To become a proficient surfer, one must learn five basic steps. These steps are: paddling out, catching waves, standing up, riding waves and coming in. Our classes teach these skills.

Our Goal

Our goal at Santa Cruz Surf School is to make sure you are having fun while we teach you how to ride waves – with a focus on ocean safety and surf etiquette.

We offer group, private and corporate lessons for all ages and skill levels. By request, our group lessons can be female-only classes, so girls learn with a group of girls, guys with guys, etc. It is our experience this sometimes helps to promote a comfortable environment free from competition. Plus, if you have a group of 3 or more, we offer private group lessons at no extra charge– so you or your kids can learn together with a group of friends.

The surfing portion of our lessons is often taught in the water at Cowell’s or surf spots nearby. This area is one of the best spots in all of California for learning how to surf. The waves here are very gentle and can peel for a long distance. You are rarely in water over 4 feet deep, so if you need to take a break, you can get off your board and rest on your feet.

A beginning group class will start with an over-view of instruction and then move to the water.

In the first surf lesson you will learn about:

  • rules and etiquette
  • ocean safety and awareness
  • types of waves and different conditions
  • controlling your surfboard

While you learn how to control your surfboard, we will teach you techniques for standing up, handling your board around the waves and turning while riding the waves. We will also help you catch waves and guide you where to locate yourself in the surf spot so you can begin to catch and ride waves on your own. Learning how to surf can be a challenging task, so we do our best to make sure you catch your waves safely, and have plenty of opportunities to stand up and ride waves during your first lesson.

Follow up classes

In follow-up lessons we work more on wave assessment, timing and form. These are important techniques that you need to learn in order to ensure you will be able to catch waves safely on your own. As you continue to take lessons and progress we will teach you about specific surfing maneuvers such as the bottom turn, the cutback, cross-stepping, nose riding and duck-diving.

Your Surfboard

We teach lessons using Safer Surfboards performance soft surfboards and BZ softboards. Safer Surfboards and BZ are great beginner boards combining the safety and durability in a variety of shapes and sizes. These boards are designed and manufactured as the ideal first board for any surfer looking to have a fun and safe aquatic experience.

Classes Meet At:

The location designated at the time of class registration and confirmation. Typically we meet at or near Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz California. Cowell’s Beach is located between two well-known landmarks, namely the Santa Cruz Wharf and Lighthouse Point. Depending on conditions, we might surf waves in Aptos, which is located about 7 miles south of Santa Cruz.


For now, please register by telephone (831) 419-1226 or contact us by email at We are currently updating the 2015 calendar of classes for on-line registration which will show the Class Schedule page of our website. After you register, you should receive a registration confirmation e-mail, keep this with your records. The EVENING BEFORE your SCHEDULED LESSON, you will receive a Text message, phone call or CLASS CONFIRMATION E-MAIL containing very important information and details about your next day’s surfing lesson. If you have any questions, timely respond to the text message, email or call the Surf School at (831) 419-1226.


No Fee to Register – Payment is Made at the Lesson

We only accept Cash or Check at the time of the lesson. Please notify us of any cancellations at least the evening before your lesson.

Once you are signed up, we will CONTACT YOU by e-mail, text message or phone, THE day BEFORE YOUR LESSON TO GO OVER ALL OF THE DETAILS.

RESERVING A HOTEL ROOM OR RENTAL HOUSE IN SANTA CRUZ?   CALL FOR LOCAL KNOWLEDGE ABOUT BEST PLACES TO STAY  (and where not to stay) IN SANTA CRUZ. Please note: This is simply a courtesy recommendation service and the Surf School receives no incentives from anyone.  The suggestions made by the Surf School are only suggestions and are not a guarantee of the quality of the establishment or the quality of your experience.  We are simply trying to help avoid you being over-charged or being stuck in an unappealing area.

Steps for Registration:

For now call (831) 419-1226 or email:

Steps for online registration:
1- Go to the Class Calendar
2- Click on the date and class time you want to sign up for and complete the online form.
3- Check the tide height for that date. The lower the tide, the better. If the number in parenthesis is below (1.5ft) than you are guaranteed good conditions
4- After you fill out the registration form, you are in the class (be sure to leave us your cell#, no home #’s)
5- You will be receiving a confirmation email or call from us the evening before your class. You can always reach us at (831) 419-1226.

We will teach you how the tides affect the waves in your surf lesson.

We have 4/3mm wetsuits, 3mm booties, thermal guards, and for the extra cold days, 3mm gloves for your hands so you’ll be covered from head to toe, and all equipment is included to use during the lesson.

If you still have questions, you can reach Santa Cruz Surf School (831) 419-1226. Get ready to learn to surf!

Release Forms

Be sure to click on the link below to print and sign your RELEASE FORMS before you attend the lesson. If not, we will have the forms for you to sign at the beginning of class. One form is a statement that you are healthy enough to participate in a Surfing Lesson. The Second form is a release of liability because the sport surfing is an activity which cannot be guaranteed to be made safe.

Click here to Download Release Forms

Please print out the forms and sign, initial and date as indicated on the forms. Kindly bring the signed forms with you to your surf lesson.

Thank you.

Santa Cruz Surf School

Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 419-1226