The real Surf City: Why Santa Cruz, California is the perfect surfing destination

Although there is debate about which town is the "real" Surf City, Santa Cruz, California is a paradise for surfers, and we believe it has earned that moniker.

Tyler Fox surfing a Ventana surfboard

Located on the Central Coast of California, Santa Cruz is a World Surfing Reserve and is home to some of the best waves on the planet. Here are a few reasons why surfing in Santa Cruz is so amazing:

  1. Consistent swells: Santa Cruz gets consistent swells from various directions throughout the year. This makes it a great spot for surfers of all levels. There is almost always a wave to ride somewhere in the county. You can see the Santa Cruz regional surf forecast here
  2. Variety of breaks: Santa Cruz has a range of different breaks, from mellow longboard waves to powerful reef breaks. This means that there is something for everyone, no matter what your surfing style or skill level is.
  3. Good water quality: The water quality in Santa Cruz is generally very good thanks to the region's clean ocean currents and the community’s focus on ocean conservation. The Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter even monitors and reports on water quality at least weekly, so surfers can make healthy decisions.
  4. Vibrant surf culture: Santa Cruz has a thriving surf culture, with a mix of visiting and local surfers. This creates a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for surfers of all levels. Yes, there is some localism, but if you respect the other surfers in the lineup and follow surfing etiquette, you’ll be just fine. Do ask locals or surf shop employees about which spots are best to avoid, though, as there are still a few locals-only spots. 
  5. Easy access: Santa Cruz is near four airports. It’s just an hour's drive from San Francisco and Oakland and 40 minutes from San Jose and Monterey. This makes it a popular destination for surfers from around the world with a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets.
  6. Hawaiian Princes - Santa Cruz Surfing - 1885Surfing history: Surfing is the official sport of California, and Santa Cruz is the birthplace of surfing in North America. In 1885, three Hawaiian princes - David Kawānanakoa, Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana'ole, and Edward Keli'iahonui - surfed solid redwood boards weighing more than one hundred pounds each at the river mouth next to what is now the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The history of surfing from then on has been very rich. When you come, be sure to visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum inside the Mark Abbot Memorial Lighthouse to learn more.
  7. Great for non-surfers: If you’re visiting Santa Cruz to surf but your friends or family members aren’t surfers, they’ll have a wonderful time here, too. There are terrific hotels, restaurants, craft breweries, live music venues, places to hike and mountain bike, whale watching trips, shopping locations, and more. Check out Visit Santa Cruz to learn about things to do and places to stay in the county.
  8. Visit the Ventana workshop: We allow private tours of our workshop. Come and see where the woodworking and surfboard-making magic happens and learn about our process. Contact us to schedule a visit! If the swell is right, and we’re available, we can even surf Ventana boards together.

Overall, Santa Cruz is a terrific place to surf. Its consistent swells, variety of breaks, good water quality, vibrant surf culture, easy access, and the fact that it has something for everyone make it a top destination for surfers of all levels and their friends and family. So, if you're planning a surf trip, be sure to put Santa Cruz on your list!

Santa Cruz, California - Surf City, USA