Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Surfing at Maravagi, Solomon Islands. Photograph by Brad Malyon. SHD TRAVEL JUNE 8 SOLOMON ISLANDS.

For a fun afternoon out, catch the next wave to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.  Located in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum has been educating the public about this tubular sport since 1986.

Surfing’s Start in Santa Cruz

Surfing has been a part of California culture since the beginning of the 20th century.  First brought to Santa Cruz by Hawaiian surfers, they started a rage with local teenagers who were excited to see these young men catch and ride waves with their surfboards.

By the mid- to late- 1930s, the Santa Cruz Surfing Club was in full swing.  Members rented a clubhouse on the shores of Cowell’s Beach, where they congregated to surf and play volleyball.  The club was disbanded with the onset of World War II, but not before it established the strong surfing culture in Santa Cruz that we see today.

The surf culture is truly unique, and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum strives to protect and preserve the rich surfing heritage and to ensure historical artifacts are maintained for future generations to enjoy.  Surfers share a deep connection with the ocean, created by hours spent waiting for the next wave to roll in.  They feel the awesome power of the ocean, and experience the sensation of being part of the water swept to shore by that energy.

Current Exhibits

The exhibits at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum explore the history and culture of this unique sport.  From its beginnings in Hawaii through the  years of surfing history in Santa Cruz, the museum seeks to inform visitors in all aspects of surfing culture.

Surf culture has always reflected popular culture of the day.  The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum has on display photographs that chronicle the evolution of surfing in Santa Cruz, from the summer beaches of the 1930s and 1940s, to the beach parties of the 1950s, the surf rock of the 1960s, up to the rebirth of long-board riding in the 1990s.

Visitors can view surfboards on display from each era.  You’ll see hollow paddle boards and redwood planks from the 1930s and early foam and fiberglass boards from the 1970s.

No surfing museum would be complete without memorabilia from the eras, and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum does not disappoint in that regard.  You see local surf club patches, surf movie posters, wetsuits, and examples of surf moves.  You’ll also see just how brave surfers can be when you view the board that survived a shark attack.

Visiting the Museum

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum has the distinction of being the first surfing museum in the world.  It is staffed by veteran surfers who have been chasing Santa Cruz waves since the 1930s.

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is open between July 4 and Labor Day from Wednesday – Monday, 10am to 5pm.  The rest of the year they are open Thursday – Monday, noon to 4pm.

To learn more about the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, visit them on the web at

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