This study investigates near-shore circulation and wave characteristics applied to a case-study site in Santa Cruz, California. Hourly regional wave-condition data were gathered from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations National Data Buoy Center. Circulation patterns are resolved by the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code, a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model, while wave information is computed using the Simulating Waves Nearshore model, a third-generation wave model that computes wind-generated waves in coastal and inland waters. Input data include bathymetry, hydrodynamic boundary conditions to the circulation model, current data for the wave model, and wind speeds and directions. The study assesses the performance of numerical models to resolve both wave and currents. Considerations to provide accurate forecasts are provided and the advantages of coupled model simulations evaluated.