Santa Cruz Surfing


If you arrive at the Santa Cruz Wharf and don't see surfers, then be surprised. Santa Cruz's very ocean existence surrounds surfing and surf culture. Up in the hills a few miles from the beach there's another world focused on academia at UC Santa Cruz, but even there, you'll discover some students and educators have chosen Santa Cruz because of the surfing.

From famed Steamer Lane to the Lighthouse Surf Museum, Santa Cruz surfers love surfing in the top spots, hot spots, and any place where waves roll in, providing an exciting ride.

Note: Because the water is cold, plan on renting a wetsuit if you don't own one. Here are some average ocean temperatures.

For those who live and surf in Santa Cruz, surfing is just part of their daily routine--like taking a shower, eating, and sleeping at night.

When you go to Santa Cruz, you can watch surfing, or you can try it out. There are ample spots where the surf is mellow and you can mount that board and catch a wave.

While Santa Cruz is known for its great surfing spots, don't try surfing at them if you are just starting out. Begin the adventure at either Cowell's or downcoast in Capitola.

Cowell's provides less challenging rides with gentle waves ideal for beginners. Located north of the Santa Cruz Wharf, you can access Cowell's via a set of stairs at West Cliff Drive.

Capitola to the south of Santa Cruz is a charming village with limited parking (so watch the meters once you get a spot,) but the surfing is great for beginners. You'll see lots of surfers who live locally and use Capitola to get their daily fix.

Surfing for everyone else includes the well known spots such as Steamer Lane, 36th & East Cliff, Natural Bridges, Manresa State Beach, Pleasure Point (The Hook), and just upcoast you'll find one of the top 3 surfing spots in the world for big wave action (according to many world class surfers) at Mavericks in San Mateo County north of Half Moon Bay.

Wanna surf?

Cowell's Surf Shop,
Board rentals, sales, surf lessons

Santa Cruz Surf School,
surf lessons and rentals

Surf Culture

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum,


Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info