Hanging at the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve.
Who knew there were surfing reserves? What exactly are they? Do they protect against people trying to stop surfers from riding the waves? Well, yes. In a way. They also work toward protecting the sea life and water in those areas; so there’s some conservation to it as well. I found out these were started by a group called Save the Waves in conjunction with an Australian National Surfing Reserves organization. There are only ten World Surfing Reserves at the moment, none of which are in Hawaii. (I find that odd. Of course, I don’t know much about the surfing world; but I’m pretty sure at least one of the bigger competitions is held there and I think surfing actually got invented there.)
Anyway, to become a reserve, the area has to meet certain criteria having to do with the quality of their waves, environmental status, strong community support, and history in the surfing community. Santa Cruz was apparently where surfing started in North America, so of course it should be a World Surfing Reserve!
The lighthouse there has a unique story. It’s actually the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and a memorial. There was a different working lighthouse there from 1870 until 1948, when it was auctioned off under the condition of being removed from the property.
The winner of the auction, a carpenter, dismantled the wooden lighthouse and used it for his work instead of moving it. Later, in 1965, an 18-year old named Mark Abbott drowned while body-surfing off Pleasure Point. His parents remembered how much he loved lighthouses and had the current one built in his memory, burying his ashes underneath. The city owns the lighthouse now, as well as the light (which used to be owned by the Coast Guard), and the surrounding area is Lighthouse Field State Beach/Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve.
Brian and I walked around the area a bit, eventually hanging out to wait for some surfers to catch a wave. It’s a beautiful spot and the waves really are awesome. I could have stuck around for quite a while longer just watching them. Unfortunately, much of the street parking on Cliff Drive is only 20-minute parking – though it’s free. If you want to visit for an extended time, I suggest parking in one of the lots by the Wharf and walking or renting a city bike if you don’t want to walk up the short hill. You can spend time on the point around the lighthouse, overlooking Steamer Lane, or head down to the beach. It’s a little over 2.5 miles from the parking lots by the Wharf to Natural Bridges State Park, so it’d be a great stroll, jog, or bike ride along the bluffs.
Thanks for following along on our journey, friends. Remember to live your journey…