01 of 03
Panther and Hole in the Wall Nude Beaches
No matter what else people have to say about these twin beaches, their natural beauty is spectacular, with high rock towers and a rocky cliff. Some sources list them as two separate beaches, but in fact, they're both in the same place, once separated from by a rock wall with (guess what!) a hole in it. Although the arch over the wall has now collapsed, Hole in the Wall Beach is still accessible, but only at low tide by going north from Panther Beach.
The photo above shows the rock wall that separates the beaches. You'll find pictures of both beach areas at the end of this guide.
Santa Cruz County, north of the town of Santa Cruz. Get a map and directions on the last page of this guide.
- These beaches are often quite sunny
- Rock towers, a wall of rocks, caves
- About 100 yards long and 70 yards wide
- Nice sand
Who's at Panther and Hole in the Wall Beach
A few people, about half of them nude
Panther and Hole in the Wall Beach Facilities
Panther and Hole in the Wall... Beach Activities
Sunbathing, rock climbing. Swimming not advised because of riptides.
More Nude Beaches Within 25 Miles of Panther and Hole in the Wall
- Scott Creek: About 5 miles north
- Bonny Doon: About a mile north
- Laguna Creek: About half a mile south
Nudity Laws: Panther and Hole in the Wall Beach
Laws regarding nudity vary by location and fines are stiff in some places. We have not been able to find a link to Santa Cruz County nudity laws and the responsibility for knowing the law at Panther and Hole in the Wall beaches is yours.
Nude or naturist beach neophytes, please be respectful of others and read the Nude Beach and Topless Beach Etiquette guidelines before you go to a nude beach.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
02 of 03
Panther and Hole in the Wall Beach Reviews and Rating
The Bay Guardian newspaper gives both Panther and Hole in the Wall a grade of "B"
What Our Readers Have to Say
I have been a couple times during the week (visiting from out of town) and the beaches are mostly deserted with maybe a handful of people. I was the only one nude on one occasion, but no one cared or even seemed to notice. The other time it was chilly so not many there, no one nude. It is beautiful and not easy to get too from the south side, have not tried from north end. The 'hole in the wall' is still there, not sure why this article says it is not. It is probably my favorite to go to, although I would feel more comfortable if I wasnt the only one participating. Seems like only locals really know about it.
Stumbled apon this beach a couple days ago and had tons of fun exploring the area. Lots of cool rock formations to look at and to climb on. There was only a couple people there I wasn't even aware it was a nude beach... until I read this article. I'm confused why this article is saying that the hole is collapsed because I just took a picture standing under it! Definitely worth going for something different! More interesting than just sand, sun and water to look at.
It was 1971, I was visiting Santa Cruz with a friend, it got late one night so we slept in the car along hwy 1. The next morning we were awakened by some beach goers who were going down to the beach. We went down with them, expecting a day in the sun enjoying the peaceful Pacific Ocean. I was still a little sleepy, and nodded off on the beach. My friend woke me a little later by yelling out my name. I looked around and everyone on the beach except myself was nude. Talk about a shocker. The beach is called Panther beach because you practically have to be a panther to get to the beach, which, by the way, is only accessable during low-tide. One thing of note - there is a rim of cliffs overhanging the beach and there seemed to be everyone and their brother with a camera taking pictures of the nudists. We were not really bothered by anyone that day, but that does not mean that the beach is not private property, so beware, because many of the beaches North of Snata Cruz on Hwy 1 are.
Rating Panther and Hole in the Wall Beaches for Clothing Optional Recreation
When we asked more than 7,000 of readers what was your favorite Santa Cruz County nude beach, 54% voted for Bonny Doon. 18% like Laguna Creek, 17% voted for Panther/Hole in the Wall and 8% for Scott Creek.
When we asked them to review these two beaches, 40% rated them excellent, 12% said they are good but with a few flaws.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
03 of 03
Getting to Panther and Hole in the Wall Beach
If you want an interactive version of the map above, would like to convert to a close-up satellite map that shows the beaches and trails or need driving directions, use our Santa Cruz County Beach map at Google.
Panther is off CA Hwy 1 between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, but closer to Santa Cruz and about 2 miles south of tiny Davenport and a half mile south of Bonny Doon Beach at approximately mile 26.5. You can find it by watching the mileage markers if you know how.
Parking on the South Side
The entrance to this parking area is easy to find if you're northbound on CA Hwy 1. It's an informal, dirt area on an elevated spot between the highway and the railroad track and you won't miss it if you're watching the mileage markers.
Southbound, the entrance is very hard to see. Look for a dirt road between the west side of highway and the railroad track and be prepared to make a very sharp turn to get into... it. Keep watching the milepost markers to make sure you don't go too far.
Park on the dirt between the highway and the railroad tracks (west of the highway). Take care with your belongings, vandalism has been reported here.
Parking on the North Side
You can also park north of the beach in the gravel lot at Call Box SZ-001-273 across from the produce stand. This parking area is easier to find when going south, more visible from the main road and likely less attractive to thieves than the one on the south side.
Walking from Parking Lot to the Beach
From the north parking area across from the fruit stand, follow the dirt road which parallels the highway until you reach the path leading down to the beach.
From the south parking area, go to the north end of the lot (near the trash cans), cross the railroad tracks and follow the trail. See a photo of the trail on the next page.
The path is steep and eroded and you may be more comfortable going down it if you wear some good shoes. Watch for poison oak, which can give allergic folks a rash even after it's dropped all its leaves.