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Surfing in Mexico

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer, Mexico is an obvious destination. Here's a guide to some of the best surf spots in Mexico.
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Surfing in Mexico is written by Michelle Nykjær Fisher.

Mexico, short

Long live Mexico!

When I say Mexico, then the first thing you see before your inner eye will probably be beautiful Caribbean sandy beaches with crystal clear water and chalk white sand. Or maybe a 'Breaking Bad'-inspired desert with various cactus species.

There is a good reason for this, as Mexico's east - facing coastline stretches 2800 km along the Gulf of Mexico and it Caribian Sea.

Most of the northern part of Mexico consists of desert. But by comparison, the west-facing part of Mexico consists of 7300 km of coastline out to the vast Pacific Ocean. This is paradise for surfers, since Pacific Ocean has some of the best waves in the world.

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Australia byron bay surf

General tips for surfing in Mexico

Most surfing sites - surf spots - is spread over huge areas. Therefore, the optimal way to get around is to rent a car; like a four-wheel drive. It is relatively cheap to rent a car in Mexico possibly by teaming up with others who are going the same route. 

Bus transportation is always a cheap alternative in Mexico, and it works surprisingly well. Just take a little more planning into account.

The peak season for the following spots is from April to October. By this is meant that it is at this point that there are the largest swells - or swells on 'surferlingo' - and thus highest waves. However, all spots can basically be surfed all year round. 

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Mexico, Barra de la Cruz surf beach

Surfing in Barra de la Cruz

  • Degree of difficulty: Primary means of practice
  • Surfboard rental: Limited 
  • Accommodation: Limited to a few individual hotel / hostel / cabaña options or AirBNB
  • Purchasing: Limited
  • Restaurants: Limited 

We start in the southern state of Oaxaca, which in addition to surfing is known for great gastronomy and culture. The first surf spot, Barra, is a relatively hidden gem 1,5 km from the village of Barra de la Cruz.

Barra is a wonderful spot with a 'right-hand point break'. Take off on the primary peak is therefore limited in size, and it requires that one dares to poke the snout rather than catch a wave out there. 

With a helping hand from the 'horse hole gutter', a so-called channel, the paddle ride out to the wave takes about 5-10 minutes. Beginners and experienced surfers, however, can content themselves with catching the empty waves as well as the secondary swells further inland.

The wave breaks right next to some rock formations, which can seem daunting to beginners, but just move a little further in towards the shore away from the rocks and wait patiently for your wave. 

If a large is reported swell in the weather forecast, this spot can create very high waves; double head height or higher, which are not equally beginner-friendly. If this is too much, you can always enjoy the shade of the small 'palapa' - a thatched pavilion - on the beach, while the many local surfers frolic in the big waves and ride the infinitely long wave to the right. 

The village and all accommodation options are a 10 minute drive from the beach. Therefore, all surfers meet between their surf sessions under the little palapa on the beach and eat breakfast and lunch. Over a refreshing coconut, the almost always epic conditions of this surf spot are talked about. 

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Mexico, mazunte

Surfing in Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite

  • Difficulty: Primarily begins
  • Surfboard rental: Medium selection
  • Accommodation: Medium selection, all types 
  • Purchasing: Medium selection
  • Restaurants: Wide selection

The town of Mazunte is a 1,5-hour drive north of Barra de la Cruz. If you want real 'hippie vibes' and delicious Pacific beaches, this is the place for you. There is no significant surfing opportunity in Mazunte itself, but the city is still worth staying in.

A 20-minute walk from Mazunte is the surf-spot Playa San Agustinillo, which is beginner-friendly beach break, which can also be surfed by experienced surfers.

If surfing conditions do not work in San Agustinillo, there is an alternative about a 10 minute drive south in Zipolite. This city is known for its nudist beach and its nudist hotels. It is actually the same beach where the nudists live, which is surfed from, but unfortunately I did not see anyone combine these two activities.

The beach Playa Zipolite is also a beach break, and here you need to pay attention to a strong undercurrent. However, it is still an excellent spot for beginners. 

Both Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite are very relaxed villages with a real hippie atmosphere and everything that goes with it. 

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Puerto Escondido, Mexico, surfing

Surfing in Puerto Escondido-Zicatela

  • Difficulty: La Punta is beginner friendly with surf instructor. Zicatela is too experienced. Carrizarillo is for beginners and intermediate surfers
  • Surfboard rental: Wide selection
  • Accommodation: Wide selection, all types
  • Purchasing: Wide selection 
  • Restaurants: Wide selection

The surf town of Puerto Escondido is known for its infamous 'Mexpipe' - Mexico Pipeline - which refers to the famous barrel at Playa Zicatela. Do yourself a favour; check out videos of this surf phenomenon. On the big ones swell-days you will find here only highly experienced surfers.

Every day, more surfers get injured and / or break their surfboards. In high season, deaths can even occur if it does really wrong.

See delicious hotels in Puerto Escondido here

Mexico - Escondido, Playa Zicatela, beachvolly. sunset - travel - surfing

Surfing in Puerto Escondido-La Punta - meeting with pelicans

If this does not suit your level, you can go to La Punta, which is a 20 minute walk from Zicatela. La Punta is more relaxed than the very touristy Puerto Escondido, and here you will find both hostels and a good selection of restaurants, bars and shops.

If you are not friends with the locals or with a local surf instructor, catching waves on La Punta can be challenging. The instructors are very territory conscious and like Barra the area is for take-off small as it is a left-hand point break. La Punta is the only place I have surfed with large pelicans that dive for fish very few inches from your board. 

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Mexico, Puerto Escondido

Surfing in Puerto Escondido-Carrizarillo

The last official option in Puerto Escondido is Playa Carrizarillo, which is a small bay with good conditions for beginners-to-practitioners. However, this spot only works when there is a relatively large swell in the area. Wherever you choose to surf in Puerto Escondido, these three spots are all worth a visit in themselves.

In addition to Puerto Escondido having everything from shopping, walk-in-the-city opportunities, delicious beaches, shopping and accommodation to various activities, the city is centrally located in relation to the best surf spots in the area. The city therefore serves as a really good base.

Click here for a great deal on car hire in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Mexico, Chacahua Lagoon

Chacahua Lagoons

  • Degree of difficulty: Primary means of practice
  • Surfboard rental: Wide selection
  • Accommodation: Wide selection of cabins or camping in tents
  • Shopping: Very limited - it is not possible to cook in Chacahua yourself, unless you cook it over a campfire
  • Restaurants: Wide selection

The small island of Chacahua is surrounded by lagoon on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side only about 2 hours transportation north of Puerto Escondido. This is my personal favorite in this guide.

It is most obvious to go to Chacahua from Puerto Escondido and it requires both transportation by shuttle bus, taxi and boat. Thus, it is not the easiest place to get to, which is why it rarely gets crowded with tourists and surfers.

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Mexico, Chacahua Lagoon, surfing

The magical island of Lagunas de Chacahua

The surf spot is right next to most accommodation options. It takes a small five-minute paddle ride out along the pier to reach this right-hand reef break, which also offers a card left-hander, if conditions permit.

Are you more into an advanced beach break, this can be found by crossing the lagoon to the mainland. Chacahuas' waves are often very consistent, and the spot can be adapted to all levels, as the wave can be caught in several places. 

In addition to surfing, it stands on hammock relaxation and socializing under one of the many palapas on the beach, and you will find that time flies by. It is difficult to describe the Lagunas de Chacahua; it must be experienced. You live on the beach and can wake up and check the conditions by opening your door. Everything about this place is magical.

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Mexico - La Saladita, palm trees, sea - travel - surfing

La Saladita and Playa Saladita - surf with turtles in Guerrero

  • Difficulty: Playa Saladita is for all levels. The Ranch is primarily for the average to experienced
  • Surfboard rental: Wide selection
  • Accommodation: Limited
  • Shopping: From La Saladita there is a 10 minute drive to the nearest shopping
  • Restaurants: Wide selection

So far we have been in the state of Oaxaca, but now we are going on a 12 hour bus ride northwest to the neighboring state of Guerrero. However, we are still in the southern part of Mexico, which gives a little insight into how huge the country is. 

In surfing, this area is still relatively unknown as it is located outside the most popular surfing state of Oaxaca. However, there are at least as many good surf spots to be found in this area. In the small village, La Saladita, there is a spot to suit all levels. There is an infinite amount of space in the water at Playa La Saladita.

It's a long paddle ride out to the primary peak, especially if there is a lot of power. But then you are also well warmed up to catch one of the many long walks to the right. There are many longboarders here as the wave is soft and continues all the way to the shore if one is lucky.

On big days, it's one too shortboard-paradise. If you move the focus down into the water and away from the horizon, it is quite normal to spot between 5 and 10 turtles per session. 

Travel deals: Round trip in Mexico and Belize

Mexico, La Saladita, surfing

La Saladita - The Ranch

If you are an average or experienced surfer, you can drive a small 25 minute ride to the very remote spot called The Ranch. As with other places in Mexico, it's good to have a car or to team up with someone who has one. This is almost always possible to find in La Saladita.

The Ranch is a wave that beats the most waves I have ever surfed on. The wave goes to the left. Besides a bottom filled with rocks the first 50 meters, it is an easy paddle ride out. End the session with a delicious and local breakfast with the other surfers in the small palapa run by three cute young Mexican girls. The Ranch is an absolutely amazing and consistent left-hander. 

Of course, there are countless more spots in southern Mexico than those mentioned here. With this guide, you have hopefully gained an insight into the possibilities as well as a suggested route up along the South Pacific coast of Mexico.

See much more about traveling in Mexico and its northern neighbors here

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About the travel writer

Michelle Nykjær Fisher

I quit my 8 to 4 job as an IT consultant in January 2019, and have since started a career as a freelance writer and translator.

This has made it possible for me at the moment. can travel around as a digital nomad in Central and South America as well as the rest of the world indefinitely.

I love surfing, yoga and scubadiving.

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