Rope Beach

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Rating: C

Two years ago, we added a beach that's so remote that you have to lower yourself down a cliff while hanging onto a rope to reach its beautiful and nearly always uncrowded shore. "The rope is still there," reports beach regular Russ, who loves to visit this little-known treasure. "You use it to hold yourself close to the side of the cliff while placing your feet on footholds. The rope just helps you steady yourself. Usually, I'll go down first and then my wife will hand stuff to me as she's coming."

"The rope has been there for years," adds Russ, who prefers to visit on Sundays or Mondays. "Last time, when we arrived, another nude person was there. When they left, yet another naturist arrived. It's a decent-sized beach and almost everyone goes nude."

A round, one-inch diameter steel stake pounded into the cliff holds the rope next to a cliffside between Davenport Cove and the town of Davenport. It can be hard to spot -- the north end of the site borders Davenport -- but if you keep looking, you will find this local treasure.

 

Rumored to be destined to become a state beach. The Nature Conservancy reportedly bought the land on the cliffs above the beach, used in the past to grow artichokes, from the Packard Foundation.

 

How to find it:

Rope Beach is north of Shark's Tooth Beach (Davenport Cove), between it and Davenport Municipal Beach. If you're facing Shark's Tooth, it's to the right. Follow the directions to Davenport Cove (see entry below) 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. But instead of following it about a half mile south, which will take you Davenport Cove, at the tracks "you go to the right," says Russ. On part of the trail, "there's a stretch where you need to hang onto a rope there for support." Look for "a round, one-inch diameter steel stake that is rusted, which marks the area where the rope goes down," adds Russ. The rope "has knots tied in it, so it won't slip out of your hand when you go up or down" the cliff. Make sure you hang onto it. "Otherwise, if you take one false step, you could fall 50 feet," explains Russ.

 

The beach:

What Rope Beach lacks in length -- it's maybe 150 yards long -- it more than makes up for in width. Russ likes to sit near but not directly next to the cliff, "which will give you some shelter from the wind. The beach is big enough so that you can spread out on it without being near someone. People aren't planted five feet away from each other. If somebody is uncomfortable (with someone being nude), they could move to another part of the beach." The beach is usually in good shape, with almost no litter, due to the lack of visitors. "A few people go in the water, but the waves are pretty rough," says Russ. "It's more of a sunning beach."

 

The crowd:

"You might see as many as eight-to-10 people there, but more often there are a half dozen or less" reports a recent visitor. "Quite often, there are nude people on the beach."

 

Problems:

Steep, slippery trail; needs better directions; rough water; rope may be hard to find, so from the cliffs, keep looking for people on the beach; gawkers occasionally lurked in the plants on the cliff edge, but the greenery has been mowed down.

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