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    Searching for the best beaches near San Jose? Even if San Jose doesn’t instantly treat you to sea and sand, you can find a plethora of golden sandy stretches that meet the waves of the Pacific just a short road trip away.

    Indeed, the 'Capital of Silicon Valley' resides inland, but its tech-savvy inhabitants have plenty of beautiful beaches to enjoy within an hour's drive of the city. Here are the top beaches for your relaxing pleasure that you can reach from Northern California’s largest city.

    1

    Santa Cruz Main Beach

    A popular playa that heaves with sunbathers in the summer

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    Santa Cruz Main Beach is the best beach in Northern California to see and be seen. The bustling stretch is known as 'Boardwalk Beach' for its lively oceanfront promenade, complete with an amusement park and several tasty seafood restaurants. Rows of retailers also pack into the boardwalk, and there's even a few buzzing nightspots, should you fancy a sundowner or 2.

    It's a popular spot, so don't come here for a secluded day out. Expect heavy crowds in summer and holiday weekends, especially. Lifeguards patrol the beach most of the year, making it great for parents with little ones in tow.

    Beliggenhet: 108 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Åpent: Daily from 7 am to 10 pm

    Telefon: +1 831-420-5270

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    Foto: Don DeBold (CC BY 2.0) retusjert

    2

    Gray Whale Cove

    The best whale watching in the bay

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    Gray Whale Cove is one of the best spots in the bay area to witness the migration of the California gray whales. Whale watching season runs from January to March, and there's a good chance you'll spot these majestic beasts from the clifftop.

    Getting to the gorgeous sandy beach below requires going down 150 steep steps – but it'll be worth the effort as you'll have the picturesque place to yourself. Hikers can combine a day at the beach with a lap around the Gray Whale Cove Trail. Trek to the peak of Montara Mountain for the best views.

    Beliggenhet: Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA

    Telefon: +1 650-726-8819

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    3

    Ano Nuevo State Park

    Packed with northern elephant seals

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    Ano Nuevo State Park comes alive from mid-December to late March as an army of northern elephant seals overrun the beach. Guided tours are mandatory if you want to get close to the creatures during the breeding season, and the experience is utterly worthwhile.

    Outside the season, visitors are free to wander around as they please. Just beyond the beach, the state forest has swathes of verdant woodlands to explore. An array of coastal birds and curious otters also call the park home, and the sunset views are always stunning at its west-facing beach. A modest park fee applies.

    Beliggenhet: 1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA

    Telefon: +1 650-879-2025

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    4

    Natural Bridges State Beach

    California's most photogenic beach

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    Instagrammers adore Natural Bridges State Beach for the grand limestone arch that juts out of the sea – the most frequently photographed icon on the Californian coast. Aside from the famous arch, this strip of golden sand is a beautiful spot to stroll, sunbathe, or swim.

    Beyond the beach is the boardwalk of the Natural Bridges Monarch Trail, packed full of fluttering butterflies and colourful birds. Plenty of parking is available onsite, as well as facilities like restrooms and a picnic area. Budget travellers looking to bypass the entry fee can park at the corner of West Cliff Drive and Swanton Boulevard then walk in for free.

    Beliggenhet: 2320 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Åpent: Visitor centre open daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Telefon: +1 831-423-4609

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    5

    Davenport Beach

    A near-deserted spot near a cute little coastal town

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    Davenport Beach straddles the tiny town of the same name and receives only a smattering of visitors despite its gorgeous vistas. If you're after a quiet beach for a secluded day out, it doesn't get much more tranquil than this. No facilities are available, although you'll find a couple of passable restaurants on the highway in town.

    A few minutes' drive south sees you arrive at Shark Fin Cove, where dramatic rock caves have been carved out by the sea. Head north, and you'll get to Davenport Landing Beach, where a treacherous descent down a steep cliff brings you to an unspoilt stretch of sand.

    Beliggenhet: 446 CA-1, Davenport, CA 95017, USA

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    Harry Stewart | Bidragsyter

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