Travel Blog

Santa Cruz County: Beyond Your Wildest Dreams – Shark Fin Cove

Photo by Austen Paul

Up the coast of Santa Cruz County is a place that goes beyond your wildest dreams: Shark Fin Cove. Carved away from the cliffs by wind and waves, an island shaped like a shark’s dorsal fin juts out of the water just beyond the shore of the secluded beach. A lone predator, the eroded Shark Fin Rock emphasizes the dramatic, sweeping views of the coast as its off-white mudstone catches the light throughout the day. Head down the rocky trail to the cove’s shore, where you will be rewarded with the opportunity to explore a sea cave, admire sea glass, and feel as if you’ve discovered a hidden gem on the California coast. 

Part of the Coastal Dairies State Park north of Santa Cruz, finding the Cove requires you to keep your eyes peeled for an easy-to-miss dirt parking lot on the side of Highway 1. If you’ve discovered the quaint town of Davenport, you’ve gone too far; however, it is a perfect spot to grab a bite after your cove adventures! From the “basecamp” lot, it’s easy to spot the point of Shark Fin Rock, so use it as a guide to the beautiful, hidden beach. The path down to the water can be steep, but the views are well worth the goat trail trek. Check out the beach’s sea cave, minding the tides, and gain a unique perspective of the coast from underneath its mudstone cliffs.

After spending the day enjoying the sheltered shores, you can take in the setting sun as it washes Shark Fin Cove in brilliant color – a golden-hour sight you won’t want to miss. This secluded beach is a photographer’s dream, especially after the sun goes down and the stars come out! Shark Fin Cove is a fantastic spot for stargazing and Astral Photography, especially for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, which points directly at the tip of the shark’s fin. Sitting under the stars and admiring its natural wonders, it’s clear to see why Shark Fin Cove is a place Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. 

Due to the beach’s secluded nature, it’s important to note that there are no restrooms or garbage bins. Being prepared to pack out what you pack in, including your trash, and others’ debris as well if you’re up to it – helps keep these majestic places clean and beautiful for all of us to enjoy for years to come! 

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