Four Mile Beach

Four miles north of town (yes, that’s how it got its name) along Highway 1, at the northern edge of Wilder Ranch State Park, you’ll find a right point called Four Mile, a less-than-perfect wave that breaks upwards of 300 days a year. Literally any type of swell—steep northwest wind-swells, long period north and south swells—will get in to this southwest-facing cove and hit the reef to form a right that ranges from mediocre to pretty darn fun. Although a mid to high tide is best, Four Mile can work on pretty much any tide as long as it’s not extreme one way or the other.

As with other consistent Santa Cruz breaks, wind out of the northwest blows side-offshore at Four Mile, holding wave faces up a bit better than even glassy conditions. The reef forms two distinct peaks, an outside and an inside bowl, but the best waves are the ones that connect all the way through, giving surfers a lengthy ride with a chance for a barrel on the inside section. These longer rides are rare on wind-swells, but even short period stuff can jack up on the inside bowl to form a barrel right from the takeoff.

The crowd at Four Mile can be daunting, because although most of the talent from town rarely ventures away from the Lane and other superior breaks close to home, Four Mile has its colorful crew of guys that seem to live in the cove, waiting for the tide to get just right. Much to the chagrin of these “locals,” Four Mile is also heavily frequented by UCSC students and other non-local surfers. On weekends, the place can be an absolute zoo, with families picnicking and Banana Slugs crawling the line-up with their girlfriends in tow.

—Garrett Wheeler

Access and Parking

About four miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1, you’ll see a dirt parking area on the left side of the road, with a few spots across the highway. Park and find the dirt path. It’s about a half-mile walk down to the beach. Don't leave valuables in the car. This is technically a state beach, and there are tolerable port-a-potties and trash receptacles on the path down.

Return to Wilder Ranch State Park.