Trip Planner:   USA  /  California  /  Santa Cruz  /  Nature  /  Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz
(4.4/5 based on 500+ reviews on the web)
Enjoy unparalleled vantage points of the coastline and a butterfly preserve as you explore Natural Bridges State Beach. Located in Santa Cruz, this 26 hectare (65 acre) park is known for the natural bridge that stretches across its beach. The area remains a refuge for about 150,000 monarch butterflies between the months of October and February, which you can view as you walk the trails through the designated butterfly preserve. The site is also home to a number of hiking routes, a sandy cove, tidepools, and a bike path. Take a look at our Santa Cruz trip itinerary planner to schedule your visit to Natural Bridges State Beach and learn about what else to see and do during your holiday.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This is a very pretty state park. The natural bridges part is very small...it's basically one spot along the coast to photograph the rock formations. The woods area is nice. The neat part is that the ...  more »
  • Always have beauty, fun and adventure at Natural Bridges! Love the tide pools, vegetation, smell, sights, sounds and monarchs! 
  • We stopped in to see the remarkable Monarch butterfly habitat, peaceful and well maintained, with docents who had scopes set up for school visits. We arrived as the day warmed and were able to see Mon...  more »
Google
  • A rather smallish beach with half muddy/dirty sand and scattered bunches of seaweed at low tide, but that's the best time to see the only remaining natural bridge or arch. A few school field trip groups were here learning about the ocean and the local Monarch Butterfly preserve. So it was a little noisy at 10-11am. But probably a nice quiet place for coffee and contemplation at 8am. Used to be you could walk from parking lot #1 out over to the last rock (by climbing over the fence there, of course). But that large arch was lost to a storm in 1980. There is a very nice/rustic picnic area just above the beach back at the parking lot #2 in front of the ranger station/souvenir shop. This is an out-of-the way beach which holds a special place for me. It is the first place I remember seeing the ocean - when I was 4 yrs old. I definitely remember seeing the large arch. It seemed so enormous. Sad to see it gone now. Although I remember seeing it from the OTHER side of the bridges. Which is interesting since there isn't really an easy way to get there without going through the opening of the fallen arch. As comfy as the beach is, the Monarch sanctuary just behind it is like a ghostly cathedral of eucalyptus and pine trees with their aromas mixed in with the cool ocean scents. Except for the cries of delight from school children, the sanctuary was a place where adults would speak in hushed tones, if at all. Really, really magical. They say the best time to visit is late fall/winter, Thanksgiving being an "ideal" time of year. In mid October, there were about 2,000 butterflies in residence. Highly recommended. The beach is about a 3 star, but add the preserver and definitely 4 stars. Especially for an early morning visit. *Note: Park is open from 8am to sunset. Go early for best experience.
  • Not at all what I was expecting. We are visitors from the east coast. The way this place was reviewed I was expecting so much more. beach is tiny. Was very crowded (we were there on a Friday afternoon). There is an old run down visitors center. It cost $10 to drive into the park. There were homeless people picking through the dumpster. Not really someplace I wanted to take my kids!!'
  • Amazing beach. If I wasn't feeling a little under the weather I would have been splashing around and body surfing the nice waves that were rolling in. There was some really nice tide pools within a short walking distance from the beach itself. Amazing view of the coast. Discovered a nice short hike where I saw a few deer and plenty of birds. It was during beginning of summer so the monarch butterflies weren't visiting otherwise it might have somehow been even more amazing.
  • I rely on personal feedback when making travel plans and appreciate everyone's in put. Good or bad. Thank you all.
  • Nice walk. I enjoyed place. Lots of people but the beach was worth it.