Novice surfers should probably plant it in the sand at 30th and East Cliff. The aggressive swells and waves here make for great aerial tricks and rides, and some good old-fashioned showboating. Many people line the shore to watch those take on the waves at this spot, so if you end up needing to take a knee from the surf, you’re not alone. 30th and East Cliff is the place for perfecting your surf skills.
Not too far from the favorable Pleasure Point is where many locals and surf experts can be found. To reach The Hook, you just need to descend a flight of stairs at the end of Pleasure Point, and you’re there. This spot got its name from the collection of kelp that gets “hooked” around buoys and skags in the water. Surfers love coming to The Hook for its perfect swells. The waters can get a little crowded, mostly with locals, but once you’re out there, it’s absolutely worth it.
This locale may seem unattainable due to its name, but Private’s Beach is open for public use. The long and easygoing waves are perfect for novices and those looking for a little bit of seclusion. Imagine Private’s Beach as a lesser-known Cowell’s—a wonderful spot for beginners to ride the waves at their own pace.
Just a quick drive outside Santa Cruz is the must-see Manresa State Beach in Watsonville. The beauty of this spot is how much less crowded it is compared to those within the heart of Santa Cruz. What’s even better at Manresa is that you’ll find some of the best swells around.
Manresa State Beach, 1445 San Andreas Road, Watsonville, CA, USA, +1 831 724 3750
To mix it up a bit, strap your board to your ride and head along Highway 1 through Santa Cruz. Not only is this one of the most beautiful drives you’ll take, but as long as you keep an eye on the waves, you can also catch sight of some amazing surf. All you need to do is pull over into one of the Highway’s multiple turnouts, hop out, and head to the sand. Not knowing what kind of surf spot you’ll come across next is half the fun.