Feel like some WARM water?
Cabo is one of the few spots on the planet where you are exposed to two major swell directions within a one hour drive. It’s usually not flat in both windows, north and south. a surfers guide to Cabo was born out of my passion for travel to Mexico.
It’s 2018 and I am updating A Surfers Guide To Cabo, this living guide for the 10th time after my, yes you guessed it, my 9th trip in the last few years.
Things are changing in Cabo. Violence is on the rise and the drug cartels seem to be moving in. I spoke with lots of locals about this while there in September and most reported that tourists had nothing to worry about. I didn’t feel unsafe, but I could feel a bit more tension in the air.
The jump in killings in Los Cabos — accompanied by a rise in other crimes — has pitched residents into a state of fear they say they have never felt before.
I still think this is a great trip and I’ll keep going down unless things go upside down with the violence. I wouldn’t worry to much about what you hear, but keep your wits about you while in Cabo and don’t get mixed up in any shenanigans.
Here is a great podcast on staying clear of violence, anywhere in the world.
⚡ Update 2018 Trip Highlight
Lidia caused major damage to roads and infrastructure, grab a 4×4 to get to breaks;
New paved road to the Pacific side now complete (Toll);
New paved road to Eastern Cape complete;
New hotel in Cerritos – Tortugas Cerritos Beach front Hotel;
Discovery of best place to eat (Pacific Side) Hierbabuena;
Officials now charging $50 if you lose your departing customs form..
I have surfed all over the world and ridden some of the best waves on the planet. I have traveled to far off locations around the globe: Africa, Asia, South America, Mainland Mexico, and Central America. I even drove from California to Panama and wrote a guide about the adventure, grab it for $29 bones if you feel like taking that trip.
A surf trip requires lots of planning and usually a long ass plane trip, but sometimes you just want a no hassle easy surf escape. Two hours after taking off from LAX you can be surfing in warm water, with easy access to two swell windows.
Stuff your face with Mexican cuisine and drink cheap beer by the bucket load—you can also drink good boutique brewed beer at the Baja Brewery, nothing like having an IPA after sucking down watery Mexican beer for a few days.
I’ve been traveling to Mexico for a few decades now and every time I go back, I am reminded of the jewel just south of the border. Is it safe? I’d say traveling to Baja is getting more and more safe. I go down every few months and things are looking better with each visit.
I hope this guide assists you along the way. Please drop me a line and let me know of any additions or useful updates. If I end up adding your content in the guide, I will send you a free Wave Tribe surfboard leash as a gift.
Have a wonderful trip!
Derek, Wave Tribe Founder
Before we start, grab this free download. It’s the perfect map for your trip.
Surf trip require lots of planning and usually a long ass plane trip but sometimes you just want a no hassle easy trip. Here is where Cabo fits the ticket. Two hours after taking off from LAX you can be surfing in warm water with access to two swell windows.
Stuff your face with Mexican cuisine and drink cheap beer by the bucket load—you can also drink good boutique home brewed beer at the new Baja Brewery, nothing like having an IPA after sucking down watery Mexican beer for a few days.
I’ve been traveling to Mexico for a few decades now and every time I go, I am reminded of the jewel just south of the border.
I used to travel to mainland Mexico every year and surf the beaches of La Ticla and the surrounding region, but as violence has percolated in those areas I have diverted my surf energies to Baja—see our other article on Surfing Northern Baja Mexico 2016.
Book your airline ticket for about $350—you’ll want to fly to San Jose Del Cabo (airport code SJD).
I like Alaska Airlines because they treat surfers right at $40-$75 per board bag—no matter what you put in it or how many surfboards you stuff your bag with. Speaking of surfboard fees, check out our fee surfboard baggage fee guide before you pull the trigger on a plane ticket.
Flying with Alaska is down right fun and the planes are super comfortable. If you are flying someone else to Cabo you are missing out on a great airline.
Going through customs is easy and you don’t need a visa if you are an American citizen, but you will need a valid passport. For information on getting a passport head on down to your local US Postal Office or check out this link. As of 2017, passports cost $110 and take a few weeks to process.
The Cabo airport sits about 20 minutes from downtown San Jose and about 30 minutes from San Lucas. There are two roads to San Jose, the toll road ($2-$4) and the free road. Spend the few dollars to jet straight to the break, you’ll be stoked. To get to the toll road from the airport go left out of airport (toward the mountains). The road will curve back around toward the beach.
* Going to the Pacific side? Take the toll road toward toward San Jose, 2K from the exit for San Jose veer left toward Todo Santos. This road will cut 30-40 minutes off your trip and the road are excellent. You can also go to San Lucas this route.
If you are into the party thing then you’ll want to head towards San Lucas and hang out with the college trippers, strippers and overweight cruise ship retirees.
However, for a more relaxed setting check out San Jose or Todos Santos depending on the season you go and, of course, the surf forecast. No matter where you stay you’ll be an hour’s drive to all three top surfing locations, which are listed in order of quality:
The three main breaks in San Lucus are Old Man’s, Zippers, and The Rock. All of them are within paddling distance of each other and offer a progressively faster wave, check out the names and you’ll know which is which.
You can see all breaks from the road (just head towards San Lucas along the coast going west out of San Jose). Below Zippers there is a dirt parking lot below the bridge and for Old Man’s you need to park behind the Cabo Surf Hotel (just after the bend in the road) and walk through the sewage tunnel (yep, if it’s raining I wouldn’t surf here).
Word on the street is that they are going to privatize the access to Old Man’s with a new development going in, so that break might become less accessible in the near future.
Try and book something before you go, there are a ton of rental agencies at the airport. Though the rental agencies they say in airport, they are a short ride across the street from the airport. They will pick you up outside of the airport terminal and they do have agents just outside the customs area just in case you get freaky lost.
If you can afford it (you can) get something more 4x4ish than not. Or at least something a but bigger for your boards. I like to keep my boards in the car for obvious reasons (theft and brutal Mexican sunshine) but if you ride a bigger board then you’ll need some good soft racks.
I’ve been stuck in the sand and had to be pulled out by a 4×4 on 2 of the last 6 trips, not bad odds for Baja. If you are in an economy rental, your chances of getting stuck are higher. You might also have to pay for damages that happen when you try and pull that plastic heap from the sand. We rented a car from Ace in June 2016 and had a great experience.
Yea, I know you bought insurance online and they said you don’t need to buy any at the car rental office—but this is Mexico bros.
Don’t buy the web insurance! It is useless in Mexico.
There I said it, but I know you are still going t buy it. Yea, your American Express card says they’ll cover your ass too but don’t take the risk in Mexico because you’ll have to fork over the money before you are able to leave the country. I guarantee American Express isn’t going to wire you the 20K you need to extricate yourself from the Mexican cha cha you got yourself into.
How do I know? Bro.
Unfortunately, I have had two major accidents in Mexico over the years including a head-on collision in Michoacan. I’ve been through the shit ringer in Mexico, and I want you to have a fighting chance in case you got to throw a Mexican Hail Mary after a car accident.
So get out your wallet because you’ll need to get the full coverage that they offer you up at the rental agency. Full coverage in Mexico means if something happens, you are fully covered. If you get anything else, half coverage with your credit card, or some other policy you found online at Orbitz then you won’t be fully covered. Yea, they got you by the cajones.
There is a hotel right in front of Old Man’s called Cabo Surf Hotel. If you got the cash (like $250+ per night) this is your best location because you are steps from the surf.
It’s a really nice hotel with a pool and good food—you can grab a meal here after your surf if you are feeling like hanging in this area. Watch your bros hit the lip while you stuff your face with a fat burrito and some tasty guacamole.
Right next to the fancy Cabo Surf Hotel there are perfectly situated condos. I did find one for rent that looks spectacular for $175 a night—it’s called Las Olas and it sits in the middle of all the waves in that region in a group of condos.
Another popular spot for surfers wanting central access to both the Eastern Cape, at only $75 per night, is the Drift San Jose. It has 8 private rooms, a communal kitchen, secure parking and a pool, centrally located in the historic center of San Jose del Cabo, surrounded by great bars and restaurants.
An alternative to resorts the scene is pared back, do-it-yourself—like an upscale hostel—with great social atmosphere. Booking available through Airbnb with a link to the listings here.
Check other hotels here on Trip Advisor. When you land you’ll need to rent a car unless you are just going to surf the waves in town and stay close to the breaks.
The only hotel near 9 Palms www.vidasoul.com located at Punta Perfecta and 3 miles North of 9 Palms. They have great food and service and 16 rooms. They cater to surfers and surf photo shoots and videos.
*The owner Joan Hafenecker sent me this info, I have yet to check it out but the pics look good.
Depending on where you surf you can find all types of waves in Cabo, from beach-break on the Pacific side to endless points breaks on the Eastern Cape.
As I mentioned before, within one hour driving you have two coasts—and swell directions to choose from—the Pacific side is exposed to north swell and will pick up most wind swell or ground swell from the north (and a little south).
San Jose and the Eastern Cape pick up anything with a south in it—any kind of south.
I shouldn’t have to remind you, but please be respectful to the locals. Every surfer that visits Cabo is an ambassador and you need to remember that we are visitors in their home.
Most locals are really cool and they will go out of their way to help you or give you a wave—if you get snaked in the water it will usually be by another gringo who has moved to Cabo and usually acts like as d-head.
If you need a guide or some help finding your way you can check out SurfinCabo.com and ask them to take you around. I met the owner and he was a nice guy that rips a SUP. They got boards for rent and will take you out to the waves along with a few friends, if you desire.
Now let’s check the realtime surf:
Right in town (San Jose) hit up Old Man’s for a meow session or paddle down to The Rock or Zippers for more challenging waves.
To the east and at the end of hotel row in San Jose are some waves at The Estuary. This was actually the first wave I surfed in Cabo and it can get really fun.
I did learn later that it is one of the most polluted breaks when the river mouth breaks and sewage comes pouring our of the riverbed. Don’t let hepatitis ruin your trip.
I had an epic session at The Rock, one of the best I have had in a while. Super fun! You can paddle to The Rock from Old Man’s or check it from the cliff. For best positioning, sit just behind the big rock and pick off the sets—watch the locals, they’ll show you how it’s done.
Once you are ready to experience the Eastern Cape, head east towards downtown and cross the large concrete bridge towards La Playa. You’ll make a few twists and turns along the way but just keep following the signs for Eastern Cape.
The road out to the Eastern Cape is dirt and can be full of potholes. Get the insurance on the rental car—if you don’t, the roads will rip apart your wallet and you’ll be faced with unexpected (‘mordidas’) fees at the end of your trip.
The drive out to the Eastern Cape is about one hour depending on where you go, it’s not a bad drive at all. You might want to consider camping out on the beach a night or two if the swell is pumping.
Camping is free in most places and totally safe, but you’ll need to take some shade with you to protect yourself from the relentless heat during the day. Trees? Nada.
A word on the heat—the south swell window is basically March through August and the closer you get to August the more horrendous the heat is.
If you are like me and not a fan of heat then I would lean towards an earlier trip—April is the most comfortable and you might even need a spring-suit, but the south swells can be a crapshoot—plan accordingly.
The winds tend to come up around 9 and mess with the lineup, so you’ll want to get on it early. The good news is that they also tend to back off around 4pm, allowing you a few hours to get in a good evening session.
Here is a great resource for the wind on the eastern cape, I used it my last trip and planned several good sessions based on the data, it is very accurate: Eastern Cape wind conditions. Anything under 5 knots is acceptable and watch out for those nasty easterly gusts.
The road turns into dirt about ten minutes in and you’ll start to see the swells slamming into the coast. The first fun wave you’ll come across is called Shipwrecks, about 40 minutes out of town to the East. Shipwrecks is a nice right-hander off a beautiful point and is a hotdog wave where mostly short-boarders hang out.
There is a left in the middle of the beach too. When you see the Virgin Mary library you know you have found it. Really, I am serious. Oh, and the ship is gone, so don’t look for that.
Nine Palms is another break another 15 minutes down the road. It is a super fun point-break with some long rights and the occasional left.
When the swell is right the wave will bend and toque on the outside and can spit and barrel in the mid section. It can throw and be heavy but mostly it is forgiving on the takeoff and allows for several turns and the occasional lip section to whack.
Between 9 Palms and Shipwrecks is another fun wave called La Fortuna which offers a few options in the bay and also a right that breaks fast off an inside rock and another section off to the left of the rock that is a little slower but will hold a big south swell.
There is a good restaurant at La Fortuna and has better camping than the other locations.
If the swell is huge (or if there is a hurricane) you can continue on past 9 Palms and you’ll find a few more waves. The further along the cape you go the smaller the surf will get.
Did you forget wax or sun block?
The best surf shop in town is Costa Azul Surfshop. I bought a rash vest that I used every day while there and a pair of booties that I never put on (I’ll save them for Bali).
There is another shop in town next to the Kiss Brew and Rock bar on the main drag called Salsipuedes that has a good selection of gear and a few Firewires hanging in the window.. There are also a few shops popping up near Zippers, so if you snap your board and need one you’ll be able to pick one up.
Shooters downtown has a really good vege burger and cold Coronas for 10 pesos.
The best place to eat in town is the Guacamaya. This is of my all-time favorite Mexican eateries and this is always the first and last place I eat at when I arrive to Cabo. The ingredients are super fresh and the chile selection is insane. I promise, you’ll love it!
People tend to like The Drunken Sailor in La Playa area (across the bridge) for good seafood and some nice chill atmosphere. I thought their Margaritas were tops.
This entire area is growing and has a nice feel to it, they just put in a beautiful hotel called El Ganzo right on the marina, might be worth taking your lady there for a drink or a night away from downtown.
If you are chilling with your woman or want to go out and have an excellent organic meal, then head for Huerta Los Tamarindos out in the fields towards the Eastern Cape.
Finding the place is not easy and I am not going to even attempt to explain it, but it’s worth taking the effort to visit. They have a great wine list and some of the best views possible, this is by far my favorite place to eat in Baja.
Mexico isn’t known for its wine, but there are some nice reds coming out of Northern Baja; and though I have found it hit-and-miss (mainly miss), I do like the reds being produced by La Cetto and I have been pleasantly surprised by their quality. Los Tamarindos has it on their menu and it’s worth getting or grab a bottle at the wine store in the Pescadero Plaza (same plaza of Rock & Brews).
For some good Italian food cooked to your liking check out Rustico and say ‘Hola’ to Perla and Javier, the owners. Sit at the bar, you’ll enjoy talking with the owners and sharing their passion for food.
For the best coffee and Italian ice cream in town, check out the The Dolce Villa, they got organic beans from Oaxaca and a real Italian coffee machine. They make all there ice cream with top quality organic ingredients and offer more flavors than a Los Vegas hooker has tricks (not that I would know about that second part).
If you are looking for a surf instructor while in Cabo ask for Victor at La Dolce Villa and he’ll find you one.
Still looking for stuff to do? How about an eco tour?
Going to Cabo and lying on the beach, kicking back margaritas, sounds like pretty much anyone’s dream. But if you’re into something a little more meaningful, ecotourism is the way to go.
It’s got all the sights and activities of your typical tourism without the negative impact on the environment or local culture.
Cabo Expeditions offers three land tours that let you get up-close-and-personal with Cabo’s history and culture. Country Experience takes you on a beach-side horseback ride and then a tour of a farm, so you can see how the agrarian system works down here.
Your tour ends with an awesome organic meal made from the foods you just saw rooted in soil.
When you take the Parietal Paintings tour, you’ll step back 7,000 years in time to learn about a nomadic group of hunters and gatherers who left behind artifacts you’ll see with your own eyes.
Then you’ll have a chance to meditate on the beauty of the area at a Tibetan monastery. Yes, a Tibetan monastery exists in Cabo.
Cabo Expeditions prides itself on being the only Los Cabos tour operator authorized by the Mexican government to rescue whales. So their passion for the environment runs deep. When you do ecotourism with them, you do it right.
I know you came for warm water and point breaks, but sometimes you just got to go where the surf is and that might very well lead you to the Pacific side of Cabo. I had done several trips to southern Baja before I ventured onto the Pacific side and I have to report that I really enjoyed both the atmosphere and surf in this region.
You’ll have to trade your long points for beach break and cobble stone reefs, but when you pull up to A-frame peaks or barreling green mountains you’ll be stoked that you ventured over to the Pacific. From San Jose head toward San Lucas and just before you drop down towards the spring-break marauding streets of San Lucas, you turn right towards La Paz and Todos Santos.
About 30 minutes later, thanks to the newly paved four-lane highway, you’ll find yourself at Cerritos. Cerritos is located off to the left of the highway and it is the first major establishment (if you can call it that) since leaving the suburbs of San Lucas.
You’ll see several hotels out on the beach and you need to head north toward the right that you’ll see breaking off the point. This is a fast wave and can be very ledgy at any tide and I find that it tends to get better at low tide with more markable sections.
You can park at the restaurant on the beach as long as you buy a cold beer after you surf—worth the peace of mind you’ll have knowing all is good with your vehicle—also worth the cold beer and delicious guacamole they start serving at 11:30am.
We stayed at a new hotel right on the beach, an epic place with an awesome crew. The official name is the Tortugas Cerritos Beachfront Hotel. They have about 12 rooms and offer a delicious breakfast and lunch menu. Each room has an awesome ocean view. Great location, wonderful staff, and fantastic rooms. You feel like the surf is under you pillow you are so close to the water.
Aide, Bertha, Noe, Juan Carlos, Diane and Drew all made us feel like we were at home—I can’t wait to go back and stay here again.
We booked our room on airbnb and it cost us about $100 a night, not a bad price for sleeping steps from the beach. You can’t miss the hotel, it’s the one next to the new condo monstrosity going up just south of them.
In town you can find some great food, a good cup of coffee (Baja Beans) or an internet connection to check the swell. I recommend hitting up Baja Beans for a quick coffee anytime but please don’t miss the jewel of the Pacific—Hierbabuena!
Hierbabuena (Peppermint in Spanish) is as “locavoric” as is possible. Set in and amongst a beautiful and bountiful organic garden from which over 50% of each meal’s ingredients are sourced quintessentially represents “farm-to-table” dining.
Please do not leave the Pacific side without eating at the Hierbabuena organic restaurant. This indoor/outdoor extravaganza is perhaps the best meal I have had in any location in the last few years.
We rolled up after a surf session with beers in our hand, walked in, grabbed a seat, and the staff walked right over and asked if we were ready for another cold one. Of course we were! Epic.
The pizza is amazing and the kale stuffed enchiladas are exquisite, the wine list impeccable and the staff full of smile, laughs and downright stoke—can you tell if I liked it or not?
Getting here is a little tricky, departing Cerritos drive toward Todos Santos. The first town you will come to is El Pescadero. Turn left on the road before the Pemex station, you’ll see a small sign on the road. If you hit the Pemex station, double back and turn right onto the dirt road and follow the signs about half a mile down.
Past Cerritos is Pescadero, here you will find a great right point-break called San Pedrito which is a great wave and can hold some big swell that swings off the point.
Just before Cerritos there is a break called the curve. I have never surfed it, but I could see from the road that it had a good set-up. Past Cerritos is Pescadero, here you will find a great right point-break called San Pedrito which is a rippable wave and can hold some big swell that swings off the point.
Todos Santos is a laid-back town with excellent surf, great food and some good old fashion Mexican cowboys walking around. It’s a bit artsy and rustic with just the right amount of hippy. Todos Santos reminds me of what northern Baja used to be like when I was growing up, before the narco problems invaded the Tijuana surroundings.
There is a feeling of things being a bit wild-west like, yet with enough comforts of home that you don’t feel totally disconnected (though you can unplug easily if desired).
The main break in Todos is called La Pastora. You need to drive through town to get to the beaches to the north. Between Hidalgo and Obregon, turn left onto Camino A Las Playitas.
You’ll go down a hill and along a riverbed. The road will twist and turn and a few miles from the town you’ll come to a clearing to the left where La Pastora is located. Don’t drive too far toward the beach unless you have a 4×4. Park where the dirt look compact and walk to the see the swell.
This is a really fun wave with lots of sections. Be careful of the rocks on the shore when getting in and out. I tore a chunk out of my toe the last trip while excitingly jumping off a rock with a sharp barnacle. Not fun.
Two places with great grub and an awesome atmosphere in Todos Santos are Café Santa Fe and La Esquina. La Esquina is a more casual hang-out and conveniently located near the beaches to the north of Todos Santos.
Café Santa Fe is where you go to take your gal or to have an excellent meal after a long surf. It is a little pricy but WAY worth every peso.
Hotel California is also worth a visit with some excellent local dishes and live music most days during the high season. There is surf to the south and north of Todos Santos and likely tons of waves I don’t even know about, it’s the end of the road but in many ways feels like the beginning.
There are quite a few airbnb places available online for Todos Santos. This June we stayed at an awesome location just a few minutes from the main surfing beach.
Jason, the owner, lives with his family on the property but they have a detached unit several few away from the main house with two bedrooms and a great rooftop vantage point of the surf—get up and check the surf from your room. Check it out below:
Hotels Cabo San Jose
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort
Telephone no: 00 1 888-767-3966
One & Only Palmilla
Telephone no: 00 52 33 4164 2110
JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa
Telephone no: 52-624-163 7600
Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
Telephone no:00 1 855-605-0316
Hyatt Place Los Cabo
Telephone no: 00 52 624 123 123
Cabo Azul Resort
Telephone no: 00 1 888-725-5669
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabo
Telephone no: 00 52 1 877 394 9146
Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort
Telephone no: 00 52 55 5350 9603
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Los Cabos
Telephone no: 00 1 855-605-0317
Marisol Boutique Hotel
Telephone no: 00 52 624 132 9089
Royal Decameron Los Cabos
Telephone no: 00 1 844-238-5587
Melia Cabo Real All-Inclusive Beach & Golf Resort
Telephone no: 00 34 912 76 47 47
Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos All-Inclusive
Telephone no: +63 1800 1 888 1025
Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabo
Telephone no: 00 34 518 88 95 70
Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Los Cabos
Telephone no: 00 52 800 400 2040
Cabo Surf Hotel
Telephone no: 00 52 55 4170 9258
Mar Adentro Cabos
Telephone no: 00 52 33 4164 2134
El Delfin Blanco
Telephone no: 00 52 624 142 1212
Hotel & Suites Las Palmas
Telephone no: 00 52 81 4170 7121
Restaurant & Bars Cabo San Jose
Don Sanchez Restaurante
Telephone no: +52 (624) 142 2444
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
5:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Flora’s Field Kitchen Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 1 (624) 355-4564
10:00 am – 2:30 pm
9:00 am – 9:30 pm
Sardina Cantina Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241726365
8:30 am – 10:30 pm
La Forchetta Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 130 7723
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Blue Fish Cabo Seafood Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 1726652
11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Teo Restaurant Bar And Grill
Telephone no: +52 624 105 2408
9:00 am – 12:00 am
Retro Burger Bar Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 130 7042
11:00 am – 12:00 am
Habanero’s Gastro Grill Restaurant
Telephone no: 52 624 142 2626
8:00 am – 10:30 pm
El Herradero Mexican Grill and Bar Restaurant
Telephone no: 624 14 26350
7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Mariscos La Pesca Restaurant
Telephone no: 624-130-7438
11:00 am – 10:00 pm
El Matador Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241570443
Mi Cocina Restaurant
Telephone no: (624) 1467100
8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Telephone no: (624) 142 1760
1:00 pm – 3:00 am
Telephone no: +52 624 142 5928
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
7 Seas Seafood Grille Restaurant
Telephone no: 8589645117
7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Petit Masala Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241040013
2:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Cuervo’s House Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 142 5650
7:00 am – 4:00 am
Dvur at Casa Don Rodrigo Restaurant
Telephone no: 624 142 04 18
11:00 am – 11:00 pm
La Salsa’s Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241727009
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
CJ’s New York Deli Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 105 2566
9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Telephone no: 624 146-9900
9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Mi Casa Restaurant San Jose del Cabo
Telephone no: (624) 146-92-63
4:30 pm – 12:00 am
Bars San Jose
11:11 Disco Room San Jose
Telephone no: +(52)016241420271
The Barn Bar
Telephone no: 52 624 100 7892
6:00 pm – 12:00 am
La Reserva Rock & Beer Bar
Telephone no: 6241298635
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
La Casa del Vino de Baja California
Telephone no: 624-142-3885
La Lupita Taco & Mezcal
Telephone no: +52 624 688 3926
2:00 pm – 2:00 am
Shooters Sports Bar
Telephone no: +52 624 146 9900
2:00 pm – 2:00 am
Telephone no: +52 624 130 7267
1:00 pm – 12:00 am
Telephone no: +52 624 171 8226
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Telephone no: +52 624 146 7000
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
El Wine Shop
Telephone no: +52 624 105 2065
8:00 am – 7:00 pm
La Vaca Tinta
Telephone no: +52 624 142 1241
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Hotels Todos Santos
Posada La Poza
Telephone no: 00 52 55 4164 2560
Todos Santos Inn
Telephone no: 00 52 612 145 0040
Guaycura Boutique Hotel Beach Club & Spa
Telephone no: 00 52 33 5004 7273
Telephone no: 00 52 55 5350 8725
Hacienda Todos Los Santos
Telephone no: 00 52 81 4160 5457
Villa Santa Cruz
Telephone no: 00 1 760-230-4855
Telephone no: 00 1 760-230-4855
Telephone no: 00 52 33 4170 8561
Villas de Cerritos Beach
Telephone no: 00 1 747-200-1533
Cerritos Surf Colony
Telephone no: 00 52 55 4164 2330
Restaurant & Bars Todos Santos
La Casita Tapas – Wine & Sushi Bar Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0192
Tequila’s Sunrise Bar & Grill Restaurant
Telephone no: (612) 145-0073
11:00 am – 6:00 am
La Copa Cocina Restaurant
Telephone no: +(52)612 145 0040
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Los Adobes de Todos Santos Restaurant
11:00 am – 7:00 pm
La Esquina Restaurant
Telephone no: 016121450851
7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Rumi Garden Restaurant
Telephone no:+52 612 145 1088
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Tacos Y Mariscos El Sinaloense Restaurant
Telephone no: 526121450336
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Tacos-Y-Mariscos-El-Sinaloense-206627032712641/ Open Hours:
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Chez Laura Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0847
La Coronela at The Hotel California Restaurant
Telephone no: (011.52) 612.145.0525
5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Ristorante Tre Galline Restaurant
Telephone no: 612-145-0274
5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Telephone no: (612) 145-0568
8:00 am – 9:00 am
Michaels at the Gallery Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0500
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0130
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Telephone no: +52 612 175 0800
Posada La Poza Restaurant
Telephone no: 011-52-612-145-0400
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Shut Up Frank’s Restaurant
Telephone no: 612 145 0707
Gallo Azul Pizza Bar & Art Restaurant
Telephone no: 612 145 0707
3:00 pm – 10:00 pm
El Gusto Restaurant
Telephone no: +526121450400
Bistro Magico Restaurant
La Santena Restaurant
Telephone no: 9704754120
Surf Schools & Tours
Costa Azul Surf School
Telephone no: 6241422771
Mario Surf School
Telephone: 52 1 612 142 6156
Open hours: Sun 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Mon – Sat 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Eco Adventures: tosea.net (hiking, whale watching, fishing trips, bird-watching, etc.)
Cabo Magic: Sportfishing Adventures
San Jose Spas and Massages
There is nothing like a good deep massage after several days of surfing. Every time I return to Cabo, I see more and more spas springing up. The one I have been going to for years is next to the Pescadero mall (where Rock & Brew is located).
The spa is called Moonlight and they offer one hour massages for $40. I highly recommend this place—no happy endings here, I am sure you can find those types of ‘treatments’ elsewhere in Cabo. Tel. +52 123 51 40 Email. email@example.com
Did you love Cabo so much that you’d like to move there or maybe build a surf shack to escape the winters? Check out these site for real estate investment opportunities:
The state of Oaxaca (pronounced: wah-HA-ka) in Southern Mexico is home to what could be considered the most-famous beachbreak in the world: Zicatela Beach, aka Puerto Escondido.
But few realize that the potentially fatal monster of a wave is flanked on both sides by incredible surf spots, many of which are well-kept secrets guarded by the kinds of people you don’t want to piss off.
Some local knowledge is key to really enjoying the region, as many of the best waves are sand-bottom right points located miles from the highway down little more than bike trails.
Puerto Escondido has some pretty intense crowds, complete with their own homegrown locals who rival the guys on O’ahu’s North Shore, so mind your Ps and Qs in the water, and be humble. As the swell increases in size, the men are separated from the boys, so if you’re the former you might find it manageable.
The points to the east used to be empty, but recent publicity and stories of perfection on the scale of the Superbank have caused an influx of visitors. Get it before it has Kirra’s crowd.
Thievery is probably your biggest concern, as Mexico is infamous for rip-offs and corrupt police. It’s also a very hot, muggy place, so heat exhaustion is possible, but if you’re gonna paddle out into 20-foot Puerto Escondido, losing your wallet or getting prickly heat are the least of your worries.
The prime surf season, summer is also the rainy, muggy season, beginning in June and lasting until October. Water temps are in the 80s; air temps in the 80s and 90s. Most surfers visit Mexico in summer.
This is when the booming south swells begin to taper off, but there is still plenty of action, especially at the beachbreaks. Temperatures cool a bit, the rain eases, the tourists go home … but the surf is still there.
The “coldest” time of year, with air and water temps hovering in the 70s. It’s pretty dry, too, and south swells are nonexistent, so the Mexican surfer instead must focus on spots that catch northwest and west swells. Not a bad time of year, but not the best.
We reckon that spring is the best time to visit Mexico because it’s still dry, temps are warming up but not too much, the tourist masses have yet to arrive, and you get those early-season south swells creeping up the coast.
Oaxaca has consistent, year round surf, but many consider summer (April-Oct) as the prime surf season. Quality swells are generated from lows off New Zealand and these provide regular 3-10ft (1-3m) SW swells.
Add the heavy action of the tropical storms or “Chubascos”, generated off mainland Mexico, which churn up swells of 6-15ft (2-5m) between June-Oct. Many of these hurricane swells are just too unruly and closeouts are common.
Double overhead days are far from rare and during the height of the swell you will often see waves getting to triple overhead. Some of the time the combination of wind and swell is far from ideal. Between Nov and Feb, there will be lots of glassy or N wind days, but less of the strong swells. When the summer swells are pumping, there’s more chance of onshore, due W winds, blowing from 39% of the time in April to 17% in July. Afternoon seabreezes are an almost daily occurrence.
The summer rainy season brings winds from all directions, but mainly a mild W-NW or a better E-SE. Tidal range is minimal and has little effect on most spots.
|dominant swell||NW –||S –SW||S –SW||S –W||S –W||NW –|
|swell size (ft)||3||4-5||5-6||7-8||6-7||3-4|
|dominant wind||W –NE||W –NW||SW –NW||W –NW||W –NW||W –NE|
|water temp (C)||27||27||28||28||28||27|
Let’s check the surf now . . .
Oasis Surf Academy is rated the “Best Surf School in Puerto Escondido” They have a very warm, familiar and relaxed atmosphere.
You can just get lessons or you can stay in one of their apartments and enjoy some tacos at Juan’s Fish tacos right out front. Oasis has great quality surf equipment and Roger (one of the instructors) is even a shaper so if you damage your board he can repair it for you or just give you a new one to use.
All of the instructors, Roger, Roger Jr., Sebastian, Enrique, Julio and Tito are fun, speak good English, bond great with kids, patient with beginners and those that don’t speak Spanish. They even offer Spanish lessons! Impresionante!
Las Palmeras Surf Camp is located in the town of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, approximately 2.5 hours south of Huatulco, Oaxaca, where your plane will land. Hautulco is located in the central (coastal) part of Oaxaca, approximately 4 hours south of Puerto Escondido and about a 1.5 hour flight from Mexico City.
The house features air conditioning in the bedrooms, hot water, high speed Internet with WiFi, cable television and all of the comforts of a modern home. They offer surf sessions, 3 meals a day and alcohol (extra $).
Punta Chivo Surf Camp located in Salina Cruz offers everything from airport pickup and dropoff, access to secret spots via hummer, they avoid crowds as much as possible and even have drone photography to get some rad shots of you riding those waves.
Hotel Santa Fe is located in Puerto Escondido right on the beach. They have a very friendly staff and a restaurant with yummy food including vegetarian cuisine but you are also in easy walking distance to all of the restaurants in Zicoleta.
The rooms have AC’s and are old school Mexican style. Hotel Santa Fe has 2 pools and beautiful grounds to explore! Check out their Facebook page.
Hotelito Swiss Oasis is also located in Puerto Escondido about a block from the main drag and beach. If you get a downstairs room you get your own hammock, upstairs you get your own balcony.
Rooms come with a fridge stocked with beer for a small fee like 15 pesos or something and the hotel is known for awesome customer service and is very clean! What more could you ask for?
The only thing that might be an issue is finding the place, I guess some cab drivers don’t know exactly where it is? So just make sure you have the correct address and you’re ready to go!
One Salina Cruz is of course located in Salina Cruz, Mexico. Nothing too fancy just a descent place to stay and within walking distance to Walmart, where you should apparently stop at on the way to grab some bottled water since that seems to be a rare commodity at this hotel.
Reviews include: “Average, but one of the best is Salina Cruz” and “Excellent Value”
La Olita is located in Puerto Escondido. Their fish and shrimp tacos/burritos are awesome made with fresh ingredients Baja style. They have yummy guac, gold beer and mojitos. The establishment is small and unassuming with a “hip ambiance”.
The owner is a super cool local surfer that goes out of his way to make your experience enjoyable. The only issues I see is that the hours of operation are a little scattered. So make sure you give them a call or check out trip advisor to make sure they’re open before you head their way!
Cayuco Mezcal y Cocina is located in the sand at the west end of Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido. Enjoy the relaxed ambiance while you watch the beautiful sunset and eat their amazing ceviche! (Seriously people say it’s the best they’ve ever had).
Some of the other favorites are their Mahi-mahi, seared tuna and cold tomato soup with mussels. The location is ideal if you have little ones with you or you just want to stick your toes in the sand while you eat since the tables are at grade on the beach.
They have live music on Thursdays but that’s their busiest day so expect delays receiving your food or drinks since they only have one server as of February 2015. Hopefully they’ve hired one more person since then so you can get that ceviche más rápido!
La Ola located right on the beach in San Augustinillo looks like a great place to just relax have a couple of shrimp tacos, some tuna tartar and some fresh squeezed tangerine juice or a clamato while you watch the waves. If you’re lucky you might run into the crazy lady with “the lord’s chips” they sound delicious.
Laguna de Manialtepec is a natural habitat made by a sand reef which separates the lagoon from the sea. The best time to go is right before sunset, at dark the water turns phosphorescent just like in the movie “The Life of Pi”. You can rent a canoe of your own or take a guided tour (if you’re staying at the Hotel Santa Fe they will hook you up with an awesome tour guide) Don’t forget your bug spray!
Located in western Mexico on the Pacific Ocean, the State of Nayarit is an extremely scenic area, with lush tropical jungles, mangroves and deciduous forests lining the coast.
Mostly undeveloped, the coastline of Nayarit has attracted hardcore surfers since the late ‘60s. For those early surf pioneers, the chance of scoring an epic session at San Blas, known as being the longest right in the world, was worth the suffering inflicted by the “jejenes” (local sand flies) & mosquitoes.
But things have changed with the fast rise of Puerto Vallarta, once a tiny fishing village in the neighboring state of Jalisco, now attracting 500,000 tourists each year and boats (literally) full of people.
Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit spans 100 miles of pristine coastline, from Nuevo Vallarta all the way to San Blas. The highest concentration of quality surf spots in this region is around the Northern tip of the Bay of Banderas—not banditos—there are over a dozen pristine surf breaks with crystal clear tropical water within easy striking distance.
One of the most popular events of surf in Riviera Nayarit is organized in Sayulita amid of March, where the surfers from all over the world arrive to the coast of the Pacific seeking the best waves. For those who want to incursion in surfing during the holidays, several places teach to dominate the waves in short or long board and in stand-up paddle board.
Surfing in Nayarit is such an overwhelming experience. Some of the most famous spots for surfing in Riviera Nayarit are:
At the south of El Anclote; Sayulita, at the north of El Anclote; Los Veneros (or Dinosaurs), Las Albercas, Las Playas and others.
In San Francisco surf can be strong with powerful currents—other places are La Caleta, reached in boat from Chacala, The Bay of Matanchen, famous for its manageable and long waves and Las Rocas, to the north of the same bay and Lolas—at the north of San Blas.
In the heart of the Riviera, Punta de Mita is an impressive 1,500-acre pear-shaped peninsula surrounded by the Pacific on three sides—and home to one of the most awe-inspiring coastlines in the entire country.
The villas and resorts that have sprung up along these golden shores are nothing short of spectacular, and offer visitors an elite combination of championship golf, trophy game fishing, gourmet dining, and top-drawer service in an extraordinary setting.
At the same time, all the development of this region has created access complications to the surf breaks, making it very difficult to access the majority of the breaks by car.
It is necessary to utilize the panga boats as the everyday transportation from your accommodations to the surf spots, with overland transportation a secondary option when necessary to access the few breaks outside the bay that depends on swell conditions.
The surf in this region of Mexico is generally 1/2 to 1/3 the size on South swells of more powerful breaks to the South such as Pascuales, Nexpa, or Puerto Escondido.
For average surfers, long boarders and SUP this is welcome news considering mainland Mexico’s surf can reach 20-30ft at the most exposed spots. It is unusual to see surf over 6-8ft face heights in this region.
What is lost in size is compensated for in quality, the spots inside the bay well protected and offshore in the dominant afternoon Westerlies.
The SW swells are most common from April to October and the WNW swells from December to March. Tropical swells from storms passing to the West provide another source of swell from June-October. Overall the surf is very consistent for long boarding and SUP and less consistent for short boarding. For this reason, this is a great destination for long boarders, SUP, beginners and intermediates, while potentially disappointing Alpha short boarders seeking larger, hollower surf on a daily basis, although it is possible to luck into some bigger surf maybe 60 days of the year or less.
The breaks in this region are a mix of coral reef and rock bottom with a few beach breaks. There are both right and left breaks, but rights are dominant by about 2 to 1. A-frame peaks, long walls, rippable sections, and perfect lines are typical of this region, not so much big tubes, but there are opportunities to get barreled including a few ledges and reefs. The dry season is from November to April and the wet season is from May to October, although both can be lovely. The dry season is cooler and less humid, while sultrier tropical weather prevails in the wet season.
La Caleta is just north (some 2 miles) along the coast from Chacala Beach and some 8 miles from Las Varas, Nayarit. On good days La Caleta offers waves that are the length of a football field, as well as being situated to hold any size of swell.
The bigger it gets, the cleaner the ride. Caleta is well known by surfers all over Mexico, and slowly also the rest of the surfing world!
You can get there by panga, it’s a short trip from the little marina in Chacala, by land you’ll need a 4 wheel-drive vehicle (rough terrain) and if you’re very energetic, as some of the younger local surfers, you can walk through the jungle, though it is a fairly long hike, at least an hour, carrying your board, so think it over before you start off.
From La Caleta, 400 yards to the South, toward Chacala Beach is yet another break, called Colorine, and this is one of the best wave rides in Nayarit, another left with fast waves over fairly shallow water.
The state of Nayarit receives consistent, reliable swells most of the year. Winter (November-March) is the best season for Banderas Bay, when W and NW Aleutian swells will wrap into the bay, losing some size but cleaning-up with the northerly off-shores.
Occasional W swells will provide the biggest conditions on most spots. The summer surf season will start after the transition months of March and April, which are usually windier than the rest of the year. South Pacific activity and seasonal hurricanes push-in long period swells from SW to S directions, although Nayarit seems to lack a bit of size and power compared to southern Mexican states.
For northern breaks, summer is a more consistent time than winter, with regular swell in the 4-8ft (1.2-2.5m) range and excellent direction for the lefthand breaks north of Punta de Mita. Northerly winds prevail in the winter season before progressively shifting to a W-NW direction that will continue all summer. The tidal range hovers around 3ft (1m) and there are usually 2 tides daily.
|dominant swell||NW –NW||NW –SW||NW –SW||NW –W||NW –W||NW –NW|
|swell size (ft)||3||3-4||4||5||4-5||3-4|
|dominant wind||NW –N||W –N||W –NW||W –NW||W –N||NW –NE|
|water temp (C)||23||23||25||28||28||26|
Let’s check it . . .
Located right under the Tropic of Cancer, Nayarit is blessed with warm temperatures year-round. Abundant rains in the summer, mixed with intense sunshine, regularly take temperatures beyond 30°C (86°F).
The mountains generate cooler breezes at night, making the climate more bearable than further south. The tropical rainy season starts mid-June and stretches to the end of October bringing heavy rain and humidity, particularly in August and September.
Winter sees daytime temperatures around 27°C (80°F), but nights get cooler, down to 15°C (59°F). Hurricane Kenna’s hit this coast in October 2002 – the first in 74 years. Hurricanes usually stay out at sea, tracking northwest towards Baja, or west towards Hawaii. Water temps range from 28°C (82°F) in the summer down to 22°C (73°F) in the winter, when a spring suit is advisable.
Sayulita is a laid-back city. San Blas is Nayarit’s tourism centre and starting point for jungle river boating to La Tovara springs. Check out remote beaches, or snorkel/dive around Islas Marietas. Along the Malecón (downtown PV), a strip of restaurants, bars and clubs will provide all night entertainment.
Unlike other Mexican breaks of bone-crushing fame, these are more adapted to intermediate level surfers. Locals don’t always see the influx of surfers positively, but crowd levels are low on spots requiring a boat. San Blas surroundings are infested with jejenes (tiny sand gnats) that come out at night and provoke intense itching.
Avoid Puerto Vallarta’s polluted waters. Recommended quiver includes a longboard or fish rather than a gun. Equipment and rentals are available at Coral Reef Surf Shop in Bucerias or Acción Tropical Surf Shop in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco State) is 1h ahead of Sayulita and Punta de Mita (Nayarit).
Flying to the Riviera Nayarit is easy and convenient for national and international travelers.
The Tepic International Airport and the Puerto Vallarta International Airport both await you with exceptional customer service and all the amenities required that ensure your arrival and departure will be pleasant experience.
The Tepic International Airport (TPQ) is located just 1 hour east of the resort coastal area of San Blas in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico’s Pacific Coast’s oldest sea port.
Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) is located just 10 – 15 minutes from Riviera Nayarit’s southern most resort areas of Nuevo Vallarta/Flamingos, 30 minutes from the resorts of Punta Mita, and Litibu, and approximately 1 hour from the area of Guayabitos.
With both National and International arrivals, this modern facility offers much for the traveler.
If I was going to Nayarit I think I would choose this place to stay out of all of the different options. There’s only 3 rooms so you need to make sure you make your reservation ahead of time.
Bungalows Unelma looks amazing. Private, every room comes with a outdoor kitchen and there’s a beautiful garden to chill in. From the reviews that I’ve read it also seems to be a real well kept place (very clean) and the back gate heads straight to the ocean 🙂 Trying to pick one good photo to post was hard because there was so many to choose from! This place is beautiful!
Trip Advisor reviews include: “Ideal hideaway on the beach” and “Private Paradise”
#1 of 8 Hotels in Sayulita Mexico and a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor . This place seems really really nice but is probably really really expensive. They do offer discounts like the “Summer Romance Special” though. I wonder if that counts for bromances?
Reviews include: “Magical is not too strong a word for this place” and “Hidden Paradise A great place to shipwreck away from the rat race of life.”
If you’re just looking for a good place to crash that won’t put you in the poor house then this is the place for you!! And there’s a surf shop right next door!
Trip Advisor reviews include- “Good clean hotel” and “Nice place for the money!”
Hey Cocina Nayarit
Tiny little place with some yummy Mexican food and fish 🙂
Trip Advisor reviews include: “HEY!! This restaurant is a gem!!” and “Love this place, cute off the beaten track”
Not in the mood for tacos? Try Orangy, they serve juices, smoothies, healthy snacks and “power bowls”.
Trip Advisor reviews include: “Beautiful people, Beautiful food :)” and “Refreshing and Welcoming!”
This place is off the beach so it’s more affordable. Apparently their chilaquiles are to die for and there’s a cat named “Midnight” running around that everyone loves!
Trip Advisor reviews include: “Good value, Nice ambiance” and “Great little bar restaurant”
Stoners Surf Camp is located in San Blas Nayarit, Mexico!
Surfing being the most popular inquire at Stoners Surf Camp where beginners to advanced surfers can find gratitude in 7 different surf spots ranging from front cabin beach breaks to minuets away point breaks. Stoners Surf Camp gets its name from renowned photographer Ron Stoner, who surfed and captured this now called “Stoners” surf break that has been ridden by surfers all over the world.
Stoners Surf Camp is owned by former Mexican surf champion Jose Manuel Cano “Pompis” who has traveled to many countries making surfing a big part of his life. Pompis being the main instructor at the camp makes certain your ambition for surfing is strongly met and strides to comfort and guide each and every guest.
Lunazul Surfschool & Shop is a family business located on the main beach in Sayulita, Mexico. They provide surf lessons, organize surf camps and have the broadest selection of surfboards and paddle boards for rent in Sayulita and Punta de Mita. Friendly staff, the best location and excellent surf instructors are but only a few things that set them apart from their competitors.
WildMex looks pretty legit. They have everything from transportation to boards to wet suits to lessons and they even have insurance! So you know you’re covered. “If you are staying in Punta de Mita, Nuevo Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita Surf. Lessons interests you, do not worry we pick you up and returned at the end of the lesson.”
Splash of Glass is located on the corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Calle Morelos in the beautiful town of Bucerias. They offer classes in lamp work beads, beginning stained glass, fused glass, sun catchers, fused glass jewelry, and glass mosaics! They also carry many beautiful products handmade right there in Mexico. On a hot summer day if you need a break and want to get inside this is place to do it.
Rancho Manuel is located in Sayulita, Mexico. The owners Manuel and Adalberto offer guided horse and boat tours. Apparently they are two of the nicest people you will ever meet!
“Manuel is a real character with enough charm for 10 men!” and Adalberto has been known to go out of his way to make these tours spectacular especially for children. If you have some spare time and you’re in the area I would definitely check out Rancho Manuel!
Located in the Punta Mita resort Punta Mita Expeditions offers Marine Safari, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Surf, Scuba Diving, Whale Watching, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Hookah Diving, Wild Dolphins Adventure and much more! “Booking was simple and they were responsive, all of the gear worked great, and their whole crew were fun to be around.”
Surfing Jalisco Mexico is quite a phenomenon experience. The Jalisco region of Mexico contain a long series of beach breaks, river mouths, and the occasional reef, stretching from Puerto Vallarta in the north to the border of Michoacan in the south.[box type=”alert” size=”large” style=”rounded”]If you decide to venture into Michoacan please be careful because these days it has been reported that the Narco activity on this area may be hazardous to your health.[/box]
Let’s get back to Jalisco, the birth place of Tequila . . .
While it’s home to several high-quality waves like Tecuan, Campos Manzanillo, El Pariso, and Boca de Apisa, the jewel of this area is the infamous Pascuales. A thumping beach break that can hold 25+ foot waves. Pascuales is to Jalisco and Colima what Puerto Esondido is to Oaxaca—you’ve seen this wave in the mags—dangerous, hollow, and for experts (or you) only if there’s any hint of Southern Hemi in the water.
Like in most of Mainland Mexico, crowds in Jalisco can vary wildly from spot to spot. The bulk of big-name spots in the area will have a crowd, and expect some pretty serious localism in the water at Pascuales, a wave so fierce, getting beat up on the beach will be the least of your concerns if you paddle out on big day.
The usual in Mainland Mex: dangerous roads, corrupt cops, shallow reefs, Montezuma’s Revenge (a stomach bug in the water supply that can strand you in the bathroom for days on end), highway bandits, board liquefying beach breaks, and mosquitoes o’ plenty.
Yet, this trip is well worth all the challenges and risks—word on the street is that these days it’s a little sketchy up towards La Tica area but if you dare to travel into that region you will be rewarded with empty waves.
The rainy season, and hot as hell. This is the most consistent time for surf, with the South Pacific churning out regular south and southwest swells that end up peeling into the region’s point breaks, reefs and beach breaks. Most crowded with surfers, too. Watch out for hurricanes, as they can (and do) make landfall here on occasion.
September – November are the rainiest months in the rainy season, and as such, can be difficult to travel in. The upside is that there can be less wind so the surf can stay glassy all day; the downside is well, all the rain and mud and bugs it brings. South swells aren’t as dependable as spring and summer, but it’s still a reasonably consistent time to visit.
Perfect weather and minimal swell.
Can be the best time, as it’s not too hot, the rains haven’t started in earnest and south swells start hitting strong in May. Plus, it’s Spring Break, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your age and marital status.
Other than surf, there isn’t much to do or see in this small coastal town in Jalisco. You may want to stay down the road and drive in and surf Pascuales, but if you decide that you would rather get up with the chickens and surf before anyone drives in than we do have a few options for you.
Well, it’s not the Sheraton but it’s as close as you will get out here in the wild west of Mexico. Check out Paco’s Hotel for 50 bones a night.
Manscos Homero (Located in Tecoman a short drive away)
Barre de Navidad in Jalisco is an exposed beach, reef, rivermouth break that has reasonably consistent surf. Summer offers the best conditions for surfing. Offshore winds blow from the north northeast.
Clean groundswells prevail and the best swell direction is from the southwest. The beach break provides left and right handers and in addition, both left and right reef breaks add variety.
Relatively few surfers here, even on good days. Beware of rocks and sharks.
Forgot your surfboard or need some gear? Check out Barra Surf Shop & Bar.
Well kept boutique hotel right on the beach in Barra de Navidad. The hotel is centrally located in the town, within easy walking distance of restaurants and markets.
Reviews for Casa Chips look good . . .
“Our room had a terrace and ocean view. It was large, comfortable and CLEAN and even had a kitchenette! The staff was friendly and attentive. It was so easy to feel right at home in a totally new place in a different country. We will definitely go back again.”
Link to hotel on trip advisor.
Casa Colina– $$$$ Ultra High end but worth it
Link to hotel on Yelp.
Hotel Laguna del Tule– $$ Moderate price range
Link to hotel on Yelp.
Restaurant Paty (link on Yelp)
Amber di Mare
If you’re looking for something different other then Mexican food this place looks great. They’re mostly Italian with some seafood variants. We ran across someone that loves this place and said, “We ate here twice in one week! We have been going to Ambar’s since 2000 and it is always fabulous. My husband LOVES the French onion soup, the crepes are delicious, the pizza is fabulous, and the Cesar salad was wonderful. Ambar’s is a rare gem in an unsuspecting place.”
Link to Amber on trip advisor.
For night-life options and a deeper dive into local restaurants in Barra check out this link.
Quimixto in Jalisco is a quite exposed beach break that has consistent surf. Summer offers the optimum conditions for surfing. Offshore winds are from the south.
Groundswells more frequent than wind-swells and the optimum swell angle is from the west southwest. The beach breaks offer lefts and rights. A fairly popular wave that can sometimes get crowded.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Be wary of rips – they make surfing dangerous.[/box]
Arroyo Seco is small town 50 km north of Barra de Navidad. Empty Beach well know by the locals for it’s big waves. It’s hard for beginners, when the swell is small the waves break really fast and hard.
|Type of Wave||Beach break|
|Direction of Wave||Right|
Surf-mexico.com was originally founded by three friends who love to surf. They help you find best places to stay, best places to surf and share surfing tips in Mexico.
Enjoy your trip, stay safe and let us know how your trip goes. Check out these other articles for some more details about the area:
Join us for Feathers Fur Surf Yoga Mexico Retreat! One week of intentional and playful immersion into the worlds of surf and yoga, with Yours Truly! We have booked out Tailwinds Jungle Lodge for one week; just us, mother nature, the wild ocean, and our intentions to be fully present. Perhaps the odd turtle, scorpion, bat, snake, whale — WILD, NATURAL and FREE! Join us for Feathers and Fur Surf & Yoga Mexico Retreat!
For more information on Feathers and Fur Surf & Yoga Mexico Retreat:
Guest Post by Wave Tribe Customer and Friend Walter Gualt
Since my last post, I decided to join a Frenchman named Nico in his 4×4 E350 van for some beach camping at Concepcion Bamba, possible further exploration into the more fabled point breaks of Salina Cruz, and to later check out the Mayan ruins at Palenque in the Chiapas.
We camped at La Bamba for two weeks, maybe 100 yards from the break. Our camp was fortunately and unfortunately positioned right by the entrance to the beach; we had to take only a few steps to check the surf, but we were also privy to all the foot and surf tour traffic.
I surfed at least twice everyday and as many as four times per day while at La Bamba. We watched the winds switch from onshore to howling offshore, too strong for the size of the waves and we were pushed off them . I loved being right on the break, waiting for the optimum winds, crowd, tide and waves. The end result was that I was surfed-out and exhausted after two weeks.
One afternoon, a thunderstorm moved in right on top of La Bamba; we hunkered down in the van for over an hour as the deluge emptied over our camp and thunder cracked and clapped in the gray abyss above. As the storm subsided, the ocean glassed-off and the waves started pumping. Smooth head high sets rolled in. Nico and I were the first in the water and lo and behold we were joined by Taylor Knox, Dane Reynolds and Craig Anderson, some of the best and most progressive surfers in the world.
A couple hours earlier we were studying surfing mags with pictures of these guys, and now we were trading waves with them. Like a jungle mirage, they had appeared out of the thunderstorm. It was my fourth session of the day, but being in an intimate setting with just pros and no one else, I stepped up my surf and gave it everything I had. I left the water almost in a fever, completely drained and too tired to cook up our standard dinner fare of pasta with tomatoes, onions and garlic.
Some of the surf towns, like Barra de la Cruz, have sufficient organization to charge visitors for use of the beach, as proceeds go directly back into the town. Bamba wasn’t as organized. The night before we arrived, there was serious argument over who should be collecting money for beach access. A fight broke out, as some surfers staying at Bamba’s only surf camp, CocoLeoco, were charged twice in one day.
A couple times, a group of these guys came around asking for money, 30 pesos for day-use. We didn’t pay them cause what were we paying for? Security, no. My boardshorts were stolen off our clothes line on our second night. For facilities at the beach like Barra de la Cruz, no. We would have been paying for their beer money.
Around midday sometime during our second week, a group of us were sitting at our camp hanging out, and these guys asked only one of us for the fee. One grinned, rubbed his belly and said, “Necessito comida, muy hambre.” I need food and I’m hungry! We ignored them till they left.
They got the message after that that none of us would pay them. Kind of like the street dogs that come around camp looking for scraps. They can be aggressive, but as soon as you reach for the ground, they bolt off thinking a rock is coming after them next. Sometimes it takes a good blow to the abdomen, but they usually get the message.
The bugs were feasting on our feet and legs. The sand flies and marsh flies were the worst, leaving hundreds of itchy bumps. Life on the beach is tough!
Over our stay, we had met a lot of the folks living in town, and they started becoming quite comfortable coming by our camp to hang out. Even asking for things. It’s at that point that it’s time to move on. It’s not to say that we wore out our welcome; we were becoming even more welcomed. But then it’s not private and it’s not beach camping any longer. We had become a recognizable and semi-permanent fixture of the beach, and after two weeks of surfing, walking into town to buy food and water, and conversing with the locals, it was time to move-on.
Before heading into the mountains for the ruins, we wanted to spend a night at another right point called Chepehua, which was available to the public. Some of the other more exclusive points further east are not safe to visit (slashed tires) unless you pay a guide from Salina Cruz +$250 per day to take you there. It’s bullshit because the beaches are public, and there is technically nothing they can do; but they do anyways. This monopoly on these excellent waves is reinforced by travelling professional surfers and sponsored kids who stay at the Salina Cruz camps for a week or two, where all their meals are taken care of for a couple grand. And I think they assume that most gringos travelling in the area have that kind of money to blow in a week. One look at our van would tell you otherwise.
Exhausted after a surf, I opted for the beach restaurant’s only dinner dish besides fish. It turned out to be shark, and I ate way too much. It was a fitful night of rest, but I was looking forward to a little hiatus from surfing. We were all packed up enjoying a homemade espresso, one of our little luxuries, before we left; it was around 8 am, and we were confident we could make it to San Cristobal by nightfall.
The van didn’t start. We tried for a half hour, before deciding to wait. Nico said humidity could be preventing the car from starting; it had rained heavily the night before and our car was facing west, opposite of the rising sun. We waited, and tried again repeatedly over the next two hours, taking off the air filter and cleaning some corrosion off the spark plug heads.
Our attempts to start the van continued to fail and were halted when the battery died. Several tour guides who had dropped their groups off helped us eventually start with their Dodge Ram trucks (the vehicle of choice for Salina Cruz surf tours). Nico caught a lift into town to buy a new battery and air filter. After he arrived in the early afternoon, we installed the new battery and air filter, and the van started without a hitch. Perfecto! We spent the remainder of the afternoon surfing some great waves at Chipehua.
Still reeling from my shark overdose the night before, I was so excited for another hearty pasta dinner. It’s the only relief we have from Mexican food!
We woke Thursday morning , confident that we were leaving our car troubles in the Mexico at that beach, and excited to finally hit the road for San Cristobal de Las Casas and visit the Mayan ruins in Palenque!
But of course the van failed to start…it had rained even harder last night, and we had forgotten to turn the van around so it would be facing the sun in the morning. We waited a couple hours and tried again. Nothing. Another hour. Nothing. At noon, we knew our moment was upon us. In the last hour, we’d cleaned more corrosion off the spark plug heads and were ready to go. On the second try, the mighty 7.2L V8 roared to life. Slamming doors shut we waved our hasty goodbyes and took off before the van could change its mind.
On the road again! Acceleration was rough and a few ks down the road we pulled over to a roadside mechanic. Everybody in this area of Mexico only speaks Spanish, so Nico does all the talking; I try to listen along and put together the words I can recognize. They told us we needed new spark plugs.
Back on the road, the van was sounding pretty good and we decided to push through Salina Cruz; we didn’t want to stay there anyway.
An hour and a half outside of town, we lost all power. The engine died and steering froze. We rumbled onto the side of the road exasperated. We had pushed our luck too far…fortunately, a mechanic was working nearby. We enlisted his help, and he flagged down a passing truck he recognized to give us a jump. Our problems were beyond his skill level, and he directed us to an automotive electrician 10 minutes up the road in Niltepec. Not sure if we were in the right spot, we stopped at a roadside tire shop to ask for directions. The van died, and we couldn’t get it started. Nico caught a ride with a bicycle taxi into Niltepec, found the automotive electrician named Rufino, and brought him back to the van. We got another jump and made it to Rufino’s shop.
Niltepec is a fairly good sized community just off the freeway, but tucked away and easy to miss. Suffice to say, gringos rarely, if ever, pass through. Rufino worked for the remainder of the afternoon, trying to find the source of our problems. He tested the alternator, and it was working. In the evening, under the light of my headlamp, he showed us a computer chip that acted as a capacitor of some kind for the battery and the alternator. It was almost still smoking and totally fried. We spent the night in the van in front of the Rufino’s shop, and, across the street, ate a pretty good dinner of empanadas and some local dish that was excellent—all heavily fried! Nico caught a bus into town in the morning and bought a replacement chip. Rufino installed it, and the van started smoothly, but the battery was not charging.
After another hour of work, Rufino, frustrated, had no idea why we weren’t getting a charge. He spotted a penny on the floorboards of the driver side and asked what was written on the front. When we told him, he told us to pray. Probably the last thing you want to hear from a mechanic in a remote town in Mexico! We waited and paced anxiously for another hour. Rufino discovered a short running to the alternator, rewired it, and we got a charge. For 500 pesos (roughly 40 dollars), a service worth 500’s more in the U.S., we were back on the road. In high spirits, we climbed into the highlands of the Chiapas. Our now happy and nearly purring V8 pulled us into the range leaving the coastal wetlands below us.
The first major city we passed through was Tuxtla Gutierrez, and it might have been through the grueling rows of streetlights on the main drag, had a kind businessman on an errand with his daughter not gone out of his way to guide us to the city bypass on a busy Friday afternoon during rush hour traffic. No one has ever done that for me, and I’ve never thought of doing that for anyone else! He played a huge part in smoothing out the otherwise stressful start to our day, when we didn’t know if the van would be leaving Mexico with us.
The little maps in our Lonely Planet guides were very poor representations of the streets of San Cristobal, the mountainous piney city we planned to stop in for the night. The streets were skinny, poorly marked, and often required three point turns in the van. We karate-chopped our way across town, until we found a hostel to our liking at Rincon de los Camellos. We left early the next morning. My first night in a hostel wasn’t bad, aside from some noisy roommates, one of which came stumbling in a 6am and proceeded to incessantly cough and talk in his drunken slumber; I think he spent most of the night outside, and it was cold.
Our road to the Mayan ruins at Palenque wound through the Chiapas, a historically turbulent area known to house bandits. The people are mainly indigenous Mayans, and life hasn’t changed very much for them. Some sell cokes and chips from little roadside huts. Mostly a corn-growing region, they clear steep hillsides and plant their crops on some sections so vertical you wouldn’t think it possible to walk up. Banana trees mix in with the pines, epiphytes and corn fields.
As we neared Palenque, it become obvious that were on the “touristic Mayan route,” as people aggressively tried to sell us fruit and other snacks from the road; a rope was held across our path—sometimes by kids—until it was imminently obvious we were not slowing down!
We arrived at El Panchan, our base-camp to launch into the ruins, in the late afternoon. El Panchan is a cluster of bars, cabanas and rooms for rent in the jungle right next to the entrance of ruins. We settled at the Jungle Palace, a cluster of cabanas and stayed in Cacao, a hut with ample concrete deck space hanging over a quietly gurgling stream.
We took our time in the morning enjoying a much needed rest and big breakfast before tackling the ruins. Many tourists take a shuttle because the park is a half mile from the entrance and uphill. We were dripping with sweat from our walk when we arrived at the entrance. Guided tours were offered by season veterans all the way down to adolescent kids. We couldn’t find a group large enough to split the cost, so we wandered through on our own. And there was plenty of historical information on signs in front of each ruin describing the building and how it came to be.
Palenque is a relatively newly excavated ruin with only 10% visible—the rest of it is buried by thick jungle, including the largest structure in the area, three times bigger than the first temple currently worked on by archaeologists. Breaking up the beautiful view from the back of the park overlooking the entire ruin, three generations of Italians on a tour provided some comic relief as they ascended the tallest temple, laughing, shouting and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The next day we set out down a trail called Centero Motepa that punched straight into the jungle, starting with an observation deck over a cluster of cascading pools whose chandeliers created a terracing waterfall that reached far into the depths of the green. The trail followed the stream up and crossed several times before the gravel ended at Mayan marker for a water/sewage duct leading away from the ancient city. The architecture and planning was impressive considering the system in the heart of the ruins, and this offshoot that likely cut through dwellings. It was 4-5ft deep and lined with cemented volcanic rock from the area. In some places, large flat stones still covered the duct, even bearing reliefs and Mayan symbols that were still visible through the moss that covered them and plants that crept in around them.
We heard a rumor that unexcavated ruins could be found along the trail, and maybe we had just seen it at the aqueduct. We were sorely disappointed when the muddy trail we now followed ended at the fence of private property. Perhaps these uncovered ruins required a little more exploration and trespassing…nevertheless, we turned back and explored one of the stream crossings that was a wide open area of pools. As we made our way deeper into the gently cascading pools, we made out an enormous glowing waterfall lit by the midday sun, veiled by the Jungle.
The entrance was under a log sprouting a thick patch of mushrooms, and we contorted our bodies underneath it and over a sliver of uneven riverbed rock while dodging spiders and their large snaring webs. A tall cascade of falls, 15-20ft, opened up before us, and it was surrounded by a green wall of Jungle. An incredible sight—that light-brown, reddish tint of the falls; the yellowing oval leaves that had fallen and become wedged, now reflecting a rainbow of colors, mostly shades of orange; the long ropes of vines hanging the from the ceiling; and the green fronds of the jungle reaching out over the water.
The roar of the jungle in that place was intense, even overwhelming at times. Swimming pools worth of water was flowing; some bugs delivered piercing calls above the general hum of the others and the frogs; and the sun beat down through the top of the forest canopy. It was so loud. There’s really no way to express it in words.
At our feet, around the base of the falls, we treaded on what looked like light brown reddish rocks, the same color as the falls (probably from the heavy amount of limestone in the area and calcium carbonate in the water). Upon closure examination they were snail shells. Thousands of snail shells ranging in length from 1-4 inches! The shell had been discarded by the creature and hadn’t been picked by another looking for a home. The shell didn’t move and was slowly covered by the limestone, petrifying it in a way. However, some shells were only partially covered and some were clean blue-gray. Maybe this was the count of the local snail population by “shells in regular use.” A rolling stone gather’s no moss right!? Or they could just be recent. I don’t know, but it was cool.
I climbed up the pools, and they continued into the green abyss of the jungle as far as I could see. With the roar of the jungle and gurgling vortex in front of me, I felt on the edge of being lost in the jungle. There was something drawing me in, deeper and deeper, almost like a trance. I was snapped awake by Nico yelling below me “Don’t get lost in the Jungle!” Wow, classic. Except this time it was real, not some joke before a hike. It was crazy thinking that people had been appreciating this place for nearly 2000 years, and, probably at one point, when Palenque was at its height, it was a very special place for the Mayans. I made a concerted effort to crane my head away and climb back down. Time to leave the jungle! And back to more van trouble…
It hadn’t started in the last two days, and it rained hard every night. We spent the next morning running the fan and cleaning all the spark plug heads, trying to dry it out. It started after a few hours, and we quickly departed for the town of Palenque to solve our troubles once and for all, and before the van changed its mind, again!
Finding a mechanic is not one-stop shopping in Mexico. There are mechanicos, but they don’t work on electrical components—they tend to specialize in tire changes. Automotive electricians, or just electricians, seem to be the most knowledgeable and the hardest to find among the plethora of roadside tire shops. Also, auto parts are fairly easy to come by in Mexico, but not so much in Guatemala or El Salvador. We couldn’t afford to break down in either of those countries.
The electrician we found spotted a spark plug that had been chewed through, maybe by the mouse we’d found traces of in the van (we’ve also been housing an ant nest that migrated into the van from a tree in Barra de la Cruz—we’ve got them on the run and their numbers are dwindling!). One new spark plug and an oil change later, the van was sounding better than ever. Hopefully, this would be the last dog we’d have to shake off in Mexico.
We returned to the Jungle Palace for one more tonight before heading to Guatemala. And it was an interesting night: we slept fitfully and were awakened early in the morning by someone cutting through the mosquito net walls of our cabana…
We descended out of the Chiapas and into the coastal wetlands, crossing the border in the evening. The most noticeable things about Guatemalans are that they smile and laugh a lot more than Mexicans, they all drive Toyotas as opposed to the Nissans all over Mexico, and they drive wilder, especially the hard-cornering chicken buses, which, for whatever reason, are the most powerful machines on the road, over-taking anyone on the hills. It was raining and dark when we arrived at Huehuetenango (way-way). We found a cheap hostel but parked the van in front of the police station, so we’d come back to something intact in the morning. We had our usually fare of espresso and PB and Js, and were heading for Lago de Atitlan, a lake surrounded by volcanoes in the heart of the country. I missed the exit, so we were forced to cut through a back road, notorious for bandit activity in the past, and man, was it a back road. Thousands of patches and potholes composed a road that twisted through the steep ridges. At one point, the road was completely washed out, and the redirected route was all dirt and took us through the river at the bottom of the canyon. We made it to the lake safe and sound, but it was invisible in the clouds and fog. Skunked! We caught a glimpse on the other side where we stopped for a bite. The road towards the coast was just as bad until we reached the coastal highway. We camped on the black sand beaches of Sipacate and enjoyed a hearty meal of pasta.
We crossed into El Salvador early, but the extensive paperwork to bring a vehicle took two hours. We spent our first night in a touristy resort area at El Tunco. Even though we stayed at a hostel, it felt a little fake.
Yesterday morning we motored 10 minutes down the road into La Libertad, and found a more authentic vibe much to our liking. As I sit writing, I’m looking over my balcony at the premier point break of the Central American coast: Punta Roca. We’ve paid in advance for our two-week stay, and I’m looking into taking a Spanish language course while I’m here. Stoked to be back at the beach!