San Andreas Road off
Highway 1, south of Aptos, west of Watsonville
Santa Cruz County
Day Use $10
If the entrance station is not occupied, pay at the iron ranger, a metal self-service stand just beyond the entrance station (see the map, left).
Hours: 8:00 AM to sunset
Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
Two accessible campsites. Limited accessible picnic features. Ramps down to beach at the north entrance.
Less well known than its neighbors Sunset and Seacliff beaches, Manresa State Beach has been a favorite of locals for years. They appreciate its relative anonymity, its long expanse of clean beach, and its well-maintained facilities. Most of the visitors enjoy shoreside activities like walking, flying kites, playing sports, or sun bathing.
There are two entrances to Manresa State Beach, both off San Andreas Road. At the southern entrance are campgrounds and a day use area. A flight of 172 steps leads down to the beach. The northern entrance has a large parking area, picnic tables adjacent to the parking lot, and a short flight of steps to the beach. There are also two paved ramps leading to the beach.
The rough surf and potentially dangerous currents are best engaged by the most experienced ocean swimmers and surfers. Manresa is a popular spot for skim boarding and boogie boarding.
Migrating gray whales are often seen off shore during the winter. Bottlenose dolphins sometimes make an appearance in the surf or out farther. Sea lions, seals and sea otters bob up their heads from time to time. A variety of birds are seen along the shore and up in the campground, including hummingbirds, sparrows, surf scoters, and gulls.
Al Ristori's Surf Fishing covers everything you need to know to get started fishing the surf at Manresa Beach: the right tackle, casting techniques, bait fishing, reading the surf, and more.
California coastal waters are known for perch, sole, flounder, sand dabs, jacksmelt, and California halibut.
Firewood is sold at Manresa State Beach. For other supplies stop before you arrive. Nearby in La Selva Beach is El Patio Grocery (312 Playa Blvd. off San Andreas Road). For restaurants and more stores, shop in nearby Aptos or Watsonville.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs,
pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as
playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly."
Learn more about ocean safety at
CA State Parks: Ocean Safety