Santa Cruz in California is home to several landmarks such as the Santa Cruz beach and Boardwalk, university of Santa Cruz with its scenic views, mystery spot and the natural bridges state park. I have visited Santa Cruz several times for the beach and the scenic drives. On a lazy Saturday morning, I decided I wanted to visit a new place. After spending hours on google, I stumbled upon Natural Bridges state beach. As I read up on Natural Bridges, it seemed like October through February was perfect to see monarch butterflies. It was October-ish so it was perfect to see butterflies. We were on board and excited. Of course our excitement stalled when our car started making weird sounds 2 miles from our house. Santa Cruz has some windy roads and we decided against it. That was almost a year and a half back. It took us a year to plan our visit to Natural Bridges.
Natural bridges state park is named so because of the natural bridge formed on one section of the beach. Wikipedia claims there are over 15000 monarch butterflies that call the park home. Although we missed the monarch butterfly season, we were surprised to see so many mussels on various rocks. My mom was ready to fill her pockets with mussels had my husband not warned her to find a ride before she stuffed the mussels in her pocket. Our car Posh was barely a few months old, and we were not going to contaminate her with mussels just yet. There were terrains all over the park for walking, hiking and in some instances some minor rock climbings. The rocks formed crevices in between that required some rock climbing skills. After wetting our legs in the water, ogling at the mussels and what could have been for dinner, we decided to do some hiking through the Moore Creek Estuary. We passed by the Monarch Butterfly Nature Preserve which between October and February would be filled with butterflies. On this specific day it was calm.
There are several beaches in the bay area from Santa Cruz, Carmel to Ocean Beach, but none can be compared to Natural Bridge State Beach. It was crowded but nothing in comparison to Carmel and Ocean Beach. The Natural Bridges State Beach is Bay Area’s little secret. The state beach is walking distance from Santa Cruz boardwalk. Although we did not venture out to Santa Cruz boardwalk, we could see the boardwalk from outside Natural Bridges State Beach. Natural Bridges State Beach is a hidden gem tucked in the western side of Santa Cruz. Whether you are looking for some butterflies, hiking, swimming or rock climbing, the state beach has something for everyone.