Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument
Santa Cruz, CA

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Pacific winter storms bring the wild waves to the Santa Cruz coastline. It is the season that the surfers love most. During the last couple weeks, high surf warnings have been frequent, alerting me to grab my camera and go to the beach. The warnings advise beachgoers to “not turn your back to the ocean” because sneaker waves can unexpectedly rush in and wash people out to sea.

Yesterday, as I watched from the Rockview lookout on Pleasure Point, a red Coast Guard helicopter flew slowly overhead. When the surf is like this, surfers, boaters and swimmers often get into trouble and need to be rescued. Some do not make it.

From the cliffs overlooking the sea westward, you can see the huge swells roll in from the horizon. Normally the swells are not visible from afar and the waves crash on shore, but when the surf is unusually high, the swells stand out in endless parallel rows, often cresting long before reaching land. The roar from the sea is loud and constant, and the surface becomes a frothy stew of foam.

Here are a few photos from Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument along Highway One at sunset. (Making Coast Dairies a national monument was one of Obama’s last acts as president. I worried that Trump might overturn the order but so far he hasn’t. He still has 3 days but I doubt this is a priority for him.)