8 AM to Sunset
Seacliff State Beach
This beach is known for its fishing pier and concrete freighter, The Palo Alto. Unfortunately, the ship is unsafe and closed to the public. The pier is also closed for fishing until needed repairs can be made. The beach is a popular swimming spot. There is a long stretch of sand backed by bluffs. There is a covered picnic facility. The park also has an interpretive center.
Location - Directions
Take the State Park Drive exit from Highway One in the town of Aptos, approximately 8 miles south of Santa Cruz.
Seasons - Climate - Recommended clothing
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.
Why is there a ship at the end of the pier?
Was it built there -- or did it sink there?
In 1910 a Norwegian civil engineer named Fougner thought of using concrete to build ships. It wasn't until 1917, when wartime steel shortages required the use of cement for construction that Fougner's idea was used. Three concrete ships were built. Two, the Peralta and the Palo Alto, were built at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Oakland, California while the third, the Faith, was built in a shipyard in Redwood City, California. The Peralta and the Palo Alto were built for wartime use as tankers, however World War One ended before ship construction was finished -- so they were never used.
The Palo Alto remained docked in Oakland until 1929, when the Cal-Nevada Company bought the ship with the idea of making her into an amusement and fishing ship. Her maiden voyage was made under tow to Seacliff State Beach. Once positioned at the beach, the sea cocks were opened and the Palo Alto settled to the ocean bottom. By the summer of 1930 a pier had been built leading to the ship, the ship was remodeled. A dance floor on the main deck was added, also a cafe in the superstructure was built, as was a fifty-four foot heated swimming pool, and a series of carnival type concessions were placed on the afterdeck. The Cal-Nevada Company went broke after two seasons -- then the Palo Alto was stripped, leaving the ship and the pier to be used only for fishing.
Available Activities and Facilities at Seacliff State Beach
RV Sites w/Hookups
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available