Manresa is the rare dog-friendly State Beach. Photo by Traci Hukill.
Just north of Sunset Beach is Manresa Beach, a true gem. Surfers often come here to escape the crowded sets a few miles north, and, unlike most state beaches, at Manresa your four-legged friends can join you (on leashes).
On clear days, you can catch a peek at Santa Cruz off in the distance, but even when the marine layer hangs around till afternoon, there’s plenty of fishing and dolphin-spotting to be done. The nearby campsites at the Uplands Manresa campground—which are walk-in and tent-only—are within walking distance of the shore, and after a hot shower the crashing of waves lulls campers to sleep.
From Santa Cruz, follow Highway 1 south to the San Andreas Road exit past Aptos. Turn right and go three miles for beach, four for the campground.
Hours: 8am to 10pm
Fire pits: Yes
Nearby camping: Yes (walk-in/tent only)
Picnic Area: Yes
Hot showers: Yes (25 cents)
Wheelchair Access: Yes
Dogs: Allowed on leashes