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Santa Cruz Surfing

Santa Cruz Surfing

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 ConditionsGeneral 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 Beach

Capitola, CA  –  A good spot for beginners.  Also, when conditions allow, it can be perfect for longboards.

Cowell’s Beach

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. 

MavericksSteamer Lane

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.   More >>

Steamer Lane  Pleasure Point

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.  More >>

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!

Pleasure PointMavericks

Half Moon Bay’s Most Famous Surf Spot –  45 miles north of Santa Cruz – near Half Moon Bay – is the, famous Mavericks! It can be found a ½ mile off of the Pillar Point Marsh shoreline. 

During the winter months the perfect set of environmental conditions can come together to create some of the biggest waves on the planet!  Although spectacular to look at, the waves at Mavericks should only be negotiated by professionals.  Less experienced surfers can find more appropriate waves along the local beach beaks.   More >> 

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:

||  Wet Sands – World Wide Waves  – Provides information on surf, tide   and beach conditions.

||  WannaSurf  –  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.

||  Lighthouse Field State Beach – Provides information on the park next to Steamer Lane.

||  Surfer’s Museum – Provides information on the surf museum that is located inside the old lighthouse at Lighthouse Field. 

||  Surfrider Foundation – A nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to   the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.

||  Club Ed Surf and Windsurf School –  Located on Cowell beach next to the Santa Cruz Wharf  (800) 287-7873


What’s on Tap


Santa Cruz Festivals & Events:

Thunderbirds on the Santa Cruz Wharf! Sept. 29, 2018 at 9am to 3pm.

Featuring the classic 1955-1957, the 1958-1965 vintage and the retro, 2002-2005 Thunderbirds.

Open Studios Art Tour – First 3 weeks in Oct. 2018

Welcome Back Monarchs Day – Oct. 14, 2018 11am – 4pm.

Annual Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza! – Oct. 7, 2018

Santa Cruz Pumpkin Patches—Oct. 2018

MORE Santa Cruz Halloween Celebrations—Oct. 2018

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival—Oct. 13 & 14, 2018

Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA



For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Santa Cruz.



Top Santa Cruz Attractions:


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Fun for all ages.

Santa Cruz Campgrounds

Ocean views or Redwoods? Over 27 campgrounds and RV Parks

Santa Cruz Fishing 

Fall is fishing and crabbing season in Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz Surfing

With 11 world-class surf breaks such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, it is easy to understand why the greatest surfers in the world call Santa Cruz home!

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May


For more information on local attractions, click on the Attractions or Recreational Activities.




The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. Rush hour traffic can be extremely challenging – especially along Mission Street and Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Capitols. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.