California Museums


California Surfing Museums

Surfing museums left to right: Oceanside- California Surfing Museum; Santa Cruz Surfing Museum; Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum.

In a tale of three surf museums along the California coast from Santa Cruz to Huntington Beach to Oceanside, their very existence begs the question, "Who needs 'em?" Isn't a surfing museum theoretically like a beach museum? You don't see beach museums next to California beaches because people want the real deal, not an enclosed building with exhibits about what's just outside the door.

So why are there surf museums next to places where people surf? The answer is kind of interesting, actually. Three surfing museums in California are located in the most popular surfing locations--and one of them (Oceanside) has a director who's a world class surfer. All three have the ocean just steps or at most, two blocks outside the door. Surfing museums, it turns out, are cultural icons and gathering spots for surfers who drop by to connect. Looking to contribute a classic board you can no longer keep? You probably are going to look for a surfing museum to give it to. European and international surfers are drawn to California's surf museums and see them as a way to say hello to other surfers so far from home.

Tourists who doesn't surf enjoy seeing exhibits such as a surfboard with giant teeth marks that Bethany Hamilton (who lost her arm to a shark bite) contributed for display. Surf exhibits at these California museums have showcased surf wax, board collections, shapers, wetsuits, important surfing industry movers & shakers, and even surf music and movies such as Bruce Brown's "Endless Summer" film.

While all the surf museums have struggled at some point to remain open and get funding, Oceanside's California Surf Museum has been quite successful in fundraising programs and obtaining contributions which were used to construct a brand new building (shown in left photo above.) If you happened to be in the areas where these surf museums are located, you'll find that there's lots of history, enthusiasm and often souvenir gifts you can buy as mementos to remind you of these beautiful surfing destinations in California. Aloha!.


International Surfing Museum 411 Olive Avenue. Huntington Beach, Ca 92648 714-960-3483 Hours: 12 to 5pm - Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri 12 to 9pm - Tues 11am to 6pm - Sat, Sun. Museum available for rental

Dedicated to preserve the past, participate in the present, and influence the future of all aspects of the surfing culture worldwide. The Shorebreak is the official publication of the International Surfing Museum. Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum contains collections of surfing memorabilia and the culture surrounding this time honored sport believed to be imported to Huntington Beach and California nearly a century ago.


California Surf Museum is open daily except major holidays, and charges $5 for an adult admission. Tuesdays are free. Location: 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA. Tel: (760) 721-6876.

The California Surf Museum serves as an international repository and resource center on the lifestyle sport of surfing through capturing, preserving, and chronicling its art, culture and heritage for the education and enjoyment of future generations. Permanent Exhibit: A Brief History of Surfboards Beginning with wooden plank surfboards reminiscent of surfing's roots in Polynesia, the exhibit follows surfboard evolution through the foam and fiberglass advances, the shortboard revolution, to surfboards being ridden by today's champions.


SANTA CRUZ SURFING MUSEUM - Its stated goal is to protect and preserve our rich surfing heritage and to ensure historical artifacts are maintained and preserved for the enjoyment and education of current and future generations.

Overlooking internationally renowned surfing hotspot Steamer Lane, this little gem of a museum has photographs, surfboards, and other interesting artifacts tracing over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz. The museum shop specializes in great surfing books and surfing related items. Hours: Daily, noon - 4:00 p.m. (closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays) Location: Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, Lighthouse Point, 701 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, Ca. The Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society (SCSCPS) helps operate the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum housed inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse on Lighthouse Point in Santa Cruz.

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