Santa Cruz is rad. It deserves the hype as a surf town with something for everyone and i really enjoyed the couple of days we spent there. I think i've had a soft spot for it ever since i visited with a skateboard in pre-surfer days twenty odd years ago. Reading Dan Duanes "caught inside, a surfers year on the coast" further ingrained it's appeal in my conciousness. For me it encapsulates a lot of what i like about california. It's a little more "real", quieter and less plastic than some areas further south. The people are friendly, it has a wealth of right hand point breaks. The surrounding coast and countryside are greener and a little more rugged than SoCal, and there are more breaks in the urban continuum along the coast. It feels like an "outdoors" kind of place in the same way that the lake district does over here.
I'd love to go back soon, i could definately live there