While Sunset State Beach is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches in Santa Cruz County, it doesn't allow dogs. However, Palm Beach State Park, a day-use area of Sunset State Beach with its own entrance, is one spot where leashed dogs are welcome on the sand.
Located just a short drive to the south of the Sunset State Beach campground, Palm Beach allows dogs on the sand between the Pajaro Dunes condos and the Pajaro Dunes houses, but no further up or down the coast past these residences.
Perhaps the best part about this scenic stretch of sand is just how uncrowded it often is, probably due to the fact that it's something of a well-kept secret. Surrounded by agricultural land, it's often overlooked for Sunset State Beach itself or other beaches a little further afield.
The beach itself is wide and sandy, with plenty of room to leave footprints and pawprints in the sand. It's backed by grassy dunes and also offers wonderful vistas of Monterey Bay, making it the paw-fect spot for a long and leisurely walk on the beach. Of course, you and your canine companion are more than welcome to just pick a spot on the sand, sit back and enjoy some quiet time in the sun.
Fees apply to take your car into the park, but there's also free parking available on the street outside the gate. Picnic tables, restrooms, and showers are also available, so you can plan to spend the whole day at Palm Beach if you wish.
Your dog will need to stay on the leash and under your control at all times, and you'll also need to take care to clean up after your pooch. With that done, all that's left to do is to enjoy some quality time beachcombing with your four-legged friend.