8am to Sunset
Seacliff State Beach
Winter Storm Closures
Due to extensive damage sustained during recent winter storms, many state parks in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties are fully or partially closed. Staff are currently assessing the condition of the parks for reopening.
Parks that are fully closed include Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Butano State Park.
Parks that are partially closed include Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (Fall Creek subunit, various trails, and parking lots closed except main parking lot at visitor center), Wilder Ranch State Park (most trails closed; historic complex and Old Cove Landing Trail open), Seacliff State Beach (lower parking lot, picnic areas, and campground closed; visitor center open and pedestrian and bicylist access only at beach level), The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park (closed beyond Winter Gate; Aptos Creek Fire Road inaccessible by vehicle between Margaret's Bridge and old slide), and the Rancho del Oso subunit of Big Basin (East side access to the Nature Center is closed. West side is open from the yellow gate to the horse camp parking lot; Marsh Trail is open from horse camp parking lot to the creek. Waddell beach parking lot is also open.)
This beach is known for its fishing pier and concrete freighter, the SS Palo Alto. The ship is unsafe and closed to the public and half of the pier remains closed until needed repairs can be made. The beach is a popular swimming spot. There is a long stretch of sand backed by bluffs. There are covered picnic facilities and a visitor center.
Why is there a ship at the end of the pier?
In 1910 a Norwegian civil engineer named Fougner thought of using concrete to build ships. It wasn't until 1917, when wartime steel shortages required the use of cement for construction that Fougner's idea was used. Three concrete ships were built. Two, the Peralta and the Palo Alto, were built at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Oakland, California while the third, the Faith, was built in a shipyard in Redwood City, California. The Peralta and the Palo Alto were built for wartime use as tankers, however World War One ended before ship construction was finished -- so they were never used.
The Palo Alto remained docked in Oakland until 1929, when the Cal-Nevada Company bought the ship with the idea of making her into an amusement and fishing ship. Her maiden voyage was made under tow to Seacliff State Beach. Once positioned at the beach, the sea cocks were opened and the Palo Alto settled to the ocean bottom. By the summer of 1930 a pier had been built leading to the ship, the ship was remodeled. A dance floor on the main deck was added, also a cafe in the superstructure was built, as was a fifty-four foot heated swimming pool, and a series of carnival type concessions were placed on the afterdeck. The Cal-Nevada Company went broke after two seasons -- then the Palo Alto was stripped, leaving the ship and the pier to be used only for fishing.
Basic Park Information
FEES - There is a $10 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $10 (Senior $9, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]
DOGS must always be on a leash no longer than six feet and attended by humans. For a list of locations you can take your dog in Santa Cruz County, please click here.
DRONES are only allowed above the field on the southern end of the primary day use parking lot.
FISHING does not require a license from the pier, but Department of Fish and Wildlife limits apply. See www.wildlife.ca.gov.
ALCOHOL is not allowed on the beach or in the day-use areas.
FIRES are not allowed on Seacliff’s main beach. At New Brighton and Rio del Mar, fires must be confined to fire rings provided and attended at all times.
CAMPING at Seacliff offers RV campers 26 full hookup sites and 37 non-hookup sites. No tent sites are available; the closest tent camping is at neighboring New Brighton State Beach. Visit Seacliff's camping webpage for more information.
Agents of Discovery
Become an Agent on a Mission with the free Agents of Discovery app at Seacliff State Beach! You can earn badges while learning about nature and history! Download the app for free on the App Store or Google Play Store. For a limited time, participate in the Bay Area Explorers Campaign for a chance at additional prizes!
Please click here to arrange an interpretive talk or guided experience for your organized community group (minimum 10 total participants, minimum 2 weeks' lead time). These interpretive services are contingent upon staff availability.