Howzit, brah? The waves are epic!
Over the last five decades surfing has become a large part of the Santa Cruz culture. With 11 world-class surf breaks such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, it is easy to understand why so many dedicated surfers have an attraction to Santa Cruz, and why some of the greatest surfers in the world call it home!
Click here for locations in Half Moon Bay (45 miles north) and Monterey (40 miles south).
General Surf Conditions
Santa Cruz is considered one of the best surfing locations in California. From the gentle waves at Cowell Beach – perfect for beginners – to the more advanced skill requirements of Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz has the surf that can cater to just about any skill level.
Capitola, CA – A good spot for beginners. Also, when conditions allow, it can be perfect for longboards.
Major rating websites rate Capitola Beach 4 to 4.6 stars out of 5.
Address: Capitola Village
Santa Cruz – Located between the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and West Cliff Drive, the area is a great spot for beginner’s, and for riding the waves on a longboard. It is also home for surf and windsurf schools.
Major rating websites rate Cowell’s Beach 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5.
Address: 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 420-5270
Santa Cruz’ Most Famous Surf Spot — Steamer Lane (also known as Steamer’s Lane or Steamer’s) is probably the most famous surf spot in Santa Cruz. It’s definitely for the more skilled and adventurous surfer.
Because this is such a prized surf location, use caution because the local surfers can be a little possessive and tend to apply a very strict code of conduct for those that use the waves.
Steamer Lane is home to the O’Neill Cold Water Classic surfing competition. It is also where Jack O’Neill developed the modern wet suit for surfing.
Major rating websites rate Steamer Lane 4.5 stars out of 5.
Address: 700 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 420-5270
Although it’s still a very popular spot for surfing, the area has gone through a major transformation over the last decade or so. Like much of Santa Cruz, it’s moved away from being a local surf Mecca lined with small beach cottages to something much more affluent with large multimillion dollar homes. But because its rocky bottom point break creates some fantastic surf, it is and probably always will be one of the most popular surfing areas in Santa Cruz.
Major rating websites rate Pleasure Point 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5.
Manresa State Beach
The beautiful bluffs, beach and surf play host to surf fishing, surfing, and other recreational activities. The waves can get really big with strong rip currents! It can also get very windy!
Address: 1445 San Andreas Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076
Phone: (831) 724-3750
Half Moon Bay’s Most Famous MONSTER WAVE Surf Spot. For more information, go to https://explorer1.com/halfmoonbay/surfing/
Expand your search area to include:
Half Moon Bay Surfing – 45 miles north of Santa Cruz.
Monterey Surfing – 40 minutes south of Santa Cruz.
Additional Surf Links:
A free illustrated atlas of Santa Cruz Area surfing with maps of surf spots, detailed descriptions and photos. All the best weather and forecast maps. An interactive environment provides messages, reports and data editing. For more information go to: https://www.wannasurf.com/spot/North_America/USA/California/Santa_Cruz/
Provides information on the park next to Steamer Lane.
Address: Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 429-2850
Provides information on the surf museum that is located inside the old lighthouse at Lighthouse Field.
Located in: Lighthouse Point Park
Address: 701 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 420-6289
A nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.
Address: 2222 E Cliff Dr #234, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Phone: (831) 476-7667
Club Ed Surf and Windsurf School
Located on Cowell beach next to the Santa Cruz Wharf .
Phone: (831) 464-0177