New Brighton State Beach

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About New Brighton State Beach

Imagine water curved like the body of a bell around a sandy shore. Imagine strong Pacific currents transforming into a subtle shimmy as they sample land. Head to New Brighton State Beach and then open your eyes - you can stop imagining. This waterside haven that borders the mist veiled magic of a Monterey pine forest - is the real deal. Just South of Santa Cruz, the 93-acre splendor of New Brighton State Beach features glorious views of Monterey Bay and a family-friendly campground that enjoys its queenly viewpoint atop a beautifully imposing bluff. Barefoot beach walks, coastal tree hugging, swimming, kayaking, paddle-boarding and bay-view picnics await both the solo camper and the family reunion caravan, at this state beach treasure.

Campgrounds in New Brighton

New Brighton Campground

1. New Brighton Campground

92% Recommend (6 Campers)

New Brighton State Beach campground is off use to day visitors, so make use of its many splendors and stay the night! The location is...

Courtney
Courtney: This campground sits right above a great beach for launching a kayak or paddleboard. Some of the sites are kind of wide open...
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Hipcamper Courtney

This campground sits right above a great beach for launching a kayak or paddleboard. Some of the sites are kind of wide open and it is popular with the RV crowd. Try to stay closer to the beach, the farther back you stay you will hear noise from Highway 1.

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Hipcamper Matthew

If you have never been to Gayle's Bakery (Bay and Capitola), do yourself a favor and go! Be warned, the place gets very busy on the weekends and opens at 6am. Get the take and bake garlic bread (for cooking back home when you're done camping).

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Hipcamper Crystal

Only an hour from SF!
Pros: HUGE sites (but sizes vary... the map on website is a decent indication). Hot showers and running water. Nice beach with a really well maintained trail to it. Close enough to civilization to grab necessities you forgot.
Cons: inconsistent site facilities (some have working faucet, some have huge bear locker, most don't). $10 charge per car (1 included with res). Slight hwy noise even at sites close to cliff.

We stayed at site 71 with 4 tents and could have fit a couple more. Can't really see the ocean from the non-premium sites, but if you're not fussed about that, don't spend the extra $15.

Second the recommendation for Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. We'll definitely be staying here again!

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Hipcamper A
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Very dog friendly so tell Fido he can join the adventure!

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Hipcamper Bryn

We only stayed here passing through, but I did notice how many families and trailers were around. Kids were biking everywhere and having a great time!

Hipcamper Matthew

Pay the extra $15 for a ocean front campsite (if they're available), the views are amazing and the sites are GIANT.

Hipcamper Matthew

For the walk-in campers: They release open campsites at 2pm, but arrive early on busier day to get your name on the waitlist.

Hipcamper Matthew

The fire wood available for purchase is expensive ($10, but goes to conservation efforts) and damp.

Hipcamper A
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If you’re an avid state park enthusiast, buy an annual pass and avoid the constant $10 parking fees for one annual pass fee.

Hipcamper A
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Campers - arrive by check in or your campsite could be given away to someone on the waiting list.

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During zero or negative tide you can walk along the beach all the way to Capitola Village.

Hipcamper A
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If you like an early morning jog, bring your shoes, this beach is made for it!

Hipcamper A
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If only going for the day park in a residential neighborhood and walk the short distance to skip the $10 parking fee.

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Numerous raccoons hide out at the New Brighton campground, so don’t leave your food out or it will be gone in the morning.

Hipcamper A
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Bring a kite - the wind here will thank you.

Hipcamper Bryn

Also, if you need a camping cheat and want to get a warm meal, highly recommend Bangkok West, about 1 mile away. It was delicious!

Hipcamper Nathan

Downtown Capitola is a cool little beach town and Nacime Marks is an awesome park with lots of great trails.

Hipcamper Sully

Green and shaded with a few beautiful areas for larger groups to gather or have bigger bbqs or just watch the sun set from the top of the cliffs.

History of New Brighton State Beach

New Brighton, once known as China Beach, was the site of a Chinese fishing village during the 1870s and 1880s. The village inhabitants were invaluable during the building of the California railroad, and provided Santa Cruz with fish and produce among other things.
New settlers took the village over, but commercial fishing slowed after dragnet fishing was outlawed in 1915 and New Brighton became a state beach in 1933. Ohlone Indians, however, proceeded everyone, thriving for thousands of years on the areas natural resources until Spanish colonization. The riches of the oceans, rivers and forests provided plentiful sources of food, from fish, shellfish and game to edible plants and seeds. The Ohlone were creative craftspeople known for ornate shell and feather adornments.
Much as a reef does, the SS Palo Alto attracts an immense variety of marine life within its concrete wreckage, and many of the same animals found on rocky shores live on its concrete sides. Mussels, barnacles, sea stars, sea anemones, ocean worms and rock crabs all cling to the sides and insides of the ship and pier. Anglers catch sole, flounder, mackerel, halibut, lingcod, cabezon, jacksmelt and perch to name just some of the finned bounty.