The cement ship at Seacliff State Beach used to be where the other kind of swells went. Photo by Lily Stoicheff.
Between Rio Del Mar and New Brighton is Seacliff Beach, so named because an ancient sea wall rises precipitously behind it. At the end of the Seacliff pier that borders it to the south lies a unique landmark: the half-sunken remains of the cement tanker SS Palo Alto.
After WWI, the Seacliff Amusement Corporation transformed it into a floating amusement center, but after only two years of dining and dancing the company went bankrupt and the Palo Alto was grounded. Today it’s a teeming habitat for sea life, which you can learn all about and experience for yourself at the excellent nearby Visitor’s Center, open every day from 10am to 4pm. Camping is available (for RVs only, though).
From Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 south toward Aptos and take the State Park exit toward the ocean. Follow the signs to Seacliff State Beach.
Hours: 8am to 10pm
Fire pits: No, but there are BBQ grills
Nearby Camping: Yes, RV only
Picnic Area: Yes
Hot showers: No
Wheelchair Access: Yes
Dogs: Allowed on leashes