The Santa Cruz Port District is responsible for the safe and orderly transit of vessels to and from the open waters of Monterey Bay. Of course, vessels using Santa Cruz Harbor are subject to the Coast Guard's rules and regulations, California State Boating Laws, and Port District ordinances.
The Santa Cruz Harbor for Small Craft has a mix of harbor amenities and a diverse set of opportunities that make it attractive to tourists. The Santa Cruz Harbor has berthing and dry storage for a range of vessels from kayaks to commercial fishing vessels. There is also a wide range of marine-related businesses, charter boat options, shops, and restaurants available in the harbor area. Santa Cruz Harbor is a year-round harbor of refuge for mariners.
Today, Santa Cruz Harbor offers space for about a thousand wet-berthed and another 275 dry-stored vessels. These vessels include almost 200 commercial fishing boats, over 400 power recreational boats, and over 600 pleasure sailboats. Average boat size is 7.6 meters, and most of the vessels housed in Santa Cruz Harbor are owned by Santa Cruz County residents. Each year, some 12 thousand visitor-nights are spent in Santa Cruz Harbor by boaters, and the launch ramp is employed over 19 thousand times a year. Some two thousand locals crew on boats in the Santa Cruz Harbor.
In the north Santa Cruz Harbor, 6- to 7-meter slips are available for power boats and sailboats that can navigate under a 5.5-meter bridge. With slip rental comes dry storage and an annual launch ramp pass. The north Santa Cruz Harbor also has a small RV park with great water views.
Each year from April to October, local sailors meet on Wednesday nights to compete in sailboat races. The events pack Santa Cruz Harbor with spectators that board charter vessels or watch the races from the restaurants or the beach.
Visitors to Santa Cruz Harbor will enjoy the 3.2-kilometer path around the harbor. The path welcomes bikers and pedestrians with 12 interpretative stations that provide information about the environment, harbor wildlife, local history, fishing, and nautical topics.
During the winter and spring, whale watching is a popular activity in Santa Cruz Harbor. Many charter boats are available to take visitors to see the migrating Gray whales as well as other marine birds and mammals.