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Seacliff State Beach
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The day use area is open for pedestrians and cyclists only (ADA parking available) and the upper parking lot is open; the campground is closed due to storm impacts

About

Famously known for the SS Palo Alto, the historic concrete ship built at the end of World War I — too late to be used for war as intended — this historic landmark also known as the “Cement Ship” is now a prominent feature of Seacliff State Beach. The concrete ship once served as a Roaring 20s-era soiree and lies close to shore as a unique attraction for wildlife and tourists. The pier leading to the ship was popular among fishers and curious spectators seeking to get close to a monument of wartime history until it was badly damaged during storms in January 2023.

Seacliff State Beach has a mile-long promenade backed by bluffs. The paved path is accessible for joggers, bikers and dog walkers. Favored for its fossils of extinct marine creatures in the bluffs, this beach is also known for seaglass often collected by locals.

There are covered picnic facilities, BBQs, a campground and a visitor center.

Learn more in the California State Parks brochure: English | Spanish.


Operating Hours

• May 1 to Oct. 31 – 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
• Nov. 1 to April 30 – 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset
• Campground quiet hours – 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.


Directions

From Highway 1 take the State Park Drive exit and drive south,toward the ocean. The park entrance is at the end of State Park Drive.

By Bus: Take Santa Cruz METRO route 91X, 71, 55 or 69W.


Things to do

Picnic Area

The picnic area with the ramada next to the Visitor Center may be reserved by contacting the special events coordinator at (831) 429-2850; all other shaded picnic areas are first-come, first-served. One person may hold one picnic table only. Picnic areas include tables, barbecues and trash cans. Alcohol is prohibited.

Beach Area

Swimming, surfing and boogie boarding are popular. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.

Trails

A one-mile beachside paved trail runs the length of the park. There also are dirt paths in the upper part of the park. Bikes are allowed.

Environmental Learning

The SS Palo Alto attracts an immense variety of marine life: mussels, barnacles, sea stars, sea anemones, ocean worms, rock crabs, harbor seals, pelicans, cormorants and, in the summer, sooty shearwaters. Sea lions, dolphins, whales and sea otters are often spotted in the water. Learn more about the area’s wildlife in the Visitor Center.

Accessibility

Beach wheelchairs are available for use. Reservations are recommended. Contact the State Park Special Events Office at SCD.specialevents@nullparks.ca.gov or 831-335-8487, Monday to Thursday excluding holidays, between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Email is preferred.


Visitor Center

Exhibits share the natural and cultural history of the area including Seacliff’s cement ship, marine fossil beds and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Visitor Center also houses an aquarium and viewing tank with ocean creatures to observe. The Visitor Center is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


ParkStore

The ParkStore is open or you can shop online! 

The Seacliff ParkStore has an ocean theme, which celebrates the creatures that call the waters around Seacliff home – especially great white sharks, who often bask in the warm waters just offshore. The store also celebrates the nautical history of the SS Palo, a beloved local landmark also known as “the Cement Ship.” The store also carries a wide selection of classic beach souvenirs, and books about local history, flora and fauna, and ocean conservation. And of course, it sells a variety of apparel, hats and souvenirs featuring Michael Schwab’s iconic Seacliff ship image.

The ParkStore is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shop the ParkStore annual Holiday Sale, Friday to Sunday, Dec. 9-11, to get 20-30% off most items!


Fees and Passes

Parking is $10 and supports the park. Credit card payments are encouraged.

Annual State Parks passes also are available to purchase at the entrance kiosk.

Now Fourth graders and their families in California are eligible for The Adventure Pass! The Adventure Pass is a 3-year pilot program that provides free park entry to 4th graders at Seacliff State Beach and 18 other state parks in California! Learn more and get a pass online.


Services

  • Restrooms
  • Showers
  • Picnic areas
  • Lifeguards on duty Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend
  • Docent-led educational programs for kids and families
  • Beach wheelchairs are available to borrow for day use. Learn more and make a reservation.

Camping

The campground is closed due to storm impacts.

Seacliff State Beach campground is currently closed due to extensive storm damage that was caused early January 2023. At this time all reservations will be canceled and refunded through February 2023. We are working hard on assessing all the damage and recognize that Seacliff State Beach is a very popular camping destination. We appreciate patience as we navigate these challenges.

There are 26 RV campsites, including premium, full hook-up ($65 per night) and self-contained ($55 per night). Disabled access is available. Maximum trailer length is 36 feet; campers and motorhomes can be up to 40 feet long. Visit ReserveCalifornia or call (800) 444-7275 for reservations.

Firewood is available for purchase at the campground. By purchasing firewood in this park, you will help sustain the natural environment for the benefit of plants and animals – and support local park programs. Proceeds from firewood sales go to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and all funds stay local.  Thank you for your support.


Field Trips

Registration for field trips is now open. Sign up!


History

Seacliff State Beach is in the unceded homelands of the Awaswas-speaking Ohlone Tribe known as the Aptos, who stewarded these lands since time immemorial. Centuries of colonial violence led to the removal and displacement of the Aptos. Today, their descendants continue their stewardship and presence here, in partnership with State Parks.

The S.S. Palo Alto, one of a few cement ships built during World War I, has been a popular attraction for visitors since it was put in place in 1930. The plan was to turn the ship and the pier into an amusement and fishing ship. The Cal-Nevada Company quickly constructed a dance floor on the main deck, a cafe in the superstructure of the ship, a 4-foot heated swimming pool and a series of carnival type concessions on the aft-deck. Unfortunately, the Cal-Nevada Company went bankrupt after only two seasons. The ship was then stripped — leaving the pier and the ship to be used only for fishing and as a nature preserve.

The deteriorating ship was closed to foot traffic in 2000. Winter storms in 2016 and 2017 turned the stern of the ship over onto its side and damaged the far end of the pier. The far end of the pier will be repaired but remains closed at this time.


Regulations

  • Climbing on the sandstone cliffs and digging or collecting fossils are prohibited.
  • Rollerblading and skateboarding are not allowed.
  • The speed limit in the park is 15 mph.
  • Vehicles are not allowed on gravel or dirt walkways.
  • Dogs must be on a leash no longer than six feet and always attended to.
  • Do not feed or leave food out for wildlife.
  • Alcohol is prohibited on the beach and in day-use areas.
  • Fires are not allowed on the beach.
  • Firewood may not be imported. Firewood is available for purchase at the entrance station or camp host.
  • Campsites are limited to two vehicles.
  • Recreational drones are allowed only above the field adjacent to the upper parking area or by permit.

COVID Protocols

Masks are strongly recommended indoors for all persons, regardless of vaccine status, by the California Department of Public Health.

Get more information on the California State Parks response to COVID-19 here.


More Info

(831) 685-6444

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