Host of the Cold Water Classic surf contest and just a few miles south of the world's biggest big-wave tournament, Mavericks, Santa Cruz is the perfect playing ground for amateur and professional surfers alike.
Steamer Lane is situated just below the Lighthouse Surf Museum and sees surfers of every skill regularly riding gnarly sets. Spectators perch atop West Cliff Drive to watch local legends, up-in-coming stars, and visiting wave riders tear through the frothing surf. Though the waters are open to all year round, Steamer Lane becomes home to the internationally recognized and always exciting Cold Water Classic late each fall.
Pleasure Point is a legendary surf spot on the Central Coast that's ideal for all types of surfers. Divided up into a series of smaller beaches such as The Hook, O'Neill's (a.k.a "The Dirt Farm), and 36th Ave. & East Cliff, short and longboarders alike can find a wave to ride at "The Point."
Cowell's Beach, which borders the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, is known far and wide as one of the best places to learn to surf in the world. If you've never hanged ten before, sign up for a lesson with Cowell's Beach Surf Shop or the Club Ed Surf School. Both provide wet suits, boards, and professional instruction in the water. Classes fill up fast in the summer, so if you can set aside a time to get schooled in the spring or during the work week, you'll receive more tailored, hands-on instruction.
Manresa State Beach is the last of the major spots worth checking out on Santa Cruz surf adventure, but remember that inside every twist and turn of the Santa Cruz coastline you can find a secluded beach to test your surfing savvy.