by Garrett Wheeler

From the Santa Cruz Wharf north to Steamer Lane, the stretch of sand and reef known as Cowells is a fun-for-everyone longboard spot frequented by anyone who wants to surf soft but shapely user-friendly waves. Although expert-level longboarders love to noseride and cutback on the long rights at Cowells, surf schools also frequent the break, as does the "Old Guys Rule" crowd, dreadlocked UCSC students, surf moms, their kids and the occasional curious sea otter.

The wave itself is good on any swell above knee-high, although it needs to be a pretty low tide or the wave will just wash onto the rocks without really breaking. Usually in the late winter, after several large swells have washed through, the sand bar will build up along the reef to form a perfectly peeling, albeit soft, right-hander that is the prize of Santa Cruz’s finest longboarders. The few large south swells that filter into town during the summer months also seem to line up particularly well at Cowells.

Access and Parking
There’s limited metered parking in front of the beach on the north side of the wharf, and a few free street spots on the overhead bluff if you’re lucky enough to nab a space. Otherwise, hit the residentials. For ocean access, use the beach north of the pier.

Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.