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A unique pier in Aptos isn’t just a pier…it is also home to a historic WWI era concrete ship that once floated offshore as an entertainment vessel for dining, dancing and fun.

Update: The wooden pier at Seacliff State Beach was removed in 2023 but the remains of the concrete ship remains out in the surf.

Related: 9 Shipwrecks in California You Can See

Known as The SS Palo Alto (“The Cement Boat”), you’ll find the historic ship located south of Santa Cruz off Highway 1, at Seacliff State Beach. This two mile, sandy beach at the foot of sandstone cliffs offers day parking, camping, swimming, fishing, bicycling and roller-blading for starters. The pier is easily viewed from land or air as you fly out of destinations such as Monterey.


The Palo Alto was built by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company in Oakland in 1919 as an oil tanker for the World War I effort. The war ended before she ever saw service and with time on her hands, she was sold to the Seacliff Amusement Company of Nevada, and towed in 1929 to what would later become Seacliff State Beach. A casino and dance hall, arcades and entertainment were featured on this monster party boat until its owners went belly up when the Great Depression rocked the world in the early 1930’s.

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Today, the Palo Alto sits on the floor of the Monterey Bay. One of the most photographed landmarks of the region, birds have discovered a haven not accessible to humans. Bring a pair of binoculars to watch the hundreds of birds that sit on the ship. Time has taken it’s toll on the ship and the cement is cracked and crumbling, yet it is still a sight to see. Beach facilities where you can enjoy watching birds include a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, covered picnic areas with barbecues public restrooms, trailer campsites and an interpretive center which has natural and local cultural history exhibits.


For more information, call (831) 685-6444 or 685-6500. Seacliff State Beach is located at 201 State Park Drive in Aptos, CA 95003. Parking fee charged.