Seacliff State Beach

  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Beach Wheelchair
  • Picnic


  • Visitor center
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Beach Wheelchair


201 State Park Dr., Aptos, CA, 95003
Monterey/Santa Cruz
Info: (831) 685-6442
Res: (800) 444-7275
Park: 8 am-sunset
Visitor center: Wed.-Sun., 10 am-4 pm
On leash
Leash must be 6 feet or less
Last Reviewed:
March 2009
Have something to add?
Suggest an edit
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.

Trails and Pathways

Beach trail
Trailhead Location:
Visitor center or Rio Sands Beach
Trail Length:
Under one mile total
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Trail Overview:

During my visit in October the slightly raised promenade, which runs between the beach and bluff, was busy with local residents walking their dogs. A wood rail fence somewhat obscures views from a seated position, but you can still see the sweep of Monterey Bay.

Start at the visitor center and head south to reach the picnic area and most visited section of beach. The trail ends at Rio Sands Beach and the town of Rio Del Mar, where there are several restaurants that are easily reached. Unless you want the exercise, it's not worthwhile to continue north of the visitor center, where the trail runs next to the RV campground--essentially a parking lot. Look for migrating California gray whales from December to early February.


The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, hard, level or slope no greater than 2%;

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

Beach Wheelchair:
Yes – Pick up at campground host site; must leave your ID and return wheelchair at sunset. No reservations accepted.

Accessible Picnic Table:
Yes – firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance

Accessible Visitor Center:

User Registration

    Please consider that some funders request this information and it will also help us when applying for grants. This information will not appear anywhere and is confidential.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Welcome back, let’s review
the places you have been to lately.


Fully Accessible

Partially Accessible

You must be logged in to suggest an edit.



You must be registered and logged in to submit a review.

Log in or Sign up