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West Cliff, a Santa Cruz Esplanade

It’s a place for a Sunday afternoon stroll for us, the home of the Surfing Museum for others, the home of Steamer Lane and Lighthouse Point, and for the Hanlons, it’s a hundred yards from their back door.

It’s one of the indisputable advantages of living in Santa Cruz, like the Boardwalk and Happy Valley School. The photo above shows some modest waves, as well as (in front of the houses) a necessary response to the damage their more virulent cousins can cause to a shoreline prone to erosion. More and more of the shore has been shorne up to protect the million dollar homes sitting 20 yards from the world’s biggest ocean.

Next is a shot from Marty’s plane of Lighthouse Field, the field with the lighthouse on. (You guessed, right!) The State Park fills the photo, Steamer Lane is right under the wing (photos of a little surfing there are below), the Surfing Museum is in the lighthouse, and one of the parking lots is just above the long breaking wave.

The below photo is of that parking lot, with the lighthouse a dot behind the truck. And note the pick up and camper. Santa Cruz is a haven for drifters and people who used to be called hippies, in part because of the weather, in part because of the numbers of students in town, and in part because so much of what is special here is accessible to everyone. The owner of that pick-up could not park it there on the sea front overnight, but he or she can leave it there all day long while surfing, riding around on a bike, you name it.

Next, a little surfing! We have our own boogie-boarding page, and Nick periodically surfed Steamer Lane himself, but we never caught him out here.

So we content ourselves with these photos of local surfers on a winter’s day in late 2005. The first shows them paddling out and waiting for the wave, an occupation that fills by far the larger portion of a surfer’s time, and the second shows one jumping on a wave that the others disdain.

At times on Steamer Lane, you can see the surfing not 50 yards from you on the cliff edge, which is great free entertainment.

Here’s a view of the scenic bike path that runs a few miles along the sea front.

Finally, another shot of the waves on West Cliff, this time with the lighthouse in the background, a natural bridge in the waves, and a warning to those who forget the power of the ocean.