Sunset State Beach
To learn about events in the parks and at the beaches, check out the Calendar Page.
The historic Van Laanen farm provides the backdrop for this large park at the south end of Santa Cruz County. Surrounded by fertile farmland, Sunset State Beach features a wooded campground, picnic area, group campground and 200-foot high dunes (the largest in the country) built up in front of coastal bluff. The beach itself stretches down to where it meets the mouth of the Pajaro River, giving 3 miles of unobstructed and spectacular shoreline.
Visitors enjoy broad vistas of the Monterey Bay from two main overlooks. During the summer and autumn, it is possible to see large groups of bottlenose dolphins. The beach features pine trees, mountainous sand dunes and ocean side picnic spots. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but are allowed in campsites, on leash at all times.
The beach is 16 miles south of Santa Cruz. Take Highway 1, exit on San Andreas Road, and follow signs south.
- Picnic tables
- Camping areas (including large group camping)
- Showers (Camping showers are 25 cents; bring quarters.)
- Food, lodging and supplies are available nearby
- A sand wheelchair is available for use here or at nearby Manresa State Beach — learn more in the Hilltromper Beach Accessibility Guide
The campground is open year-round. There are 91 camping sites, one bicycle site and one group site. Cost is $35 per night. Call 800-444-7275 for reservations. Campsites in the Dunes and Pine Hollow loops are first-come, first-serve during the winter (Nov. 1 to the end of February).
Juveniles under 18 years of age not camping with a parent or legal guardian must have WRITTEN permission to camp in the park. Permission letters must include the name of the park, the name of the juvenile, the dates they may stay and the name, address, phone number and signature of the person’s parent or legal guardian. The parent must be reachable at all times during the juvenile’s visit. Children 14 years of age and under may not camp without a parent present during the stay.
Layered clothing recommended due to changing weather conditions and strong offshore breezes.
- Nature walks on the dunes (call for times/dates)
- Family and children’s programs