Santa Cruz County is located on California’s Central Coast, 65 miles south of San Francisco and 35 miles north of Monterey. Situated on the northern side of the Monterey Bay and rimmed by redwood forested mountains, Santa Cruz County has 29 miles of beaches and 14 state parks.
“In Santa Cruz everything is a little bit different. To start with, the town is near the San Andreas Fault, which the locals will tell you at the first opportunity. This surely explains why everything here is a little bit topsy-turvy, right? San Jose, half an hour’s drive away on the mainland, is full of average Joes preoccupied with everyday problems like mortgages, traffic, the price of petrol and the San Francisco Giants’ umpteenth defeat. Hop over the mountain ridge and you’re in an enclave, a sanctuary for the weird and wonderful. It even has its own special “Mediterranean” climate.”
- Kolia Sulima, A new beginning in Santa Cruz, America’s Last Hippie Holdout
Santa Cruz is one of America’s surfing capitals, complete with its own museum devoted to the sport, and a beach whose waves are known all over the world.
“I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, and the whole lifestyle revolves around the beach. My parents met surfing, and the beach was a major part of our daily lives.”
– Marisa Miller
“I went to UC Santa Cruz, overlooking the Bay of Monterey and Santa Cruz, in 1969. Back then, the city was part-hippie, part-surfer, but mostly retired chicken farmer.”
– Clive Sinclair
“The weekly farmers’ market is also quite the scene. An amateur orchestra of 15 drummers have installed themselves under a giant sycamore tree and play an assortment of bongos, barrels, plastic buckets and maracas. There isn’t a sober face among them. They drum away from 3pm till 8pm, a smog of marijuana hanging over them like a cloud of cotton wool. A young woman, stark naked, weaves her way through the fruit stalls. Her gaze is out of focus but her nimble feet carry her beautifully.”
“Santa Cruz is arguably the last hippie stronghold in the US. It’s almost impossible to earn any money and so, paradoxically, in Santa Cruz it’s fashionable to be poor. The city’s full of hobos but no-one moves them on. The tramps I’m accustomed to are dirty, covered in scabs and usually not long for this world. Those in Santa Cruz are of a different breed entirely. They hover in lines along Pacific Avenue, one of the main downtown drags, and sit around the libraries frightening the readers. They wash themselves and their clothes in the public toilets, and they busk with guitars and laugh their booming laughs like out-of-tune organs. The polite Santa Cruz police put on latex gloves and engage them in leisurely conversation.”
“I think you’re kind of seeing the real me as far as seeing what I post on social media, because I am very much into cooking, and my dogs, and obviously my son, and my lifestyle in Santa Cruz is very laid-back.”
– Marisa Miller
“My own zigzag path through life led me back to Santa Cruz in the early Eighties, and I have revisited regularly since. The place hasn’t changed: head in the clouds, backside on the hills and feet in the ocean – one of the most decent and beautiful places on earth.”
– Clive Sinclair
Flea market, Santa Cruz. Photograph: Nicole Corpuz under a CC licence
“I live in Santa Cruz. I moved here in 1974 and couldn’t leave.”
– Ellen Bass
“Santa Cruz is blessed not only with natural wonders, but also with gifted souls who can fashion nature’s bounty into man-made treasures.”
– Clive Sinclair
“When I wander through the city, I search in vain for its secret. Finding a place to rent here is a Herculean labour. With the money it would cost to rent a kennel or a birdhouse in Santa Cruz you could rent a house with a pool in North Carolina. People wear tattered Converse trainers held together with sticky tape but ride bikes with $500-frames. There are as many organic food stores for the 60,000 inhabitants as for the 10 million residents of New York. It is as if no one thinks about the future at all. Budget? Savings? No, haven’t heard of either of those things. For the first time in my life I have met people capable of discussing nutrition, metabolism and digestion for hours at a time.”
“Of course, if we were lucky, we wouldn’t be getting chased by an army of zombies through the quarantine area that used to be downtown Santa Cruz. We’d be somewhere safer, like Bikini Atoll just before the bomb testing kicked off.”
Author: Mira Grant
“There are no jobs here, especially for immigrants. The main hives of industry are old people’s homes, cafes and a theme park full of candyfloss and holidaymakers with clothes smeared in ketchup. The staff at these theme parks — hunched over and exhausted in their synthetic trousers and shirts — make the prospect of working at an old people’s home seem positively appealing.”
Just up the coast from Santa Cruz lies Half Moon Bay, a coastal city in San Mateo County, California. It’s an idyllic enclave and truly the perfect place to spend some time away from the big city.
“Growing up in northern California has had a big influence on my love and respect for the outdoors. When I lived in Oakland, we would think nothing of driving to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz one day and then driving to the foothills of the Sierras the next day.”
– Tom Hanks
Just off the Half Moon Bay coast of California, winter storms and underwater geography combine to create some the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves. The Mavericks Surf Contest gives the world’s best surfers a chance to pit their skills against the big ones that can rise over 50 feet high, but this contest has an interesting twist. No one knows when it will be held until just 24 hours before it starts.
The big waves come in winter, and around the end of each year, the official waiting period for the Mavericks Surf Contest begins. When conditions are right, organizers call a field of 24 surfers (who have been pre-selected) to tell them when the Mavericks Surf Contest will begin.
“I like to go for a little drive up the California coast.”
Author: Colin Farrell
“In California in the early Spring, There are pale yellow mornings, when the mist burns slowly into day, The air stings like Autumn, clarifies like pain – Well, I have dreamed this coast myself.”
Author: Robert Hass
If you are looking to surf in North America then head on out to California – there is great surf all the way down the coast. It is worth the trip to catch the big wave surfers riding the mountains of Maverick’s during the huge winter swells.
“Soon it got dusk, a grapey dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.”
― Michael Connelly, The Black Echo
With written excerpts by Kolia Sulima taken from: https://www.calvertjournal.com/articles/show/2987/letter-from-santa-cruz-usa-last-hippie-holdout