Beaches & Programs

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Main Beach and Cowell Beach

The Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf

Lifeguard Headquarters
#1 Municipal Wharf 

Lifeguard service is provided during Spring weekends, daily in Summer months and Fall weekends.  Service hours are usually from 10:00 - 7:00, but may vary depending on the weather conditions.  Service area is from Cowell’s Beach to the San Lorenzo River.

 Surf Schools
A permit is required to conduct commercial surfing lessons in the City of Santa Cruz. For surf school regulations see ordinance (13.14). Note that all surf schools are required to have their students and instructors wear colored vests while conducting lessons. Permitted surf schools with their vest colors are as follows:
Adventure Out - Red
Club Ed - Blue
Richard Schmidt Surf School - Purple
To report violations or for questions about concerns on the ordinance, call the Parks and Recreation Department at (831) 420-5270.

Summary Scope of Work
The City of Santa Cruz (the “City”) is requesting written proposals from applicants seeking a surf school permit. The selected applicants will be issued a five (5) year permit and required to follow the permit conditions and requirements of the ordinance.

The City Parks and Recreation Department may issue up to a total of four (4) permits which includes the City’s Cowell Beach Concessionaire, authorizing surf school activities at Cowell Beach Recreation Area. The City Parks and Recreation Department may issue fewer than four permits, at its discretion, to effectuate the purposes of this chapter. The permits shall be non-transferable, and they shall expire five (5) years after the date of issuance.   

A “surf school” is defined as a business which for compensation provides instruction, training, or coaching to individuals on how to board surf, body surf, boogie board, kayak surf, windsurf, kite surf, stand up paddle, or perform any other ocean or water sport entailing the use of sport-related equipment such as, but not limited to, boards, paddles or boats.

Reserve the Beach
Reserve the beach for everything from sporting events to weddings or corporate events. Check the Conditions of Use and call 831-420-5270 or email us. Visit the Fire Department website for Beach Wheelchair information.

2018 Main Beach Volleyball Tournament Application Packet  

No Alcohol allowed on Santa Cruz City Beaches. No bonfire pits available on Main or Cowell Beach.

The Surfing Way: Surf Etiquette Brochure
Beach Safety
Water Quality
National Weather Service Marine Forecast
Best Beach Towns


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