At first glance, the little brick building adorned with a lighthouse at the top appears to be exactly that – a lighthouse. However, with a closer look, you’ll realize that The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is an emerald gem with a vast chronicle of artifacts and exhibits telling tales of over a century surfing history of Santa Cruz County.
Established in 1986, the museum pays tribute to the impact the surf culture has had on Santa Cruz though the years. It’s also one of the oldest museums in the world.
From the primeval planks used in ancient time to striped boards that were widely used in the 60s Surfing Museum archives all the evolving stages of the surfing culture giving you a glimpse into the past and the present. You’ll also find shark-bitten surfboards and swimsuits.
The Surfing Museum is located on the West Cliff Drive and command a view of the famed Steamer Lane surfing spot.
When you visit the birthplace of surfing it’s such a treat to understand history. The one-roomed Surfing Museum is pretty basic. However, it hosts heaps of interesting information. Plus, it’s located on a cliff right above one of the most preeminent surf breaks in the world.
If you’re a history buff, a visit to this small yet charming museum is unmissable. And, you don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy the deep-rooted history or the activities in the area.
The entrance fee is free. But you can buy souvenirs such as t-shirts and books at the museum (the money goes into supporting the non-profit establishment). Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is open throughout the year but the time varies from season to season.
Tips for visiting Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
Besides offering a massive display of surfing artifacts, the Museum is at one of the most picturesque spots where you can stand in awe as you watch surfers chase the waves.
After learning the history of surfing in the county, step outside and watch as pro surfers do their thing. On a good day, you can have a birds-eye view of surfers below from yards away and if you’re lucky, you can spot sea otters.
It’s also located a stone thrown away from the beach where you can have striking views of the ocean and enjoy a sunset.
Surfing Museum is tiny. So you can pair the visit to the museum with other attractions – it will take you roughly 30 – 40 minutes to explore.
For instance, you can stroll through the scenic West Cliff Drive, peruse through the Museum then head to the legendary Steamer Lane and watch as pro surfers display their best performances.
Parking is free but it can be limited especially on the weekends. So plan accordingly preferably to get there before noon.
The lighthouse sits on a cliff which gives you a 350-degree view of the area. That said, it can get a little cold even in summer so be sure to layer up if you’re planning to watch the sunset.