The small town with all those colorful houses.
Capitola is a great alternative for a day trip to Santa Cruz. Capitola is really close to the crowded tourist destination! The little town has a mediterranean touch with its tiny, colorful houses and the small local shops and the calm wharf!
Capitola is located in Santa Cruz County on the coast of Monterey Bay.
Before Capitola got its name it was called Soquel Landing. It got that name from a wharf located at the mouth of Soquel Creek. In 1869, Frederick A. Hihn (a German immigrant), who acquired the wharf by a Mexican family, decided to develop it as a seaside resort since whalemen moved on to Point Año Nuevo (read more about Año Nuevo here) because they were unable to capture any whales in Soquel Landing.
The above mentioned Wharf still exists and is nowadays used for fishing, boat rentals and other recreational activities.
The Wharf is a really calm and great to just take a walk on and enjoy the colorful houses and the beach on the one side and the steep, rocky cliff, that are common in California, with stunning houses on the other side. Sometimes you can even notice a party in one of those houses or its backyard. BTW the locals that I met are super nice so maybe you’ll get lucky and get invited to a party 😉
When walking over the Pier you’ll notice some companies where you can rent kayaks, boats or stand-up paddle boards. That is really common for this area since there is such a big variety of wildlife. By just looking over the railing of the wharf you’ll most likely explore some otters, seals and maybe some jellyfish. If you are lucky enough you can even spot some whales here. If not but you still want to get close to the whales you should definitely visit Monterey, a little further down Highway 1, for a Whale Watching Tour (for more information about Hwy 1 click here and for more information about Monterey click here)
The Venetian Court.
Those colorful houses, that kinda made Capitola famous, are partly private but tourists can also rent a room here.
Since the houses are privately owned you are not allowed to walk through the alley in between the houses but you can take pictures from everywhere around.
There is the rumor that the wharf as a seaside resort wasn’t as successful as Hihn expected it to be so he decided to lease the area to Samuel A. Hall. Hall wanted to farm the land but he let people camp on his property right by the beach. His daughter Lulu convinced him to invest into tents and other conveniences the property turned into a camp called Camp Capitola. It is said that even the idea for the name “Camp Capitola” was by Hall’s daughter Lulu. The heroine in her favourite book “The Hidden Hand” by E.D.E.N. Southworth was called Capitola. After Hall’s lease was expired Hihn raised the rent and Hall had to leave even though his camp was a great success. Hihn kept the area for tourism purposes.
The colorful houses, that we can see today on that “camp”, were built in the 1920’s after european ideal with small alleys. Because of this they are also called Venetian Village.
Nowadays Capitola is known as the oldest beach resort on the West Coast.
Capitola State Beach is a small but beautiful beach. Compared to Santa Cruz it is by far not that crowded. Perfect for a relaxed day taking maaaaany picture of this picturesque place, watch surfers or to just eat a Gelato sitting in the sand. You can take a walk on the Pier or take a look at all those colors on the houses in the background.
Also Downtown is tiny but so romantic! There are many restaurants and local shops to be found.
The restaurants have a huge variety of food. From local food to Mexican, Italian or Thai food.
The shops have literally everything! From cheap to expensive, brands or no brands.
It is super clean here and in the evening the lights wrapped around the palm trees even turn on!