Seacliff State Beach
Latest NewsThe beach is open for walk- and bike-in access only. The parking lots, campgrounds and visitor center are closed. Please practice social distancing and remain at least 6 feet apart from other visitors.
Fish, swim and visit the SS Palo Alto – one of the most unusual attractions in the Santa Cruz area.
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
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.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 temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
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 temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
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
Fees and Passes
Day-use parking lots are temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
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.
The campground is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
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.
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.
- 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.
Plan Your Visit