Seacliff State Beach
Fish, swim and visit the SS Palo Alto – one of the most unusual attractions in the Santa Cruz area.
Latest NewsThe last few storms have been hard on the Cement Ship. The swells tore the stern off the boat, depositing it on its side and slightly south from the rest of the ship. The pier is closed due to storm damage. Also, the campground will be closed through mid-February and a sinkhole has closed Beach Gate stairs.
This long stretch of sand and bluffs has great accessible facilities including picnic areas, an interpretive center and RV camping. This beach is known for its fishing pier and fossils of extinct marine creatures in the bluffs. The beach is also a popular swimming spot.
One of the most unusual attractions in the Santa Cruz area rests at the end of the fishing pier: the SS Palo Alto, also known as as the Cement Ship.
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 doPicnic Area
Ramada-covered picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. They are equipped with picnic tables, barbecues and trashcans. Alcohol is prohibited.Beach Area
Swimming, surfing and boogie boarding are popular. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.Fishing
Fishing is allowed from the pier. A fishing license is not required, but state Department of Fish & Game limits apply. Anglers catch sole, flounder, mackerel, anchovy, bocaccio (tomcod), kingfish and – occasionally – salmon and steelhead.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.
The Visitor Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. 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 ParkStore is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday and offers local art depicting the unique coastline, books on cultural and natural history, educational toys, distinct apparel and souvenirs featuring the well-loved concrete ship.
Fees and Passes
Parking is $10 and supports the park. Annual State Parks passes also are available to purchase at the entrance kiosk.
• 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. Learn more about access in this Hilltromper guide.
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 ReserveAmerica or call (800) 444-7275 for reservations.
The USS Palo Alto, one of only three cement ships built during World War I, has been a popular attraction for visitors since it was put in place in 1929. 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.
- 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.
- Wood gathering is banned. Firewood is available for purchase at the entrance station or camp host.
- Campsites are limited to two vehicles.
Plan Your Visit