Established in 1902, Big Basin is California's oldest state park. If you want to get lost, Big Basin is the place. With more than 80 miles of trails, Big Basin boasts over 19,000 acres of semi-wilderness, including a rare, virgin redwood forest. Hike into the park directly from one of Costanoa's trails or drive to either of the nearby entrances.
For a tranquil change of pace from the crashing waves and coastal winds, take a short jaunt inland from Costanoa to the lush solitude of Butano State Park. The park is close enough to ride your bike and is filled with twenty miles of trails throughout the snug canyons of Redwoods.
This state reserve hosts the largest and most important elephant seal rookery in North America. From December to March, during mating season, you must have a reservation for docent-guided tours. These guided walks take about two and a half hours and cover three miles. During the off-season, grab a permit from the entrance station and take a self-guided tour through the rookery.
Next to the Pacific Ocean itself, Costanoa's most visible landmark is Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Three miles north of Costanoa, this rather distinctive and flashy lighthouse has watched over the sheer cliffs and rocky shore since 1872. Its white tower has weathered shipwrecks, rumrunners, a fire, earthquakes, modern technology and even politics. It now stands as the second tallest lighthouse in the West and one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country.
Ten miles north and east of Costanoa, Pescadero was founded by Portuguese and Spanish settlers, who, knowing it was a favorite fishing spot of the Ohlone indians, named it "Fishing Town." In 1856, pioneers from the east coast came to farm the area, contributing the distinctive New England architecture that still stands today.
This beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore. From October through March, thousands of monarchs migrate here for the winter and gather in colossal butterfly clusters that cling to the trees. When the temperature rises above 55 degrees the butterflies take flight, and the sky fills with orange and black butterfly confetti.
Within 15 minutes of Costanoa to the North or South you can find fields of juicy berries ripe for the picking! Swanton Berry Farm, 10 miles south, just before Davenport, has u-pick strawberry fields open throughout the summer, as well as a Farm Stand selling jams, pies, shortcake and other homemade goodies. They also sell flats of delicious, pre-picked berries if you don't have time to pick yourself! Their partner, Coastways Ranch is just 3 miles south of Costanoa. Here you'll find the unique coastal Olallieberries, which are a hybrid of wild blackberry, loganberry and youngberry. Culturing Olallieberries is a year-round process taking two years to produce a single berry. The result; a bigger and tangier version of a boysenberry. Harvest time is generally May-July every year. Coastways also cultivates pumpkins available for picking in October, and Kiwi-fruit and Christmas trees November through December. North of Costanoa, in the town of Pescadero, lies Phipps Ranch. Here they boast hand-planted strawberries, boysenberries and Olallieberries. Strawberries ripen from mid-May through September. Boysenberries and Olallieberries are ready from June through the end of July. All three locations have many areas to relax and enjoy the farm, so pack a picnic and spend the day!
Harvest season spans the entire year here on the coast. The terrain surrounding Costanoa is scattered with farms and ranches that encourage your participation. From unique Olallieberries to kiwi fruit, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins and Christmas trees, there is always something in season for you to pick! Pescadero is home to spectacular Harley Farms, where delightful goat cheese products come to life. Stop by on weekends between 11am-5pm to view their edible flower garden, check out the goats or browse and sample their variety of beautiful cheeses in the Cheese Shop. Also in Pescadero is The Willow Farm, a family farm specializing in unique home and garden products made from over 150 varieties of willow. Tours can be arranged in advance and their products can be found at Made in Pescadero, an art gallery in town. Offering more than just berries, Phipps Ranch is an all-in-one farm with a barnyard full of animals, a country store with produce, beans, grains and spices as well as a plant nursery with herb and flower gardens. Guided tours can be reserved in advance.
Just 5 minutes south of Costanoa is Rancho del Oso Nature Center is the former home of the Hoover family. RDO has an excellent entomological collection as well as the last Grizzly Bear hunted down by Ishi and Saxton Pope. Take Hwy1 south 5 miles and make a left just past Waddell Creek Bridge. Open Saturday and Sunday 12-4pm.
30 minutes south of Costanoa, the Seymour Center is host to a wealth of living displays, exhibits, touch tanks and tours. Worth the trip just to view the worlds largest displayed blue whale skeleton, "Ms. Blue." For information and tour times call (831) 459-3800
Pick your designated driver and explore the nearby Bonny Doon, Bargetto, Storrs and Hallcrest Wineries. Contact the front desk for maps of nearby wineries.
Between the legendary surfing centers of Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay there is 50 miles of prime open coast surf country with scores of quality breaks. Costanoa Resort and Camp is located smack in the middle of this great surfing area with central/northern California's premier windsurfing beach, Waddell Creek, only 5 minutes away.
This aquarium is world famous for its displays and programs. Now featuring the Jellies: The Living Art, Splash Zone Gallery and the one million-gallon Outer Bay Exhibit. About an hour south of Costanoa, you'll also get to explore Cannery Row. Buy your tickets here and you get two consecutive days for the price of one.