New Brighton State Beach campground is perfect if you are looking for a wonderful beach camping experience relatively close to Santa Cruz. Hiking trails from the campground connect to Capitola-by-the-sea and offer jaw-dropping ocean views.

This Capitola camping spot is the place to be if you're looking to do a variety of activities in a variety of landscapes. You can swim, fish, or explore the nearby forest of Monterey Pine and coastal Oak. In the evening, walk into Capitola for live music and great fish tacos. 

The S.S. Palo Alto, a concrete freighter, can be sighted at Seacliff State Beach. A variety of marine life seeks refuge in the ships reckage, including mussels, barnacles, sea stars, anemones, and rock crabs. Harbor seals, sea lions, pelicans and cormorants are abundant. Local fish include sole, kingfish, halibut, mackerel, and flounder. In the fall, thousands of sooty shearwaters (small seabirds) arrive from New Zealand. Dolphins, sea otters, and migrating whales can be spotted from shore with binoculars. 

There are 9 premium sites that offer nightly views of romantic beach sunsets over northern Monterey Bay. 102 other campsites are also available, and some include RV hookup. Toilets, picnic tables, and showers are available for all. There is a $10 vehicle day use fee. You can make reservations online in advance here.

Photo: Richard Masoner

Pack List

  • Basics: 
    Sleeping Bag
    Sleeping Pad 
    Water Bottle (3L) 
    Headlamp /  Batteries 
    Toothbrush / Toothpaste 
    Deodorant / Lip Balm / Hand Sanitizer 
    Sunscreen / Sunglasses 
    Bowl / Cup / Spoon 
  • Clothing:
    Synthetic Layer T-shirt
    Fleece Layer
    Outer Shell/Down Jacket
    Long Johns/Fleece Pants
    Hiking Pant/Short 
    Hiking Socks (wool or synthetic)
    Hiking Boots
    Camp Shoes
    Rain Coat 
  • Other:
    Sun Hat
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Elevation Gain 0 Feet
Activities Stand Up Paddle, Cycling, Camping, Fishing, Surfing, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area


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