Surf (and More) City
Santa Cruz offers many ways to catch a wave.
A surfer since age 12 and a Santa Cruz resident since 1986, Ed Guzman of Club Ed (get it?) has an intimate knowledge of local waves. Club Ed rents boogie boards, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, wetsuits and other aquatic gear from a convenient location on Cowell Beach next to the wharf — look for the blue “Learn to Surf” trailer on the sand in front of the Dream Inn Hotel. Bonus perk: equipment use is free with Ed’s expert lessons. club-ed.com
With over a mile of calm, protected waters, Santa Cruz is a popular spot for beginner kayakers or stand-up paddleboarders. Kayak Connection gives tours through kelp beds where resident otters, sea lions and seals dwell. More experienced paddlers have the option of heading out into Monterey Bay for open-ocean exploring. Either way, dolphin and whale sightings on both routes are not unusual. kayakconnection.com
Not looking to break much of a sweat? No problem. Chardonnay Sailing Charters runs cruises year-round on three different vessels. Passengers take in local scenery while sipping complimentary wine or beer on tap and snacking on pizza or hors d’oeuvres. Adventure-seekers can grab a seat on the bow — just hold on tight, as the Chardonnay can become the jägermeister after a few good swells. chardonnay.com