Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies hibernate at Natural Bridges State Park

Whale watching

Gray whales migrate through the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Snowy Plover

A threatened species, but plentiful on south county beaches

Northern Elephant Seal

Seasonally, partake in a docent-led tour

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Wildlife Adventures

One of the most exciting reasons to visit Santa Cruz County is to see wildlife. Wildlife watching in Santa Cruz County is rich with opportunities to view elephant seals, wintering monarch butterflies, and go whale watching or bird watching. Watsonville's wetlands and nearby Elkhorn Slough support hundreds of birds that pass through or find permanent refuge there. The annual Monterey Bay Birding Festival in Watsonville is a great way to view a variety of birds and other animals which call this area home. Spotting dolphins, sea otters and other marine life can also be enjoyed year-round. Read more...

Howard Johnson Inn at Santa Cruz Wharf

Offers comfortable ocean view guest rooms

Chaminade Resort & Spa

Mission-style resort overlooking the Monterey Bay.

Capitola Hotel

Steps to the beach, in heart of Capitola Village

Best Western Plus Capitola-By-the-Sea

Near beach, shops & quaint Capitola/Soquel Village


The Monarch Butterflies at Natual Bridges State park

Monarch Magic at Natural Bridges State Beach

Starting in early October, the black and orange beauties start trickling in from colder climates to enjoy our moderate coastal weather.




Watch Video



Visit the Monarchs


Monarch Migration

303 Water Street, Suite 100
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
800.833.3494 or 831.425.1234
prtips@santacruz.org