Natural Bridge State Beach is one of the most popular attractions in Santa Cruz and it’s easy to see why. The beach is punctuated by otherworldly rock formations and the shores brim with wildlife.
The distinctive stone arch right at the shores of the beach is probably the most photographed nature phenomenal in the county.
Plus, park has a lot to explore which makes it a great destination, especially for families. Fly a kite, make sandcastles, draw on the sandy shoreline, chase waves, or lay lazily on the sand and bask on the sun – all ingredients for a perfect family day out.
Although there are lots of fascinating things scrambling for your attention, the highlight will probably be the scenic walk along the beach where the sandstone cliffs have had years of erosion forming awe-inspiring tide pools. Check out this guide for some popular activities in Natural Bridge State Beach;
Things to do and see in Natural Bridge State Beach
Swimming, surfing, and boogie are some of the most popular water activities in this park.
At low tides, be sure to keep your eyes on the striking tide pools which have sea life in them – they offer something staggering with each wave. Also, if you can stay till dusk, the sunsets here are bewildering.
Partially hidden from the scene is the charming picnicking site. If you’re visiting with family, the shaded picnic area with tables comes in handy.
There is something magical about following a trail that has an ocean backdrop. In Natural Bridges, just across the visitor center, you’ll find several trailheads that lead to easy hiking trails winding through the eucalyptus grove.
Besides calm and tranquil paths that reconnect you to nature, the trails offer wildlife spotting opportunities – from bunnies and birds to owls and butterflies.
The visitor center
Get some fun facts about the beach, the butterflies, and the surrounding areas. Visiting Natural Bridge Beach is pretty straight forward but a stop at the visitor center can reveal some interesting details about the history of the area. There is also a souvenir shop nearby.
Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve
The most anticipated attraction every year in Natural Bridge Beach is the migration of monarch butterflies. In the fall, thousands of monarch butterflies fly back to Santa Cruz to escape colder climates.
The black and yellow beauties cluster in trees to enjoy the coastal climate of the County. Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve is the only one of its kind in California and it offers shelter and food to thousands of butterflies each year.
Marine life spotting
Natural Bridge Beach is a great place to spot migrating whales, shorebirds, otters, and seals. Further along the beach, the tide pool offers fascinating adventures as low tides reveal shore crabs, sea stars, and sea anemones.
The beach area can be windy and cold even at the peak of summer months. So, dress accordingly to keep warm. Also, bring sunscreen and a hat.
The parking is free and there are decent restroom facilities.