By: Dana Negro
When you think of the Napa Valley, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and majestic forest beds, you don’t immediately think of the beach but you might be surprised.
As someone born and raised in a beach town, the thought of spending my college years away from easy access to sand and waves was enough to give me pause. But what I came to find is PUC is in the PERFECT location—whether you love to hike the forest, ski the slopes, or yes, catch a wave—you’re just a short road trip away. And because I’m kind, I’ll spare you the googling and tell you five of the best beaches near PUC. You’re welcome!
Dillon Beach (1 hour and 25 minutes from PUC)
Would you like to know the absolute best thing about Dillon Beach? It’s a dog beach! That’s right, there are puppies everywhere. Pack up your car with some blankets and friends, swing by Giugni’s for some sandwiches, and head off for an afternoon of relaxing and puppy-petting. Pro-tip: Official beach parking is $10 so unless you want to park in town and take a nice walk, you’ll need to bring some cash. Have everyone in the car chip in!
Goat Rock Beach (1 hour and 30 minutes from PUC)
Goat Rock is probably the beach most frequented by PUC students. Every year the Student Association, as well as multiple student clubs, have both church and vespers services here. Pro-tip: The area is a harbor seal birthing place between March and July so during those months we wouldn’t necessarily recommend going for a swim, BUT it’s a great spot to view incredible sea life and maybe catch a cute seal pup on camera.
Fort Point Beach (1 hour and 51 minutes from PUC)
Surfs up! While Fort Point isn’t the closest beach in the San Francisco area, it’s worth the extra drive simply for its beautiful location. Fort Point Beach lives right under the famous Golden Gate Bridge which guarantees a great view and great photo opportunities! Head towards the city, grab a board, and hang ten. Pro-tip: If you’re not from around here, it’s important to note: you’ll want to bring a jacket and if you’re surfing, a wetsuit!
Capitola Beach (2 hours and 49 minutes from PUC)
Located in the heart of the quintessential beach in Santa Cruz County, Capitola is by far not only my favorite beach but also my favorite place on earth. Take a break from the ocean by wandering in and out of the cute little village shops, grab a slice from the famous Pizza My Heart’s original location, or treat yourself to some local ice cream. You really can’t go wrong. And if you’re looking for that perfect photo opportunity, you don’t have to look far, with a row of brightly colored buildings locals refer to as “The Venetians” right on the water’s edge, you really can’t take a bad shot. Pro-tip: Wait till sunset for even more stunning photos.
Glass Beach (2 hours and 50 minutes from PUC)
Do love collecting sea glass? Spending time looking for that bright cobalt blue color? Or maybe just looking at and taking photos of it? Glass Beach is pretty famous for its coastline covered in colorful glass pieces smoothed from years in the sea. The glass makes up about half the shore and mixed with the dark-colored sand, is a pretty remarkable sight. Pro-tip: It’s actually illegal to remove any cultural or natural features from a state beach so be sure to take lots of photos and selfies!
Well, there you have it, folks! Five fantastic beaches for when you really need some ocean therapy and time away from campus. For more information about life in Northern California, visit our NorCal page on the PUC website!