Since 2012, Santa Cruz has been formally recognized as a World Surfing Reserve for its preserved surfing culture and ideal surfing conditions and coastlines—one of only four sites in total to earn the esteemed title, with the other locations on the list including Malibu (California), Manly Beach (Australia), and Ericeira (Portugal).
Dedicated to the history of surfing and its importance in the mainland United States, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum provides a unique inside glimpse into Santa Cruz’ surfing culture. Learn more about this intriguing surf museum in Santa Cruz below!
Dive into the History of California’s Most Iconic Sport
Housed within the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum was the first of its kind in the entire world when it opened its doors in 1986. The location of the museum in Santa Cruz is tragically appropriate; the lighthouse, built in 1967, serves as a memorial to the famous local surfer Mark Abbott, who met his demise during a surfing accident at Pleasure Point nearby.
Exhibits and artifacts in this extraordinary museum include surfboards, photographs, videos, and more. Taking visitors from the foundation of surfing in Hawaii and the early days of surfing in Santa Cruz through the decades that helped the sport skyrocket in popularity and establish California’s surfing reputation, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is an engaging look into how this sport become tied to California’s very image in popular culture.
The museum is appropriately located next to the local surfing spot known as Steamer Lane, where surfers can try their hand at mastering the waves of Santa Cruz after they read up on the sport’s true legends.
Between Independence Day and Labor Day, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum maintains summer hours that last from 10:00am until 5:00pm, with the museum closing on Wednesdays. From Labor Day until Independence Day, the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with winter operational hours lasting from 12:00pm until 4:00pm.
Admission to the museum is free, with the museum’s operations being financed by the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society and private donations. Donations are always appreciated.
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