9 Incredible Beginner Surf Spots in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is an excellent place to surf for beginner and experienced surfers alike.

The waves here are usually small and gentle, making it a perfect place to learn how to surf.

Also check out the complete Refugio State Beach surfing guide.

There are also plenty of other beachgoers around to offer assistance if needed.

Beginner surf spots Santa Cruz include

1. Cowells Beach

First on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Cowell's Beach.

Cowell's Beach is located in the heart of Santa Cruz, making it a great place to start your surfing journey.

The waves here are usually small and gentle, so you can get a feel for the sport without having to worry about being pulled out to sea.

There are also plenty of other beachgoers around who can offer assistance if needed.

Before heading out to Cowell's Beach, there are a few things you should know.

First of all, the water can be quite cold, even in summer. A wetsuit is highly recommended.

Secondly, the waves here can be unpredictable. They may look small from the shore but can quickly grow in size once you're out on the water.

Pay attention to the conditions and only go out when you feel comfortable.

2. Capitola Beach

Second on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Capitola Beach.

Capitola Beach is a great place to learn the basics of surfing. The long, gentle waves make it the perfect spot for beginners. 

The waves at Capitola beach are some of the longest and most gentle in Santa Cruz. This makes it the perfect place to learn how to surf.

3. Seacliff State Beach

Third on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Seacliff State Beach.

This beautiful beach is located just south of Santa Cruz and features gentle waves that are perfect for learning.

If you're just starting out, you'll be able to catch more waves here than at most other beaches.

And, thanks to the protective reef offshore, the waves here are nice and gentle – perfect for beginners! 

4. Natural Bridges State Beach

Fourth on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Natural Bridges State Beach.

Surf's up at Natural Bridges State Beach!

This beautiful beginners surf spot is located west of Santa Cruz and offers gentle waves and stunning scenery.

The cliffs and rocks around the beach make for a picturesque backdrop while you learn to surf.

Natural Bridges State Beach is located west of Santa Cruz, off Highway 1. To get there, take the turnoff for West Cliff Drive and follow it until you reach the beach.

The best time to visit Natural Bridges State Beach is in the summer when the weather is warm and the waves are gentle.

However, this spot can get crowded on weekends, so try to come during the week if you can.

The early morning or evening hours are also a good time to avoid the crowds. 

5. Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf

Fifth on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is the perfect place for beginner surfers.

The waves are gentle and the views from the wharf are breathtaking.

This spot is located at the end of Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and offers plenty of space for beginners to learn.

When you first get to Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, you will want to take a minute to walk around and check out all of your options.

The waves here can be deceiving- they look small from the shore, but they can pack quite a punch.

I would recommend paddling out to the outside breaks first to get a feel for the waves.

Once you have gotten used to the waves, you can start working your way closer to the pier. 

The pier itself can also be a great place to surf, but be careful of the pilings!

They are spaced pretty far apart, but if you happen to catch one it will definitely ruin your day.

There are also a lot of people fishing off of the pier, so be mindful of their lines. 

Lastly, the crowd at Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf can be pretty hardcore.

These are mostly locals who have been surfing here for years.

They know every nook and cranny of this place, so don’t be surprised if they give you some dirty looks when you accidentally drop in on their wave. 

6. The Hook

Sixth on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is The Hook.

Are you looking for an beginner-friendly surf spot in Santa Cruz? Look no further than the hook!

This surf spot is located just north of Santa Cruz and offers gentle waves that are perfect for learning.

The hook is a reef break, which means that it is formed by a reef or rock outcropping just below the surface of the water.

This type of surf break is typically gentle and predictable, making it ideal for beginners.

The hook is also unique because it is one of the only reef breaks in Santa Cruz. 

When you arrive at the hook, you can expect to find a few other surfers enjoying the waves.

The number of people surfing at the hook can vary depending on the time of day and year.

In general, the hook is busiest during the summer months.

7. Pleasure Point

Seventh on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Pleasure Point.

Pleasure Point is the perfect surf spot for you.

Located just south of Santa Cruz, this spot offers gentle waves that are great for learning.

If you're new to surfing, Pleasure Point is the perfect place to start. The waves here are gentle and easy to ride, making it a great spot for beginners.

There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby if you need to take a break.

Experienced surfers will enjoy the challenges that Pleasure Point has to offer, such as the reefs and larger waves further out. 

8. Lighthouse Field State Beach

Eighth on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Lighthouse Field State Beach.

This beach offers gentle waves that are perfect for learning.

Lighthouse Field State Beach is located west of Santa Cruz. To get there, take Highway 1 to West Cliff Drive.

Turn right on West Cliff Drive and follow it until you see the sign for the beach on your left.

There is a large parking lot at the beach, so finding a spot should not be a problem.

The waves at Lighthouse Field are gentle and consistent, making it a great place to learn how to surf.

The best time to surf is early in the morning when the waves are the biggest.

The tide also needs to be high in order for the waves to be good. If you are a beginner, make sure to paddle out past the break so you do not get caught in the whitewater.

9. Steamer Lane

Last but not least on our list of beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz is Steamer Lane.

Steamer Lane is a world-famous surf spot located in the heart of Santa Cruz.

Steamer Lane is located in downtown Santa Cruz, just off of West Cliff Drive. To get there, simply take the Highway 1 exit from Highway 17 and follow West Cliff Drive until you see the parking lot for Steamer Lane.

There is a small fee to park here, but it's well worth it. 

Once you park, make your way down to the beach. You'll see that the waves here are fairly small and very consistent. This makes them perfect for beginners.

The best place to enter the water is from Lighthouse Point.

This is also where you'll find the surfing conditions to be the most favorable. 

Can you surf in Santa Cruz without a wetsuit?

Yes, you can surf in Santa Cruz without a wetsuit, but it is not recommended.

The water here can get chilly, especially in the winter months, and a wetsuit will help keep you warm.

Wetsuits are also great for protecting your skin from the sun and from any potential injuries from surfing.

Final thoughts these beginner surf spots in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a surfers paradise, with beginner-friendly beaches and world renowned spots for more experienced board riders.

The area's beautiful scenery make it the perfect place to spend a day enjoying the sun and waves – no matter your skill level!