Natural Bridges State Beach and Monarch Grove
Natural Bridges State Beach is what your group has been looking for. In lovely Santa Cruz, this state beach is not only a perfect avenue into the serene Pacific Ocean but home to the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve along the butterflies migration trail. Over 150,000 Monarch butterflies make their way through this popular beach destination every winter season (October through February).
The most obvious and fascinating attractions of Natural Bridges State Beach is, of course, the naturally occurring stone bridges. The rocky phenomenons were formed of mudstone, carved by the movement of the ocean over millennia from the surrounding cliffs. The years of erosion left only a single bridge-like island from the original three, the other two having collapsed in the 20th century. Because of the unstable integrity of the bridge, visitors are no longer permitted to climb on the bridges as they once were.
The state beach is a wonderful place to discover geology as well as biology, to explore a variety of recreational opportunities, or simply relax with the waves at your feet. The beach is open year-round to visitors looking for a prime recreation spot for water sports, wildlife viewing, and of course, butterfly watching. It's certainly something to witness the Monarchs making their way through the pink-hued night sky, or in the early morning sunlight. The state beach is also part of the Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve, protecting ocean wildlife and ecosystems beneath the waves. You're more than likely to see whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions and seals, and all manner of fish and gulls on a visit to this beautiful state beach.