getting around with such a large group can be tough. Luckily this building is within walking distance of many Santa Cruz highlights, including the famous boardwalk and Natural Bridges State Park. Whether you plan to cook large meals or saunter down to one of the area’s many restaurants, this home has you covered.
If you’re looking for more things to do in Santa Cruz, check out: