My family has been renting beach houses in Monterey Dunes Colony since I was a little girl. It may not be the California beach in your imagination, but we think it’s even better.
Even in the summer, you will probably get goosebumps if you try to lay out in a swimsuit. It is just too cool and windy. The weather is perfect for sitting outside in clothing, playing in the waves, walking, or running, though. You will want to pack sweats if you plan to sit on the porch or beach in the evenings when the sun sets and it gets colder.
The houses are old and uniformly dark brown. You wouldn’t call them luxury, but they are certainly comfortable and homey. Some have hot tubs outside on the porches. All of them face the bay directly, usually with big windows in several rooms, so you can see the water, hear the crashing waves, and smell that special fresh sea air constantly. You walk right out of your sliding glass door onto a little boardwalk and down to the beach. I mean, seriously, you do not even need shoes. We just walk down in our bare feet, and hose off on the porch before we come back into the house.
In between you and the big sandy beach are these gorgeous dunes covered in a variety of beach plants and flowers.
The beach is always quiet and very un-crowded. You’ll probably see a few families, some fishermen, and a handful of people walking or running, but that is it. Tons of space for everyone to spread out their blankets and beach toys and feel like they are on their own personal piece of the shoreline. And great for kids! If you need a snack, nap, bathroom, sweatshirt, whatever, you just walk back up to your house.
Outside the gated colony development is Castroville, which is the artichoke capital of the world. So, on either side of the housing development, and visible as you’re driving in, are field upon field of artichokes and other vegetables. We usually pack food to bring with us and cook in the rental house, so I don’t know much about the restaurant options. There do not appear to be very many nearby, but you can drive into Watsonville, Moss Landing, Monterey, Carmel, etc.
My brother and sister say there is fantastic, memorable ice cream on the drive down at Marianne’s, 1020 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz. I didn’t make it there this trip, but I am telling you that my brother is not a sweets person and he was raving about this place. You may want to take it seriously. Their number is (831) 458-1447.