There are so many reasons to love our hometown of Santa Cruz, California. It’s a sweet and open-minded college town, it’s nestled in the rugged beauty of Northern California, and not least, the Santa Cruz surfing just can’t be beat!
Best of all, you don’t need to be an expert surfer to take advantage of Santa Cruz’s rich beaches. There are over a dozen within easy striking range of town, and they accommodate wave riders of every skill level from beginners to experts.
So we’ll get right to the point and share our favorite spots for Santa Cruz surfing. Of course, we’d love to help you prepare for a day on the waves. We invite you to stop by our dispensary and check out our massive selection of incredibly fresh flower, extracts, tinctures, edibles and any and every other form of cannabis available. Come and say “Hey!” any time.
The Best of Santa Cruz Surfing
Located right next to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, this textbook-perfect beach offers long and gentle swells most days. It’s a great choice for beginner or intermediate surfers, so the crowd tends to be welcoming and warm.
Just east of Santa Cruz, the little town of Capitola offers a great longboarding experience, though you’ll generally find fewer waves than at Cowell. On the upside, this also means that the water’s usually a lot less crowded.
You’ll find lots of waves here, suitable for a whole range of experience levels. Most people access the beach from the stairs at 36th Ave., but lead either way down the beach to find swells that suit your comfort level. Beginners may find the waters a bit crowded, but experts will have no problem dropping right in.
Manresa State Beach
Further east than Capitola, Manresa offers epic beach breaks, though more commonly in cold months than warm. Prepare yourself for a long paddle out, but you’ll be rewarded with substantial swells (and a generally less crowded scene than either Santa Cruz or Capitola). Recommended for surfers with a bit of experience and stamina under their belts.
This is the most famous spot for Santa Cruz surfing, but you’d better bring your A-game if you want to ride these waves. “Locals only” is the vibe here, but if nothing else you’ll be able to watch some incredible wave-riding at any of its four close-in reef breaks. When you’ve had enough, head to the surf museum located in the nearby lighthouse to nurse your pride.
It’s definitely not the place for beginners, but we’d be seriously remiss if we didn’t at least mention Mavericks, one of the most famous surf beaches in California. You’ll see waves tremendous enough to draw surfers from all over the world, and each year it’s home to an invite-only contest. Even if you’re not ready to tackle big-wave surfing, come for the thrill of seeing true pros ride some of the greatest waves on the planet.