Rio Del Mar & Seacliff State Beaches, Aptos, California

Trip Planning
Description: Rio del Mar Beach boasts a wide strip of clean sand and a jetty. Dogs are allowed on leash. Visiting Aptos St. BBQ and walking up the beach to the old ship are musts.
Options for Fun: Swimming, picnicking, fishing, fires, and bird watching.
Location: Rio Del Mar & Seacliff State Beaches, Aptos, California
Address: See Google Map below.
Permit/Fees: Please leave a comment if you know.
Restrooms: Yes
Phone Number: (831) 685-6442
Surf Report:
Beach Brochure:
Best Related Website:
About Google Maps for Directions:
This is a GPS location. Just enter your "From" address in Google Maps and the directions Google provides will take you to this beach.

View Larger Map


  1. I think when we were kids you could still walk out onto the boat itself, but maybe someone got hurt or it further deteriorated so they had to fence it off. I used to go to this beach almost every Sunday.

    1. The Palo Alto was a concrete ship built as a tanker at the end of World War I. She was built by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Oakland, California. She was launched on May 29, 1919, too late to see service in the war. Her sister ship was the SS Peralta.

      She was mothballed in Oakland until 1929, when she was bought by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation and towed to Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California. A pier was built leading to the ship, and she was sunk a few feet in the water so her keel rested on the bottom. There she was refitted as an amusement ship, with amenities including a dance floor, a swimming pool and a café.

      The company went bankrupt two years later and the ship cracked at the midsection. She was stripped of her fittings and left as a fishing pier. Eventually she deteriorated to the point where she was unsafe for even this use and was closed to the public. Today she remains at Seacliff Beach and serves as an artificial reef for marine life.

      In spring of 2005, oil found on wildlife nearly two years earlier was traced back to the ship. In September 2006, a clean-up project was started estimated at $1.7 million. No oil is known to have spilled into the ocean, but wildlife experts believe birds came into contact with oil by entering the ship's cracked hull while diving underwater for fish.

    2. Any chance you have old pictures from when you could walk out on the boat?

  2. Me too, was there, long ago... lived at the beach, used to go to this ship, gaze at it, too afraid of the treacherous waves, it was deeply set in the water, dangerous, didn't dare, would have if I could have, gone on it. I could look down on it, into it, No barricade then! I remember, never forget this old cement boat, couldn't believe it.

    I used to live near SF too, used to gaze at Amundsen's ship the Joad I think it was called, said to be two feet thick so to go through ice... he is said to have quickly left Norway, a country well known for it's beautiful boats, with it, a step ahead of his creditors. I love old boats.