Manresa State Beach
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California State Parks Backpacking Adventures offers naturalist-led backpacking trips through the Santa Cruz Mountains each summer. Online registration opens February 1 at 9am.
Manresa State Beach rewards visitors with sweeping views of bluff-backed sand and sea, including the Santa Cruz Mountains to the northwest and the forested hills of the Monterey Peninsula to the southwest. Sunset and Manresa state beaches are approximately one mile apart on Highway 1.
Things to Do
CAMPING—Tents only, no RVs, mid-May through September. Parking for over 60 walk-in tent sites at Manresa Uplands is in a separate lot near the campground. Pets must not be left unattended in campsites. One vehicle is included in camping fees. Additional funds may be collected on site for up to ONE additional vehicle at a nightly rate. Visit Reserve California to make campsite reservations.
FISHING—Starry flounder, California halibut, barred surf perch, striped bass and surf smelt can be caught at Manresa. A sport-fishing license is required.
PICKNICKING— There are picnic tables along the top of the bluff which offer panoramic ocean views.
Manresa State Beach supports two major plant communities and associated wildlife.
- Coastal scrub—Coyote brush, coastal sagebrush and lizardtail grow on the bluff. Allen’s hummingbirds, various finches, white-crowned sparrows, rufous-sided towhees and brush rabbits live on the bluff and in its understory.
- Coastal strand—Sea rocket, sand verbena and beach primrose grow in intertidal and offshore environments, sheltering sand crabs and beach hoppers. Jellyfish and other organic material support sanderlings, whimbrels, willets, western and Heermann’s gulls, and surf scoters. Sea mammals, including California gray whales, dolphins and sea otters, play offshore.
Junior Lifeguard Program
The Junior Lifeguard program is a unique and challenging aquatic program for young people. Goals of the JG program are to promote water safety and environmental awareness. Please click here for more information.
Basic Park Information
FEES - There is a $10 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $10 (Senior $9, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]
OCEAN SAFETY - dangerous rip currents, frigid water and deep offshore dropoffs make surfing and swimming hazardous for any but the most experienced surfers.
ALCOHOL is not permitted on the beach or in the day-use area.
DOGS are allowed on a leash at Manresa State Beach. Dogs are allowed in the campground on a six-foot maximum leash. For a list of other locations you can take your dog in Santa Cruz County, please click here.
FIRES are allowed only in park fire rings.
DRONES are not allowed in the park. To protect wildlife and cultural resources, and for the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, the park is closed to the use of Model Aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Gliders in flight.
WESTERN SNOWY PLOVERS use both Sunset and Manresa state beaches and their foredune areas for nesting, rearing of young, and winter habitat. This bird builds its nest directly on the beach sands. Disturbing a posted plover nesting area is a violation of federal law.
- Club Ed Surf Camp (Overnight surf camp)
Please click here to arrange an interpretive talk or guided experience for your organized community group (minimum 10 total participants, minimum 2 weeks' lead time). These interpretive services are contingent upon staff availability.