Mulcoy's World: Santa Cruz

With a year of travel ahead of him, Josh Mulcoy offers up a tour of his hometown of Santa Cruz before he hits the road.

Santa Cruz is one of the most diverse towns that I've ever been to. Truth be told, it's also my hometown, so maybe I'm a little jaded. But it seems to have something for everyone, from restaurants to surf spots. From November to March I can't imagine being anywhere else. Winter storms from Alaska bring the rains, which then flows out of the San Lorenzo river mouth, replenishing the sand on the beach and making for some perfect setups if you know where and when to hit it.

I grew up watching my dad surf around town, so it was easy for me to get started. He would take me out to the harbor and the river mouth when I was young. These waves have become more fickle in the last 10 to 15 years, but I can remember great sandbars at both spots every year when I was young. This last year the harbor didn't really break, but a nice bar set up at the river mouth this fall due to early rains. My draw to these spots basically goes back to my childhood and the idea of skating down the street and surfing the waves I grew up on.

Mulcoy's World: Santa Cruz

There is something to be said for still cruising to the beach and following the dream. My dad likes to call it the "Peter Pan Syndrome." As a kid growing up in Santa Cruz I was very lucky to have a father that would take me surfing to all of the obscure, out-of-the-way breaks. He taught me the love of the ocean and about the beauty of the area. He also taught me that sometimes the best waves don't make for the most enjoyable sessions -- sometimes it's about the place not the waves. Growing up I didn't surf at Pleasure Point or Steamer Lane much. Instead of going to the Lane my old man would take me to Stockton Ave., or instead of Pleasure Point we would roam around up the coast.

Now it's spring in Santa Cruz, and one thing we have in abundance this time of year is wind. Some years ago I fell into kiteboarding as a way to get in the water when the surf's not cooperating. It's great, basically you just grab your normal surfboard and a kite and spend the afternoon gliding around riding wave after wave with nobody out. It can be really rewarding to go up the coast, surf one of the reefs, grab lunch, and spend the afternoon kiting the same waves. It's one of the best places in California for this. Surf when it's glassy, switch to the kite when the wind starts howling.

But once March arrives I start getting the itch to get on the road. It is hard to be sitting in Santa Cruz during the spring and summer. There are so many amazing adventures and so much great surf to be searched out that these slow seasons at home present the perfect opportunity to break out and travel. My dad's values of surfing have brought me to who I am to today, and I try very hard to always run away from crowds, to search out locations that are not crowded. They might be miserable and cold, but to me it's more about the experience than the perfection. There are some pretty amazing trips sketched out on the calendar this year, and I can't wait to share some of the experiences. Iceland, Alaska, Mexico, and more await. Until then, enjoy this take from a good season in Santa Cruz.

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