CENTRAL COAST DOG WALKS
by Whitney Wilde
Like a faceted jewel, there is more than one side to sparkling Seascape. Whether you and your pooch are looking for upscale shopping and dining or a walk on the beach, Seascape has it all. This is a magical beach where there is frequently a pod of dolphins frolicking just offshore, and I envy the many surfers as the dolphins play through their wave sets. Above the beach, on the cliff-top path, you feel at the edge of the world, waiting to see the mythical “green flash” as the sun dips into the sea every evening.
This is an absolutely stunning sunset stroll for you and your pooch starting at Seascape Park, a county park at the south end of Seascape Resort that is visited regularly by local pooches and their people. The park can be a great quick walk if you just take the perimeter trail (about a half mile total), but take the trail along the cliff for an astounding view and frequent benches, many of which are interesting memorials. This trail stays on the clifftop until you reach the modernist whale sculpture, a good place to turn back if you don’t have much time.
If you want to get onto the beach, continue as this path turns to the right and descends, go left at the small creek, and continue down to the beach. Look out for the golf cart that shuttles hotel guests.
The path will open out onto Seascape Beach. Long and flat, without any rocks or tide pools, the beach looks like Southern California. Seascape is a small section of an 18-mile beach, running from New Brighton State Beach in Capitola to the Pajaro River near Moss Landing. Seascape (a privately-owned beach) is surrounded by state beaches where dogs are allowed on-leash, though you’ll see plenty of off-leash dogs whose vigilant owners hope to avoid the $280 ticket (first offense).
Turn right on the beach and you will quickly reach Seacliff State Beach with the sunken cement ship. I like to go to the left where there are fewer folks and less chance of getting a ticket if you are off-leash.
There is so much to enjoy here: watching the surfers pay homage to the wave gods, scanning the horizon for the seasonal migration of whales, and looking for the resident pod of dolphins as they dance along the waves. There aren’t many seashells, and almost no sea glass, but there is an area where sand dollars wash up. There is a gentle slope into the water, but be aware of the rip tides when letting your pooch play in the water. To return to the park, retrace your steps.
Now that your pooch is dog-tired, feel free to dine on the patio at Sanderlings Restaurant, inside Seascape Resort (see review in this issue). Or explore Seascape Village where many of the shops are dog-friendly (please ask before entering). Palapas Restaurant y Cantina has margaritas, Mexican food and a dog-friendly patio. Or you could have a made-to-order sandwich at the deli in Seascape Foods and sit at one of the tables in the plaza it shares with Full of Beans Coffee Shop.
Seascape today has much to offer pooches and their people, and you would never guess at its dramatic history. In the late 1800s, the beach was home to a thriving Chinese fishing community. Aptos Indians camped on the beach while working the local fields, and it was the landing pad for the first high-altitude aircraft flights in history. John J. Montgomery invented a machine to extract gold from beach sand in order to finance building Aptos Village. Only 40 years ago, Seascape was mostly farm fields or ranches raising cattle and thoroughbred horses. Aptos Seascape Corporation bought a 500-acre ranch and the Aptos Beach Golf Course in the 1960s and renamed this area “Seascape.” Their plan was to build luxury homes and condos surrounded by green open spaces, an expanded golf course (adding 9 holes), a luxury resort with a pool and tennis courts, and an upscale shopping center. Eventually it all came about in spite of bankruptcy, restrictive development conditions imposed by the county, and secret back-door politico deals that outraged neighbors and changed the political climate from conservative into liberal and progressive.
The three ways to get onto Seascape Beach are:
1. Sea Park and the cliff-top path in the resort. This path has awesome views and is a safe place to walk at night.
2. A path at the beginning of the resort, to the right of the parking garage, past Sanderlings Restaurant and down to the beach.
3. On Sumner Avenue, just south of Seascape Boulevard you will see a train trestle on the ocean side of the street. There is a dirt path that winds down to the beach and is the quickest way to get onto the beach.
Take Highway 1 to the Larkin Valley/San Andreas Road exit, head west toward the ocean. Go ½ mile and turn right onto Seascape Boulevard. Seascape Resort is at the end, go left on Seascape Resort Drive to get to Seascape Park.