How San Francisco is a surfer’s unlocked paradise

In the past, as far as the surf community was concerned, the California map stopped at the northern tip of Monterey Bay.

Sure, everyone knew there were waves past Santa Cruz, but with rough weather, cold water and great white sharks, was it really worth it to venture to San Francisco and beyond?

The answer was yes; however, most of us have made that realization only in the last decade or so. In addition to Alcatraz, cable cars and the Golden Gate, San Francisco holds world-class waves. Which is why Noah Wegrich and I left our hometown of Santa Cruz for a couple of days in “The City.”

If you had a nickel for every wave that was more novel than Fort Point, San Francisco, you'd be broke.
If you had a nickel for every wave that was more novel than Fort Point, San Francisco, you’d be broke.
Noah and I have been friends for years, and while he is technically “grown up” at 22, he’s a kid at heart. It’s fun to be around his youthful enthusiasm. He’s always down to surf. Always up for adventure.

Santa Cruz's Noah Wegrich doesn't shy away from heavy sections — or adventure. Here, Noah pops the cork on a road trip with a good friend.
Santa Cruz’s Noah Wegrich doesn’t shy away from heavy sections — or adventure. Here, he pops the cork on a road trip with a good friend.
On this particular trip to San Francisco we decided to embrace our inner tourist, exploring all the stuff we normally skip when going for a baseball game or a night on the town. The Fine Arts Museum: check. Cable cars: check. Lombard Street: check. Sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands: checkmate.

The color of the Golden Gate Bridge's is more orange, really. But maybe this is how it got the
The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is more orange, really. But maybe this is how it got the “golden” name?
Yes, San Francisco has everything, but it’s the city’s proximity to nothing that makes it truly special. Between San Francisco and Santa Cruz lies The Slow Coast, a 65-mile stretch of Highway 1 that winds along the dramatic and stunning Central California coast.

The new Mazda CX3 — the cherry chariot for the San Francisco to Santa Cruz road trip — waits for the boys to wrap up a surf check along Highway 1.
The new Mazda CX3 — the cherry chariot for the San Francisco to Santa Cruz road trip — waits for the boys to wrap up a surf check along Highway 1.
It’s best to take your time in this area. Drive under the speed limit. Stress little. Pull over a lot. Call out hawks on your left and whales on your right. And among empty beaches, pumpkin patches and quaint cafés, there’s an abundance of good surf, and you’ll often find yourself in the water alone.

SURFING Magazine's editor-at-large Taylor Paul exits the water with friend Noah Wegrich after their first surf in San Francisco.
SURFING editor-at-large Taylor Paul exits the water with friend Noah Wegrich after their first surf in San Francisco.
The thorn to that rose, however, is that you’re not really alone. A few days after Noah and I finished this trip, surfing a deserted beach between S.F. and Half Moon Bay, we read that a Coast Guard helicopter had spotted 20 adult great white sharks in the area that very day.

So, was the risk worth it? For us, it was. The locals seemed nice enough. We hardly knew they were there. — Taylor Paul

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