Surfing in Mexico (Pacific)

Surfing guide to Mexico (Pacific),

Mexico (Pacific) has 5 main surf areas. There are 43 surf spots . Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Mexico (Pacific)

Mexico: one of the few surfing frontiers that is very accessible from first world countries. The coast here has a full exposure to the South Pacific, and picks up big north swells in the winters as well. The many nooks and crannies create fantastic surf options for all levels year round. This country has a massive coastline, and only parts of it will have been documented well/explored, so make sure to grab a car and do some exploring when you get down there! Other than surf, Mexico is rich with culture. From seemingly weekly festivals to some of the most diverse and delicious cuisine in North America, there will always be something to do for everyone.

The Surf

Mainland Mexico, although known mostly for sick right points and heavy beachbreak, has something that any level of surfer would consider approachable. Famous spots such as Barra de la Cruz and Puerto Escondido are two such examples, but the coastline is littered with points, reefs and beachbreaks that all work pretty often. If you are a beginner try and find one of the more sheltered beachbreaks. Intermediates and advanced should peek around for a reef or point suitable for their abilities.

Top Surf Spots

Puerto Escondido

If you’ve seen footage of Puerto Escondido you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. This is one of the heaviest and most perfect beachbreaks in the world when on and delivers massive caverns that break over tightly packed sand. Boards and bones break here often, so know your limits. This break seems just like a shorebreak with no upper limit on size. Learn more here!

Sayulita

Sayulita is a small town that is almost paradisaical for longboarders. There are a few st ups in town that all offer long and mellow rides for our style masters or beginners. This is a town with a longstanding surf culture, so there will definitely be amenities available if you’d like. Learn more here!

Barra de la Cruz

This is one of the most famous right points in Mexico. It is also one of the most perfect when the sand lines up, which it does often in the summers. This is a tricky wave to surf as the current can get crazy when there is size, but it is also one of the most rewarding. If you plan on surfing here you must go with a local guide, otherwise you’ll be kicked out of the water/not get a wave. Have fun!

Accommodation Information

There is a huge range of options here in Mexico, especially if you are close to a city or town. Places like Puerto Escondido are built around surf culture, and will have plenty of high end luxury resorts to suit your fancy if you please. There will also be budget options such as surf camps and surf hostels available if you’d like to cut some of your budget down. Looking more remote, camping or hostels will be the go to. There are many places that you can easily pitch a tent for the night on the cheap near some of the emptier lineups.

The Good
Consistent Waves
Cultural Immersion
Cheap
The Bad
Crime/Safety concerns
Crowds at popular spots
Some parts are definitely 3rd world
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Getting there

Surf Regions in Mainland Mexico

So there are plenty of states along the Pacific Coast, and surf in all of them. This breakdown will focus on the states that have the most built up surf culture and most documented spots. Therefore, because this article focuses on the Pacific side of Mexico, we will break it down into two main regions.

Sinaloa-Nayarit-Jalisco

This is the furthest North that you will get surf on the mainland side of Mexico. Sinaloa only receives South swell at specific angles, but has a plethora of set ups, including some high quality beachbreak. Heading South to Nayarit you will start receiving some West swells if they have the right angle, and the surf starts to pick up a little bit. Nayarit is known for some reefs and a couple sheltered areas great for beginners. Jalisco starts bending towards the South, which opens it up to the full brunt of the Southern Hemisphere winter. Here you will start seeing those points and reefs that Mexico is famous for. Beware of crime in these states (this goes for all of Mexico), specifically Sinaloa and Nayarit.

Michoacan-Guerrero-Oaxaca

These states are very similar to each other surf wise. The coast faces southwest and quickly turns south. Here the main attractions will be the right hand points and reefs that turn on during the Southern Hemisphere active phase. The nature of this coast, however, means that there will always be somewhere that is small enough for beginners, regardless of how big the swell is. As you head South through Oaxaca the coast becomes less and less built up, especially as you get away from towns and cities. This whole regions is great for exploring and finding empty set ups, just make sure to bring plenty of respect and some cash if you need to get yourself out of a sticky situation.

Access to Mexico and Surf

Generally you will be flying into Mexico for mainland surf. There are local airports in both Puerto Vallarta in Nayarit and the city of Oaxaca in Oaxaca. Both these will connect through Mexico city. There are also smaller local airports elsewhere, but these will run you a lot. If you are staying in a town or a surf resort/surf camp there might not be a need to rent a car. However, if your access to surf is not guaranteed by a surf camp or resort and you can’t walk to all the spots you want you’ll need a car. I recommend getting something that can handle some dirt, preferably a 4WD if you plan on leaving town at all. This will get you to all the spots you can hope for.

Visa and Entry/Exit Information

Mexico has made a concerted effort to make entry and exit into the country easier for tourists such as ourselves. This is great news! Now there is very little you have to do before arriving, just make sure your passport is not expired! Almost every visitor from any country receives an automatic 180 day tourist stay upon arrival. If you would like to stay longer make sure to check in with the proper authorities because in that case you will need a visa. This goes for almost every country in the world, to make sure yours is on the list check the government website.

The 43 best Surf spots in Mexico (Pacific)

Overview of surfing spots in Mexico (Pacific)

La Saladita

8
Left | Exp Surfers
200m long

Puerto Escondido

8
Peak | Exp Surfers
100m long

Las Islitas – Matanchen Bay

8
Right | Exp Surfers
600m long

Stoner’s Point

8
Right | Exp Surfers
300m long

La Ticla

8
Peak | Exp Surfers
100m long

Boca de Pascuales

8
Peak | Exp Surfers
100m long

Rio Nexpa

8
Left | Exp Surfers
200m long

Punta Mita

7
Right | Exp Surfers
200m long

Surf spot overview

Lineup Lowdown

Mexican surf culture is somewhat unique. Generally the normal rules of etiquette and priority are followed and enforced. Of course if you are visiting you might need to show a little bit more respect and not go on waves the locals want, but this is universal. A particular aspect of Mexican surf culture is that at many points you will not get a wave unless you are affiliated with one of the surf camps that frequents these waves. This is the locals way of making sure that surf tourism dollars get reinvested into the community. So if you plan on surfing any of the well known points, it is best to get with a local guide in order to make sure you won’t be run out of the water. Beyond this you’ll get the local knowledge and insight into which wave will shape up on the inner bar and deliver a sick barrel for you. One other aspect that is particular to Puerto Escondido is that when you are leaving it is expected to leave at least one of your boards with the locals, preferably a grom that can’t afford one of his own. Regardless of what you think about this, it’s best to follow the custom in order to ensure a friendly welcome on your next visit.

Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Mexico (Pacific)

The main surf season in mainland Mexico is the Northern Hemisphere spring to summer (May-October). This time of year delivers excellent surf from the Southern Hemisphere that makes almost every set up on the coast come to life. During this time you’ll see maxing Puerto Escondido and endless groomed lines peeling down the points. October-March still sees swell, especially on big Northwest and Wests. However, it is much less consistent and much smaller than the summers. This would not be a bad time to learn to surf in Mexico, but it definitely won’t be exciting for intermediates and advanced level surfers looking to push themselves in solid conditions.

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Mexico (Pacific) surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle

Activities other than surf

While the Pacific Coast of Mainland Mexico is renowned for its surfing, it also offers an abundance of activities to satiate the appetite of even the most adventurous traveler.

  1. Archaeological Exploration: Dive deep into Mexico’s rich history by visiting sites like Monte Albán in Oaxaca. This ancient Zapotec city offers a stunning panoramic view of the valley below and provides a glimpse into pre-Columbian life.
  2. Marine Adventures: Beyond surfing, the Pacific waters are teeming with marine life. Opt for snorkeling or diving trips, especially in areas around Manzanillo where you can see vibrant coral reefs, tropical fish, and if you’re lucky, manta rays or sea turtles.
  3. Whale Watching: Visit between December and March to witness the awe-inspiring sight of humpback whales migrating. Tours are available from towns like Puerto Vallarta, where these gentle giants can be seen breaching and slapping the water with their tails.
  4. Tantalize Your Taste Buds: Mexican cuisine is world-famous for a reason. Head to local eateries to savor dishes like ceviche, tamales, and mole. Don’t forget to wash it down with some local mezcal or tequila – and always ask for the region’s specialty!
  5. Explore Natural Wonders: The Pacific Coast boasts more than just beaches. Discover the magic of La Huasteca Potosina, a region filled with waterfalls, turquoise rivers, and caves.
  6. Local Festivals: Plan your trip around local festivities to experience the true cultural heartbeat of Mexico. Whether it’s the vibrant parades of Carnaval in Mazatlán or the spiritual ceremonies of Day of the Dead in late October and early November, these events offer a unique and immersive experience.
  7. Adventure Activities: For those looking for a rush, try ziplining through dense jungles or horseback riding on the beach during sunset. Several coastal towns also offer ATV tours, allowing visitors to explore off the beaten path.
  8. Relax and Rejuvenate: After days of adventure, treat yourself to some relaxation. Many coastal towns, such as Sayulita, offer yoga retreats or classes. Alternatively, opt for a spa day and indulge in treatments using local ingredients like agave and chocolate.

From the depths of ancient ruins to the bustling local markets, the Pacific Coast offers a myriad of experiences waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or someone simply looking to unwind, this diverse region promises something special for every traveler.

Language

The main language of Mexico is Spanish. In most of the major towns you can get by easily with English, which makes things a little easier. That being said it is well worth knowing a few phrases of basic Spanish to get by and to show respect to the locals. You already know more than you think, but here are some basic words and phrases you might find useful:

Greetings

  • Hola: Hello
  • Buenos días: Good morning
  • Buenas tardes: Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches: Good evening / Good night
  • Adiós: Goodbye

Essentials

  • Sí: Yes
  • No: No
  • Por favor: Please
  • Gracias: Thank you
  • De nada: You’re welcome
  • Lo siento: I’m sorry
  • Disculpa/Perdón: Excuse me

Getting Around

  • ¿Dónde está…?: Where is…?
  • Playa: Beach
  • Hotel: Hotel
  • Restaurante: Restaurant
  • Baño: Bathroom
  • Estación de autobuses: Bus station
  • Aeropuerto: Airport

Emergency

  • Ayuda: Help
  • Emergencia: Emergency
  • Policía: Police
  • Hospital: Hospital
  • Médico: Doctor

Transactions

  • ¿Cuánto cuesta?: How much does it cost?
  • Dinero: Money
  • Tarjeta de crédito: Credit card
  • Efectivo: Cash

Basic Conversation

  • ¿Cómo estás?: How are you?
  • Bien, gracias: Good, thank you
  • No entiendo: I don’t understand
  • ¿Hablas inglés?: Do you speak English?

Currency/Budget

Navigating the financial aspects of a trip to the Pacific Coast of Mainland Mexico is relatively straightforward, thanks to its welcoming economy and the widespread use of the Mexican Peso (MXN). As one of the most sought-after destinations in Latin America, the region offers a wide range of options to cater to both luxury seekers and backpackers. On one end, you can find upscale resorts and gourmet dining experiences in towns like Puerto Vallarta, where the allure of luxury might come with a higher price tag. On the opposite spectrum, budget travelers can revel in the numerous affordable hostels, street food stalls, and local markets, particularly in less tourist-heavy areas.

One of the joys of traveling in Mexico is the rich street food culture. For just a few pesos, you can indulge in local delicacies like tacos, tamales, and churros from street vendors, offering an authentic and budget-friendly culinary experience. When shopping, especially in local markets, it’s common to haggle – a practice that can lead not only to better prices but also to friendly interactions with the vendors.

For those planning longer stays or frequent purchases, it’s advisable to consider exchanging larger amounts of currency at once to get better rates or using local ATMs to withdraw pesos directly. While major credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants, having cash on hand is essential for smaller establishments or remote areas.

Wifi/Cell Coverage

In today’s digital age, staying connected, even while traveling, has become a priority for many. Thankfully, the Pacific Coast of Mainland Mexico is well-equipped to keep visitors plugged in. Major towns and popular tourist destinations, like Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán, boast strong cell coverage and a plethora of establishments offering free Wi-Fi. Whether you’re posting a sunset photo, making reservations, or simply catching up with loved ones back home, reliable internet is seldom a concern in these areas.

For those venturing to more remote or less-touristy locales, preparation is key. While cell signal might be spottier, many accommodations still offer Wi-Fi, albeit sometimes at a slower speed. It’s advisable to download offline maps or essential information in advance. For travelers anticipating an extended stay or requiring consistent connectivity, purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival can be both cost-effective and convenient, providing data and call options without incurring hefty international roaming charges.

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The Pacific Coast of Mainland Mexico, with its harmonious blend of world-class surf, rich cultural tapestry, and natural splendor, beckons travelers from all walks of life. While the allure of its waves might be the initial draw, it’s the warmth of the Mexican hospitality, the flavors of its street foods, and the timeless stories told through ancient ruins and vibrant festivals that truly captivate the heart. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer chasing the next big break, a history enthusiast eager to tread paths less traveled, or simply a wanderer in search of serenity, this stretch of coast promises memories that linger long after the tan fades. In embracing both the modern and the timeless, the Pacific Coast offers not just a trip, but a journey—one that resonates, rejuvenates, and reminds us of the boundless beauty of exploration.

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