Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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Lighthouse Field State Beach is a state park on the west side of Santa Cruz, California encompassing a small beach popular with dogs, open grassy fields, bluff-side and meadow walking trails, the Lighthouse/Santa Cruz Surfers Museum, and the consistent waves of Steamer Lane, a historically popular surfing area that remains a focal point for surfing in Santa Cruz today. 

World-class surf break known Steamer Lane consists of multiple reefs and a point break setup that can handle just about any swell size the Pacific throws its way. Blocked from prevailing winds by sandstone bluffs, conditions typically remain optimal here when other waves are blown out. Not a beginner spot, "The Lane" is typically packed with talented surfers showcasing their skills for an audience watching from the bluffs above. Access to the lineup is either by way of the stairwells and boulders that can be tricky at high tide or by jumping off the sandstone bluff at the end of the point, offically known as Point Santa Cruz. 

There is a paved promenade along West Cliff that provides great views over the Pacific and around Point Santa Cruz back towards town. The promenade provide great opportunities to catch a glimpse of sea animals such as sea lions, sea otters and gray whales, and you'll also have plenty of opportunity to see the surfers below. Across West Cliff are the fields themselves, with additional trials that offer a quieter and relaxing atmosphere wondering among open meadows and Monterey Cypress trees. All trails are dog friendly. The actual beach is located north of the lighthouse and is relatively small but scenic; it has great views and stays warm throughout the day as the sun sets along the ocean horizon. Known as "Its Beach" and "Dog Beach" locally, the beach is very popular with dogs where they can run free.  The cozy Point Santa Cruz lighthouse looks over all of this and doubles as the Santa Cruz Surfer's Museum, a tribute to this city's long surfing legacy.  

Lighthouse Field State Beach is a popular destination in Santa Cruz, so congestion can be high. Parking free and can be plentiful on a midweek morning, but quite full on the weekends. The promenade along West Cliff Drive has a constant flow of joggers, bikers and sightseers and is a great stroll to get oriented with the area. Walk along the water for majestic ocean views and if time allows try and catch a suset at beautiful Natural Bridges State Beach, located a couple miles north at the end of West Cliff Drive.


Logistics + Planning



Parking Pass

Not Required


Surfing. Wildlife. Free parking.




ADA accessible
Historically significant
Picnic tables
Whale watching
Bird watching


Nearby Adventures

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California


Covewater Surf City Paddleboard Race, Lighthouse Field State Beach
A gorgeous morning at Lighthouse Field State Beach.
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