Santa Cruz is a city on central California’s coast. Its long wharf, with eateries and shops, stretches into Monterey Bay. Nearby, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s vintage rides include the 1911 Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Downtown, Pacific Avenue has vintage clothing stores, cafes, and galleries. Along West Cliff Drive, Natural Bridges State Beach is known for its bridge-shaped rock formation.
Santa Cruz has mild weather throughout the year, enjoying a warm-summer Mediterranean climate characterized by cool, wet winters and warm, mostly dry summers. Due to its proximity to Monterey Bay, fog and low overcast are common during the night and morning hours, especially in the summer.
The city has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: Aw), with an average annual temperature around 23 °C (73 °F). Although the weather is generally warm all year round, cold winds called “surazos” can blow in occasionally (particularly in the winter) from the Argentine pampas making the temperature drop considerably. The months of greatest rainfall are December and January. The average annual rainfall is 1,321 mm (52 in).
The term Santa Cruz comes from the Portuguese words meaning “Holy Cross”, a reference to a 150-year-old Cross located on Chapel lane within the compound of a home for destitute women run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity trust. That name was also given to a church that existed on a site on the western side of the railway station along the current Swami Vivekanand Road, presently occupied by the Sacred Heart Boys High School and Sacred Heart Church. This original church was destroyed by the Marathas during their conquest of the Salsette Island from Portugal. When the railways began operations in October 1888, the local railway station was named after the Holy Cross, and Santacruz as a locality came into being
The then British Government set up RAF Santacruz, a military airfield, in 1942. It was home to several RAF squadrons during World War II from 1942 to 1947. The Airport covered an area of about 1,160 hectares (2,900 acres) and initially had three runways.The airfield was transferred to the Indian Government for civilian use upon Independence and came to be known as Santa Cruz airport, the city’s main airport. Construction of a new passenger terminal and apron began in 1950 and was commissioned in 1958. In the 1980s, a new international terminal was built at Sahar, to cater for the increasing number of passenger movements and types of aircraft; the terminal at Santa Cruz was converted to serve domestic flights and was primarily used by Indian Airlines until the 1990s, which is when Jet Airways and East-West Airlines were born. The original terminal building still exists and has been given a new façade and host of interior upgrades. A second terminal complex has also been built to supplement existing facilities.
Travelers generally rent cars and use a combination of driving and walking/bicycling to get around Santa Cruz. (For more information on getting around the area via these methods, However, public transport is an option for Santa Cruz visitors who prefer to travel with knowledgeable local drivers.The bus system operated by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District is inexpensive; fares are only $1.50 per adult, and free for children under forty-six inches tall. All-day ride passes are available for $4.50 and five-day ride passes for just $22, making this method of transportation convenient for travelers to use throughout their Santa Cruz vacation. Routes generally fan out from the Metro Center on lower Pacific Avenue to points around Santa Cruz itself and to nearby destinations such as Davenport, Boulder Creek, and Capitola.For day trips “over the hill” to San Jose, the Highway 17 Express is a comfortable and affordable way to go. A special all-day pass [sold only on this bus, for $8.00] is valid on all buses and light-rail trains of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority making the 17 Express a practical way to visit attractions such as the Tech Museum and the Winchester Mystery House, or to go shopping at Valley Fair and Santana Row, and still be back in Santa Cruz to watch the sunset.