Cowells Beach: The Ultimate Surfing Destination for Beginners

Welcome to the jewel of Santa Cruz’s beach scene – Cowells Beach. Located in the heart of the city, Cowells Beach is a world-renowned destination for surfing enthusiasts of all levels. With its picturesque setting, gentle waves, and consistent surf breaks, Cowells Beach provides the perfect platform for beginners to learn and for experts to hone their skills.

But Cowells Beach offers more than just surfing. Its stunning beauty, relaxing atmosphere, and range of activities make it one of the best beaches in California for families and individuals alike. So, whether you are looking for a thrilling surfing experience or a tranquil seaside getaway, Cowells Beach has it all.

The Best Beach in Santa Cruz

Cowells Beach is widely considered the best beach in Santa Cruz, and for good reason. The stunning beach features soft, white sand and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming and soaking up the Californian sun.

What sets Cowells Beach apart from other Santa Cruz beaches is its family-friendly atmosphere. The beach offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages, including beach volleyball and tidepooling. Families can also enjoy picnicking and relaxing under the shade of beach umbrellas.

Cowells Beach is not just a great place to relax and soak up the sun; it’s also a top destination for surfing. The consistent waves and suitable conditions make it a popular spot for surfers of all levels, beginner and expert alike.

Surfing at Cowells Beach

Cowells Beach is renowned as one of the most popular surf spots on the West Coast. With its consistent waves and ideal conditions, it’s perfect for both beginners and experienced surfers alike.

Surfers can catch waves up to 10 feet high during peak season. The beach also offers a range of waves, from steep and challenging to mellow and easy-going, so surfers of all abilities can find their perfect spot.

The beach’s location is ideal for surfers, as it faces the west, picking up consistent swells from the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, the beach’s orientation means that surfers can catch waves all day long, with the best conditions typically in the morning.

During the summer months, the water temperature can be comfortably warm, making Cowells Beach an ideal surf spot for those who want to catch some waves without needing to wear a wetsuit.

For beginners, there are plenty of local surf schools that offer lessons and equipment rentals, making it easy to get started with this thrilling sport.

Exploring Cowells Beach

There’s more to Cowells Beach than just surfing! Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the sun or an active adventure, there’s plenty to do at this family-friendly beach.

Beach VolleyballWith several beach volleyball courts available, Cowells Beach is a popular spot for both recreational and competitive play.
PicnickingEnjoy a picnic on the beach with stunning ocean views. Several picnic tables and BBQs are available for public use.
TidepoolingExplore the tide pools and discover a variety of marine life. Remember to tread lightly and leave everything as you found it.
Kayaking and Stand-up PaddleboardingRent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the beautiful coastline from a different perspective.

No matter what your interests, Cowells Beach has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. It’s the perfect location to unwind and enjoy a day in the sun while taking part in a range of beach activities.

Coastal Adventures near Cowells Beach

While Cowells Beach is undoubtedly one of Santa Cruz’s top attractions, there are many other adventures to explore in the area. Whether you’re looking for more beach activities or want to venture out and explore the scenic coastline, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

No trip to Santa Cruz is complete without a visit to the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This amusement park boasts a range of rides, games, and attractions, making it a perfect activity for families or groups of friends. Take a ride on the Giant Dipper, the park’s historic wooden roller coaster, or try your luck at one of the arcade games.

Take a Coastal Hike

The surrounding coastline offers some incredible hiking opportunities, with trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. The Wilder Ranch State Park boasts scenic coastal paths and historic ranch buildings, while the Santa Cruz Wharf to West Cliff Drive route offers stunning ocean views. Whichever trail you choose, be sure to bring sunscreen, water, and comfortable shoes.

Experience Whale Watching

For a truly unforgettable adventure, consider booking a whale watching tour in Santa Cruz. Several companies offer boat tours that allow you to spot humpback, blue, and gray whales in their natural habitat. You may also see dolphins, sea lions, and other marine life.

Go Surfing at Other Beaches

If you’re an experienced surfer looking for a new challenge, Santa Cruz has several other top surf spots to explore. Pleasure Point, Steamer Lane, and The Hook are all popular surf destinations that offer more advanced waves than Cowells Beach.

Planning Your Visit to Cowells Beach

If you’re planning a visit to Cowells Beach, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Parking: Parking can be difficult during peak season, so it’s best to arrive early or consider alternative transportation options such as walking, biking, or taking a bus.

Amenities: Cowells Beach offers a variety of amenities including restrooms, showers, and outdoor rinse stations. Additionally, there are several nearby restaurants and snack bars for your convenience.

Beach Activities: The beach is open year-round and is ideal for a variety of activities, including surfing, beach volleyball, and tidepooling. Make sure to check the surf forecast before heading out and always be aware of the tide schedule when exploring the tide pools.

Other Attractions: While Cowells Beach is a beautiful destination in its own right, there are plenty of other attractions nearby to explore, including the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, scenic coastal hikes, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium a short drive away.

Tips and Recommendations: Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. It’s also a good idea to bring a beach chair or blanket to relax on and enjoy the view. Lastly, always be mindful of the beach rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Plan Your Visit Today

Planning your visit to Cowells Beach is easy. It offers ample parking and amenities, and there are plenty of nearby dining options to suit every taste. So why wait? Pack your sunscreen and beach towel, and head to Cowells Beach for a relaxing and fun-filled vacation.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, Cowells Beach is a must-visit destination in Santa Cruz. As the best beach in the area, it offers stunning beauty, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a range of activities to suit all ages. Its popularity as a surf spot speaks for itself, making it an ideal vacation spot for surfers looking to catch the perfect wave.

But Cowells Beach has much more to offer than just surfing. From beach volleyball and picnicking to tidepooling and scenic coastal hikes, there’s something for everyone. And with nearby attractions like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and opportunities for whale watching, your visit to Cowells Beach is sure to be an unforgettable experience.