If you think the KT line is crowded and aggressive, try surfing a sunny weekend day in the city limits of Santa Cruz. However, it’s actually pretty easy to get away from the chaos, just like it is if you’re getting vibed by too many people at the resort. Head into the backcountry, or take the surfer’s option and check out the stretch of coast between Santa Cruz and Pacifica and you’re sure to find a deserted peak with your name on it.
Okay. Before I get into this one a few things need to be said as we start covering more surfing on Unoffical. Localism is a very real thing in the surf world, and for some ridiculous reason, some idiots think they are better than you if they show ownership over the ocean. Guess what? GET OVER YOURSELVES! No one owns the ocean. All that should ever be shown is respect. Blowing up surf spots in Humboldt? Bolinas? Are you f’ing kidding me? Ever heard of Surfline.com? How about The Stormrider Guide to North America? Yeah me too. Similar with backcountry skiing, if beta exists in a guidebook or on the Internet, what are you bitching about? I’ve never really understood it, it sucks for all involved, and my surf crew from So-Cal to Nor-Cal who get after it year-round agree; give respect, get respect, period. When I lived on the ocean and was seen as a regular local surfing every day I witnessed many acts of aggression because someone wanted to “prove” they are radder than someone else. How sad.
If you’re a visiting surfer on the Cali coast at all, whether it’s summer or not, just be aware, and hopefully the Aloha Spirit will guide you so you don’t have any unnecessary altercations with one of these unfortunate assholes. Just remember respect, and if you don’t have the skills yet to safely deal with yourself in the water you need to develop them before paddling out to a real-deal break and mixing up with the locals. Stick to Cowell’s in Santa Cruz or Lindamar in Pacifica until you can hold your own and all will be good. And yeah, my name is attached to this so if you have something to say, be real and do the same. Okay, there’s my rant as someone is invariably gonna say some b.s. about talking about this stretch of gorgeous coastline, surfable throughout the year, and OPEN TO ALL.
Leaving the city confines of Santa Cruz, although epic in its vibe and quality of waves, the world according to the ocean changes. There are minimally 20 different places to paddle out on this stretch of coast, although it feels more like Nor-Cal surfing and should be understood as such. That is, it’s sharky, cold, generally thicker, with rips and variable conditions present more often than not. Still, catch a small peaky swell with the right wind at any of these breaks and they will shine. Some Santa Cruz folk I know swear by 3-Mile, 4-Mile, Scott’s, and Waddell’s. The thing is paddle out here and mess up someone’s ride or drop in on’em and that’s when the blood will shed. Just remember, it’s all about respect, and if you do you’ll be fine. Or better yet if there’s a crew in the water head north of Waddell’s and the breaks get even emptier.
Gazos Creek, Bean Hollow, and on up to Montara-there’s so many different spots to surf if you’re looking for a soul session there’s always a great desolate place to lock into one. I’ve surfed some of these breaks sparsely over the years, but have found them blown out, too big and closed out, or sloppy more often than not. My take is if you want to explore this stretch of coast (or surf anywhere in the U.S. for that matter) pick up a copy of the Stormrider Guide to North America. It’ll give you a good idea of what works best for a certain break (wind, swell, tide), how to get there, and what to watch out for.
You can always mix it up on a road bike like all the others who seem to love pedaling Highway 1 (not sure why with all the cars on the highway),
or go fishing and catch some dinner if you don’t feel like a surf.
Don’t forget to stop at the Half Moon Bay Brewery for some killer food and brews as well if you pass through Half Moon Bay.
In reality, nothing compares to skiing pow like surfing a clean wave, and there’s nothing on earth like the power and beauty of the ocean. So venture out there, bring some respect, and if you paddle out on this stretch of coastline on a clean peaky day, be prepared to understand why surfers commonly refer to the act of surfing as a “soul shower”.