Whether you are a pro or complete novice, Santa Cruz boasts secret surf spots, big waves and calmer waters for all ages and levels of surfers, could suggest why Santa Cruz is also known as the ‘surf city’.

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Will, Kate B and Alexandra are here to help give you the inside track.

Key Stats

Best Time To Visit

Dec - Jan

Flight from London London

11:15 hrs

Time Difference

GMT -8 hrs

The first waves surfed in North America were in Santa Cruz by three Hawaiian brothers in the year 1885, the town has since been a thriving surf culture. Santa Cruz city and county were approved as a World Surfing Reserve in 2012. The reserve stretches about seven miles from Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz city along the coast to Opal Cliffs. At least 23 consistent surf breaks are sited along this coast, including world-class breaks such as Pleasure Point and Steamer Lane.

Cowell's Beach is a welcoming surf spot in Santa Cruz and a good starting point, offering long gentle waves. A little less crowded then the Cowell's is the Capitola Beach, famous especially among locals and a great spot for beginners providing perfect longboard waves.

Steamer Lane is by far the most famous surf spot along Santa Cruz's coastline, offering world- class waves- which should be left to the Pros though, unless you are a very, very experienced surfer. Another great spot for long-time wave riders is Pleasures Point providing dozen famous breaks for a thrilling surfing experience.

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Where to stay

Sunset at Post Ranch Inn, luxury hotel in the Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn

This cliff hanger luxury hotel - it literally does hang over the cliffs - is one of the few places to stay along the Big Sur (of this standard anyway), meaning guests can explore uninterrupted to their hearts content.

Terrace at Four Seasons Santa Barbara, luxury hotel in Santa Barbara, Big Sur

Four Seasons Santa Barbara

The Four Seasons group acquired this Spanish-style 1920's hacienda during the Reagan era and restored the 22-acre property to make the most of its historic charm.

The pool at El Encanto, luxury hotel in Big Sur

Belmond El Encanto

Dating back to the 1920’s, El Encanto has been meticulously restored by Belmond, and aims to capture the romance and glamour of that era.

The poolside at Pebble Beach Resort, luxury hotel in San Francisco

Pebble Beach Resort

Famous for its four extraordinary golf courses (that have hosted the US Open five times) as well as incredible facilities and settings.

Roof terrace at Canary Hotel, luxury hotel in Santa Barbara

Canary Hotel

Canary Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, complete with roof top pool and just a short bike ride from the beach.

Sunset at Anderson Inn, luxury hotel in Morro Bay, Big Sur

Anderson Inn

For guests looking for understated luxury, look no further - The Anderson Inn is a family run contemporary boutique hotel, and nothing says quintessential seaside home stay than the hotel’s stunning spot on the waterfront in Morro Bay.

Ventana Inn & Spa

Ventana Inn & Spa

Sat atop a hill overlooking the rugged Big Sur coastline, the Ventana Inn & Spa is a luxurious adult’s only retreat set within 243 acres of forest, meadows and gardens.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch

A short drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea and the lovely Monterey Peninsula sits the Carmel Valley Ranch, a luxurious place to stay along the California coast, surrounded by 500 acres of country estate.

Start creating your tailored trip today

Will, Kate B and Alexandra are our Highway One, the California Coast Road Trip experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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