Manresa State Beach Campground

Campsite 56, Manesa State Beach
••• Campsite 56, Manesa State Beach. Elaine at Flickr under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Manresa State Beach is a tent-only camping spot, with 64 walk-in tent sites in their Uplands Campground. It's in Santa Cruz County. The nearest town is Watsonville, where you can buy supplies and go for a meal if you don't want to cook on a campfire.

People like Manresa Beach's large campsites, where you don't have to worry about being nose to nose with your neighbors. On a hot and sunny day, you'll be happy you brought that canopy.

The campsites are also very open with no trees. 

The campsites are big enough for you and 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.

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 the place for you.

None of the campsites at Manresa offer unobstructed 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.


People who review it online like Manresa Beach. They get excited about seeing dolphins offshore and finding seashells and sand dollars in the sand. You can read their reviews on Yelp. The campground is not far from Santa Cruz but is much quieter and more laid back than the beaches closer to the town.


Manresa State Beach is only one of the places you can go camping near Santa Cruz. You can find more places to camp near the beach, more places to camp near town and some campgrounds in the nearby mountains if you use this Guide to Camping at Santa Cruz.

What Facilities Are There at Manresa State Beach? 

The campground has restrooms and pay showers. 

Firewood is available for sale at the campground.

All of the camping spaces at Manresa are "walk in." You don't have to walk all the way there from your starting point, but you will have to walk there from the parking lot — after you unload your vehicle. The campground doesn't have parking spots next to the campsites. When you arrive, you can drive to the lower lot to unload your things. After that, you'll have to move it to the parking area 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 parking is so far away from your site.

What You Need to Know Before You Go to Manresa State Beach

  • You can go fishing at Manresa, where you might catch starry flounder, California halibut, surf perch, striped bass and surf smelt, but you need a fishing license.
  • Dogs are allowed in the campground and on the beach (but not on nearby Sunset State Beach). Keep them on a leash and owners; please pick up your pooch's poo.
  • If the Manresa campground is full — or if you would prefer camping in the same area but in an RV or camper, Sunset State Beach is nearby and offers more options. If you're just going to the beach and not camping, you have even more options. Check them out in this guide to Santa Cruz's Best Beaches.

How to Get to Manresa State Beach Campground

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.