When it comes to surfing in California, it gets no better than the Santa Cruz surf scene! Globally recognized as “surf city,’ this area of the beautiful California coastline boasts some of the best waves on the west coast and thousands of dedicated surfers travel from across the world just to get their boards in the water here.
Santa Cruz has some of the most popular beaches as well as some of the most challenging to surf. When you want to know where to go for the best surfing of your life, you don’t need to look any further than the beautiful Santa Cruz coastline. Santa Cruz has more than 30 great surf spots to enjoy. Here are a few of the most popular as well as the most challenging:
Cowell’s is the perfect beach for those that are just learning to surf. The waves are not too high, but definitely high enough to have some fun in the sun. Cowell’s is also very popular with families and sunbathers that want to enjoy their days off work at the beach with friends and family. This beach is definitely one of the most popular areas of the shoreline and you will often find it packed with not only local surfers but with others just enjoying getting their toes in the sand for a little while.
Steamers Lane is the most popular, as well as the most dangerous surfing spot in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is just down the coastline from Steamers Lane and this beach is one that stays packed every day of the year with mostly locals trying to beat their own records for staying up as they head toward the cliff line. The biggest waves are usually found in the winter and its pretty calm but decent waves can be found throughout the rest of the year as well.
For locals, The Hook is one of the more popular places to surf in Santa Cruz. This is definitely not a beach for beginners as the waves can be gnarly and fairly ferocious at times. For better stability in the water you will see far more longboards than short-boards at this local hangout. The Hook is located just at the far end of 41st Avenue and is also a great place to just hang out on the beach and spend the day watching surfers as they ride the waves in all day long.
Natural Bridge State Park
Natural Bridges State Beach is by far, one of the most beautiful along the California shoreline. Lined with beautiful eucalyptus trees and with some of the most majestic waves crashing against the rocks makes this a very popular place for not only surfers but for families and college students just enjoying the day spent at the beach. The waves at Natural Bridges State Park are very comparable to the waves at The Hook. They can be very dangerous and it definitely is not the place for novice surfers to show their skills.
Some of the bluest water that you will find on the west coast can be found at Pleasure Point. Located just off of E Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, this beach is one of the most relaxing areas to truly enjoy a little fun on the water on a sunny day. The beach is private but locals are able to come out and enjoy the surf and sand on most days of the year. The quietness of the area makes riding the waves something that can really be enjoyed and savored in memory long after the day is over.
This surf area is exceptionally great for all surfers and is a place where the waters may get packed fast, but people are pretty patient as well as courteous when it comes to letting others have plenty of space on the waves. Located just off the Soquel exit you can find parking on Twin Lakes Drive for a quick walk down to the water. This is also the perfect place for those that may not surf but enjoy watching others as they ride the waves all day long.
When it comes to the Santa Cruz surf scene you will find a great diversity in outstanding places to choose from. From big waves, reefs, private beaches and even those that stay busy year round, there is always something going on all the way up and down the beautiful Santa Cruz coastline. This is one of the most highly competitive areas in the world for surfing and whether you are a novice or a pro on the water, there is always a spot for you to show what you’re made of on your board when you come to Santa Cruz.
On top of surfing, Santa Cruz has so many things to offer locals as well as tourists in the area. The Santa Cruz Wharf is a great place where people can spend hours shopping or enjoying a drink or dinner with friends is one of the more popular places for tourists as well as locals. The wharf has the best when it comes to beautiful ocean scenery as well as entertainment. Just to the left of the wharf is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where you can have fun at the oldest amusement park by the sea on the entire west coast of the United States. It is also right next to Cowell Beach where you can have fun watching the great surfing or even jumping in on a surf lesson or two to see how to ride the waves on your own. There are so many things to do in Santa Cruz that not a day will go by where you won’t be able to find fun in the sun no matter what part of the shore you find yourself on.
By: Angelo Caito
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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