This one was a good day. A really good day. 🙂
We headed South from Half Moon Bay for a day trip, in search of warm sunshine & a day on the beach. Panther Beach is the perfect spot. It’s a bit hidden & you do have to scramble down a steep dirt pathway to get to the sand (it’s definitely not a good beach for people who can’t scramble), but it’s fairly small, protected from the wind, & has a lovely rock arch way that’s fun to walk through (& look at). (Parking is free & just in a little dirt lot.)
I didn’t really believe it would happen, but since it was really everything that I wanted from a beach day, I was so glad it did: We got TOO hot. Laying on the sand soaking in the rays was amazing, relaxing, & refreshing, but despite the breeze every once in a while & the light spray I could feel from a particularly large wave crashing on the sand, it ended up soaking in too much at some point.
We didn’t complain (at all), just eventually gathered up our things, walked the length of the beach again, & stood in the archway. I can’t even explain how nice it felt: once we hit the shade of the arch, Sam & I just looked at each other & knew we were thinking the same thing: the shade was SO nice & cool & the damp sand felt AMAZING on our feet. 🙂
Once we made it back to the car, we drove into Santa Cruz proper, got a drink at the Safeway near the main drag, & parked down near the water. There’s a great coast path in Santa Cruz, that’s definitely worth walking.
We meandered down the path for a while. I like stopping to say hello to all of the puppies, checking out the Surf Museum (it’s tiny & donation requested & worth popping into for a little while), & watching the surfers catch waves at Steamer Lane (you kind of have to lean over the edge to see them, but it’s fun).
If you’re lucky, you’ll even see sea otters playing in the water!
After a long day on the sand in the sunshine, we headed down to our absolute favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz. Hula’s Hawaiian has the best fish & really good drinks. I can’t say I’ve tried much else, but once you’ve tasted the lemongrass on macadamia nut encrusted fish, I think you’ll agree with me that you have nothing else you need to try. (Although as soon as I’ve said that, I remember that each time I’ve been here, I’ve been driving home. If I wasn’t though? I’d LOVE to try their fun collection of “Hawaiian” cocktails… Don’t drink & drive, kids.) Yum! Dinner is about $15-17 per person, plus drinks & apps, etc.
And just down the street is The Penny Creamery, totally worth all the hype it gets. This time I had strawberry pink peppercorn. Have you ever had a spicy ice cream before? It’s amazing & I make a point of getting a hand rolled cone every time I’m in Santa Cruz. 🙂
Fun fact (I made friends with the great ice cream scooper behind the counter): They didn’t actually use peppercorn, which would be too spicy for most tastebuds (for a dessert). Instead, they use baby rose hips, which give the spicy taste, without any of the ‘too hot!’ regret. 🙂
Sam had a chocolate, raspberry, & almond cone & reported great things, too. That’s not really a flavor combo I adore, but he seemed quite happy, so if that’s your thing, you’ll probably be stoked, too. Ice cream cones end up being about $4 each, depending on how many scoops you get, cone or cup, etc.
We sat on the stoop on the corner & ate our cones (I’m a slow ice cream eater). It was one of those desserts where all you can really think is: “Dang, what a perfect end to a fantastic day.”
Photography: Simone Anne