While traveling through Mexico, it’s possible to climb a mountain,
swim in the ocean, see a desert, walk through a jungle, visit the coast on the lowlands, and enjoy the cooler temperatures of the highlands. The topography—and the entire nature of the country–is so diverse that any basic description of the country would miss the utterly stunning diversity of the place.
This extends even to surfing. The west coast of Mainland Mexico is 1,500 miles long and features beach breaks, point breaks, reef breaks, lefts and rights. Waves at some spots are massive and hollow; other spots offer fun for beginners. The surfing communities surrounding these world-class surf spots can be fiercely competitive, their waters filled with heavy doses of localism. In other places, the waves are world-class yet the lineups remain empty.
If you are looking for the “big one,” Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca is the place to be. Properly nicknamed “The Mexican Pipeline,” Puerto Escondido can serve up powerful waves with huge tubes; when it’s on, Puerto Escondido is one of the best rides in Central America.
A variety of breaks surrounding the Mexican Pipeline also provide good alternatives when conditions are subpar. However, the region is often described as cut-throat, so come prepared. More solitary types might look further north to Central Baja where the water is a bit colder, or to the Colima and Michoacan states. The waves in the Manzanillo area of Colima are consistent, hollow, and big and can offer similar thrills without the same crowds. So, while Puerto Escondido is Mexico’s most famous wave, there are plenty of other world-class breaks with unique dynamics.
The peak season for most spots starts around May and goes until October. The waves are the biggest during this time. But even in the winter, waves are consistent and great. On the Pacific mainland, the weather is warm and board shorts are perfect in all seasons just about everywhere. The water is about 80 degrees year-round, except in some northern areas where the temperature may drop into the mid-70’s during the winter months. Expect Southern swells to provide the best waves on the Pacific in Mexico.
In Mexico, some regions should be traveled very carefully, such as Southern Oaxaca, while other areas require special precautions. Most travelers experience only petty crime and theft, but some have serious problems with violence stemming from the drug trade. When planning your trip, make sure you understand the risks inherent to each city and region before leaving. Crime shouldn’t stop you from going, but it’s important to be informed and aware before arriving. According to the U.S. State Department, Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Monterrey have the highest crime rates. Of special interest to surfers, the Acapulco area and the state of Sinola are also violent. In addition, the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca occasionally suffer from politically motivated violence.
Considering the unexpected discoveries you’ll make, the variety of experiences, and that slight tinge of risk from crime, a trip to Mexico might best be described for most people as a surfing adventure. It’s certainly possible to camp out at a luxury resort and miss this type of experience, but that’s probably not the norm. You would miss the exciting nature of Mexico.
Northern Mexico Surf Spots
Central Mexico Surf Spots
Southern Mexico Surf Sports