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Hole-in-the-Wall Beach

Started: 2022-08-07 16:36:40

Submitted: 2022-08-07 17:10:35

Visibility: World-readable

Exploring a small beach near Santa Cruz

One of the best parts about living in Santa Cruz is having so many beaches at my fingertips. Each beach is special in its own way, and each beach is best for different things. So I feel like I ought to visit as many beaches as possible so I can identify them all.

Panther Beach is a little beach outside of Santa Cruz. The parking lot is a wide spot along Highway 1 a few miles west of town. There's a kind-of-sketchy trail leading down to the beach; then the beach itself is deep and narrow, pinned between cliffs on both sides. To the right the beach gives way to rocks at shore level, giving a view of both Panther Beach and its neighbor, Hole-in-the-Wall Beach.

Pather Beach and Hole-in-the Wall Beach
Pather Beach and Hole-in-the Wall Beach

The eponymous hole in the wall is a small natural arch leading to the beach to the left. At high tide the waves wash up and through the sand at the base of the arch; I could see the high tide mark, though it was low tide when I visited.

The hole in the wall
The hole in the wall

Hole-in-the-Wall beach is a long stretch of sand protected by cliffs on all sides; the hole in the wall is the only access to the beach. The sand grew steeper by the end of the beach, leaving a steep embankment where the waves had reached at the last high tide. I found a young adult digging in the sandy embankment with a full-sized shovel, excavating a hole six feet deep at the back but shallow enough to walk in the front (as if it were the excavation for a very narrow garden-level basement), piling sand around them.

Hole-in-the-Wall Beach
Hole-in-the-Wall Beach

Beyond the sandy beach the rocks form a shelf at the waterline. The tide was low enough that I could walk around the corner and onto the shelf and study the structure of the rock. It was sedimentary rock with clear layers, each a couple of inches tall, and the layers had been tilted at what looked like a 30 degree angle, forming a series of steps leading down into the water. Mussels clung to the rock in large numbers below the high-tide mark. Some of the rocks held tide pools with anemone waving placidly in the water and crabs scuttling around, splashed from the waves breaking on the end of the rocks.

Bluffs above the rocks
Bluffs above the rocks

The rock shelf gave way to tiny fragments of beach where waves broke onto tiny bits of sand. The narrowest crack was a foot wide, stretching all the way across the shelf, narrow enough that I could step across it.

Gap in the rocks where the waves come through
Gap in the rocks where the waves come through

The largest crack extended all the way across the shelf and ended in a cave carved into the bluff. This was steep enough and deep enough (and filled with water; though I was visiting at the afternoon higher low tide at 2.64 feet) that this looked impassable at any tide.

Sea cave on Hole-in-the-Wall Beach
Sea cave on Hole-in-the-Wall Beach

Having visited Hole-in-the-Wall Beach and Panther Beach, I can add them to my list of beaches I might visit again.

You will always find those who think they know
what is your duty better than you know it.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"