Aptos & South County
This area's beaches are all state beaches with the exception of Hidden. Parking is $8 a day at the state beaches or you can invest in a yearly Golden Poppy pass at the California State Parks Store.
These are very wide beaches and you can walk for miles and miles. If you hit them at low tide you can find sand dollars and other shells. Though they can get crowded in the summer, you can usually find a private spot if you walk far enough.
Rip currents are very strong at all the beaches listed below, for the most part year round. Very few beaches have lifeguards and, if they do, it is only in the summer. Please swim with caution and watch your children closely.