Visit Santa Cruz County announces that the 2020 Official Santa Cruz County Traveler’s Guide is now available. The guide – presented in a portable size – provides timely and useful destination information in an inspirational, one-of-a-kind publication.
The 2020 cover photo is a nod to the historical significance of the sport of surfing in Santa Cruz County – Hawaiian royalty brought surfing to Santa Cruz in 1885 – as well as the legal definition of surfing as California’s official sport. However, the pioneers of the waves during a time when surfing was in its nascent stage deserve credit for helping to cultivate the sport at the local level. Santa Cruz Surf Club, 1941 shows six of the 27 members of the original Santa Cruz Surfing Club. Today, Harry Mayo is the oldest surviving original member at 97 years old and can be seen on the cover of the 2020 Official Santa Cruz County Traveler’s Guide, flush right wearing a Navy blue swimsuit. Surfing is an integral part of the Heritage Tourism Initiative launched by Visit Santa Cruz County in 2019.
The Story of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club
Established in 1936, the humble beginnings of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club began in the basement of surfer David “Buster” Steward’s parents’ home. Two years later, a board storage house was built at Cowell Beach by the Santa Cruz Junior Chamber of Commerce; nearby, the newly formed club members rented a former hamburger stand as its new clubhouse. Officers were elected, a club logo was designed, and tee shirts were made before World War II began when most of the club members enlisted and left to fight. Club activities were put on hold once again when the members returned home to enter college, start careers and families, and in 1952 the Santa Cruz Surfing Club disbanded.
Sharing the Stoke
In 1986, the remaining members of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club joined other local surf clubs and converted the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse into the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – the first one of its kind on the West Coast. This diminutive, admission-free museum houses over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz and overlooks Steamer Lane, one of the best places in the United States to surf. Soon after, the Surfing Statue on West Cliff Drive was built, dedicated to “All surfers, past, present, and future.”
In 2008, the Santa Cruz Surfing Club reorganized and formed the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society, which serves to honor, protect, and preserve the history of surfing in Santa Cruz County and those who contributed to the sport.
Soak Up the Surfing Culture in Santa Cruz
An easy walk from the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and surfer statue, a larger-than-life mural honoring Jack O’Neill and his contributions to the surfing community and Santa Cruz, in general, can be seen, adjacent to a bronze plaque commemorating the site of his original surf shop, now a California Point of Historical Interest. The Santa Cruz Dream Inn and O’Neill Wetsuits formed a partnership to build and install the public mural.
The latest historical addition to the area where surfing began is a commemorative plaque honoring the Santa Cruz Surfing Club. Designed locally and made of 12,000 pounds of concrete, the bronze relief shows the group’s clubhouse and board storage shed and presents the names of the original members of the club. The plaque overlooks Cowell Beach, and is a tribute to those whose talent helped foster the sport of surfing in Santa Cruz. The plaque was dedicated at a public ceremony in November 2019, where a façade of the original clubhouse was constructed for the festivities.
For more surfing inspiration, you can also visit the Jack O’Neill Lounge and Restaurant at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn for ocean-inspired fare and cocktails, and admire vintage images of the pioneer of the modern-day wetsuit. Pick up some surf wear at the O’Neill shop in Downtown Santa Cruz, the flagship store, or at Freeline Surf Shop in Pleasure Point. Or stay dry and hang loose at Steamer Lane, Pleasure Point, Cowell Beach, Capitola, and watch talented wave riders strut their stuff on some of the best waves in California.
Plan Your Visit to Where Surfing Began To order a free 2020 Official Santa Cruz County Traveler’s Guide, click here – or download a digital copy and plan your visit to Surf City. The guide is also available at Visit Santa Cruz County Traveler’s Guide is distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Pier 39, the Moscone Center, the East Bay, and the San Jose International Airport, in addition to other locations in throughout Silicon Valley and Sacramento. The guide is also distributed at key locations in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties which include attractions, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and tourist hot spots.
~ With thanks to the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society
Updated August 2020