What Are the Best Beaches Near Santa Cruz, CA to Surf?

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara California

Surfing is California’s official sport. Well-known for its sailing and sailing culture, Santa Cruz is one of the world’s top destinations for surfing. Also, Santa Cruz is also one of the best places to visit in the fall. Make sure to add this destination to your travel list because it’s the perfect place for a family vacation in Santa Cruz. We found the best beaches to surf in Santa Cruz so you don’t have to.

The weather gets cooler in September and October, with that the waves get stronger. With a variety of sandy beaches and crashing waves suitable for riding, Santa Cruz is one of the finest beach resorts on the West Coast. This beach has waves for newcomers and for veterans searching for the next giant wave. If you decide to see from the periphery, that’s okay, too. During your next Santa Cruz getaway, we’ll let you know what are the best beaches near Santa Cruz, CA to Surf.  Additionally, we tell you the best spots to discover the world of Santa Cruz surfing.

An adventure you can all do together always makes a family holiday even more fun. The pleasure of doing something different is a wonderful experience of friendship and something that you will not forget. While you make your way to Santa Cruz to explore the Santa Cruz surf spots, you’ll want to energize yourself with a beachside breakfast burrito and pick up some Santa Cruz surf equipment at the Cowell Beach Surf Store. Once the Santa Cruz holiday starts, it’s time to visit the best surfing spots in Santa Cruz.

Let’s take a look at some of the best beaches near Santa Cruz.

best beaches in santa cruz

Steamer Lane is the Most Popular Beach in Santa Cruz

To begin with, Steamer Lane is perhaps the most popular surf spot in the whole of Santa Cruz. You better be a good surfer if you want to paddle out on “the Lane.” The Lane localism factor is 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being friendly). It’s the riskiest spot to surf in Santa Cruz while the wave is up, but it’s still the perfect place to see amazing waves during the year. The Lane has it all, even ogling visitors, with four reef breaks rolling into one location. These include; The Stage, Middle Peak, The Slot, and Indicators. Also, there’s a surfing museum at the local lighthouse.

Strong Waves in Steamer Lane

Steamer Lane is usually what springs to mind when individuals think about surfing in Santa Cruz. There are extremely powerful and picturesque waves in this iconic surf spot that you’ll have to see to believe. However, its’ strength is a big concern. This place is for more advanced surfers, so it is not advisable to start here if you are a novice.

With that, it’s a fantastic spot to watch Santa Cruz surfers. You can get a panoramic view of the surfers down below while grabbing a drink nearby. Feel free to walk it down to the cliffs by the lighthouse. The sight is interesting to watch as the surfer’s dart across and glide over wave after wave. The other wonderful thing about this place is that it provides stunning sunset views. Also, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park is nearby. Make sure to head down to the wharf for some clam chowder after an afternoon of enjoying the waves, backed by a spin on the Giant Dipper.

Cowell’s is the Best Beach in Santa Cruz for Beginners

Cowell’s is the perfect starting point if you’re new to the sport. This spot delivers long and gentle waves of longboarding textbooks. Cowell’s is commonly understood to be the venue for beginners or inexperienced surfers, so the water scene is not chaotic and always polite.

If you are on a Santa Cruz family holiday, this is the spot to go to if you want the entire crew to practice surfing together. This surf spot is known for its’ long and soft waves that are easy to grab. It is also perfect for long-boarders and stand-up paddleboarders. This area is the perfect place to practice if you sign up for surfing school. It does get busy on weekdays and holidays because of this, so think accordingly.

Natural Bridges and its’ Awesome Views

You can discover Natural Bridges, down by West Cliff Drive, potentially one of Santa Cruz’s most spectacular beaches for surfing or viewing. Usually, the weather is fine and the views are stunning. Another reason why Santa Cruz is one of the best destinations to fly to in the fall is the monarch butterflies that come to Natural Bridges State Park in October. So, you can see hundreds of fluttering monarchs flying across the trees gracefully. A must-see, for sure, on your Santa Cruz holiday.

best beaches near santa cruz

30th and East Cliff

Now, it’s time to go to Santa Cruz’s East Cliff to visit the surfing spots of Santa Cruz on the other side of the city. 30th and East Cliff is a perfect spot for pros looking for an adventure, but any novice should probably hang out and enjoy watching this spot as it is one of the best places in Santa Cruz to see surfers. Believe us, the people surfing here know a thing or two and have been surfing for a while. The swells are aggressive, and the waves are quick and nice for experienced tricks. You normally see hundreds of people line up on the beach on a decent day in order to capture the surfers’ attention.

Pleasure Point is a Great Spot for Vacations

Santa Cruz Eastside is a lovely place to spend your holiday in Santa Cruz, and the beaches are the best at this spot. Pleasure Point is certainly one of the town’s most famous surf spots. It is a must-see, whether you’re surfing or not on your Santa Cruz getaway. For both learners and veterans, it provides a range of waves. A lot of people push this one, so it’s a must to observe the surf etiquette.

The Hook is Popular with Locals

Another nice surfing location in Santa Cruz is The Hook, which is nearby. You go down a giant flight of stairs at the end of Pleasure Point to get to the hook. The surf spots’ name comes from the amount of kelp that gets stuck on stuff in the sea. This place is also very crowded and popular with locals, but a nice place for watching or studying.

Between The Hook and 30th Ave, there are plenty of waves to sail around. Typically, the central entry point is at the stairs at 36th Ave. There are fantastic variations of longboard waves. That is why this location is usually packed with grooms, professionals, longboarders, and super thin-glass rippers. Due to this, The Hook in Santa Cruz is the best beach spot for beginners and professionals on less busy days.

The southern tip of the charming strip of rugged shoreline is known as Pleasure Point. The Hook is situated down the stairs at the end of 41st Avenue. Known for the plentiful kelp concentrations in the lineup that “hooks” around skegs and booties, this cool little point break has many “hooked” surfers on the spot. Additionally, it has a right-facing wave to kill for if you can navigate around the herd. You can get away with shortboard on larger days, but there are usually huge sticks out there.


Capitola Beach is the Best Learning Spot in Santa Cruz

The last place on the chart is at Capitola Beach in Capitola. Without question, Capitola Beach is the best place to learn how to swim. It is family-friendly, and the waves are mellow, so it provides a stress-free and stunning surfing environment. The area also has plenty of healthy and family-friendly restaurants and stores, making it a perfect side spot for a family vacation in Santa Cruz.

Capitola normally splits only to the tiny rock jetty left, providing ideal longboard waves when conditions permit. A good left sways in front of the jetty while the swell is up, and the right will go on indefinitely, hoping the skeg does not snag in the water infested with kelp. The notorious Toe’s Done, which takes a massive winter swell and a lower tide to break is also around a block and a reef. So it’s a pure left-and right-breaking joy as it does.

Moss Landing

If you’ve practiced all the other alternatives and you don’t mind driving halfway to Monterey, Moss Landing provides beach breaks for miles and can offer some killer trips near the harbor entrance. This spot is not usually crowded and you usually find more experienced surfers in this spot. Once again, look out for rip tides. Highway 1 is located 20 miles south of Santa Cruz.

Mavericks is like Hawaii

Lastly, situated about an hour north of Santa Cruz, Mavericks is the most popular big-wave surf spot in California. These waves equal (and attract surfers from) Hawaii. Every year there is a competition,  for some of the best big wave surfers in the country. So, every time the swell is up, you will definitely see at least a couple of pros.

Finally, the waves of Santa Cruz satisfy all types of surfers. Whether they are charging huge wave spots or just trying to get their feet wet, these spots are perfect. As you can see, people call Santa Cruz “surf city” for a reason. Although there are several beaches that are ideal for tourists and beginning surfers, there are also unsafe and nearby spots that surfers should be mindful of. You can also check out the best places to go surfing around the world right here.

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