A Weekend Down the Coast

I once visited Manresa Beach a few months ago, while searching (to no avail) for a last minute camping spot and have always wanted to come back, with reservation in hand, to actually experience camping here.

Manresa Beach is about a 2-hour drive south near Santa Cruz on the coast and this past weekend we finally snatched up a camping spot for a night! We headed out on a Friday morning and on our way, stopped in Capitola for a few hours as I wanted to show my boyfriend this cute little surfing town.

We walked along the pier, watched the surfers catch waves and looked at my favorite part of Capitola - all the beautiful colored hotel houses dotted along the beach that looked like they were picked from an easel of a 7-year-old.

As we had some time to kill before lunch, we decided to check out the Armida wine tasting room, a micro-winery located off the main strip. It was a very relaxed, unpretentious tasting room unlike those usually seen in Napa and we were happy to chat with the staff, drink their delicious reds and take in the views. We walked away with their PoiZin, a great Zinfandel to drink around the fire later that night.

Afterward, we decided to take a detour along the Soquel riverwalk. The river is lined with houses, each with their own little dock or floating patio and all with abundant gardens filled with pink roses and white clematis that climbed up their front gates. Most of them also had paddle boats or kayaks tied up as the river flowed straight into the ocean - it looked like a perfect place for a waterfront BBQ with friends.

After an amazing lunch at Cafe Cruz and full of the tastiest clam chowder, we arrived at our campsite in Manresa. The campsite was a bit snug and full of screaming children at one point, but being so close to the beach and hearing the waves lull you to sleep at night was a much-needed escape from the city.

The beach was about a ½ mile trek down and so we grabbed a bottle of wine, eager to sink our toes in the sand and watched the sun go down. Afterward, we made our way back to our campsite, lit up the fire and made dinner, drinking more wine and chatting until we were sleepy enough to snuggle up in our tiny tent.

The next day we packed up, went down to the beach for one more frolic in the waves and sand and then made our way to Carmel for a quick stop before heading home.

Unbeknownst to us, when we made it to Carmel, it was the same weekend as the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, a weekend for fancy collector car owners to meet and show off their latest treasures. Let me just say, It was quite the people-watching experience. We wandered around as gaudy dressed women with too much plastic surgery strutted their way past us and loud talking, slick suited men hovered around the Aston Martin pop-up.

We had lunch at La Biciclette, a tasty French-Italian restaurant with wood-fired pizza and fresh pasta and then made our way through the crowd of people and flashy cars, safely back to our little gray Zipcar.

We decided to take the long way home and drive back on Highway 1 along the winding coast, taking in the vast ocean views, towering cliffs and grazing cows. We stopped at Swanton Strawberry Farm, a favorite local spot to U-pick or grab a sweet treat - which we did! Gobbling up a Strawberry Shortcake and Olallieberry Crumble.

After a few more twists and turns on the road, we pulled over, curious to check out Highway 1 Brewery, a small brewery with an incredible ocean view. It was a divey, no-frills place to grab a beer- and just as we were about to finish, a band got together and started playing tunes in the back.

After listening to a few songs, we were tired and ready to make our way home, full after the adventures of the weekend and excited for the plush comfort of our bed.

-The Captain