Manresa State Beach is a tent-only camping spot, with 64 walk-in tent sites in their Uplands Campground.
People like Manresa's large campsites and you don't have to worry about being nose to nose with your neighbors. The campsites are also very open, on a hot and sunny day, you'll be happy you brought that canopy.
The campsites are big enough for not only you, but a bunch of your pals, too. Online reviewers comment: "If you're going with a large group, 6-8 people, one site is large enough."
If you forget your favorite candy or snack, there's no store at the campground. The nearest one is about 5 miles away off CA Hwy 1 in Seacliff. That doesn't sound far, but it may take longer to drive to than you think on a busy, sunny day.
All the spaces at Manresa are "walk in," with no place to park the car next to the tent. When you arrive, you can park in the lower lot to unload your things. After that, you'll have to park in the upper lot for the rest of your stay. If you're used to running back to your car to get stuff, it won't be easy here. It's also especially important to lock your doors and take your valuables with you, because you're parked so far away from your site.
Manresa is one of the less crowded, cleanest, prettiest beaches in the Santa Cruz area. Even on a busy day, it won't be packed. If having a quiet campfire under the stars at night and splashing in the waves during the day is what you're looking for, this is a good place for you.
None of the sites offer clear ocean views, but the beach is only a five-minute walk away. And what a walk! It's not getting to the beach that's difficult; it's trekking back up all the stairs you just went down. Take one look at the photo below, and you'll see what I mean.
Restrooms and pay showers
Firewood is available for sale.
You can catch starry flounder, California halibut, surf perch, striped bass and surf smelt on the beach, but you need a fishing license.
Dogs are allowed in the campground and on the beach (but not on nearby Sunset State Beach). They should be kept on a leash and owners, please pick up your pooch's poo.
Plan Ahead to Camp at Manresa State Beach
Reservations are a necessity on weekends and during the summer. Make them as early as you can. Learn how to make California state park reservations.
Details About Camping at Manresa
Manresa State Beach Campground
Santa Cruz, CA
The park is 16 miles south of Santa Cruz off Highway One. Take the San Andreas Road exit.