Santa Cruz is challenging but Huntington Beach is dominating. No surprise to the locals, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes from southern California.
"Huntington is surf city," says Mike Morgan, an enthusiastic local.
As if there were any doubt, city officials in Huntington Beach applied for a federal trademark on the name "Surf City, U.S.A" and who can possibly argue? Just take a look around.
"Just what I'd expect from a southern Californian," reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone in northern California. It may be foggy and cold, but we've got what you need to be surf city-big waves. That's why the real surf city is here: Santa Cruz.
"Anybody who knows anything about surfing knows this is the best place to surf," Mary Baker, a Santa Cruz surfer, says.
"Sorry John, but surf city is all about image, you know, sun baked bodies on the sand," replies Hughes.
Asked where she would rather sit on her towel, Huntington Beach or Santa Cruz, Michelle Faires is adamant. "No question, Huntington Beach. No question!" Faires, a Huntington Beach resident says.
"C'mon, Santa Cruz long ago claimed the name surf city," Blackstone answers. It's on businesses all over town. The owner of surf city coffee says Huntington Beach is missing one vital ingredient.
Sure, Huntington Beach has sun, sand, blondes and bikinis, but Dan McCourt, owner of Surf City Coffee says of Santa Cruz, "We've got surf."
Northern California is famous for monster waves. Nothing in the south can match it.
"Down there it's a little more Hollywood. Up here its pretty raw and strong and powerful," says Santa Cruz Surfer Scott Imsland.
Sure the waves may be bigger in Santa Cruz, but there's a reason the wetsuit was invented there.
"Never wear a pair of shorts in Santa Cruz, it's freezing," says Pat O'Connell, a Huntington Beach surfer.
In Huntington Beach, they flaunt it because they've got it and they want tourists to enjoy it, too. That's what trade-marking the surf city name is all about. More marketing, more tourism.
Santa Cruz on the other hand proudly clings to its hippie roots. The city's laid-back mayor briefly proposed challenging the Huntington Beach trademark.
The man who co-wrote the real surf city song lives in Huntington Beach.
Were the songwriters inspired by Santa Cruz? "No we were not. We were not thinking of Santa Cruz," says Dean Torrance, who helped write the song "Surf City" while part of the group Jan and Dean.
Case closed. Huntington Beach has the song and the trademark name Surf City, U.S.A., Hughes says.
But, Blackstone points out, Santa Cruz has the waves and it's the waves that matter.