Santa Cruz, California World Surfing Reserve


Pictured is sunset over the famous Steamer Lane, a well known surfing beach in Santa Cruz.

Surfers know that there's a zone, both physically and mentally for surfing great waves. Santa Cruz, the birthplace of surfing in the USA, officially became a World Surfing Reserve, one of the first 3 in existence. A ceremony was held on April 28, 2012 establishing the Santa Cruz coastline that includes the city and County of Santa Cruz as the third iconic surfing location enshrined following Malibu and Ericeira, Portugal.

The 7-mile stretch from Natural Bridges State Park on the western end to the Opal Cliffs just east of Pleasure Point contains one of the most prisitne & robust coastal and marine ecosystems on the planet as part of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. A unique surf culture with a deep-rooted history of surfing in iconic spots at Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point (both world-renowned righthand pointbreaks) welcomes visitors with the Aloha spirit introduced to the mainland in July 1885 when three Hawaiian princes—David Kawananakoa, Edward Keliiahonui and Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole—showed off their talents with long surfboards made of local redwoods, and milled in the shape of traditional Hawaiian o'lo boards, reserved in the Islands traditionally for royalty. Their uncle, King David Kalakaua, a renowned surfer at the long break along Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu, had taught them to surf, and they now were displaying their abilities to vacationers and locals along the beaches of Santa Cruz. Today many surfing legends and innovators such as Santa Cruz's Jack O'Neill say they get inspiration from those who introduced the sport which now encompasses the oceans of the globe.

"Throughout the world Santa Cruz is synonymous with cold-water surfing and known for its progressive environmental ethos," said Dean LaTourrette of Save The Waves Coalition and World Surfing Reserves Executive Committee Member.

Local Stewardship Council for the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve comprised of community activists, environmentalists, elected officials, and surf industry representatives strived to create a Local Stewardship Plan and oversee the management of the Santa Cruz Reserve. 

Council members serving during this momentous event were:

Brian Kilpatrick
Mark Stone
John Leopold
Hilary Bryant
Jane McKenzie
Dustin MacDonald
Dan Young

Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Ambassadors at launch were:

Kyle Thiermann
Sarah Gerhardt
Robert "Wingnut" Weaver
Jamilah Star
and Ken "Skindog" Collins

"Santa Cruz is the documented birthplace of surfing on the North American continent and surfing and surf culture are key elements of our communities' public image," said Jim Littlefield. "I'm pleased to represent the reserve through the Local Stewardship Council - this is a true global honor for Santa Cruz."

These ambassadors have been selected for their contributions to the sport of surfing, the Santa Cruz community, and the coastal environment. They will help to promote the long-term conservation of the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve.

For Santa Cruz's enshrinement, an evening celebration was held on April 27, 2012 and the formal ceremonies on April 28.

About World Surfing Reserves

World Surfing Reserves (WSR) proactively identifies, designates, and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones and their surrounding environments, around the world. WSR is an initiative launched by Save The Waves Coalition in 2009 in conjunction with National Surfing Reserves - Australia, and through additional partnerships with the International Surfing Association (ISA) and Stanford University's Center for Responsible Travel (CREST).

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