Santa Cruz is all about the surf lifestyle and has plenty of waves on offer such as Steamer Lane, Cowells Cove, The Harbor and Pleasure Point so you are bound to get a few turns in somewhere and more than likely a few barrels when it’s on.
My first day in Santa Cruz was spent trying to snag a few perfect glassy right handers off the mal riders at Steamer Lane. The conditions were on point with light winds, sunny skies and clear blue water. If only the swell was up it would have been all time although it was just nice to be surfing in 60ᵒf water and not having to wear a hood.
After waiting around a few days for some swell I managed to score some fun waves. There were fairly strong winds blowing early one morning but Steamer Lane seemed to be somewhat protected. There were solid 6 foot peaks breaking wide on the point that would reform further down the line into nice rip-able 4 foot walls. Thanks to Surfline’s report saying the waves were going to be junk the crowd factor was at a minimum. I surfed for a solid two hours until for some reason the waves just stopped working. It seemed like it was getting better and better as the tide ran out but then it was all over in a matter of minutes. I headed in and made my way back to the van where I was greeted by an old surf dog who wanted to chew my ear off about surfing in the 70’s with no wetsuits or leg ropes. Oh and his favorite move was the flick out so he didn’t lose his board and have to swim after it. He finally took off and I was able to enjoy the lunch my girlfriend had prepared for me.
We decided to go for a walk after lunch around the point towards Natural Bridges beach. Thinking that the waves were done for the day I was surprised to see 4 to 5 foot grinders peeling down the line with only two guys out at the next point up from Steamer Lane. I don’t even know the name of this wave but it was firing so I turned around, ran back to the van and threw on my wet wetsuit and grabbed my board. By the time I made it back word had got out that it was on and there were around 12 guys already on it. There was a lot of water moving so the paddle out was hard work but so worth it. The waves were super fun with rip-able walls and some nice barrel sections if you got the right one. After an hour of surfing and running back up to the point my arms and legs felt like they were going to fall off so I decided to call it a day.
Santa Cruz was such a classic surf spot for me, from the sea lions bobbing around in the line up to the kelp floating around in the waves which made me love this place even more. Hanging around a few extra days waiting for swell was well worth it. Even when there were no waves I had an amazing time just chilling out at the beach and having a beer or two at sunset with my girl. The Santa Cruz lifestyle is very appealing and I can see myself spending more time there in the future hopefully scoring some more waves.
Written: Jamie Nicholson Photos: Arial Evans
Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more