History of Surfing in MexicoRumour has it that Baja was first surfed as early as the 1940s by day tripping southern Californian surfers. However, the first documented surf was by Mike Hynson and Bill Fury somewhere just south of Ensenada in 1963. The Windansea Surf Club from San Diego came to surf big wave spot Todos Santos two years later.
Baja's first surf contest, the Baja Surf Club International, was held from 1966-1969 at San Miguel. But the real credit of introducing surfing in Mexico goes to Ignacio Félix Cota who was one of the first to introduce the sport to the Mexican shores. Nacho Félix made Mexican surfing history by winning a world championship in San Diego, California, in 1965.
Other notable people who influenced surfing in Mexico were Arturo Monroy, Rodrigo Huerta, Juan García, Luis Skeen and Alfonso Polidura. After the Trans Baja highway opened in '73, connecting the top to the tip, Northern Baja lost some allure for more "hardcore" travellers who loved camping out in the dirt to score long point waves in places like Scorpion Bay and Abreojos further down. But its proximity to the border and consistent surf insured that Northern Baja would forever remain popular with visiting surfers.
What's the surf like in Mexico?The Pacific coast of Mexico extends from the dry and arid north to the lush green tropical south with a massive amount of river mouths, point breaks, reefs and beach breaks littered along the coast line, with the board and body breaking waves of Puerto Escondido and Pascuales being the most famous Mexico surf spots.
During the winter months of December to February, north-west swells propagate down from the Pacific with south-west swells dominating for the rest of the year.
Baja is a very popular destination for US surfers, especially Californians who hop over the border to surf Baja’s famed right-hand point breaks and have fun in the pounding shore-breaks, which surfing in Mexico is known for. Baja picks up south-west swells from May to September and north-west swells from October to April. Dominant winds blow from the north-west, but winter offshores are common.
Where to Surf in Mexico:1. Tijuana & Rosarito
Just over the border of the US lies Baja, where the first stop is Tijuana, this lively town is best known for its fun and wild night life, as opposed to its beach break waves. It’s a great place to visit to blow off some steam and stock up on souvenirs! Baja Malibu is a powerful and consistent peaky beach break that takes any swell from S to NW and is best from low to mid tide, and due to the variety of peaks.
Rosarito, a few miles further south, has a long stretch of exposed beach break scattered with reefs and river mouths. It's a crowded party town with a great mix of restaurants and bars. Both towns are good and lively options for a Mexico surf holiday.
What you’ll find in Baja is that distance markers in kilometres are used to name breaks like K-38 and K-38.5 which do get busy due to the easy access and quality waves, but you can still get a peak to yourself and works all year round, perfect for those on a Mexico surf trip.
Those looking to progress their surfing to the next level, as well as those looking for more intermediate surf Mexico offers should head to spots such as K-40, Las Gaviotas and Raul's that provide waves with a bit more of a punch.
Salsipuedes and San Miguel are legendary Baja right hand point breaks that will provide surfers of any ability the best rides of their life, with small swells still lining up for beginners. However, when big swells filter in they should only be tackled by intermediate and advanced surfers.
A tourist town and weekend break spot for many US and Mexicans it is also the jumping-off point for Baja's most famous wave, known as Killers , this legendary big wave spot on the island of Todos Santos is one of the best destination an experienced surfer will encounter. Whilst this is a wave that should only be surfed by the most advanced surfers, you can go out and explore the island and witness these mountains of water by renting a boat and skipper for $100(USD) between 6 people, for a once-in-a-life Mexico surf holiday experience.
3. Central Coastline of Baja
Once you venture to the southern part of Baja, past Ensenada, is where the true Bajan experience begins as the towns become fewer, the land dustier and the waves become deserted.
It’s an exceptionally beautiful landscape with pink and orange hued rocks, green cacti and azure blue waters, and it’s these back drops that surfing in Mexico is all about. For those looking for beginner surf, Mexico has the answer, the towns of Punta San Jose or Punta Cabras have great point, reef and beach break waves, and due to the kelp beds that line the bottom they are regularly glassy all day long.
Follow the paved road that leads to the fun reefs and beaches of K-181 and the well-stocked town of Erendira. As you go south of here, access becomes a bit more difficult with dusty tracks and hole riddled roads, yet once you reach San Telmo de Abajo it turns into a long-boarder’s, as well as a beginner’s, paradise as the waves are forgiving and mellow.
At Rincon de Baja, also known as Freighters, located in Punta San Jacinto, you will score some of the longest right hand waves in Mexico making for one of the best Mexico surf spots.
4. Los Cabos
Los Cabos lies at the bottom of Baja’s 750 mile long finger and is home to rocky headlands, beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise waters along with a great selection of waves. This southern tip of Baja is open to a wide swell window that covers NNW to SE and when coupled with the higher quality of roads they have down here, makes scoring some of the best surf in Mexico highly likely.
Los Cabos best swell direction is from the south, from either long distance lows or hurricane swells, your guides on our Mexico surf tours will know the best spots to head to on any given day. In the Palm Beach and San Pedrito areas you’ll find a very artistic vibe and fantastic uncrowded waves. The Pescadero reefs offer great conditions for all levels of surfers as the waves break close to the shore and pick up the smallest of swells.
One of the best beginner waves in Mexico is Cerritos, set amongst jaw dropping scenery, this slow peeling, walling, right hand point break provides the perfect set up for someone new to surfing, as well as all levels of long-boarders on their dream Mexico surf camp trip.
Cabo San Lucas is home to the infamous Backwash, a flaring hollow shore break that is a heaven for skim boarders and body boarders, offering you a one of a kind surfing in Mexico experience. Spend the day here, sitting in the shade of an umbrella from the sizzling sun, as you watch the fun unfold in front of you.
Next door you’ll find Monuments, a left hand wave that offers faster walls due to an offshore submarine canyon, a great spot to head to for beginner and intermediate surfers and a special Mexico surf experience.
Punta Palmilla is a resort town where you will find energetic night life, delicious local cuisine and several surf breaks for all levels of surfers. La Punta is a right hand wave that can handle large swells so will appeal to intermediate surfers ready to jump to the next level when on staying in on of our Mexico surf resorts.
Costa Azul has three sections that comes to life on specific swells; Acapulcito breaks on larger swells and provides some of the longest rides in the area, this feathers in to The Rock which can offer up punchy walls, whilst further in you will find Zippers, a fast breaking right hand wave that will appeal to regular footed surfers looking at brushing up on their technique in the Mexico surf.
The whole of Los Cabos is a haven for marine life, so participate in some big game fishing or whale watching, making sure to keep your eye out for migrating humpback whales. Cabo has become a booming tourist area and for those who want to let loose for a night head to the areas Squid Roe Strip for a wild night out!
5. Puerto Vallerta & Sayulita
The area from Puerto Vallarta to just north of Mazatlan is one of mainland Mexico's most populated and accessible tourist destinations. Its proximity to the US, dependably decent summertime surf and laid-back lifestyle ensure its popularity with surfers of all shapes, sizes and skill levels will increase. It's easy to get here, easy to find a place to stay, most of the region's waves are easy to surf and after an all-day session at one of the region's left point breaks, watching the sunset from a beach-side bar with an ice cold corona in your hand, well, it doesn’t get much better!
In the southern part of the state of Nayarit lies the emerging Mexico surf holiday town of Sayulita, located just 30 miles from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, it’s easily accessible but still boasts rural charm. It has experienced a boom in the last decade thanks to its beautiful beaches, laid back atmosphere and fantastic waves for all abilities.
Crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and perfect left and right waves is what’s on offer at Sayulita beach. Breaking over patches of rock, but mainly sand bottomed, Sayulita is a beginner to intermediate surfers dream. After a surf, drag your board up to the shade of an umbrella and refuel on the cheap and plentiful fish tacos.
Playa Escondida is located just a 4 minute walk from the mesmirising waters of Sayulita and offers both left and right peaks for beginner surfers, whilst when the swell reaches overhead, it can produce some step walls and hollow barrels for intermediate and advanced surfers. El Faro is a regular footers dream as this sand bottomed point break offers up long right hand walls that are perfect for mals or long boards.
Twenty minutes to the north of Sayulita you’ll find Lola’s, a perfect left hand wall that break in a picture perfect jungle cove, when the swell runs about chest height the wave links up and produces some of the longest waves that you’ll find at any of our Mexico surf resorts. What makes Sayulita so appealing as a Mexico surf trip destination is that it has a lot on offer away from the waves, such as horseback riding, hiking trails, jungle canopy tours, snorkelling, bird watching tours and much more to keep people of all ages entertained and happy.
Sayulita is a good place to experience what a stay is like at a Mexico surf camp. It's gained a reputation as a booming hipster/surf scene and this results in a safe, amicable and quaint little town. There are numerous art galleries to browse and high-end restaurants that cater to foodies, with small deli’s that serve up cheap and delicious local cuisine in addition to the healthy juice bars that will refuel you in between surf sessions.
There are also a host of yoga and pilates studios that will aid you in relaxation and flexibility, a great option for those post surf wind downs. The beauty of the area combined with the warm, friendly vibes from locals and tourists, as well as easy access to Puerto Vallarta, have made Sayulita surf holidays a must go to destination for surfers all around the world.
As you head further South you’ll arrive into Colima where you will find relatively new toll roads that are perfect for exploring the coast’s wide range of waves for all abilities of surfers.
Colima is one of the smallest states in Mexico, yet one of the most thriving. It has the lowest crime rate in the country, nearly 0% of citizens are unemployed, has the largest port in the country, home to one of the top universities in the country and has an international airport in the port city of Manzanillo.
Colima is home to Pascuales, which is the state’s best wave and arguably one of the best Mexico surf spots. It offers fun waves when the swell is chest height and below, but when an overhead southerly swell hits, it should only be tackled by experts.
In Boca de Pascuales you’ll find the hugely popular legendary eatery Las Hamacas del Mayor which can seat up to 1000 people. Colourful mariachis entertain the crowd of tourists and locals, people swim in the pool and there are unrivalled views of surfers tackling Pascuales. Make sure you try delicious local specialties such as fish fillets stuffed with octopus and shrimp.
South of Pascuales you’ll find Boca de Apiza, a beautiful fishing town that is surrounded by deep green vegetation, a jaw droppingly beautiful location for a Mexico surfing holiday. The beach itself provides excellent peaky left and right hand waves and for those who like the bigger walls are also in luck, when NW swells pour in a big left hand wall starts to break across the river mouth, providing some of the best intermediate surf Mexico hast to offer.
On South is the state of Michoacan where you may encounter some poverty in the area, which makes it harder to access unnamed spots, but don’t let that deter you, you can be rewarded with some great surf with the help of a guide and a 4x4. It has every type of wave here and a very slow pace of life which you find out as soon as you hit Highway 200, a road with one lane each way, limited turnouts, virtually no shoulders, and tropical plants grow to the road’s edge. Average speeds slow to about 40 miles per hour which perfectly illustrates the lifestyle here.
You come to Michoacan to slow down, surf the stiff morning offshores, relax with a chorizo and egg tortilla or a fresh fruit salad, take a siesta, drink a cerveza, surf in the evening and get an early night, only to repeat this over and over again.
Highly recommended waves are the peeling river mouth waves of La Ticla and Nexpa that make for a memorable Mexico surf experience.
8. Zihuatanjo (Zihua)
Zihua, as it’s now lovingly called, is a paradise of beautiful beaches and friendly locals which is tied together with easy going vibes. It sits just a shade north of the centre of the state of Guerrero’s coastline and is a fantastic place for surfers of all levels to explore.
La Saladita offers up incredibly long left hand walls that can run for over a minute, if your arms can keep up with all the paddle! When on your Mexico surf trip, expert guides will be able to take you to uncrowded waves such as Barra de Potosi and the beach break peaks around Tenexpa, where more than likely you’ll be surfing in solitude but on our surf tours Mexico you’ll be sharing the waves with your friends.
Zihua despite its tourism boom has retained its historic charm with the narrow cobblestone streets of downtown, it is the perfect area to amble along and browse the abundant and delicious local restaurants, cool bars, boutiques, galleries and museums.
Paseo del Pescador (Fishermen’s Passage) is a great place to experience the traditional way of life, head there in the morning and pick up their catch of the day to grill on an open beach fire after an afternoon of surf sessions.(It’s no surprise to us that Andy and Red chose to live out their post-prison days here in Zuhua, in The Shawshank Redemption).
9. Acapulco area
Next stop South in the state of Guerrero where you’ll find the resort city of Acapulco, set on a large bay backed by high-rises and the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains. Known for its high-energy nightlife and beaches along Acapulco Bay and the Acapulco Diamante area. Some great fun away from the waves includes watching the divers jump daily from the iconic La Quebrada cliff into a small cove.
The hilltop fort of Fuerte de San Diego, with a history museum, overlooks the old town and is a great place to spend a few hours away from the surf. Guerrero is home to the wave that put Mexico on the surfing map, Petacalco, a world-class right that provides top to bottom barrels with its big and fun peaks that even work chest height and below.
West Guerrero is full of top quality beach breaks, points and reef/sand combos… all the right ingredients to make your Mexico surf camp the best experience possible! With the right swell (small to medium) and some northerly or easterly winds, there’s plenty of lightly surfed waves at places like Copala, La Bocana or the left point at Maldonado, which has S wind protection and more options in the immediate area.
10. Zicatela & Puerto Escondido
This is the most famous of Mexico’s surfing areas, in the state of Oaxaca, (pronounced wah-HA-ka), home to arguably the heaviest wave in the country, the Mexican pipeline, in the Zicatela beach located in the town of Puerto Escondido. This top to bottom pitching wave is the jewel of surfing in Mexico, the wave should only be tackled by intermediate to advanced surfers who are comfortable in big surf and are looking for an adrenaline fuelled Mexico surfing holiday.
At the southern end of the beach you’ll find La Punta, a left hand point break that offers long walls with a few steeper sections for practising your turns, perfect for beginner to intermediate level surfers on a relaxing and fun surf tour in Mexico.
The town is a lively mix of locals, expats and tourists, with plenty to see and do, it’s a magnet for surfers, would-be surfers and every other kind of beach lover which makes it one of the best Mexico surf vacation destinations on the Pacific coast. By day, you can surf, snorkel, dive, swim, tan, horse ride across Zicatela’s golden sands, go big game fishing or look for turtles, dolphins and whales. By night, a busy cafe, restaurant and bar scene brings live music and a freewheeling, unpretentious nightlife.
Development here has happened slowly over several decades, with much of Puerto's charm being that it remains very much a fishing port and market town, as well as a tourist destination thanks mostly to the popularity of surfing in Mexico. On the strip at Zicatela you’ll find a host of restaurants serving up local dishes such as chorizo tostadas and quesadillas, whilst the offshore winds blow the aromas into the air in the late afternoon surf, making your mouth water and your belly rumble!
You’ll also find healthy and tasty options such as smoothies and breakfast bowls as local businesses now cater to the healthy surfing community. Mercado Benito Juárez is the local market and is a great place to wander round looking at the array of colourful and delicious local produce. The market is also a great place to head for a cheap after surf meal, hospitable comedores serve up fresh fish, prawns, soups and antojitos at wallet friendly prices.
Nearby Punta Colorado is a wave that is dominated by body-boarders, however is the perfect place to spend the day watching the action and relaxing on the white sand that’s surrounded by lush green foliage and mountain ranges.
Even though this area of Mexico is home to the most famous beach break in the world there are a host of spots that include world class, sand bottomed, right hand point breaks, it’s just the transport that becomes an issue, with the roads looking more like dirt bike trails than roads for cars however those looking for adventure may find this an intriguing tour.
11. Barra De La Cruz
Just 100kms south west of Salina Cruz you’ll find Barra De La Cruz, which became world famous after 2006’s The Search rocked up here and scored Superbank style waves. Barra De La Cruz offers great waves, from waist high to overhead in breath-taking scenery.
Located in the indigenous Chontal village, roughly a thirty minute car journey from Huatulco, this tranquil location will offer you the chance to recharge your batteries and offer you some of best surfing in Mexico.
Good swells for experienced surfers are at their most consistent during March to early October, and generally at their best in June and July. November to February is the best time for to head over for a beginner surf Mexico trip. Barra’s beautiful long beach has excellent facilities with showers, toilets and good beachside relaxation areas with hammocks, loungers and shade.
12. Salina Cruz
Located a four hour drive east of Puerto Escondido down the Mex 200 you’ll find Salina Cruz, once there you will find over eighty miles of jaw droppingly beautiful coastline with numerous near empty waves that are perfect for someone’s first surf and advanced surfers looking for deep barrels on their Mexico surf camp stay.
The coastline from Huatulco south towards Salina Cruz consists mainly of right hand points that are framed by some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever see. What makes this area so appealing to all levels of surfers is that the vast majority of the breaks are sand-bottomed points, with a point to suit every style and level of surfer- from the barrel hunter to short boarders and long boarders, as well as someone who has never picked up a board.
The curves of the coast line and range of the headlands allow for different waves to work on different wind directions let you find perfectly groomed offshore surf everyday while you’re staying in any one of the surf camps in Mexico in the area. There are endless styles of waves from perfect points, powerful beach breaks, heavy barrels and super playful little peelers to keep everyone entertained!
Mexico's Wetsuit Guide and Weather
The hottest months of the year in Baja are July through to September, when temperatures range from 29°C to 35°C and go down to 25°C at night. The coldest months of the year are the first three months, when low temperatures can reach 12°C, yet day time temperatures can still reach 28°C.
Water temperature varies between 15°C during winter and up to 24°C during the height of summer. Depending on your tolerance for cold water you can wear a 4/3 or 3/2 during the winter and a spring suit or board shorts in the summer months.
Mexico’s Sierra Madre is a high mountain range, which prevents cloud cover from reaching the coast. During the wet season (May-Sept) night-time thunderstorms can be torrential, with temperatures at their highest this time of year, and when combined with the humidity, make for constantly hot and rather sticky conditions.
Midday temperatures vary between 28°C and 35°C, which is why many people take a siesta in between surfs. The water is also very warm, especially around Puerto Escondido, where it can reach a sweltering 29°C. Board shorts and a rash guard are the go to choice all year round.
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