ByWendy Gabriel

Aug 2, 2017

Breathtaking surroundings, historic structures, screams of delight — this is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. An amusement part and a beach might seem like a combination that simply can’t be environmentally friendly, but step right up and see how serious the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is about providing eco-fun.

The boardwalk sits on Monterey Bay and is located within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). The MBNMS protects 6,094 square miles of ocean and stretches from Big Sur, Calif., to the Golden Gate Bridge. The goal of this ocean sanctuary is to protect our natural resources, water quality and marine habitats while balancing the recreational and commercial uses of that coastal region.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects 6,094 square miles of ocean.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is accurately described on its website as a “classic seaside amusement park located along a beautiful sandy beach in a friendly beach town.” You are truly transported back in time to childhood trips to the fair — but in a stunning setting. There are more than 40 rides and attractions, including two National Historic Landmarks (the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster from 1924 and the Looff Carousel from 1911).

View from the Sky Glider up above the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Environmental Preservation Efforts

  • The family-operated Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk recycles and/or reuses around 180 tons of materials each year.
  • They reclaim around 1 million gallons of water every year for landscaping and other non-potable water uses, including the Logger’s Revenge water ride (which is, by the way, a fantastic way to enjoy an unobstructed ocean view from high atop the Boardwalk).
  • They’ve installed waterless urinals and low-flush toilets for all public restrooms throughout the Boardwalk.
  • They’ve prohibited the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) at all food locations throughout the Boardwalk.
  • The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk installed the first solar-powered trash compactors in Northern California.
  • They recycle the oil that is used from rides and park vehicles.
  • They compost the green waste from landscaping.
  • They recycle any electronic waste that is generated.
  • During the spring and summer, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk staff keeps the beach in front of the Boardwalk clean and free of debris.
  • They are part of the local community and participate in programs like Coastal Clean-Up Day and Bike to Work Day. The Bike to Work program in Santa Cruz County has been organized by Ecology Action for the past 30 years and represents the largest sustainable transportation event in the region.
  • They encourage staff to use alternative transportation by providing discounted bus passes and have a place for employees to store their bicycles and skateboards while they are at work.
  • They provide electric vehicles for maintenance crews for use along the Boardwalk.
Recycling at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has received a respectable list of awards for the environmental preservation efforts they are involved in, including the California Integrated Waste Management Board’s “Waste Reduction Award” and being named a “Bicycle-Friendly Business” by the League of American Bicyclists. A full list of accolades can be seen here.

The Sky Glider ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Do Your Part

Here are some tips for doing your part to keep your trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (or any beach) easy on the environment:

  1. Don’t litter. Find the recycling and garbage bins and be sure to use them.
  2. Do your sunscreen research. It’s important to use sunscreen, but find products that are healthier for your body and the environment. If you’ll be swimming, make sure your sunscreen biodegrades in water so it doesn’t cause damage to ocean life. Check the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Sunscreens to help you make the right purchase.
  3. Have fun. Slow down and make sure to take the time to really enjoy all that you’re experiencing.
The beach at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Feature photo courtesy of Andrew Zarivny /

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By Wendy Gabriel

Wendy Gabriel is a freelance eco-writer based in California. Wendy's work has been featured in numerous publications and websites, including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox Business News and For nearly six years, she was a weekly contributor on a popular radio talk show in the Upper Midwest with a segment titled “Simple Tips for Green Living.”