Natural Bridges State Beach is a gorgeous beach in Santa Cruz, California. Located at 2531 W Cliff Dr., this beach has tidepools, hiking trails, and even a butterfly preserve. If you choose to park in the parking lot in front of the beach, you’ll have to pay $10. Otherwise, you can just park on the street for free! There is also a smaller free lot near the observation deck.
You can find naturally formed rock bridges not too far from the shore and is the perfect backdrop for photos. There are picnic tables, BBQ pits, water fountains, and restrooms available near the eucalyptus trees. This location is perfect for bike rides and walking sling the trails as well!
The waves at Natural Bridges State Beach can get intense and unpredictable. Take caution when swimming and walking around the tide pool areas. Also do not attempt to climb the natural bridges or cliffs as they can be slippery and are protected for the natural wildlife. When I visited (July 2020), there was a lifeguard on duty ensuring the safety of the visitors. The lifeguard was also blowing her whistle whenever someone was on top of the cliff or bridges.
Also, there tends to bit quite a bit of washed-up seaweed on the shore. This for some reason also attracts seagulls and a bunch of flies. I found a spot to place my blanket and picnic set up a little further from the shore and there weren’t as many flies.
If you come to Natural Bridges State Beach from late fall to winter, you’ll get to witness the amazingly beautiful Monarch butterflies. The thousands of butterflies gather in the eucalyptus trees until they leave in late January to min-February.
Natural Bridges State Beach is less crowded than the other more popular beaches in Santa Cruz. Although it is smaller, it is very unique and worth the visit!
To read more about my adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area, check here!