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What to Pack for A Central Coast Winter

Travel Tips — By mfitzsimmons on October 31, 2011 at 10:25 am
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When it comes to winter weather around the Monterey Bay, there’s usually one word that sums it up: wet. December, January, and February are when we see the most precipitation, but meteorologists expect January and February to be particularly wet this winter.

Surfer at Coldwater Classic Santa Cruz

A surfer shreds the winter waves during the Coldwater Classic in Santa Cruz.

December should be relatively pleasant, with a few major storms here and there but mostly clear and sunny skies, though definitely with a high wind chill factor. It’s the later winter months where things are going to get rough more frequently, though again, there will definitely be some unseasonably comfortable days.

So what should you pack for a Central Coast Winter? Here are a few must haves:

- An umbrella. Any Central Coaster will tell you that being caught without an umbrella in a surprise storm is a recipe for an unfortunate day.

- Rain boots. Though sandals and sneakers are by far the most popular kicks in any Monterey Bay town, getting your shoes soaked, or having your feet freeze, will not give you the laid back look you’re going for.

- A windbreaker, light sweater, or jacket. Even on sunny days, the temperature is enough to chill you to the core, so bring a light layer to wear as you hike and walk about town.

- A heavy jacket. Temperatures drop as soon as the sun goes down. While you may not look fashion forward, you can definitely take pride in being bundled up as you watch the less intuitive shiver the night away.

- Gloves. Your hands will thank you! Gloves, mittens, those fingerless contraptions, anything you can use to cover your digits will save you from having to stick your hands in your pockets as you walk down Pacific Ave. or Cannery Row.

- A hat. A very wise man once told me that you loose 25 percent of your body heat through your head. I’ve taken to wearing a hat when the temps drop ever since. Don’t worry about at hat hair: you’ll get more compliments for being smart then for how you look.

- A bike fender. If you plan on doing any bike riding during your stay on the Central Coast, you’ll be best advised to bring along a bike fender, a.k.a. a splash card to keep ground water from splattering your rear end as you pedal along. Even if the rain has stopped, any moisture on the ground will be attracted to you like a magnet. Most UCSC students can attest to that phenomenon.

- A surfboard. Winter produces some of the best waves all your long, and you’d be remiss to let some prime surf go untouched during your Central Coast. You’ve probably heard of a little surf contest called Mavericks? The big wave tournament usually happens smack dab in the middle of February.

If you’re planning a trip to the Central Coast this winter, bring layers, pack smart–even if you look a little dorky–and you will have an enjoyable (and warm!) stay here.

Tags: Santa Cruz, Surfing, Weather

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