New Brighton State Beach

New Brighton State Beach

New Brighton State Beach at Low TideCalifornia is home to a myriad of beautiful landscapes, and New Brighton State Beach nestled between Aptos and Capitola is no exception. This popular beach and campground offers an array of recreational opportunities and natural beauty that attracts visitors all year round.

A Brief Overview

New Brighton State Beach is a 93-acre state park located just south of Santa Cruz via Highway 1 off the Park Avenue exit. The park boasts a stunning beach, lush vegetation, and a rich cultural and natural history. The beach is named after Brighton, a renowned coastal resort in England, signifying its allure for visitors seeking tranquility and rejuvenation by the sea.

Location and Accessibility

The beach is easily accessible via public transportation and personal vehicles. For those opting to use public transport, Santa Cruz METRO offers several services to New Brighton State Beach. The beach is also easily reachable by car, with the New Brighton/Park Avenue exit off Highway 1 leading directly to the park gate.

Beach Activities

Visitors to New Brighton State Beach can indulge in a variety of activities. The sandy shore is perfect for beach combing, while the clear waters invite swimming, boogie boarding, and stand-up paddleboarding. During the winter months, the beach also becomes a hotspot for surfing.

For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, the beach offers several picnic areas that can be reserved for special events.

Camping at New Brighton

New Brighton State Beach is renowned for its family-oriented campground which sits high on the bluffs, overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean. The campground, open year-round, features over 100 campsites, including 11 RV hookup sites. There are no hike-in campsites available, but the campground welcomes both tents and RVs. Each campsite comes equipped with picnic tables, food lockers, fire grills, and storage for personal items.

New Brighton State Beach at Sunrise

New Brighton State Beach at Sunrise


To ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, New Brighton State Beach enforces several regulations. Dogs, for instance, must be leashed and attended by humans at all times. Fishing from the pier does not require a license, but Department of Fish and Wildlife limits apply. Alcohol is allowed only within registered campsites, and fires must be attended at all times and confined to the provided fire rings. Climbing the unstable sandstone cliffs is strictly prohibited.

Wildlife at New Brighton

New Brighton State Beach serves as a habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. Marine mammals such as dolphins, otters, and grey whales can be spotted, while seabirds and crustaceans are frequently seen on the beach. Visitors are urged not to feed or disturb the wildlife.

Visitor Experience Survey

California State Parks has launched a Visitor Experience Survey for New Brighton State Beach to gather public input on the future of the park. The survey is part of a broader study aiming to understand the impacts of predicted sea level rise and develop strategies to adapt to the changing environment.

Historical Significance

New Brighton State Beach holds a significant place in California’s history. Known as China Beach in the late 1800s, it was the site of a Chinese fishing village. The inhabitants contributed significantly to the development of California, particularly in the construction of the railroad. The park was adopted by the state of California in 1933 and renamed New Brighton State Beach.

Visitor Center and ParkStore

The Pacific Migrations Visitor Center, located within the campground, provides insights into the natural and cultural history of the region. The center operates during the summer season, welcoming visitors to explore the stories of human and animal migrations. Adjacent to the visitor center, the ParkStore offers a selection of New Brighton-branded souvenirs and celebrates the marine life and fossils found on the beach.

In summary, New Brighton State Beach offers a unique blend of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and historical significance. Whether you’re an adventure-seeker or a nature lover, this beach offers something for everyone.

Live by the Beach

New Brighton State Beach at Low Tide

Check out this article next

Cabrillo College

Cabrillo College

Cabrillo College, a public community college located in the picturesque town of Aptos, California, is a shining jewel in the crown of the state's community…

Read Article
About the Author
Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.