A few years ago, Surfer Magazine listed its top 10 Surf Towns: the best places to eat, sleep work, and shred. So which city was #1? Santa Cruz, California.
Why? According to Surfer, Santa Cruz, a 90-minute car ride from San Francisco, is the dividing line between rugged, non-pretentious NorCal and suburban, image-focused SoCal, and that dichotomy is tangible. It’s a college town where palm trees grow next to pine trees and pro surfers live next door to reclusive soul surfers.
In fact, Santa Cruz County’s 40-mile stretch of coast is home to more than 70 noteworthy surf spots, and is arguably the real “Surf City, USA.” Brothers Jonah, David, and Edward Kawananakoa surfed the very first waves in the continental United States in Santa Cruz in 1885, and the town has been a thriving surf spot ever since. Despite the cooler temps, surfing is this city’s priority and has become the de facto capital of cold-water surfing.
Another interesting fact: even though expensive homes surround the area, Santa Cruz is still very much a blue-collar town with a largely home-grown surf community. Residents like to claim Santa Cruz a sort of Walden for artists and craftsmen who wish to live a surf life far from the surf spotlight.
In fact, last month, Surfer ranked University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) as one of the top 10 surf colleges in the nation. UCSC was crowned the best college for those who “Want to Surf at least 300 Days a Year” and called the “capital of consistency.”
Ready to now head to Santa Cruz? Here are more stats:
Average Water Temp: 57 (But drops into the 40s in the winter)
Average Air Temp: 57
Median Income: $59,770
Median Home Price: $850,623
Most Common Industry: Educational Services
Premier Surf Spots: Steamer Lane, Wadell Creek, Pleasure Point
Do you agree? What’s your #1 Surf town?