Locals and visitors have been drawn to the Santa Cruz waves since 1855 when three Hawaiian princes showed up to surf the mouth of the San Lorenzo river on their redwood boards. Weighing 150-175 lbs. and measuring 17 feet long, the boards were designed o’lo style, a shape reserved for Hawaiian royalty.
Surfing has evolved as a sport with lighter gear and its own genre of music, but one thing remains consistent: people are passionate about it. After you’ve visited the first surfing museum in the world located in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive, watched the surfers at Steamers Lane or Pleasure Point, and learned to greet your friends with the hang-loose wave, why not sign up for a lesson at one of the surfing schools in Santa Cruz? All of the surfing schools below encourage learners of all ages and levels of experience and they even provide all equipment for your successful journey into the waters that roll into Surf City, USA.
Ron Deetz, owner of Santa Cruz Surf Academy, has spent the last 35 years reading the waves and has devoted the last ten to developing a strong method of instruction for all ages and levels. Rest assured, in this academy you will be in one of the area’s best surf instructor’s hands. Graduates of his program praise his attentiveness and step by step process, attributing these traits to their success in standing up and riding within the first ten minutes on the water. This school chooses locations based on the conditions, providing a learner friendly experience.
Richard Schmidt School of Surfing
Located in the heart of the Wharf and Boardwalk area, Richard Schmidt’s School of Surfing makes it easy and fun to learn to surf. Whether you are visiting the area on vacation or you want to do a deep dive for a weeklong retreat here or in Costa Rica, Richard Schmidt’s School of Surfing has options. If surfing seems a bit too gnarly, stand up paddle lessons may deliver you to your zen.
Barry’s approach to teaching lessons is personalized and goal centered, making this a favorite for first timers and experienced surfers who are working on advancing their skills. Following a holistic approach, Making the Drop sees surfing as a deeply fulfilling lifestyle that goes hand in hand with self-exploration. Life coaching, youth mentoring, and quality surf instructions that aim to inspire can be found at Making the Drop in Capitola.
Friendly surf instruction tailored to individual needs. What more could you want? How about a legendary pro surfer teaching your lesson? Bud Freitas has been surfing locally and winning international competitions for the past 20 years and he is available to share his passion and skills with aspiring shredders. Located at Pleasure Point, this surf school provides the complete experience.
Providing safety, fun, and learnable skills are the top priorities at Club Ed Surf School. The equipment is top notch and tailored to skill level allowing new surfers to try a variety of boards before buying. For those looking to immerse themselves in a week of surfing, Club Ed’s Surf Camp takes care of all the details from providing three healthy meals a day to activities outside the water. Campers rise early in the Manresa Uplands State Park Campground, eat breakfast, and follow the eucalyptus trail to their spot on the beach. In the evening, dinners are provided by local restaurants, and campers wake up and repeat. While this camp is mostly for pre-teens and teens, adults are welcome.
If you live for adventure, Adventure Out may be the surf school for you. Yoga surf clinics, 3-5 day surf camps, and group trips to Big Sur and Baja are offered alongside other surfing compatible ventures such as rock climbing, survival, mountain biking, and backpacking. Professionals meet with the learners over a two day period for three-hour sessions each day allowing the practice to become ingrained in memory.