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:
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” ~ Buddha
This surf guide is updates every few months with new and exciting information on surfing northern Baja, Mexico. Our latest update was made after our last trip south: August 2017:
A few new additions this winter to our new surf guide for all you venturing surfers tending toward a Baja experience. I am writing this at the border crossing while we wait to show our gringo faces to our borders patrol brethren.
Looking to bring you the latest and greatest surf experience possible, I’ve got some great new updates and additions to our new edition.
El Janqui restaurant for authentic tacos and quesadillas in Rosarito and for the best breakfast in town got to the Banana Republic for insane pancakes and traditional Mexican breakfast options. See more below.
The rain this winter has turned the dust bowl that we all know and love into a wonderland of rolling green hills and fantastic views. The river at K38 broke in early February and the sandbars are setting up nicely. Construction continues on the hillsides of Northern Baja and new houses litter the footsteps of the stature above K38.
I have been a big fan of surfing northern Baja all my life. I started going to Baja when I was 5 years old. In fact, my great grandmother’s sister immigrated from Norway and moved with 5 kids to the mountains of Baja.
My uncle Ron, the family expert on such matters, says that they exported marble from Baja to the USA. Soren Meling (1855-1917) was my great grandfather.
In case you have been in those mountains above San Telmo on the way to the Observatorio Astronomico Nacionale, their place was called Meling Ranch. Baja is in my blood and has been for a few generations. That pic up top was taken early days Meling Ranch and is a shot of my Great Grandmother.
When I started surfing, I stopped going to the ranch. I keep going to Baja though, likely for the same reason my ancestors went there, to try and find some solace in my life—always imagining that once I crossed the border something magical would take place.
And it usually did—and still does.
Driving around the backroads of Baja feels like the Wild West. As you cross the border from the USA into Mexico you are transported into a new reality. A different reality. It’s poorer, dirtier and less developed that most parts of America. Nonetheless, there is a charm that transcends everything logical.
Here is the deal, Northern Baja gets all those step angled swells that just race right by us in Ventura—but down in Baja this creates an entirely different kind of magic. Look at this chart of a 305 degree swell, Baja is getting lit up like a Christmas tree.
Be safe. Be smart. Don’t take drugs or guns across the border. Always remember, you are guilty until proven innocent in Mexico.
You’ll need to get yourself a passport if you want to go surfing northern Baja, that’s the law these days and don’t think you’ll be able to say you forgot it because the borders are not like Disneyland.
Immigration & Customs take crossing the border seriously and they don’t give a rat’s ass about your long winded tequila-breath story of how your wife lost your passport when you guys took that all-you-can-eat cruise to Jamaica.
However, if you did actually lose your passport report it officially and if you have a driver’s license then you’ll be able to pass back home without too much problem.
You’ll need a few weeks to get all the information needed for your new passport and you’ll also have to wait for the Feds to process your application. Processing time is 4-5 weeks or you can pay extra to have it done in 2-3 weeks.
Got extra cash that you love to throw away? You can get it done in a few days with an expedited agency. Here are the step-by-step instructions below:
1. Fill Out Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport
2. Submit Completed Form DS-11 In Person
3. Submit Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
4. Present Identification
5. Submit a Photocopy of the Identification Document(s) Presented
6. Pay the Applicable Fee
7. Provide One Passport Photo
Here are the complete directions for passports-are-us: travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/first-time.html
If you have kids under 16 and want to take them along, you’ll need the original, or a certified copy, of their birth certificate. A photocopy of the original won’t work unless it’s certified.
You can get one of those at the County Clerk’s office—the county your little rebel rousers were born in bro. Or do what I did and just leave them down in Mex to watch the trailer and surfboards between surf trips.
You MUST get Mexico car insurance. If you get in an accident in Mexico without insurance you will likely go to jail. It will cost you $40 for the weekend or about $300 for the year if you make multiple trips.
And no, your USA car insurance will not cover your ass in Baja. I like getting mine online before I go while sipping a beer in front of my computer Homer Simpson style.
Here is the one I alway use, it’s called Mexico Insurance Online.
If you forget to purchase it before you go, then you need to grab it on the way to Baja. Exit the 805/5 at San Ysidro. There are a ton of drive-though insurance companies that will issue you insurance anytime of the day or night.
The border crossing has become more ‘advanced’ over the past few years than it ever was before, if you get the red light or the wave-over you need to go to Mexican secondary.
My theory is that the Mexican border officers want to give to US Citizens a dose of their own medicine by doing random searches and giving us Gringos the classic ‘secondary’ experience.
Don’t get me wrong, we probably deserve it, but it sucks to be bent over—both coming and going.
We got secondary on our last two trips (June and September 2016). They wave you over to a search area where you have to exit your car and stand about 100 yards away as they examine and x-ray the entire vehicle. It could take up to an hour.
Back in the day with my father we used to bring guns in under the hood, as we were avid hunters and liked to bring our own shotguns to the Ranch. When I got older I traded the guns for surfboards and on occasion. A decade ago we used to bring herb across with us—I am telling you now, those days are long gone.
Need some inspiration about surfing this region—and you like to read—see this epic novel Tijuana Straits by Kem Nunn.
I don’t care who wrote your prescription for that Triple Purple Humboldt Gold, leave that shit at home or you might end up in a Mexican jail. Just in case you didn’t follow directions and you are now reading your phone while sitting in a Mexican jail here is a list of Baja lawyers called ‘abogados‘ in Spanish. Call one.
I’ve been in the Rosarito jail, and you don’t even want to get anywhere near a Mexican prison. Here is the main difference between Mexico and the US, in Mexico you are guilty until proven innocent—not the other way around. Here is an article about Mexico’s Federal Civil Code if you are bored and are feeling brave or lucky.
If you learn nothing else from this article but this one thing, it could change your life, leave the pot at home—drink tequila for the weekend.
If you get Mexican secondary, be kind, patient and gracious. If you have nothing to hide then you’ll be out of there after they search your vehicle.
As a side note, they don’t normally search your person or make you walk through the x-ray machine. I am just saying, in case you forgot to trash that joint before crossing, throw it in your pocket and hope the drug dogs aren’t kicking it by the x-ray machine.
See this link for prohibited items if you are confused.
If you don’t get stopped by Mexican border guards, keep driving and stay to your right and head for the Tijuana beaches off-ramp. Stay all the way to the right.
You’ll hug the border fence and traverse through downtown TJ and climb a large hill before dropping into the Tijuana Beaches. Keep driving the toll road.
It’s about $2 per toll and there are three between the border and Ensenada. You can pay with dollars and at every toll there is a bathroom—usually a little past the toll booths.
Ok, let’s take a moment and check the actual swell in the area, this is real time surf check for surfing northern Baja:
I am not going to cover all the surf breaks in northern Baja, but I am going to talk about the ones that I like best after spending a few decades surfing this region. I usually stay away from surfing Tijuana beaches, unless you want Hep C or feel like taking on the sewage contaminated runoff around this region that flows from the Tijuana river.
I’d highly recommend staying away from these breaks. San Diego Coastkeepers measures the water quality and posts updates on these beaches, they even have a free swim guide which is a great resource for clear water surfing.
If there is very little swell, you got two options. Your first small swell option is going to be one of the waves you come across right along the main road called Baja Malibu.
You will come across this huge arch, and right between that arch you are likely to see some excellent waves at Baja Malibu just five miles south of the border.
This wave is a thick barrel and breaks along scattered beach break and catches swell from any direction.
This is one of the best waves in Northern Baja and a great option if everything else is flat. This wave is a surfboard-breaker.
Take the Baja Malibu exit and park in the lot next to the sign of the same name.
If you want to stay in this area there is a 3 bedroom with ocean views for $100 a night. See the dog friendly listing here. You can also try the resort to the south if you want something a bit more luxury, but I never see anyone go into the place.
If you are into the party thing, or just want to be part of the crowd, and be in a dirty beach metropolis, then Rosarito is for you. Get the full experience, ride the bull at Papas & Beer and drink bad tequila to your heart’s content with the tourists at any of the numerous bars or restaurants scattered along downtown.
Rosarito is mainly beach break, but it has a few other options if you want to hunt for them. The best surf seems to be near the pier, with the south side being better most years.
Most people stay at the Rosarito Beach Hotel in one of the 500 rooms, you can’t miss it—it’s the behemoth red and white building downtown in the middle of all the action. Here are ten other options for hotels in Rosarito if you decide that this is the experience you want.
Name: Rosarito Beach Hotel
Name: La Paloma
Name: Las Rocas Hotel
Name: Festival Plaza
Name: Puerto Nuevo Baja Hotel & Villas
Name: Rosarito Beach Hotel
Name: Hotel Pueblito Inn
Name: Las Rocas Resort & Spa
Name: Castillos del Mar
Name: Hotel Hacienda Don Luis
You might want to grab some food after surfing around K38 and this might be when you go into Rosarito. There are a few surf shops, plenty of bar and some good food options.
Realize that if you take the free road from K38 to Rosarito you’ll have to pass a military inspection station. They might mess with you and if you dropped any roaches in your can and they find them you are in for a long day. I’d recommend hoping on the toll road and getting off in downtown Rosarito to by-pass the inspection post.
My two new favorite places to eat are Banana Republic and El Janqui Tacos.
Head to Tacos El Janqui restaurant for authentic tacos and quesadillas in Rosarito. The place is a little difficult to find as it’s off the main road at Mar del Norte #115 12, Zona Centro, 22700 Rosarito. There is no sign out front, but just look for the long line of people waiting for their grub in an open court style restaurant and that’s the place.
For the best breakfast in town, go to the Banana Republic for insane pancakes and traditional Mexican breakfast options. This place is worth the drive south after your surf. Located at Blvd Benito Juarez 31, Zona Centro—right on the corner of the mall outside Rosarito Hotel.
There is paid secure parking at the Rosarito Hotel right next to the restaurant for eight dollars. If you go into the hotel cafe and buy a coffee they will validate your parking for free. There, I saved you $6, you can donate it to saving the ocean of buy me a beer when you roll through Ojai.
If you aren’t going to stay in Rosarito, but you want to chase chicks and drink all night, then I would highly recommend that you either sleep on the beach or stuff your pockets with cash for the bride you will have to pay when that cop pulls you over.
The Rosarito police are notorious for throwing shit-faced Gringos in jail and extorting money from them—you are better off pulling out your wife’s credit card and grabbing a sleazy hotel at 2am and dealing with the wrath of questioning that you will have to endure once you get home—mounting your car for that 10 minute ride back to your Baja castle down the road is a bad Gringo idea and could land you in jail.
Click here for the Rosarito surf report.
The coast between Rosarito and La Fonda is my favorite part of this entire area. Points, reefs, and beach breaks abound—lots of beautiful coastline with waves in many no name locations on the right swell.
This is an ok wave in front of the RV park—too close to Rosarito in my book.
When a big northwest swings into the bay, this place can be really fun. It’s kind of hit and miss, but I have surfed it really good with nobody out several times.
You will have to figure out where to park and don’t leave any valuables in the car. You might be able to leave your car at a private trailer park on the south end of the cove, or at the north end of the Fox studio lot.
Grab some fresh fish on your way out, the locals will be stoked and so will you. We found this recent report on just where to go once you visit the local fish market:
Click here for the Popotla surf report.
“Start off with raw shellfish, ceviches, and cocktails, and for this you only need one stand: Los Compadres de Sinaloa. Walk past the boats, fish mongers, shellfish stands, and junk food vendors where you’ll find an attractive coctelera huddled behind a wall of the typical seafood hot sauces ready to serve you. El Compadre takes care of all the shucking and cracking of live shellfish to be served au natural, or he hands it off to Erika who’ll take care of any preparations.”
People seem to enjoy staying in the Popotla the area. Cathy, a recent visitor to the area said, “The beach is cleaned everyday, one of the cleanest I ever seen. It’s also very long, so you can walk about one hour one way.”
U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in Mexico and make sure you have yours with you and that it isn’t expired. Mexican law requires that the vehicles be driven by their owners or that the owner be inside the vehicle. So if you borrowed your bros car or decided to take your roommate’s car while he was in Portland at that granola eating contest, then the vehicle could be seized by Mexican customs and will not be returned until Star Wars 14 comes out.
The next few spots are some of my all time favorites—once you make a few trips and actually get these breaks firing you will wonder why you have been surfing all those OC breaks all those years when just a few hours away these breaks were going off and uncrowded.
Calafia is one of those mysto breaks that rarely works well but if there is any south in the water there will be some waves.
It works best on a large south—it’s a rocky right point that can throw on the takeoff and then gets a bit softer on the inside.
On the right tide and swell, even the inside can stand up and offer some fun turns and slashes.
Park and eat at the Calafia restaurant or pay the parking lot dudes some cash to watch your vehicle (always pay someone).
This wave gets spiky at low tide so watch yourself, if there is enough swell and water moving around you could pull it off.
Like most places in Baja these days they are putting up condos along the cliffs around Calafia—which is good if you want to stay here, you can find some options here. People tend not to like the Hotel Calafia, so you might want to stay away from it unless you are feeling adventurous.
This one on airbnb has an ocean view and is in the newer complex called Playas de Rosarito and goes for $140 a night.
Got an extra 150k in the kitty, you might want to grab your own Baja villa—check out Baja Real Estate Group and then invite me for the holidays.
Looks like there is some decent grub at Paradise Cove Tiki Bar at K36 owned by Beau. The reviews look good with a 4.5 star rating on Trip Advisor. I am going to check it out next week while I am searching for waves and a decent beer after I get out of the water.
Little of Hawaii in Baja, with live music and hot showers for surfers.
This might be my favorite waves in North America—I know that is a big statement, especially since I live 20 minutes from Rincon, but I got to tell you, when this wave is working it has a life of its own.
People talk about this wave being the most crowded wave around but on my last few trips to Baja we surfed it solo. The break faces due south but it will pick up anything—west, northwest, west northwest, you get the picture. I have surfed it on every swell direction imaginable and it has a hundred different faces.
K-38 likes a mid-to-low-tide and breaks over a cobble stone riverbed, with bigger rocks near the takeoff zone. The right is epic, but there are lefts to be had also. If you do go left, watch out for a few shallow sections on the inside.
There are a few main peaks and when it’s big it pushes our further and further. At 10-12 foot there is a lot of water moving around, so pay attention.
Speaking of paying attention, wear some booties if you bring them. It’s a sea urchin party out there and you are invited—they tend to congregate near the rivermouth mainly, but you might find a few staggerers anywhere.
Just south of the main break are a few more waves at K-38.5 in front of the exclusive Club Marena. I’ve caught some fun lefts between the two rock outcroppings at a higher tide when K-38 was either starting to shut down or was just too crowded for my taste. There is a fun little right just around the corner that breaks into a large open bay—bigger boards are better as it’s a soft sweeping shoulder.
You can’t get to K-38 from the toll road, best thing to do is drive past it on the toll road (that way you can get a good look at it) and then make your exit another mile south at Puerto Nuevo. Drive back north along the free road and make a left after the break at the top of the hill just on the north side of the bridge.
Go down the dirt road to the first driveway and pull in to Robert’s and check the surf. If you end up staying there to surf you’ll need to pay $5 to whoever is in the lot. Your car is safe here—you can also use the showers after you surf or go to the bathroom on the property.
Many new surf shacks have been built over the last decade, you got some great options right on the cliffs overlooking the main break.
People seem to really like it and you can’t get any closer to the main peak. There are some other places to stay scattered along the cliffs and also in the large white tower to the south (Club Marena)—depends on your budget.
I did some research on the casas overlooking K-38 and this is what I found, a little pricy but you are right on the main break and can watch it in your PJs while having breakfast.
Ocean Front K-38 for $250 with 5 bedrooms, 11 beds, ocean views, 6 hammocks and—get this— a private skate mini ramp on the beach property along with psychedelic painted walls and accommodates 15.
Club Marena 2 bedroom with views of ocean and all the amenities of your home back i Orange County. $190 per night with a two night minimum.
K-38 with Hot Tub sits right on the beach (not on the cliff), accommodates 8 people and has 2 bedrooms. Looks sweet and has tons of 5 star reviews from Ron who lives (guess where?) the OC. Here is what Bree said, I am hoping she visits next time I go down.
A few more options can be found here on wavecation.
Guys go crazy over Taco Surf just up the hill on the main road north of K-38. Someone on surfline also suggested Ana Mar for breakfast, but I have never seen it open.
Besides K-38 being my favorite surf spot in Mexico it is coupled with my favorite brick oven Pizza restaurant just down the road— Ollie’s Pizza, run by an ex-pat, named after the owner’s full size poodle Ollie (thanks for the update Beau). This place is absolutely awesome fine dining in Baja—who would have thought?
Any hungry surfers around?
The staff at Ollie’s Pizza is super cool and the wine list is excellent—they are only open Wednesday through Sunday from 4pm until 10pm. From the outside it looks like a hole, but once you walk through those doors you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I always plan my trips so I have multiple opportunities to eat here and so should you. Ollie’s Pizza is located just north of the Las Gaviotas complex: Carretera Libre Rosarito Ensenada Km 40.5, 22740 Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico. Phone:+52 661 613 2046
After leaving the K-38 area, going south, the next good wave is located in a gated gringo community called Las Gaviotas. This has been a favorite Baja refuge of mine for the last few years. It’s an easy trip from the border and there are a plentitude of rentals available from beachfront 2 bedrooms to mammoth 8 bedrooms homes for those that want to bring all their friends.
Prices are reasonable, maybe a tad high for Mexico, but staying at Gaviotas is well worth the money.
Not only do you have a private wave, but there is also a pool and jacuzzi for that post session soak—grab a beer and melt your Gringo worries away.
The waves is super fun on the right swell. Gaviotas is a reef/point break with both rights and lefts. The weekends tend to be much more crowded than weekdays and a during the winter you can often get it with just a few surfers out.
There are a handful of awesome waves just outside the iron gates, so don’t fret if all you OC bros show up, just hop in the car and drive to the next break.
You can’t miss this place, it’s one of the largest gated communities in northern Baja. Just down the road from K-38—look for the sign. To book a rental there are a few options, the official site is www.las-gaviotas.com (way old school) but I have rented homes off it over a dozen times without any issues. There are a few listed on airbnb here but they tend to be a bit more expensive.
Las Gaviotas Facebook Page
A few years ago a new restaurant opened in the area called Splash, if you are staying anywhere around K-38 it’s worth a visit.
The view is spectacular and it’s an awesome place to take your gal. I thought the food was mediocre and given the choice I’d just do another meal at Ollie’s Pizza.
Splash is Located at KM 52 on the Free Road between Rosarito and Ensenada. Heading south from K-38, they are just past the sand dunes, and just after Halfway House heading north.
The Halfway House is a good option for breakfast or a beer and a game of billiards (if they still got the table). They usually have a drum kit set-up and some instruments in case you want to have a quick relive-my-youth moment (which is mostly the reason we go to Mex anyway, right?).
Just south of Gaviotas is a fun break called Raul’s—also one of my favorites. It is better on a bigger swell, but can be a good option if you want to escape the crowds of the better know places. It does best on a big south at medium to high tide.
Raul’s breaks over a shallow sloping flat rock reef and sits (for now) in front of a vacant lot. There is a church at the top of the road—that’s how you know where it is, just turn at the church and drive to the end of the road.
It’s a slower wave and better for a bigger board or Mini Simmons style, but tends to be uncrowded and super fun.
There is an off-ramp from the toll road here called Puerto Nuevo and is the best way to get off the toll road for either K-38 or Gaviotas—there is a military checkpoint just south of k-38 on the free road so you get to bypass all that drama.
There are waves every few kilometers until you get to K-55. The wave at Puerto Nuevo is supposed to get good—though I have never surfed it. There is a right-breaking reef at the north end of the beach. If you like lobster, make sure to grab a meal here before you leave.
There are waves at K-44, Cantamar, the Dunes, Hotel Cafe America and the Halfway House. On the right day, with the right swell, all of these breaks can go off, but they are a little fickle—but hell, it’s Baja, so get out there and explore.
Campo Lopez consists of about one hundred homes on rutty dirt roads that cascade toward the ocean from the Mexican highway going south to Ensenada.
You could drive right by it and not really notice it—unless you are surfer, because the camp sits on one of the best waves in Baja.
Lots of the homes are typical of classic Baja beach construction: trailers to which rooms have been attached by carpenters of widely varying talents.
Nothing about Campo Lopez is splashy. It is Baja funky—a world apart from the fancy tourist towers that spring up every year along the Baja coast.
I have had some insane days out at K-55 over the years, it seems to pick up any swell and is a righteous wave with sick barrels. There are a few reefs to chose from and a sandy beach at the north end of the beach. This place will hold on the biggest of swells. The bad news is that this is a private beach community.
K-55 surf report on surfline.
However, in our new world of rent-anything-to-anyone, you can get into this little piece of paradise. This airbnb link has accommodation listings along this entire coast and the official Campo Lopez Facebook page is here.
I could find only one listing at K-55 for a rental called K55 Beach House at $250 a night. That’s a lot to pay for a night in Mex but it could be worth it if the swell is macking.
This will be our last break for this article, I don’t think I have taken a surf trip to Baja without surfing this wave at least once on the trip.
La Fonda is a magical place that pulls in any swell—last year we went to Baja in June and the forecast said that La Fonda was going to be flat. We pulled up to head high barrels and some of the best surf I had had in a long time.
Flat huh—you just never know at La Fonda. However, the opposite can happen too—this place can get huge and will make you cry for you pappy if you get slammed onto a sandbar by an outside set. Combo swells bring the best shape, if there is too much north in the swell it can get walled and too much south at it won’t hit the sandbars right.
You can get to La Fonda via the toll road or free road, if you are on the toll road exit at Alisitos—the next exit is several miles down the road, so don’t miss this one. You can pull in to the Alisitos camping area and check the surf, they are charging $10 to pull in there these days but it’s worth it to know you car is safe on the bluff and you can take an outdoor shower after your session in the Baja luxury ducha.
If you are into camping, you can just stay here for the night. There is a small convenience store with cold beer and fresh tortillas at the entrance to the campground. As a more upscale alternative, you can walk up to La Fonda Hotel or La Mission for a meal—both just a short walk.
Careful at low tide—we had to take my bro to the emergency room in Rosarito las year—read my article in The ledInertia titled Worst Case Scenario in Rosarito.
The views overlooking the surf are fabulous and the food is ok. The banana pancakes make for an awesome meal after a long surf session in the cold water. You can also stay at the hotel, but it’s got a funky energy these days.
It seems that the previous owner was thrown out for violations of some kind and there is now a wall between the restaurant and the hotel. They used to be all one location.
There is a new restaurant on the south end of the property and the original owner, Joe Dmytri, manages the hotel. we had breakfast there in 2017 and the food was shit. I won’t go back to this place to eat. For a beer to watch the sunset is all I would recommend these days.
Here is the original story in Spanish. There was some kind of bruhaha a few years back that resulted in the division of the original restaurant and the the hotel. I wouldn’t stay there again, not unless you want to bedbugs with your pillow.
Poco Cielo is next door to La Fonda, seems like the views also compare and the food looks similar. Rooms are reasonably priced at $80-$130, all styled with different themes.
I am not a fan of any of the hotels in this area, but if you need to crash for the night then take a pick and roll the dice.
There used to be a spectacular break south of La Fonda called Salsipuedes—perhaps the best surfing in northern Baja. Well, it’s still there, accessible by boat. Salsipuedes is a legendary right point that wraps around into a beautiful bay—it’s a heavy wave and only works on a big swell, so enter with caution.
Salsipuedes was bought and was being developed by Grupo Lagza, Surfrider’s San Diego Chapter shot down an attempt by company representatives for a “surfer friendly” endorsement of the Salsipuedes project—among their promises was the claim that surf access would not be restricted.
In December 2013 the highway collapsed above the Salsipuedes development, plunging a cement truck some 100 feet toward the ocean. The driver got out and was unhurt.
The campground and access to Salsipuedes is closed—if you have a boat, you can get this famed wave all to yourself.
Your next stop is the wave at San Miguel, about 20 minutes south toward the Ensenada portion of Baja. We are going to do another article on surfing around Ensenada and south—but to end this one we want to throw in some information about visiting the wine country.
Last year while chilling with some friends at Las Gaviotas we decided to make a trek to the wine area of Baja called Valle De Guadalupe.
I know many of you (especially Californians like me) are thinking to themselves, ‘Mexican wine, yea right.’
But hold on to your inner sommelier because you are about to get your socks knocked off.
Getting there is easy, just after the last toll at San Miguel you’ll see a sign that says Valle De Guadalupe. Ver right towards the hills and in about 20 minutes you’ll come across some non Baja-esque vineyards and rolling green hills—and the wine is exquisite.
Finca Altozano is all the rage and has an excellent selection of local wines and fabulous Mexican dinning. Call for a reservation early in the week, otherwise you won’t get seated. Here is a link their Facebook page.
Monte Xanic, one of the Valle’s oldest wineries is also worth a visit. The winery is located atop a hill and looks over a lake with clear water. By the water, you can enjoy wine tastings and relax.
La Villa del Valle is a modern Tuscan-style B&B with several rooms, a nicely appointed public sitting space and delicious Mexican breakfasts.
Encuentro Guadalupe Antiresort is an eco-hotel with 20 smartly designed, box-like rooms scattered across a hillside in the middle of the valley. Hotel Boutique, with 20 rooms, gardens and vineyard views, is a new entry to the valley’s burgeoning lodging scene, as is El Cielo, which seeks luxury status.
Valle De Guadalupe is a great place to visit and has much to offer but can get really hot, so plan accordingly and visit during the cooler hours of the day or in the Spring or Fall months.
I just got back from an epic 7 day trip and I thought I would give an update on departing Baja. Follow the toll road back toward the border. After the last toll road, about one mile south, is a nice spot to stop and take a bathroom break before you get to the border crossing. It will take you from 2-3 hours to get through the USA-Mexico border crossing, so you should plan accordingly.
Remember, you need enough gas to sit in line for a few hours, and if it’s hot, you’ll want to run the air-conditioning while cueing to get back stateside.
The most convenient gas station before the border is up the hill toward downtown TJ just before you hook right toward the border crossing. You can fill up there and then double back and continue to the international traverse.
I finally got this down after doing it wrong a hand-full of times—it sucks if you do this wrong because you have to go through a TJ maze of traffic and craziness to get back to the border line—add another 30 minutes to hour and a ton of extra stress.
You will turn right at some point before going up the ramp to get to the main border area—the signs are very deceiving—but listen up, don’t follow the first lane (the one far right) follow the middle lane that goes up the ramp in a more slopped fashion.
The far right lane will take you PAST the border and into TJ.
If you take the first lane you will have to follow it to downtown and make your way back to the border crossing like a rat in a maze. Sometimes they block off the streets nearest the crossing, so you might need to maneuver a few roundabouts before making your way back. Worst case scenario (and I have done this) pay a taxi driver $5 and follow him back to the border.
Located in mainland Mexico at the entrance to the Sea of Cortez, the area is a magnet for south and southwest swells. Ranging from hollow A-frame beach breaks to incredible world class point breaks, surfers of all ability levels will get a thrill of a lifetime—or at lest Mexico-time.
The point breaks offer truly remarkable waves that can wrap for more than 500 yards. This wave can be both a hollow and thumpy—offering some barrel time and fast shoulders to race into the inside.
Most of the areas are all sand bottom and water temperatures hover around 75-85 degrees from May through November, hence no wetsuits are required.
In April, a vest or spring-suit may be desirable. Typically there is always an off-shore flow in the morning that lasts until early afternoon.
Surfing in Sinaloa is a damn good experience!
Type: point break
Reliability: fairly consistent
Best: Swell SW | Wind ENE
Average Sea Temperature : 25.9 °C
Best Season to surf: The important thing to remember is not to try during the rainy season—surf season is from March to Oct.
Patoles in Sinaloa is an exposed point break that has quite consistent surf. Summer offers the best conditions for surfing. Works best in offshore winds from the east northeast.
Groundswells more frequent than windswells and the best swell direction is from the southwest. Good surf at all stages of the tide and it’s rarely crowded here. Submerged rocks are a hazard though. Patoles can be reached by any rental car from Mazatlan in less than two hours.
Reliability: very consistent
Best: Swell SW | Wind ENE
Average Sea Temperature: 26.0 °C
Marmols Left Point in Sinaloa is an exposed point break that is usually a safe bet and works all around the year. Works best in offshore winds from the east northeast. Most of the surf here comes from groundswells and the best swell direction is from the southwest. Even when there are waves, it’s not likely to be crowded. Watch out for rocks.
Marmols Surf Quality and Wind Quality by season:
Reliability: fairly consistent
Best: Swell SW | Wind ENE
Average Sea Temperature: 26.1 °C
Dimas Rivermouth in Sinaloa is an exposed beach break that has quite reliable surf and can work at any time of the year. Ideal winds are from the east northeast.
Dimas tends to receive distant groundswells and the best swell direction is from the southwest. Waves at the beach are both lefts and rights. Even when there are waves, it’s not likely to be crowded. Rocks are a hazard.
Best: Swell SW | Wind E
Average Sea Temperature: 26.0 °C
Rucos in Sinaloa is an exposed beach break that has consistent surf. Summer offers the optimum conditions for surfing. Ideal winds are from the east. Rucos receives distant groundswells and the best swell direction is from the southwest.
Waves at the beach are both lefts and rights. Good surf at all stages of the tide. Rarely crowded here. Beware of rocks, locals and sharks.
Rucos Surf Quality by Season:
Best: Swell SW | Wind NE
Average Sea Temperature: 25.0 °C
Celestino in Sinaloa is an exposed point break that has consistent surf. Summer offers the best conditions for surfing. Offshore winds blow from the northeast. Ideal swell direction is from the southwest. When it’s working here, it can get crowded. Dangerous rips are a hazard.
Reliability: very consistent
Best: Swell SW | Wind ENE
Average Sea Temperature: 26.3 °C
El 29 A Dimas in Sinaloa is an exposed beach break that has very consistent surf. Summer offers the optimum conditions for surfing. The best wind direction is from the east northeast. Tends to receive distant groundswells and the optimum swell angle is from the southwest. The beach breaks offer lefts and rights. Rarely crowded here. Watch out for rocks.
Sinaloa Surf Adventures (SSA) is the longest running surf camp in Northern Mexico having been in business for 11 years. Recently, the camp was awarded the Mexico State Tourism award for top recreational business in Mexico.
Set in the small, tranquil fishing village of Las Barres, SSA provides a place to get away from the stress of everyday life while experiencing world class surf. This overlooked region in Mexico has been referred to as “the land that time forgot” and the “promised land”.
For decades surfers have flown right over the area for more well-known and overcrowded surf breaks. Arguably, the area around this part of Mexico has the most world-class breaks per mile on this side of the globe.
SSA is also very unique in that it surfs areas that are completely isolated and non-accessible. Image paddling out at your local break and it’s just you and your buddies, that’s what every day is like at SSA. There is simply no other place like SSA in the world.
SSA offers, best in class service, beach front accommodations, air conditioned rooms, great food, tons of memories and of course…world class, un-crowded surfing.
Barras de Piaxtla Surf Camp is located 1 hour and 15 minutes north of Mazatlán in the small fishing village of Las Barras De Piaxtla.
If you would like to spend your day learning how to surf on pristine secluded beaches, enjoying a cold drink in a hammock 10 feet from the ocean, sea kayaking, feasting on lobster, or warming your bones next to a beach bonfire, then Barras de Piaxtla Surf Camp is the place for you.
The waves are usually small to medium in height and perfect for surf lessons. There are no crowds and plenty of space to make learning how to surf easy! The surf camp will provide all your surfing equipment. All you have to do is show up!!
Culiacán International Airport is an international airport located at Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. It handles the national and international air traffic of the city of Culiacán. It is easy and cheap to get to with flights from Los Angeles roughly 2 ½ hours with an average cost of $325.00.
The Palms Resort of Mazatlán is located on the beautiful beaches of Mazatlán, in front of the three islands in the Golden Zone.
This hotel really seems to go all out for it’s guests. They will book excursions, fishing trips and the restaurant will even cook your caught fish for you! If you sleep in late the cleaning service will still clean your room and they have an amazing coffee bar with fresh squeezed orange juice every morning if you decide not to sleep in.
The bar will bring your margaritas to your room for you if you want to enjoy the sunset in privacy. The only issues I’ve seen are that the beds are a little hard and they could use a couple more servers around the pool. But for the views, cleanliness and service the price seems to be worth every penny.
The Quality Inn Mazatlán is perfect for if you’re on a budget and just need a nice place to crash after a long day of surfing.
They offer all the same amenities that all Quality Inns offer (free breakfast, wifi, pool and tv), there’s only 3 channels in English but it’s not like you’re in Mazatlán to watch TV anyway.
It’s about a 5 minute walk to the beach and many local clubs and restaurants are within walking distance just stay away from a place called “Panama” apparently they have terrible service. No mini fridges but all in all seems like a great place to stay for the value.
Pancho’s is located in Mazatlán in the “Golden Zone” right on the beach. Check them out for breakfast, lunch or dinner if you’re in the mood for some really good Mexican Seafood. Have an awesome Margarita with some Shrimp Kabobs, sit back and enjoy the beautiful view.
Surf’s Up Café is located in Mazatlán right next to the El Sol La Vida Beach Resort. When you walk in you can really tell that the owner Leanne loves what she does. Everything is homemade from the exquisite soups, caramel apples, burgers, hand cut papayas and Cubano sandwiches.
There’s tables right in the sand and live music is starting again in November. It sounds to me that the 2 kilometer drive off gravel road is worth the rubber.
The Social Cafe Lounge located in the heart of the Golden Zone
seems to be the place to be if you want “soft live music in the background, a large grownup drink in front of you and a beautiful friend to your right” ~Reviewer FrankyFigs2015.
The prices are amazing, they offer free wifi and parking and there’s live music on Thursday nights at 6:30, but get there early cause it fills up quick. The Social serves everything from Martinis, Cocktails, Mojitos, Vinos, Cervezas and more.
On they’re food menu they serve Salads, Pizzas, Sliders, Bagels, Paninis, Delicious Desserts and other great items. I can’t wait to try their “Cookies and Cream blended coffee drink with a little adult fun in it” 😉 Cash only.
The Huana Coa Canopy Adventure is off the hook! They offer three different options for your adventure. Combo #1 is Canopy + ATV, Combo #2 is Canopy + Horseback Riding and Combo #3 is Horseback riding + ATV. It’s kind of a long ride to get there but it’s definitely worth it and they even pick you up in a WWII vehicle.
They have an awesome staff including “Yara, Liz, Filipe, Danny and Jesus” who love their jobs and are fun to be around. Safety is their first priority, they have two lines just in case and you can zip upside down. When you’re done zip lining you have lunch and ride your ATV or horse to have a guided tour (with samples) of where they make their tequila!
There’s no pressure to buy any but you’ll probably want to since it’s better and cheaper then buying it back at your hotel. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses and GoPro! Check out this Video about Huana Coa.
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:
The restaurant and general store downstairs sees a lot of foot traffic—surfers looking for a post surf Gatorade; traveling San Salvadorians; and gobs of local, and some not so local, El Salvadorian surfers, who bring the ladies running the hotel to their wits end sometimes.
Drinking starts as early as 8am and continues until after dark when the restaurant downstairs closes around 8pm. They drink a lot, talk loudly, and laugh more than anybody else I’ve encountered. One Salvadorian surfer has been staying at the hotel as long as we have and his laugh is legendary and unmistakable; you really can’t help but laugh once you hear it.
However, a crowd of ruffians assembles downstairs to drink and smoke all day on the weekend and some weekdays. Daisy, the woman in charge, when the owner, Don Allen, is away, kicked them out one night. They’re returned bright and early to continue their revelry. They rarely surf, but compose a substantial part of the “surf bum” population in La Libertad.
They asked us to join them, and in effect buy them some beers, when we returned from surfing. We said we’d change and meet them downstairs soon. But it wasn’t soon enough, as Daisy kicked them out. They told us from out the barred open window that they were treating us like gringos from now on and that we weren’t allowed in the water. Oh the drama!
We encountered a situation where tourists had blown some dough consistently, and now it was expected after a certain point. The group was strong enough to threaten and impose their expectations on extended guests of the hotel.
They don’t seem to understand the difference between the cost of their day-long drinking and my budget of mostly food and water to stay ready for the surf, something they didn’t seem to concerned about.
It got so bad, Daisy quit. At the crossroads of La Paz, we’ve encountered the seedier and rougher element lonely planet mentions. Things have cooled down at the hotel, but I’m off to explore San Salvador and hunt down some good coffee in the picturesque Ruta de Las Flores.
On whole, El Salvadorian’s are very cool people. They have a uncanny ability to spark up a conversation and get a laugh. It’s provided some consist motivation to practice my Spanish.
I didn’t end up getting the tutor, as he was unavailable for a week, and I have also lost my debit card, so I’m being very frugal (another one is on the way). I found a spanish workbook in the downstairs library which is in a pile of fiction and nonfiction books mostly in spanish. The only books in English were on the afterlife—not that appealing at the moment. The textbook, all in Spanish, has been pretty helpful along with my dictionary, and direction from Nico.
While not a top-32 event, we saw the likes of Josh Kerr and Damien Hobgood in the water, looking to pick up some more contest points for the ASP tour. The quality of surfing was awesome, and watching accomplished surfers revealed the potential of the wave, getting us psyched for our own time in the water.
The contest drew people from all over El Salvador; its quite a big deal to the community and everyone is laughing and bubbling with energy. This is the first surf contest I’ve watched, and it was not a bad alternative despite that the waves were firing.
Food and drink vendors with tents, grills, and coolers packed with meat and beer stacked themselves along the smooth stones of Punta Roca. Many made fortifications to their week-long camp by building up rocks around their tent to gain some elevation, visually enhancing it against competitors; to protect it from the tide; and to firmly establish their prime real estate.
I either sat on the rocks or grabbed a chair if one’s available and watched the contest 50 yds away under the shady tent with a cold Pilsner in hand. On high tide, you couldn’t get any closer to the action without getting doused by the spray of a wave, and even then, sometimes that was unavoidable and a welcome reprieve from the July heat.
Give El Salvadorians a surf contest with great waves and they take it to a whole ‘nother level. The cheers following a mighty hack and the howls and groans from watching a heavy wipeout built the background noise to the announcer’s coverage.
Often when there was a break in between sets of waves, a pretty girl would walk by captivating the attention of everyone under the tent. If she was with a guy or anybody for that matter, the crowd was silent, but eagerly chattering quietly and laughing.
If the girl was alone, the crowd erupted into a roar of cheers, calls, hoots, whistles, claps, and laughs that usually drew a shy smile from the girl of interest. It’s all very friendly, even chivalrous, and a fun part of the culture to experience.
The week following has turned La Libertad, specifically the touristy and surfing area of La Paz, into a ghost town comparatively without the traffic of the Reef Pro.
The surf is usually best and the most crowded in the early morning (6am to 11am), but I’ve found it exceedingly difficult pull myself out of bed early enough, though I’ve been managing to get up around 6-630 to at least watch the surf. We were doing the same thing we did at La Bamba in Mexico, but now we have a little shelter from the day’s heat and the luxury of the AC.
The late afternoons and evenings are when we’ve scored our best sessions. If the wind picks up, it usually glasses off by the evening and the temperature is cooler. Punta Roca faces south, so the sun sets everyday to the west above the point, much like Santa Barbara sunsets. When the waves are heavy and the sets have pushed an ocean mist into the air, combine with the setting sun, it is reminiscent of some memorable sessions I’ve had in Santa Barbara.
The sun set is replaced by the massive thunderstorms that move towards us from the North East. Its mesmerizing being caught between two powerful forces, riding one for enjoyment, and enjoying the other from the shelter of our third floor balcony.
Across the street from our hotel., we’re bombarded by a local restaurant’s monotonous playlist of about 20 love songs like “Take my Breath Away” and “Forever Starts Tonight” that they play on repeat. They’ve also played some interesting Spanish covers of “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Last Kiss.”
When I was making plans for this trip, I went through a number of potential routes from starting in Panama and working my way up Central America to only visiting one or two countries.
I ended up buying a ticket to Mexico. And now, after weighing out my options at the halfway point of my trip, I’ve bought a return ticket out of San Jose Costa Rica for September 10. Fortunately, I had the foresight to set my plans in motion, but not get strictly attached to the outcomes. It’s placed less pressure on meeting my destination deadlines on paper and allowed more emphasis on enjoying each spot I visited, which is after all why I’m taking this trip.
This means I’ll be spending little if any time outside traveling and busing in Nicaragua. I’m bummed about it, but I’d rather save it for another time and really enjoy it by spending quality time amongst the people, countryside, and at the breaks.
Punta Roca is a great wave that delivers pretty good consistency and is great for working on my technique. We’ve surfed plenty of times now with 5 or less surfers in the water when there is consistently 20+ every morning. I love surfing this wave–there’s usually a barrel every set. There’s really no reason to leave, but I’m looking forward to a remoter setting at Punta Mango.
I’ve met a lot of travelers doing a trip similar to mine. Few spend more than a week in each spot. They stay for a few days and move on. And for the most part, they hadn’t encountered any great surf. Many of them got their best surf at La Bamba and that was the longest they stayed in one place.
I’ve surfed Punta Roca overhead and barreling by myself because I was patient and willing to wait for the right time. It’s less stressful to stay in a spot longer, and you also get better deals on accommodations.
Nico, the Frenchman I’ve been traveling with, is leaving to visit his girlfriend in the U.S. for two weeks. I’ll be staying close to La Libertad for at least another week waiting for my debit card to arrive…keeping an eye on the swell…and will be catching a bus to Punta Mango, a remoter break east of Punta Roca.
It’s supposed to be a heavier barreling wave, and I may spend as many as three weeks there, waiting for the right swell. Nico will rejoin me with the van, and we may be able to do some beach camping for a little bit.
Yesterday, I got a bus into San Salvador, mainly to track down a short story book in Spanish (hopefully, I’ll be able to read and understand it well someday). I also ended up seeing the El Salvadorian Museum of Art.
I really enjoyed the color choice of the artists. Some of the paintings have heavier themes as they were created around the civil war and the tumultuous periods prior. I’m heading further inland today to the Rutas Las Flores, a string of towns filled with local artists and craft makers amid volcanoes and coffee farms—the real reason I’m leaving to the coast: to find a great cup of coffee.
By the last week in August, I’ll start making my way to Costa Rica, and I have to stay a night or two in Nicaragua, and maybe a few more, if its pumping. I’m meeting my girlfriend, Brandy, in Costa Rica, for the remainder of my trip in September. Looking forward to her company and white water rafting and hiking in tropical paradise! Hopefully, I’ll be surfed out and not surfed starved by that point.
This will be my last post for a few weeks, when I’ll hopefully have some exciting stuff to share from Punta Mango. Thanks for all of your support and guidance! And special thanks to my roommates for gracefully accommodating a sub letter in my absence, and Vu for coming through with the replacement debit card!!
Surfing Northern Baja – Hire A Guide
I have been traveling to Baja for 35 years—it is likely the one place on the planet that has served up some of the best waves of my life. For the last few years Baja has been plagued with negative media and unwelcoming stories. Coyote Adventures, started by Ivan Feerman, was born out of one surfer’s desire to change all that.
How did you get the idea to start Coyote Adventures?
First of all thank you for doing this feature on your site Derek, It’s a true honor. The idea came about from the love of surfing and adventure.
My wife knows I love Tijuana and surfing, and while working in a Pacific Beach restaurant she actually suggested I should consider taking people on taco and culinary guides to Tijuana. I gradually developed the idea more into surfing and started integrating other aspects while bouncing off ideas with my friend Jorge.
I also wanted to demystify what the media has created—the drug and violence information we receive on a daily basis can be very debilitating. I feel so fortunate to be able to travel so easily into México and experience the colorful culture, food, music, art, waves and freedom my country of birth has to offer. Of course, when I travel I do it in an environmentally and socially consciousness way.
I want to share this experience and show people that there is a different face to Baja. They shouldn’t be intimidated by the thought of traveling and surfing there—it’s likely not what they think it is. When I go back to visit my family in Baja and surf, or simply spend the day with my wife or friends, we have a blast. In addition, my aunt and cousin are dentists so I always get the perks of that as well, it’s a great resource just across the border.
There is also a boom of the culinary scene there, the wine region is outstanding in Ensenada, the music is fantastic, and the murals of Tijuana are creative and beautiful. Our visual arts collective www.eye-94.com also had a show there this past November. There is a re-emergence and revival of Tijuana, and you do not want to miss it.
How is the trip different when you travel with a local?
I was born and raised in Tijuana, México. I studied up to 11th grade in High School there and finished off in San Diego. I have lived in the United States for 11 years now—having knowledge of both cultures is ideal.
I know my way around Tijuana and Baja really well and my immediate family lives in Loreto, Baja Sur (Southern), very close to Scorpion Bay, San Juanico.
I grew up traveling Baja roads with my family, every summer we would drive to visit my grandma. We would fish, swim, hike, hunt for rabbits and quails and enjoy the beautiful climate; I am a true water and desert kid.
I have traveled extensively throughout Baja and feel that every time I end up meeting a local, I have an awesome experience. Local knowledge of a location will always show you a side of a place that you may have never even imagined existed.
What are some of the spots you surf with your clients?
The common surf spots, depending on the season, run all the way from Playas de Tijuana to San Quintin. This includes Playas, Baja Malibu, Termoelectrica, Muelle (Pier) Rosarito, Playita, Popotla, Calafia, k36 (Bus Stops), Teresitas, k38, k42 (Raul’s), Campito, Chivos, Campo Lopez, La Fonda, Sal Si Puedes, San Miguel, M’s, Stacks, California, Punta San Jose, Punta Cabras, Erendira, Camalu, Cuatro Casas, and many secret spots in-between.
Do you feel that traveling through Baja by car is safe?
It is definitely safe as long as you do it by day, and I don’t say this because of hijacking. I say this because of the lack of illumination on some parts of the road.
Once you get passed Ensenada there are many areas where it’s pitch black and there are a great number of semi trucks traveling all the way to Cabo San Lucas on this very narrow highway.
Animals are another road hazard; you never know when they will cross the road and it’s especially dangerous at night.
Have you ever had any run-ins with the police or narcos?
Honestly, the narcos obviously do exist but you would never know where they are or who they are for the most part—they do their thing and the rest of the population does theirs. If you have no reason to interfere with their business, then there is nothing to worry about. I have never had an incident of this sort in my 32 years.
The cops on the other hand tend to be thieves, although I believe they have gotten much better. They used to come up with any excuse to pull you over and try to get a few bucks. This is not the case anymore, and since they have gotten stricter with drinking and driving policies, most people which go out now tend to take taxis and avoid the $1000 DUI fine. You don’t get out of jail until you pay it with time or dinero.
I recently witnessed an example in which my friend had a few beers at home before he picked us up at a bar to give us a ride to my other friend’s house later in the evening. There were four of us in the car, we got pulled over and my friend ended up getting the breathalyzer test. He was past the legal limit, so they asked for money.
One cop talked to the driver and the other lectured us on how we should not be placing people in danger while driving. He was very cool about it and once they realized we did not have any money in our wallets they told us to park the car and take a taxi home. So we took a taxi home and it made me realize it had been the most humanly possible incident I have ever had with a cop in general. The city has truly changed.
What are some tips you could offer to other surfers traveling through Baja?
Respect the culture and the people, try to blend in, learn some Spanish. Don’t drive on the road down the peninsula late at night, always be conscious of your surroundings, and most definitely don’t drink and drive.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Baja?
I have many, but right now it is Erizo (sea urchin in Spanish). This restaurant is in Tijuana on Avenida Sonora, where my mother and her family grew up. It is located where the new gastronomic center will be located and it is owned by Chef Javier Plascencia. He is at the forefront of a new revolutionary style of cuisine called Baja Med, which is truly outstanding and affordable.
My wife and I recently had an incredible lunch there that included clam and scallop ceviche in a cucumber, jalapeño, and tomatillo sauce. The ceviche was accompanied by a Tijuanero Taco that contained grilled octopus, shrimp, and skirt steak with a sriracha aioli and cilantro. Next to that was a shrimp taco with cheese (called quesa taco) and a Baja style chowder made with maiz. Is your mouth watering yet?
Where do you stay?
I usually stay with family and friends but if I was taking someone on one of these excursions there are many awesome places to stay. Some examples would be the K38 Motel, La Fonda Hotel, Hotel La Mision, Hotel Calafia, Popotla Trailer Park, Hotel Las Rocas, Raul’s Surf Inn, Baja Seasons, Playa Saldamando, San Miguel, Hotel El Cid, Hotel California, Cuatro Casas Hotel and Coyote Cal’s.
There are so many beautiful Mexican ranches around the Santo Tomas region that offer campsites, water springs, showers, pools, grills and more—it’s where the local families go and they’re great.
I noticed that you go to 4 Casas, do you know Ricardo and Teresa the owners of the hostel?
I have camped there before but I have not actually stayed at the Hostel. I know they have been there for a very long time and I had planned in speaking with them about my new company. I have heard many nice things about them and I would definitely take excursion groups there once I have some contact.
Tell us about your company?
If you want to have a great time with someone who’s a native, knows the region, the culture, the breaks, and the language—well, don’t hesitate to give us a try. We help organize many different types of tours, from seeing the tourist site across the border to exploring Mexican cuisine as we chase waves down the coast.
You tell us the experience you want and we’ll make it happen, from camping along the cliffs to sleeping at the ocean’s feet in a hotel. The company is fresh out of the box, so if you are looking for a unique experience send me an email or give a ring.
For more information on Coyote Adventures check out there webpage www.coyoteadventuresbaja.com
This interview was conducted and edited by Derek Dodds, eco warrior and founder of Wave Tribe. All photo credit by Ivan Feerman.