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Dead Surfers Memorial.

Dead Surfers Memorial

Field review by the editors.

Santa Cruz, California

The Pacific coast near Santa Cruz is known for its great surfing. There are spots forgiving enough for beginners, and dangerous stretches recommended for experts only. But surf conditions, accidents and bad luck exact a fatal toll.

Along West Cliff Drive there's a famous surfing spot known as Steamer Lane. An informal memorial up on the cliff remembers surfers who have died -- it's next to a staircase leading down to the beach. The wooden plaques are all custom, hand-routed tributes by friends or family.

Good Ol' Bubs RIP.

"RIP CARL," "Pat and Skye, In our hearts and minds," and "Good Ol Bubs RIP" are typical carved messages, lacking biographical details (because they are well-known locals?). There are flower arrangements and small keepsakes along the fence. Someone left a shrink wrapped block of Cabot's Cheddar Cheese as an offering of some sort.

It reminds us a bit of highway fatality memorials, but not really. Those impromptu descansos always seem sad, marking the impact point for sudden unexpected deaths on some lonely road, lives of the victims randomly cut short. But surfer deaths are different. They were doing what they loved, and knew the risks.

The surfers commemorated at Steamer Lane are dead, but for the most part not due to the fatal grip of a wave. Most met a non-surfing demise or died of natural causes. Still, the overlook is a poignant spot to remember those who surf on in eternity.

Dead Surfers Memorial

West Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA
West Cliff Dr., just north of the lighthouse.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

First Surfers Plaque, Museum with Shark Bite BoardFirst Surfers Plaque, Museum with Shark Bite Board, Santa Cruz, CA - < 1 mi.
Surfing MonumentSurfing Monument, Santa Cruz, CA - < 1 mi.
Kitchen's Court of MysteriesKitchen's Court of Mysteries, Santa Cruz, CA - 1 mi.
In the region:
Doggie Diner Head, San Jose, CA - 25 mi.

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