This article highlights the beautiful Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California.
There are certain images that scream California aloud.
If you see a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge or of the Hollywood sign, you would blurt out “California” even without thinking about it.
On the other hand, there are other images of the state that may be not as recognizable by the general public. However, these images would light up the face of any native or long-time California resident.
I like to think that one of those images is located in the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz.
Do you know how many times I have seen photos of surfers next to the arch located on the beach or how many times I have seen the arch surrounded by a pink sunset halo?
Natural Bridges State Beach
That is why on my recent visit to Santa Cruz I decided to pay a visit to the famous beach and its rock formation.
The sun was getting low when we parked on a nearby street shaded by trees. We walked a couple of minutes before sinking our feet in the warm sand.
From the entrance, located on a high point, the entire crescent beach was visible. While descending to sea level, the arch grew bigger and bigger. It is possible to walk to the arch during low tide.
You may have noticed that in the beach’s name the word “bridges” is plural. This is because there used to be three arches on the beach. One fell during the early 20th century and the other one in 1980. What we see today is the original middle arch.
This small photo I found on the Internet illustrates how the panorama looked with two arches.
Some people affirm the remaining arch is in a fragile state and that it may fall soon. The forces of nature are always working.
There is much more to explore in the area.
Young people seem to have fun climbing the cliffs that encircle the beach.
The saltwater and freshwater marshes of Moore Creek shelter seagulls, brown pelicans, and cormorants.
The beach is home to a eucalyptus grove that provides a habitat for Monarch butterflies during their migration. Large clusters of butterflies (they adopt that formation to protect themselves from the elements) can be seen in the winter (or in nearby Lighthouse State Beach).
Visitors can hike along the reserve using a boardwalk.
On the other side of the beach, an intertidal zone is home to mussels, sea stars, anemones, limpets, and other sea creatures.
One has to be careful while walking along this area. The surface can be slippery and the waves crash without consideration. More than one wave surprised me during my visit.
At least, it was fun to see the waves making patterns while hitting furiously the rocks.
When you visit a place like this, do not forget to take a moment to enjoy the details. The colors on the rocks were amazing. During low tides, you can take a look at the tidepools in the area.
There are plenty of things to do here but that doesn’t mean you have to do something. Most visitors relax in the soft sand while surrounded by friends and the gentle breeze.
Remember Natural Bridges Sat Beach is the endpoint (or the beginning point, depending on how you look at it) of the West Cliff Drive (a must in this county).
Do not miss the cove that can be seen from the parking lot.
Natural Bridges State Beach – Details
- The exact address is 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz
- A big parking lot is located at the end of West Cliff Drive. Another parking lot is located at the intersection of West Cliff Drive and Swanton Boulevard.
- There is free parking along Swanton Boulevard.
- The beach has restrooms and changing facilities.
- Please, protect this natural gem if you visit. Deposit trash in trash cans and follow all posted instructions.
More of Santa Cruz
Have you been to Natural Arches State Beach?