In the 1940s, when the vacationing surfers took a detour south of the border in search of quality waves, that is when surfing began in Baja. Since those days, year after year, season after season, the surfers return with numerous anecdotes of barreling beach breaks and big wave surf spots. The best part is the beautifully empty lineups despite the worldwide recognition.
Baja can be dissected into two main surfing regions: the Northern Baja and Southern Baja. Southern Baja is much hotter than Northern Baja. The latter offers good surf year-round, but not so much in the winter months because of large northwest groundswells. Full gears are a common sight in Northern Baja because of the chilly temperature and the lack of too many facilities. Here are some of the best wetsuits, booties, and surfboard travel bags for you to be all prepared for your next surf.
One of the main attractions in Baja’s southern region for most traveling surfers is Cabo San Lucas. Though Southern Baja and Cabo San Lucas can produce good surf round the year, the summer months are when they really light up. This happens when long-period southwest groundswells are sent into the coast from the Southern hemisphere swells. Cabo’s world-class surf spots are really fired up because of this secret ingredient.
Earlier, Cabo San Lucas used to be a warm water getaway for California surfers who wanted to escape the cold. Nowadays, it is a colorful vacation spot that has 5-star resorts and restaurants only a few steps away from the world-class surf. Having said that, with expensive oceanfront resorts come overcrowded lineups. As amazing a place as it might be to visit and surf, it would be better if you looked elsewhere to escape the crowds.
Beware: Traveling in Baja can be a great adventure, however, there are a lot of bandits, drug smugglers, petty thieves, and cops looking for bribes in each region. It is highly advisable to travel and surf with a large group instead of camping by yourself at any location.
The Northern Baja stays relatively the same- perfect waves without crowds, suitable for traveling surfers. The larger towns of San Quintin and Ensanada have seen some vacation residences and coastal developments sprout in recent years. They are good jumping-off points for exploring and surfing in the surrounding area which is rich in waves.
The surf spots in Southern Baja are very different from the ones in Northern regions. It all looks the same, geographically speaking, with dry desert cliffs and mountains spilling dramatically into the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, air and water temperatures are generally much warmer than the north. Additionally, surf spots of Southern Baja rely more on the south to southwest swells to produce good waves at area breaks.
Here are some more of the best surfing spots in Baja.
1. Baja Malibu
Baja Malibu can be considered a part of the Northern Baja. It produces some of Baja California’s biggest waves and is a rite of passage for a lot of experienced surfers. The most popular season for visiting the beach in winter when you can expect large barrels with a strong northwest swell.
It is possible to surf a decent beach break with a lighter swell in the summer. This is one of Baja’s least crowded beaches because of its lack of facilities and chilly winds. Though you will only have basic camping equipment without any board rentals nearby, you can have Baja Malibu all to yourself.
Rosarito, another great option for surfing of all levels, has long stretches of varied beach breaks. You can find some fun beginner waves on the north side, but the largest waves break at the south end of the bay which can keep even the most experienced surfers entertained. Rosarito is among Northern Baja’s most popular tourist beaches in the summer, which means the nightlife is quite lively with many restaurants, board shops, and places to stay nearby. However, you won’t get an empty beach to yourself.
3. San Miguel
For the braver of the lot, there are some of the best right-hand point breaks of Mexico in San Miguel. The waves here must only be tried by experienced surfers as they break over a reef and are consistently speedy. Despite the challenging waves (or maybe because of it), there is a large footfall in San Miguel, specifically during July and August.
Nevertheless, this is relatively quiet when compared to the lineups in US waters. It is also important to note that you can only find a very basic campsite here and no board rentals. Therefore, it is better to come prepared with your surfing gear and stock up on any other supplies in Ensenada, the town nearest to it.
4. Cerritos Beach
Playa Los Cerritos is a very popular surfing spot, just 30 minutes away from the artsy town, Todos Santos. It usually has a very fun beach break for beginners, but it also caters to experienced surfers when a big swell hits. The easily accessible and consistent surf attracts large crowds.
5. Isla Natividad
Isla Natividad has the perfect empty wave in the middle of nowhere for the hardcore surfing enthusiasts. You can also meet one of the best beach barrels in the world, aka ‘Open doors’, if the conditions are right. However, the wave can not be accessed without a private boat or plane ride so you won’t get it easy. This area is strictly for experienced surfers as the break is extremely fast, hollow, powerful, and can reach up to double overhead.
6. Punta Abrejos
Well-known for its 200m long rides and epic reef breaks, Punta Abrejos is at the top of every Baja surf veteran’s bucket list. Beginners can also find some easy beach breaks here. Make sure to visit the local fishermen boats after your surf to get the freshest fish for the BBQ back at your campsite.
7. La Pastora
La Pastora, also called Cabo San Lucas’ “premier” huge wave, is known to reach triple overhead. To rephrase this, she is better off reserved for the pros. The perfect time to take her on is during the mid-low tide, and those who have surfed here have all good things to say about her. Both right and left breaks can be expected here over a sandy bottom.