Davenport Cove

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Rating: C

Often left with a washed-out, nearly sandless look after winter and spring storms, a clothing-optional shore known as Davenport Cove and Shark's Tooth Beach is favored by some nudists for summer retreats. "We went twice last year," says Russ, who prefers Rope Beach (see above). The beach, off Highway 1, is just south of Davenport's public beach. Swimming isn't recommended, due to dangerous waves and cold water, but some locals paddle around anyway. However, the wind-sheltered cove is good for suitless sunbathing. A steep trail takes you to a cave you can explore (some water pours into it) and some interesting rock formations. Speaking of rocks, a group of them offshore resemble a shark's tooth, which gives the beach its name. Use caution when exploring the cove in high tide; it often washes out. Also, "avoid the area at night," warns Russ, who has heard stories of partiers harassing people who remained after dark in defiance of the beach's official closure past dusk. Former problems included car robberies and gawkers in bushes.

 

Believed to be privately owned, with public access allowed under state law.

 

How to find it:

Look for Davenport Cove off Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz. The turnoff is 39.1 miles south of the junction of Highways 1 and 92 in Half Moon Bay and 12.2 miles north of the junction of Highways 1 and 17 in Santa Cruz. Park at the main public beach, find the railroad tracks, and take the trail that begins there and runs about a half mile south to the cove. Or check for a turnoff half a mile south of Davenport, pull off the highway, and park in the rutted lot, which holds about 10 cars. Go around a long metal gate to a path leading to the sand. It's a poor and steep trail, winding up and over the railroad tracks, but it will take you directly to the cove.

 

The beach:

Backed by towering white cliffs. The cove is small but sandy.

 

The crowd:

Only a few people visit Davenport Cove, and not everyone goes nude. Russ and his wife counted six other visitors.

 

Problems:

Beach erosion, especially in spring and winter; fog; wind; cold water; steep trail; poor parking; sometimes poison oak on trail; formerly had cliff gawkers; rough surf; cove may be covered by high tide; signs urge visitors not to leave valuables in their vehicles.

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