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Seacliff State Beach

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Location  Aptos, California
Established  1931
Phone  +1 831-685-6442
Seacliff State Beach

Governing body  California Department of Parks and Recreation
Address  State Park Dr, Aptos, CA 95003, USA
Management  California Department of Parks and Recreation
Similar  New Brighton State Bea, Manresa State Beach, Sunset State Beach, The Forest of Nisene Marks Sta, Natural Bridges State Bea

Cement ship at seacliff state beach

Seacliff is a California State Beach located off Highway 1 in the town of Aptos about 5 miles (8 km) south of Santa Cruz, on State Park Drive. The beach is most known for the concrete ship SS Palo Alto lying in the water. North of Seacliff State Beach is New Brighton State Beach.


Seacliff state beach


The beach was originally home to the Ohlone people. Spanish missionaries established the Mission Santa Cruz about eight miles west of here. In 1821, when Mexico broke away from Spain the land was divided up into land grants. The area of the beach was a part of the Rancho Aptos grant to Rafael Castro in 1833. Castro worked with Claus Spreckels to establish the Castro-Spreckels wharf. The beach soon became a successful shipping port. The logging industry also thrived here with the local redwood trees.

The port facilitated major trade with the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. In 1838, King Kamehameha III requested that Mexican vaqueros from California travel to Hawaiʻi to teach Hawaiians how to manage herds of wild cattle. Seacliff became a popular place to recruit vaqueros, who were known as paniolos by the Hawaiians.

In the 1850s, Thomas Fallon acquired part of the beach and turned it into a resort. He named this new resort "New Brighton", in honor of his favorite seaside resort in England.

In the 1920s, after Claus Spreckels' death, sections of the beach were developed into the Seacliff Park and the Rio Del Mar Country Club.

In 1930, the first California state grant for preserving land was granted for the beach and, in 1931, it became a state beach.

SS Palo Alto

The beach’s most notable feature is the concrete ship SS Palo Alto lying at the end of a pier. The ship was hauled to Seacliff Beach in 1929 and sunk and turned into an amusement center, complete with a dance floor, cafe, pool, and carnival booths. The Cal-Nevada Company constructed a dance floor on the main deck, a cafe in the superstructure of the ship, a 4-foot heated swimming pool and a series of carnival type concessions on the aft-deck. The Cal-Nevada Company went bankrupt after only two seasons and the ship was stripped. This left the pier and the ship used only for fishing. It is now permanently closed to the public.

Animal and plant life

The beach is home to many types of birds and marine life, including mussels, ocean worms, sea stars, sea anemones, barnacles, rock crabs, harbor seals, anglers, flounder, mackerel, halibut, lingcod, perch, cabezon, jacksmelt, steelhead, anchovy, bocaccio (tomcod), kingfish, dark seabirds, sea lions, dolphins, harbor seals, sea otters and whales. The Palo Alto serves as a main place for marine life.


Seacliff includes RV facilities, picnic tables, and fire pits. It is also a popular place for surfing and fishing.


Seacliff State Beach Wikipedia