Surfing in Mexico

Surfing is a familiar concept in Mexico, at least along the Pacific coast. We never encountered any problems transporting our surfboards on busses or taxis and weren’t charged extra. You should be able to find equipment to buy and rent in surf towns. Compared to all the other countries we’ve visited on this trip, these things are cheaper and there’s more to choose from.

Winter is not the best season for surfing in Mexico. You’ll find waves most days, but they’re often quite small.

Puerto Escondido (Time visited: January)

Every surfer will sooner or later hear stories about this formerly sleepy fishing village turned surf mecca. It is mostly known for its monster tubes at Playa Zicatela (also known as ‚Mexican Pipeline‘). This beach break produces a very powerful and fast wave that tends to close-out. But if you catch the right one, you can have insane rides. If it hasn’t already become clear, this wave is not for beginners, but for experienced surfers only. Unless you happen to be here in winter, like us. That’s when smaller swells hit the coast. If you don’t mind eating a lot of sand and aren’t too attached to your board (the waves break in extremely shallow water!), you’re fine surfing here as an intermediate. Don’t forget to shuffle your feet, though, there’s lots of sting rays. Between April and November, leave this spot to the pros.

La Punta is the place to surf if you’re a beginner (or just not into steep and fast waves). It’s a left-hand point break at the Southern end of the 3km long Playa Zicatela. It would be a nice wave, but when we were here, it was pretty small and always insanely crowded. Lots of boards flying around, as this is where most surf classes take place. So watch your head and board!

When the swell is big enough, Playa Carrizalillo might work. This is a beautiful bay not far from Zicatela (a cab will charge around 35 MXP from Zicatela). It’s a beginner-friendly wave that breaks left and right. We did visit the beach, but there were no waves. So you’ll have to ask the locals for more info.

A local surfer also told us about a spot called Tierra Blanca. It should be about a 30min ride east from Puerto Escondido. We didn’t surf there, so this is all we can tell you about it. Just ask around.

Read about our stay in Puerto Escondido here.

Playa Zicatela

Chacahua (Time visited: January)

It’s a bit complicated to get here, but if you have time, you should consider it. It’s a beautiful island surrounded by the Pacific on one side and a lagoon on the other side. The very long, curved beach has lots of breaks, but you’ll most likely be surfing the right-hand point break by the jetty. It’s a good wave for longboarders. If you have enough swell (which we didn’t), it connects through various sections and you can have a nice long ride. But even with very little swell, we had some fun and long enough rides. It’s a very mellow, beginner-friendly wave that breaks slowly. It doesn’t get crowded, at least not when we were here. There are lots of strong currents in the bay. If you don’t want a power workout, choose your entry spot wisely.

If this wave is too mellow for you, there’s other breaks in the area. We discovered a deserted beach nearby with pumping waves. But you’ll have to find that one yourself.

There’s no ATMs here, so bring enough cash. You can buy wifi in some shops.

Read about our stay in Chacahua here.

Empty playground

Zihuatanejo (Time visited: January)

This is a very pretty town in a bay with rather calm waters for swimming and snorkeling. It’s probably not your best pick if all you want to do is surf. Which isn’t to say that you can’t. Obviously, we were there the wrong time of year. In summer, with enough swell, the left-hand point break at Playa Las Gatas should work. You can either walk there from town (a bit over an hour) or take a boat (2 USD for a round-trip). As this was not an option for us (little swell), we headed to Playa Las Escolleras, which faces the open ocean. A mini-van takes you to the Marina for 12 MXP (60 cents), which takes about 20 minutes. From there it’s a short walk to the beach. You can either surf the beach break of Playa El Palmar, or the right-hand point break that is created by the jetty. We were able to catch a few waves (we had a 2-3 ft swell), but unless you’re really starving for some surf, it’s not really worth it when it’s this small. The waves were pretty steep and fast and broke in very shallow water. Another beach that was mentioned to us more than once is Playa Linda. As we didn’t surf it, we can’t tell you more about it. Same goes for Playa Larga.

If you’re staying in town (the other option being Ixtapa), there’s very well-stocked surf shops where you can buy anything you need.

Read about our stay in Zihua here.