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Also referred to as Point Santa Cruz, Lighthouse Field State Beach sits just a few miles south of the city of Santa Cruz, CA. Lying along State Highway 1, it’s a perfect stop off for anyone taking a trip down the tremendous Californian coastline with their RV rental. Alternatively, it’s just a two-hour drive from San Francisco and an hour's drive from San Jose, making the perfect day trip from any of California’s big cities.
Lighthouse Field State Beach became a protected spot in 1978 and includes the lighthouse built as a memorial to Mark Abbott, a man who died while surfing here. Despite this historical landmark, most people choose to visit the beach to take advantage of its fantastic surfing conditions, excellent wildlife spotting opportunities, and, of course, the great Californian sunshine. RV rentals in Santa Cruz County are hot property, so make sure you book yours now!
RV camping at Lighthouse Field State Beach is all about the surfing. It overlooks one of the most well-known surfing spots in California, which has come to be known as Streamer Lane. It’s been a focal point for surfing in the area since the 1940’s thanks to the four separate but overlapping breaks that each create a different type of swell. Surfing here can be challenging and is best for experienced surfers only. If you’re not too confident onboard yet, there are plenty of spots to watch the surfers from the shore, and pick up some tips, or head over to Cowell Beach where the waves are more suited to beginners and have a go yourself.
Anyone camping near Lighthouse Field State Beach will not be disappointed by the wildlife in the area. The offshore rocks are home to sea lions, and, while they are used to lots of tourists taking photos, it’s advisable not to get too close, especially when they have young pups. When you’re visiting during late summer or early fall, this is a great spot to catch a glimpse of the annual monarch butterfly migration. This is a phenomenon where thousands, if not millions of butterflies, make the long journey from the Rockies to California, where they’ll spend winter.
Bird watching, especially for American black swifts, has also become a popular way to pass the time for those who are motorhome camping nearby. For the best chances of spotting them, it’s worth taking a day to explore the trails and path that meander nearby, especially those that lead to the lighthouse. If you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, consider taking a stroll along the beach or along the paved, Cliff Drive, which connects Point Santa Cruz to Natural Bridges State Beach, where more hiking paths and wildlife spotting awaits. It’s worth being aware that while dogs are allowed on the beach, they must be on a leash at all times.
While there are no campgrounds on Lighthouse Field State Beach itself, there are plenty of places to park up your rental RV just a couple of kilometers away. The Santa Cruz Harbor is one of the closest options and offers prime access to Santa Cruz itself as well as all of its beaches. Open from Memorial Day through to Labor Day, and with only twelve spots on offer (all of which are equipped with full hookups), don’t forget to call ahead of your visit to reserve a place. You won’t find any communal washroom facilities here, so if you’re not traveling in a self-contained vehicle, you might want to look somewhere else.
Smithwoods RV Park is a little further out of town but has the amenities to accommodate any camper. Comprising of more than 50 full hookup sites and more than 30 partially serviced sites, as well as modern bathrooms, a laundry room, and a general store, it’s safe to say that you’ll be more than comfortable here. To keep the family entertained, you’ve got the option of a basketball court, playground, game room, and even a heated swimming pool. Dogs are permitted on the campground, though they do impose some breed restrictions, so it’s worth calling ahead of your visit first.
You won’t need to venture too far to find a bit of cultural enrichment during your Lighthouse Field State Beach camping trip. Just moments away from the beach, housed in the lighthouse, is the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Through memorabilia, artifacts, and photographs, this small museum successfully tells of the last 100 years of surfing history in not only the local area but the whole of California. Real surfing buffs will love the extensive collection of surfboards that date back to the 1930s and range from early fiberglass boards to primitive redwoods. While entry is free, donations are highly appreciated.
At the other end of the beach, not far from the Natural Bridges State Beach, is the family-friendly Seymour Marine Discovery Center. With a range of fascinating and interactive exhibitions, both adults and children can immerse themselves in the underwater world here. Don’t miss the 87-foot long Blue Whale skeleton, considered to be one of the largest in the world, or the live aquarium where you can get up close to starfish, hermit crabs, and even sharks!
Should you rent a camper near Lighthouse Field State Beach during December, you’ll be just in time for the annual Carolling Under the Stars event. During this time, the beach plays host to a festive market, where the main even is embracing the Christmas spirit with a few carols. There’s also plenty of food and drinks stalls and trinket stalls where you can pick up any last-minute gifts.