Santa Cruz, CA, USA

Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Summit: Successful Stewardship Planning

On April 25th, 2014 Save The Waves Coalition and the Local Stewardship Council of the World Surfing Reserve convened a landmark  Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Summit. Click links for summary video and photos.

Save The Waves hosted this event on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the dedication of Santa Cruz as a World Surfing Reserve to convene over 50 key community stakeholders in an action-oriented conference to address environmental challenges to Santa Cruz’s surf resources. Focus groups concentrated on addressing challenges from water quality to trash issue and sea level rise.

California Secretary of Natural Resources, John Laird delivered a moving keynote. Laird said, "The fact that this many people are willing to honor our local culture and honor the environment, and have those higher goals and be committed to practical action, is a wonderful thing,"

Tyler Fox, Big Wave Surfer, and Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, ocean advocacy scientist and author of the forthcoming Blue Mind, as noted the importance of surfing as business and surfing’s effects on the human brain.

“Surfing is really at the heart of the community, and we need to start to think how our coast is changing. We were thrilled to have some of Santa Cruz’s best and brightest in the room to think about how we protect our surf spots from some very real threats”, said Nik Strong-Cvetich, Executive Director, Save The Waves Coalition, “What we achieved today were some very real strides toward improving water quality conditions, trash, and how we approach sea-level rise.”

The Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Local Stewardship Council is made up of: the following individuals: Hilary Bryant, City of Santa Cruz Councilmember, Mark Stone, California Assemblymember, Brian Kilpatrick, O’Neill Wetsuits, John Leopold, County of Santa Cruz Supervisor, Jim Littlefield, Surfers Environmental Alliance and Surfrider Foundation, Jane Mackenzie, Protected Investors, Nick Mucha, Environmental and Programs Director, Save The Waves Coalition, Nik Strong-Cvetich, Executive Director, Save The Waves Coalition, and Dan Young, Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.

The World Surfing Reserve Summit was sponsored by Save The Waves Coalition, Santa Cruz Waves, Nombat Branding, Sereno Group, and Patagonia Outlet Santa Cruz, The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Conscious Creations Catering, and Thee Americas Coffee.


Nick Mucha


Photo: William Henry
Santa Cruz: A Coldwater Dreamland
The Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve is located on the northern side of Monterey Bay along California’s Central Coast within the protected coastal waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Reserve stretches approximately 7 miles from Natural Bridges State Park in the City of Santa Cruz on the west end eastward along the city and county coast to the Opal Cliffs, just east of Pleasure Point. At least 23 consistent surf breaks are sited along this coast, including the world-class breaks of Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point. Most are reef breaks or beach breaks with a few outstanding point breaks, and almost all naturally break right within this zone. Winter is always the best time for surfing consistent waves. 
The breaks are rated from “expert” to “beginner” and are used by surfers throughout the year, so surfers of all ages and levels can find a suitable wave in the area. Surfing contests from pros to clubs to schools are frequent and popular. Beach and surf access is generally good along this coast, and most of the beach areas in the SCWSR are overseen either by California State Parks; the City of Santa Cruz; or Santa Cruz County.
Santa Cruz proudly claims itself the location of the very first board surfing ever in North America, at the “Rivermouth” break in 1885, as documented in The Santa Cruz Surf. When three Hawaiian princes had surfboards milled out of local redwood and demonstrated board wave riding for the first time, Santa Cruz was immediately established forever as the birthplace of surfing on the continent. A strong surf culture continues today as a key part of the area’s image, with many local residents embracing surfing as a central part of their lifestyle.
*Santa Cruz was formally approved as a World Surfing Reserve on February 3, 2011 and was officially dedicated on April 28th, 2012. Click here to read more about the dedication. Click here to download the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve Booklet.
Photo: William Henry

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