Surf’s Up! 10 Great Airbnbs in Santa Cruz, California

by K.C. Dermody
Updated March 27, 2022

best airbnb rentals santa cruz california
Take in 180° ocean views from this beautiful Santa Cruz home. Photo: Airbnb

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The quintessential California beach town, Santa Cruz is the birthplace of surfing in the US.

Surfing first made waves (get it?) here in 1885 when Hawaiian royalty visited, riding the waves on boards made from area redwood trees.

While the city draws countless surfers, there are many other reasons to visit, from thrill rides at The Boardwalk to opportunities for wildlife spotting, people watching, wine tasting, food tours, and much more.

So check out the airbnbs in Santa Cruz below to find the perfect spot to hang out and chill out on the West Coast. Whether you’re on the hunt for the endless summer or just want to experience a classic low-key surfer town, you’ll find it in Santa Cruz.

1. 180-Degree Oceanview Home

Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Surfboards and other sports gear included with Pleasure Point at your doorstep.

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $465/night

Ideal for surfers, beach lovers, and outdoor adventurers, this three-bedroom home sits directly in front of world-class Pleasure Point, a famous surf spot. It’s so close to the ocean that you can watch the waves from bed. In fact, there are sweeping views of the Pacific from every room in the house and the upstairs decks. And you won’t even have to bring your gear with you as it comes with complimentary surfboards, four electric bikes, and stand-up paddleboards.

Your hosts even toss in four passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Regular admission is $49.95, so that helps make this one of the more value-focused airbnbs in Santa Cruz. Don’t forget to go for a soak in the soothing hot tub or cedar sauna after a day spent exploring or surfing.

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2. Endless Summer

Endless Summer santa cruz airbnb
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Watch surfers and colorful sunrises from the deck or living room.

  • Sleeps: 10
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $232/night

Ideal for a family vacation or a group of friends traveling together, this two-story home offers plenty of space for all while being just a three-minute walk from Pleasure Point. It comes with two complimentary bikes for exploring, and it’s easy to reach the scenic bikeway that travels East Cliff Drive.

Families with kids will appreciate having a room with bunk beds along with baby equipment like a Pack ‘n’ Play, a baby gate, booster seats, and even a full-size crib. Some of the other highlights include floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase ocean views, a deck where you can listen to the sounds of the waves as you relax, a warm outdoor shower, and a gas fireplace for cozying up next to. There’s a 55-inch flat-screen TV and leather couches, perfect for sinking into during a low-key movie night. This is one of the more affordable airbnbs in Santa Cruz in the winter, but the prices nearly triple in the summer – plan your vacation accordingly.

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3. Serene Mid-century Home

Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Ideal location for exploring the redwoods, downtown, and the beaches.

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Minimum stay: 30 nights (likely temporary due to COVID-19)
  • Rates from: $229/night

This modern, mid-century home offers a relaxing space in the hills above Santa Cruz just off Highway 17 for easy access to everything from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and downtown to hikes in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It includes a two-bedroom main house and a private studio, perfect for families with older kids and teens who want their own space, or friends traveling together.

Enjoy the secluded feel and waking up to a view of the trees enshrouded in morning mist, a beautiful yard, and a wood-burning stove for chilly nights. This is a great spot for travelers who want to both hit the beach and take advantage of the area’s highly regarded mountain biking trails.

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4. Lovely Tuscan Apartment

santa cruz apartment rental
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: All the essentials at a great price, especially for its Seabright location.

  • Sleeps: 3
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Rates from: $156/night

This Tuscan-style “cottage” apartment is in the highly desirable Seabright neighborhood, which serves as the entryway to Seabright Beach. The beach is a long, sandy stretch between the harbor and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, so this home is an ideal base for enjoying the sand, ocean, and amusement park. Enjoy relaxing on your private balcony overlooking fruit trees, with Meyer lemons, plums, apples, or avocados available for seasonal harvest – useful for cooking and cocktails.

“The location is just a 10 minute walk to the beach and the outdoor patio is fantastic for grilling and having a drink after a day at the beach.”

Emma, Mill Valley, CA

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5. Spanish-Style Home for Two

Spanish Style Home santa cruz CA
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Peaceful spaces and high-end amenities within walking distance of everything.

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Rates from: $250/night

The owners spared no expenses in this beautifully decorated one-bedroom apartment, providing everything guests could need along with extras like high-quality beauty products, anti-breakage hair towels, and tasty drinks and snacks. You’ll even have bikes for coastal cruising, a boogie board, and beach chairs. The beaches (as well as downtown Santa Cruz) are all within walking distance.

Some of the other highlights of this cozy, peaceful space are the gas fireplace, a bed reviewers claim is extremely comfortable, and a front patio for al fresco dining and yoga sessions.

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6. Home Near Twin Lakes Beach

Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: The perfect beach house with designer details and a hot tub.

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $300/night

This luxurious beach house is only a block from one of the best beaches in Santa Cruz, Twin Lakes, which as a mile of sandy shoreline popular for swimming. This is a two-story, designer home with lots of warm wood, an open floor plan, and plenty of windows to both stream in natural light and provide peeks at the ocean beyond.

You’ll have great indoor and outdoor living spaces and plenty of throw blankets and pillows to ensure you can stay outdoors long into the evening. You’ll also get a wrap-around redwood deck, a BBQ grill, an outdoor shower, and a bubbling hot tub, perfect for soaks after a long day at the beach.

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7. Luxury Beach House

luxury beach house airbnb santa cruz
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: A beautiful coastal getaway with all the toys you’ll need for a good time at the beach.

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $650/night

Constructed in 2018 by the owner (a home builder and surfer), this beautifully designed home is filled with gorgeous decor and high-quality finishes. And it’s in a convenient location just a couple of blocks from the beach and outstanding surf spots. It offers everything you could ever want for a California getaway, including complimentary use of surfboards and boogie boards, bicycles, beach chairs, and a wagon for hauling your gear down to the sand.

You’ll want to spend time enjoying this stylish space, too. After dark, the fire pit provides the perfect gathering place for reminiscing about the day’s events. There’s a foosball table and pool table for a little friendly competition, too. While it’s one of the pricier airbnbs in Santa Cruz, you do get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s cheapest outside of the summer months.

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8. Enseñada Del Sol

Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Enjoy a stunning backyard space that feels like a boutique hotel.

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $550/night

Enseñada Del Sol is just over a block from Sunny Cove Beach in the Pleasure Point area, next to an outstanding wildlife viewing area where it’s possible to see dolphins, cormorants, and even the occasional passing whale. The home itself provides a safe and tranquil sanctuary for enjoying all that the city has to offer, and has an amazing backyard with everything from a hot tub to an outdoor kitchen to covered lounge areas for when the sun is just a little too bright.

“…The house was spotless and well stocked, both for house needs and for trips to the beach. The location is fabulous – so walkable to great beaches and yummy food…”

Michele, Oakland, CA
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9. Bel Air Santa Cruz

Bel Air Santa Cruz airbnb
Photo: Airbnb 

Why you should stay: A three-bedroom beach house with a great yard.

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $425/night

This elegant cottage-style home offers comfortable coastal living tucked between Moran Lake and Corcoran Lagoon and is just a block to 26th Avenue Beach. You can walk back to the house in just a few minutes if you forgot your can koozie or sunblock, and boogie boards, beach chairs, and included bikes make it easy to spend time both in the waves and chillin’ on the sand.

While you’ll probably want to spend lots of time at the beach during the day, this house is perfect for evenings spent outdoors. You can grill outside, dine outside, and then run around the backyard looking for fireflies and tossing a frisbee. Reviews mention that the photos don’t do the yards justice; they’re much bigger than they look.

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10. The Sea Pearl

the sea pearl santa cruz
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Classic California bungalow in Santa Cruz’s most popular neighborhood.

  • Sleeps: 5
  • Minimum stay: 3 nights
  • Rates from: $395/night

The adorable Sea Pearl is perfect for a weekend at the beach, located in the popular Seabright community. You can walk to the beach, great cafes and restaurants, and cute little boutiques. The front deck provides a glimpse of the Pacific and there’s a private patio out back.

The radiant heat in the floor will come in handy on cool, foggy mornings, and the garage even has a spot to plug in your electric car.

“The house was clean and very inviting. We ate every meal in the backyard!”

Nadia, Carmichael, CA
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Plan Your Santa Cruz Trip

  • Enjoy carnival games, an arcade, and the country’s oldest roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Pick up a crab cocktail and beer on the Santa Cruz Wharf and watch the entertaining sea lions that hang out near the pier.
  • Ride an old-fashioned train through the redwoods at Roaring Camp.
  • Head to Sunset State Beach, just south of Santa Cruz, to beachcomb for sand dollars at low tide.
  • Catch a wave or watch the pros surf at Pleasure Point, one of the top surfing spots.
  • Walk, bike, or run along West Cliff Drive, a three-mile stretch from Natural Bridges State Beach to the Santa Cruz Wharf.
  • Go wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains, home to over 70 wineries and tasting rooms.

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