Seacliff State Beach stretches for nearly a mile along the northern end of Monterey Bay in the town of Aptos, connecting to New Brighton State Beach to the north. People come here to swim, picnic, visit the interpretive center, and fish off the accessible pier. From the pier you can view a historic ship, built of concrete, that lies offshore. The freighter SS Palo Alto was built late in World War I and never saw service. In 1930 the Seacliff Amusement Corporation had it towed to this beach and scuttled offshore, to be converted into an amusement center. The 500-foot pier was built to connect it to the shore, enabling visitors to come aboard, dine at the Fish Palace restaurant, and dance in the Rainbow Ballroom. The company went bankrupt after only two seasons, and the Palo Alto is now closed for safety reasons.
A paved promenade travels the length of the beach, and sea lions and other marine mammals are often seen offshore. At the south end, just before Aptos Creek and Rio Sands Beach, a steep ramp leads to the beach.
Visitor Center: The small visitor center, near the pier, has an aquarium, a touch tank with local marine life, a fossil collection, interpretive displays of local birds and weather, and a history of the concrete ship. The entrance has a steep sloped threshold.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Visitor Center: Yes
Beach Wheelchair: Yes
Pick up at campground host site; must leave your ID and return wheelchair at sunset. No reservations accepted.
Accessible Parking: Yes
Fee lots are at park entrance atop cliff (steep sidewalk to beach) and at foot of cliff, close to beach. Free parking at corner of Beach Drive and Aptos Beach Drive.
Accessible Restroom: Yes
At various locations throughout park, and at foot of Aptos Beach Drive
Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes
At south end of visitor center, on hard-packed grass or gravel
Hours: Park is open from 8 am-sunset and visitor center is open Wed.-Sun., 10 am-4 pm
Map: See here.
Fees: Parking, Camping
Dogs: On a leash, no longer than 6 feet
Public Transportation: Santa Cruz Metro