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Experience the best customer service in the car rental industry in Santa Cruz. Our team is dedicated to ensuring that your journey to the stunning Capitola Beach or the regal Santa Cruz Mission is smooth and enjoyable. Our unique understanding of local conditions and commitment to your satisfaction sets us apart. Let us make your car rental experience unforgettable.

Car Rental in Santa Cruz

Exploring Santa Cruz and Its Surroundings by Car

City car in cheerful Santa Cruz setting with kites and skateboarders

Located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz is a charming city brimming with scenic beauty, an abundance of cultural attractions, and exciting recreational activities. Known as the 'Surf City', it offers several white-sand beaches and world-class surfing opportunities. Aside from the beaches, it's also famous for its lively downtown area that's packed with boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants serving local and international cuisines.

A car tour around the city is highly recommended as it allows you to discover the delightful blend of nature, culture, and history that Santa Cruz offers. A significant stop would be the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a beachfront amusement park that has been entertaining families and tourists since 1907. Another must-visit spot within proximity is the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park that's home to ancient redwood groves and a wide variety of wildlife. Situated just a 15 minutes car ride from downtown, this magnificent park offers an incredible experience to nature lovers.

Heading out from Santa Cruz, a scenic one-hour car ride south will lead you to the picturesque coastal town of Monterey, known for its stunning coastline, the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the historic Cannery Row. On the other hand, a trip north will take you to the bustling city of San Francisco which is approximately 75 minutes away by car. The drive allows you to marvel at the beautiful coastline and various landscapes of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Car Rentals in Santa Cruz

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to rent a car in Santa Cruz?

The cost of car rental in Santa Cruz varies depending on the type of car, the rental duration, and the rental company. Typically, it ranges from $30 to $100 per day. For an accurate estimate, it's best to check with the car rental company.

2. What is the most demanded car model for rental in Santa Cruz?

Compact cars and sedans are popular for city trips while SUVs are preferred for adventures in the nearby natural parks, given the city's proximity to several natural attractions.

3. Where are the most popular places to rent a car in Santa Cruz?

Common pick-up locations include Santa Cruz Airport, downtown Santa Cruz, and several hotel locations.

4. Is there a 24-hour pick up and drop off service?

Yes, most rental companies in Santa Cruz offer 24-hour pick-up and drop-off services. However, it's always best to check with the company for specific details.

5. Is there a minimum rental period?

The minimum rental period typically is 24 hours. However, terms may vary among rental companies.

6. What is the minimum age requirement to rent a car in Santa Cruz?

The minimum age to rent a car in Santa Cruz is usually 21 years, but policies may vary between rental companies.

7. What documents do I need to rent or drive a car in Santa Cruz?

Typically, you'll need your driving license, passport or ID, and a valid credit card to rent a car in Santa Cruz.

8. What is the best time of year to visit Santa Cruz by car?

The best time to visit Santa Cruz by car is usually between April and October when the weather is most enjoyable. However, Santa Cruz is a beautiful destination year-round.

9. What are the main airports in Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz is served by San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and San Jose International Airport (SJC).

10. Can I pick up the car in Santa Cruz and return it in another city?

Most rental companies allow one-way rentals, but be aware that this may incur additional fees. Always check with the rental company for specific terms and conditions.

Car Rental Reviews


Santa Cruz – 23-11-2023. Undoubtedly a top-notch car rental service. The selection of cars was wonderful, and their condition was near perfect. I was amazed by the affordability of the rental charges too.


Santa Cruz – 10-10-2023. After several business trips to Santa Cruz, I can say that this car rental company provides an excellent service. I especially appreciate the quick and friendly checkout process - it really makes a difference after a long flight.


Santa Cruz – 08-09-2023. Great experience with car hire during my stay in Santa Cruz. The car was in good shape, and the prices were reasonable. Also, the staff was very helpful and professional.


Santa Cruz – 15-06-2023. I was in Santa Cruz for a short vacation and am very satisfied with my car rental experience. Not only were the prices affordable, but the process was also hassle-free. I'll definitely rent again.


Santa Cruz – 29-04-2023. I've used this car rental service for couple of times while in Santa Cruz. Very good service and competitive pricing. I especially liked how easily I could change my booking without any extra charges.


Santa Cruz – 01-02-2023. Attentive and professional service! My wife and I visited Santa Cruz and relied on this car rental company. They were transparent with costs, offered us a very comfortable car and ensured a smooth rental experience.

Explore from Santa Cruz

Road connections for tourists

  1. Santa Cruz - San Francisco: A 115 km drive through mainly highways like CA-1 N. Takes approx. 1hr 30 mins in light traffic. Roads are in excellent condition.
  2. Santa Cruz - San Jose: Just 50 km away via CA-17 S with a drive time of around 45 mins-1 hour in normal traffic. Highways are well-maintained.
  3. Santa Cruz - Monterey: A lovely 70 km drive on CA-1 S that should take about an hour in good traffic. Classic Pacific Coast highway drive.
  4. Santa Cruz - Carmel: Around the 80 km drive via CA-1 S. Takes roughly an hour given moderate traffic. Beautiful scenic route.
  5. Santa Cruz - Oakland: Approximately 100 km via CA-17 N and I-880 N. Drive time is approx. 1hr 30 mins. Beware of heavy traffic during rush hours.
  6. Santa Cruz - Big Sur: Highly recommended 120 km scenic drive on CA-1 S. Takes around 2 hours due to curvy coastal roads with stunning views.
  7. Santa Cruz - Santa Barbara: Longest drive of 380 km via US-101 S taking about 4 hours of continual driving. Highway is in excellent condition with rest areas and food stops.

Top Santa Cruz Attractions

Sights not to miss near Santa Cruz

  1. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: A fantastic beachfront amusement park with rides, games, and food.
  2. The Mystery Spot: A curious tourist attraction that showcases optical illusions and gravity anomalies.
  3. Natural Bridges State Beach: Famous for its magnificent natural bridge and live monarch butterfly hibernation site.
  4. Roaring Camp Railroads: Offers scenic steam train rides through redwood forests. Not directly in Santa Cruz, but worth the drive.
  5. Wilderness areas around Santa Cruz: Numerous hiking and biking trails, especially in the nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
  6. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum: Showcases the rich history of surfing in this coastal city.
  7. Capitola Village: A charming seaside town just a short drive from Santa Cruz with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.
  8. Seymour Marine Discovery Center: Learn about ocean science through interactive exhibits and tour the marine lab.

Santa Cruz Roadtrips

Unforgettable self-drive adventures

  1. Pacific Coast Highway: A stunning 585 kilometers journey providing panoramic ocean views and beautiful landscapes. Not to mention the world-renowned wine region of Santa Barbara, pictorial towns of Monterey and Carmel, and Big Sur's spectacular coastline.
  2. Yosemite National Park: A 391 kilometers drive into the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This route offers hiking trails, waterfalls and diverse wildlife, perfect for nature lovers.
  3. Route 66: The ultimate American road trip from Santa Cruz to Chicago stretches at an astonishing 3,945 kilometers, offering a chance to see the authentic America.
  4. The Loneliest Road: Also known as Highway 50, this 530 kilometers stretch takes you across the state of Nevada, revealing vast deserts, small towns and historical sites.
  5. Big Sur: This 140 kilometers route starts from Santa Cruz and goes south, offering breathtaking cliffs and incredible beach views till you reach Hearst Castle.
  6. California's Route 1: This is a perfect blend of scenic beauty, cultural attractions, and delightful surprises. Extending for approximately 933 kilometers, it stretches from Leggett, in Mendocino County, to Dana Point, Orange County.
  7. Death Valley Scenic Byway: This 200 kilometers round trip promises a variety of unique scenery, wildlife and historical spots. Have a memorable drive through America's lowest, hottest, and driest national park.


Driving in Santa Cruz

Your Queries Answered

1. What is the general speed limit in Santa Cruz?

The general speed limit within urban areas in Santa Cruz is 50 km/h, and 120 km/h on highways. However, some roads, especially residential areas may have lower limits signposted.

2. Do I need a valid driving license?

Yes, a valid international driver’s license is necessary for driving in Santa Cruz or the equivalent license from your home country.

3. Are there speed cameras in Santa Cruz?

Yes, Santa Cruz has both fixed and mobile speed cameras scattered around the city and at key points on highways.

4. How does the toll system work?

Most highways in and around Santa Cruz incorporate tolls. They are payable by cash or card. Prices vary depending on the length of the highway.

5. What side of the road do cars drive on?

In Santa Cruz, as in the rest of the country, vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road and overtakes are made on the left.

6. What are the basic rules of driving in Santa Cruz?

Aside from driving on the right, you should always give way to vehicles coming from the right and pedestrians at crossings. Always use indicator when changing lanes or turning.

7. What does 'yield' mean in Santa Cruz driving context?

A 'yield' sign in Santa Cruz means you should give way to other traffic. This is commonly found at roundabouts or major intersections.

8. Is it safe to drive in Santa Cruz?

Yes, it is safe to drive in Santa Cruz, provided you adhere to all traffic rules and regulations. In case of emergency, there are number you can contact.

9. How prevalent is traffic congestion in Santa Cruz?

Traffic in Santa Cruz is moderate, but peak hours, usually mornings and evenings, can see some level of congestion.

10. Are there any specific parking rules?

Parking regulations vary, always look out for signposts. In some zones, you might need to pay for parking and in others, parking is not allowed during specific hours.

11. What should I do in the event of an accident?

In the event of an accident, immediately contact the police and your car rental agency. Do not leave the accident scene until advised to do so.

12. What should I do if stopped by the police?

If stopped by the police, stay calm and cooperate. Show them your driving license and any documents about the car if asked.

13. What’s the rule for car headlights?

Headlights must be used between sunset and sunrise, in poor visibility conditions and at all times while driving on highways.

14. Are there any special conditions that affect driving in Santa Cruz?

The weather in Santa Cruz is mostly pleasant. However during the rainy periods, take extra caution as roads can be slick.

15. Can I cross into other countries with a rental car from Santa Cruz?

It depends on the rental company's policy. If it is allowed, you may need to purchase additional insurance cover.