We offer year round surf & stand up paddleboard (SUP) lessons, classes and marine tours in Santa Cruz, Capitola and the surrounding California Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. All ages, levels and physical/cognitive abilities are welcome!

We also offer weeklong overnight Santa Cruz summer surf camps and Costa Rica winter surf & yoga retreats. Adventure awaits!

Learn to Surf!

Lessons for all ages and abilities. From first-timers to advanced surfers. Sign up today!
SUP Lessons & Tours

SUP Classes!

Go on marine tours around the picturesque Santa Cruz / Capitola shores. Sign up today!

Summer Camps!

Spend a week camping and surfing in beautiful Santa Cruz. What could be better? Sign up today!
Costa Rica Surf & Yoga Retreats

Winter Retreats!

Weeklong surfari in exotic Costa Rica. Fun in the jungle, sun and warm blue waters. Sign up today!
In 1978 Richard Schmidt decided to share his passion for surfing and started teaching in his hometown of Santa Cruz, California. He started lifeguarding that year as well and worked the next 15 summers on the beach in addition to his teaching surfing. During that same period he would travel to the North Shore of Oahu every winter to compete in the Triple Crown of Surfing series, thus his professional surfing career was gaining recognition. In the late 80’s the surf media crowned him as California’s top big wave rider. During the season of 1989-1990 he recorded two 1st and two 3rd place finishes in Hawaii, which was the best competitive season anyone from California had ever had.

Through his years of teaching and experience as a professional surfer, Richard developed the Schmidt Guarantee, which guarantees that one will stand up and ride down the face of a wave in their first lesson. (Read more about the Schmidt Guarantee by clicking on the next tab.) His calming character and unending patience makes learning to surf an unforgettable and enjoyable experience. Especially, when you have the added benefit of him or one of his trained instructors riding along side of you and literally lifting you to your feet!

Since that time his instructional surf-based programs have grown to include year round surf & stand up paddleboard lessons, SUP marine tours, ocean safety classes, summer surf camps in Santa Cruz, winter surf & yoga retreats in Nosara, Costa Rica, and the “Learn To Surf & Ocean Safety” instructional (online) video touted by Surfer Magazine as “the best how to (videos) ever released.”

“Since 1978, I’ve introduced people to surfing from ages 3 to 70. I’ve found that, with the teaching techniques I’ve developed, the only prerequisite for learning to surf is knowing how to swim. I guarantee it!… Don’t hold back — let me or one of my qualified instructors introduce you to the sport of kings.”

– Aloha, Richard

As featured in Surfer Magazine, “…young Northern California wannabes start right in the Richard Schmidt Surf School.” The SCHMIDT GUARANTEE is uprightness on the first go-out — if necessary, beginners will wear a Schmidt-invented harness, which positions a handgrip at their lower back. As the groms prone shoreward on a Cowell’s beach roller, hands clenched tightly around a soft-foam rail, Richard rides parallel, controlling their edge with one hand and pulling them vertical with the other. By the end of the day, students are riding the whitewater to the beach very stoked. Schmidt spends his entire summers now teaching kids and elders the basics of water safety and wave selection.
The Richard Schmidt Surf School has been sharing the stoke since ’78!

I started lifeguarding for the City of Santa Cruz in 1978. That summer I started teaching a surfing class through the local City Parks & Recreation Department. I believe you could have counted the number of surf schools in California on one hand back then. Lately, surf schools have become quite popular. Years back there seemed to be mostly a select crew of hardcore individuals who surfed. Nowadays surfing is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

Personally I think it is awesome so many people are now enjoying the surfing experience. For young kids, there’s no better way to release all that energy and have a positive way to focus it. For adults caught up in fast-paced lives of the new millennium, surfing is the ultimate way to get back into touch with nature which in turn helps to alleviate stress. Surfing requires that you focus on the moment. And as a result, all the stress from that fast-pace life is left on land.

A lot of surfers are not to keen on the population explosion in the water. There’s no doubt that crowded days in the lineups can be frustrating. However, common sense reality is that surfing should be available for anyone who wants to try. We as surfers need to share. So as a result of catching a few less waves, there will be more people in the world with a stoked smile on their face that only a good day’s surfing could bring… And what could be so bad about that?!?!

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Santa Cruz’s original surf school since 1978
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Average number of days a year we’re in the water
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50+ years surfing experience & ocean knowledge
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15 years as a City of Santa Cruz beach lifeguard
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The #1 Santa Cruz surf school as voted by the community!
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Watch the Richard Schmidt Surf School in action!

Learn more about Richard, the Richard Schmidt Surf School and the proven teaching methods we use to help beginner surfers learn how to “walk on water!” Click through the video slider on the left and watch all three videos.

You can also find more on the Surf School and Camps on our YouTube & Vimeo channels.