surfing in the pacific

Top 10 Surf Destinations on the Pacific Coast of Mexico

  • Luke Armstrong
Nov 28, 2017

While we were all enjoying our epic summer activities, Fall has somehow crept up on us with winter right around the corner. So now is your time to plan a winter getaway to some beach somewhere.

What is a better cure for winter than a surf vacation!? Even if you’re like “No way Josè,” to surfing, the following list doubles as great options for beaches to thaw from the winter freeze.

Boasting over 7,000 kilometers of coastline to explore, the Pacific coast of Mexico is swimming with surfers of all skill levels. From learning to catch your first knee-high wave in the whitewash to the entering in Puerto Escondido’s annual Big Wave Competition, Mexico has got you covered!

Mexico, with its favorable climate, sunny skies, sandy beaches, friendly locals and excellent exchange rate for most currencies has recently seen a large influx of surfers and travelers from all over the world!

Our list starts in the north beginning with a short two-hour drive from San Diego, California. We will finish up at the southernmost point of Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca, just a few hundred miles from the Guatemalan border.

Many thanks to expat and legend Joe Gannon for all the insider surfing information!

 

Surfing in Ensenada, Baja California

Ensenada in Baja is commonly referred to as the unofficial birthplace of Mexican surfing. The consistency of the waves and great beaches are what began the allure to this surfer’s haven.

Claim to Fame: The Birthplace of Mexican Surfing
Skill Level: Intermediate - Advanced
Best Time to Go: Winter
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: If there is one day trip you make here, be sure to check out La Bufadora, home to one of the largest marine geysers in the entire world. If it is nightlife and meeting new people that you crave, check out First Street. Cruise ships dock here almost every other day so you always have a constant in and out flux of vacationers to mingle with while in town.

 

Surf in Mazatlán, Sinaloa

Mazatlàn is well-known for its left point breaks and kilometers of surfable coastline are what make this spot a veritable surfer’s paradise. Mazatlan and its surroundings are among Mexico's best-kept secrets… for now! Oh no, why did I tell you? Now all the surfers in Mazatlàn are going throw sand in my face. You’re welcome, dear reader!

Claim to Fame: “Pearl of the Pacific” & “Land of the Left Point Breaks”
Skill Level: Beginner to Expert
Best Time to Go: April - September
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: Mazatlan and the surrounding area has plenty of beauty to offer anyone staying in this hidden treasure of Mexico.

Joe Gannon, our local sandals on the sand, recommends you check out the Las Canadas Canopy Tour! But he cautions that “Only if you’re into highly affordable thrill in the form of ziplines, ropes course, hiking and camping in nature, this place less than an hour drive from your surfing destination is the perfect spot for you! “

Surfing in San Blas, Nayarit

Just a three and a half hour drive south of Mazatlán, you’ll find yourself at the legendary San Blas. One beach, Playa de Matanchen was once famous for having the longest surfable wave in the world. However, Hurricane Kenna in 2002 filled much of the bay with sand, greatly reducing the size of the waves. Luckily there are still some seriously long waves to ride and the surf culture is still very strong here.


Claim to Fame: Former home to longest wave in the world (until 2002)
Skill Level: Beginner – Expert
Best Time to Go: Beginner – Intermediate: November – August, Expert: September – October
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: According to Mr. Joe Gannon, “If you’re looking for a chilled out place to stay, then Stoner's Surf Camp is the perfect spot for you! This is where most people coming to surf Playa del Borrego Beach stay not only to enjoy the surf, but also the company of fellow surfers.”


Surfing in Sayulita, Nayarit

Venture a quick 2 hours south along the Pacific Coast and you have arrived at the popular surf-haven of Sayulita, Nayarit. Traveling surfers in the late 1960s first popularized this area. After Mexican Highway 200 was constructed its natural beauty and easy access to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco have made Sayulita real estate some of the most sought after in all of Mexico.

The downside of it being so popular is that the influx of population has listed Sayulita as the second most polluted beach in Mexico as of April 2017.

Claim to Fame: Consistent rivermouth surf breaks
Skill Level: Beginner - Expert
Best Time to Go: Year round (Best waves: December – Early April)
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: Being a very surf/beach oriented city; the best things to do are obviously on and off the shore. Check out the different boat tours and give it a go at the wind and kite surfing they have available as well.

If you happen to plan your trip in late February, be sure to check out the 3 Day San Pancho Music Festival less than an hour away in the magical Riviera Nayarit! Since 2001, the Music Festival has hosted regional, national and international artists on two alternating stages providing continuous entertainment throughout the festival!

Surfing in Boca de Pascules & Cuyutlán, Colima

Another seven-hour drive south along the Pacific Coast is the city of Tecomán. From there, you’ll take a short half-hour bus ride southwest to one of the lesser-known hardcore surf havens: Boca de Pasquales. With powerful waves all year round, many claim it resembles the famous Mexican pipeline of Puerto Escondido. However, with it’s a low-key environment, Boca de Pascuales is a great place to meet and hang out with experienced surfers from all over the world. Those still learning to surf are better off heading a half hour Northwest to Cuyutlán, home of the “Ola verde” (Green Wave).

Claim to Fame: A Hardcore Experience
Skill Level: Experienced Only
Best Time to Go: Year Round
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: Check out the nature reserve on the beach at El Tortugario Ecologico in Cuyutlán. To satisfy your appetite, there are some incredible fresh fish tacos made fresh on the beach in the afternoon that caters primarily to hungry surfers.

Surfing in Rio Nexpa, Michoacan

Another five hours further down the coast and we arrive at the world-class surfing beach of Rio Nexpa that can cater to all skill levels. It has a fast and powerful left hand point break with rides up to 300 yards long! If you’re looking for a more private surf experience, not too far away on the other side of Rio Nexpa is a cobble stone reef, which is often less crowded.

Claim to Fame: A Rustic Getaway Beach Surrounded by Nature
Skill Level: Beginner - Expert
Best Time to Go: Year Round (Best Waves June – September)
What to do When You’re Not Surfing:  Come for the relaxed vibe and try out some of the restaurants in front of the break to watch others surf as you eat.

Surfing in La Ticla, Michoacán

Heading another hour further southeast to the state of Michoacán nestled between San Juan de Lima and El Farro is our next stop: La Ticla. What was once a spot notorious for banditos, however, local law enforcement has stepped up recently to make it a much safer place for tourists.

Claim to Fame: Long left point break with up to ten foot swell
Skill Level: Intermediate
Best Time to Go: Year Round (Best Waves in May – October)
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: This is a mellow place to catch some nice waves in a gorgeous setting, but that’s basically it. Fresh seafood is always available along the beachfront whenever hunger strikes. It’s a nice place to mellow out before heading to Oaxaca, the final state in our surf tour.

For those of you wondering why we are skipping over Troncones, Guerrero it is solely due to safety concerns. Guerrero has been in a state of unrest due to violence between the cartels and local authorities. While it is an incredible surf spot we feel the need to skip over it at the present time. We would also recommend taking the interior route to avoid going through Guerrero all together. This will give you a chance to see historical Mexican cities such as Morelia, Mexico City & Oaxaca City along the journey to the southern coast of Oaxaca.

Surfing in Chacahua, Oaxaca

Chacahua is a little known but local favorite surf spot in Laguna, Chacaua .

Claim to Fame: Hidden Jewel of Oaxaca
Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate
Best Time to Go: Spring - Summer
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: Rent a kayak and paddle around the lagoon with friends. Take some time to enjoy the rich ecosystem that is home to over 160 types of birds. In the evening, watch the sunset at El Faro and when you’re not surfing or paddling around the lagoon be sure to check out La Piedra Beach on the other side of the river.

 

Surfing in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Less than three hours further southeast along the Oaxaca coast and the surf Mecca of Mexico awaits. Playa Zicatela aka, the Mexican Pipeline, has a beach break just 30 feet away from the shore. Although there are some beginner-friendly areas, surfers should be prepared for strong rip tides and powerful waves. If you’re a beginner, start out in Playa Carizalillo in the north end of town and slowly work your way up to La Punta in the southern most point and leave Zicatela to the pros!

Claim to Fame: Dubbed “The Mexican Pipeline”
Skill Level: Beginner to Expert
Best Time to Go: March – December
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: Most surfers that make their way to Puerto Escondido stay in La Punta, the southernmost part of the city. Those just learning to surf would do best staying near Playa Carrizalillo in the northern area.

There are a plethora of hostels in both neighborhoods that cater to the constant influx of surfers and travelers from all over the world. After a long day of surfing, many head to Pepe’s Fish Tacos in La Punta, which most people who’ve had a taste claim they are the best they’ve ever had in their life.

Pepe is a surfer himself and can give you some great inside info when it comes to surfing the area. If you have some time to kill, he would be more than glad to share stories of his crazy surf adventures through Hawaii, California and Baja California where he perfected his recipe.

At night, surfers and travelers alike usually head to the Zicatela strip where there is a mile long stretch of bars, restaurants and clubs all located on the beach. Surf all-day and party all night is the best way to capture the vibe of Puerto Escondido. For those looking for entertainment other than surfing and partying, check out the boat & fishing tours, bioluminescent lagoons and a plethora of other beautiful non-surf beaches in this hidden port.


Surfing in Barra de la Cruz, Oaxaca

The last stop of our tour is just three hours away and takes us around the southern most point of Oaxaca to Barra de la Cruz. The area was a much lesser-known surf spot until Rip Curl’s “Live the Search” campaign widely popularized surfing in the area with the World Tour contest in 2006. That coupled with the development of the nearby port city of Huatulco, Barra de la Cruz has seen more and more surfers from around the world in the past decade.

Claim to Fame: World Class Right-Hander
Skill Level: Intermediate - Expert
Best Time to Go: April - September
What to do When You’re Not Surfing: Head just an hour down the road to the major port city of Huatulco. Here you can take a break from the surf and enjoy the beautiful calm waters of Huatulco Bay. Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, just an hour and a half drive to the interior is the breathtaking “Magic Falls”. Here you can swing from a rope into the water and shower in a waterfall surrounded by nature.

Some Useful Reminders When Planning Your Surf Trip

  • Before you buy your tickets, pack up your surfboard and head out the door, be sure to be conscious of the following precautions throughout your journey:

  • Always check with the flags and lifeguards on the beach to determine the safety of the water before you enter.

  • Never walk alone on the beach at night; avoid doing it at all if possible.

  • When you’re in the water, be sure to talk to and watch out for your fellow surfers to avoid potential accidents.

  • Avoid any potentially dangerous areas in general. At this point in time, we would highly recommend avoiding the state of Gurrero entirely until further notice.

  • Never leave your valuables unattended on the beach or in your hostel/hotel while you are surfing or out. Lock them in your locker or in a safe at your hotel.


Also be sure to check out Seven Corners peace of mind products, like our Cancel For Any Reason Trip Coverage Insurance.

Like any trip, travel health insurance is a smart buy, and if you’re going to be surfing, be sure to make sure you add a dangerous sports waiver to your policy. 


About the Author

luke armstrong

Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.

Read more of Luke’s blogs Visit Luke's website travelwritesing.com

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