Straight out from the access stairs and extending out and west towards the channel are several reefs, collectively called Middle Peak, then subdivided into First, Second, and Third reefs. Best during N-NW swells, each reef works at a different size, but each boast heavy elevator drops followed by a softer righthand shoulder. The lefts, however, are usually steeper and hollower, but they can leave you caught inside by the next set coming in off the Slot or the Point. Middle Peak handles any size, although it becomes more challenging to read the line-up as the peaks shift around, keeping the pack on the move.
On a great day and a great swell, local heroes have been known to rip a few single mythical waves from the Point, through Middles, through Indicators, through Cowells to the shorebreak at Santa Cruz Municipal Pier. On those days you’ll see stoked surfers, dripping wet, boards under their arms, jogging back up West Cliff Drive towards the Lane.
It’s the consistency and sheltered aspect that makes Steamer Lane an extremely crowded proposition with all kinds of wavecraft and talent levels. Wildlife is abundant, and you might find yourself paddling out through the kelp beside a sea otter or seal. There’s parking all along the point and out at the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, which doubles as the Lighthouse Surf Museum.