Surf aficionados flock to Mexico's sublime beaches and breaks for some of the world's best waves. Here, our pick of the top beaches for experienced surfers, where to find them and when to go.
Barra de la Cruz, Oaxaca
Situated around 12 miles from the resort town of Huatulco on the southern Pacific coast in Oaxaca state, this village is known in the surf community for its right-hand point break (about a mile from the center of the village). The famous Rip Curl Pro Search annual competition, held here in 2006, turned the surf world’s attention to this humble spot, and it’s been something of a wave aficionado’s pilgrimage ever since.
When to go: Reliably good swells abound from March to October, though the best waves tend to occur in June and July.
Not for the faint of heart, Boca de Pascuales in the tiny state of Colima is a huge, powerful beach break with hollow, fast tubes breaking from both left and right, sometimes reaching heights of 30 feet and more. Experienced surfers only.
When to go: April to September
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Test your mettle against the wave that put Mexican surfing on the map, the legendary beach break Zicatela, also known as the “Mexican Pipeline” after the famous Hawaiian break.
When to go: The surf is at its biggest between May and July, when waves can reach 30 feet or more.
A former fishing village turned artsy surfer hangout near Zihuatanejo, the main draw for surfers is the sought-after break at the beach community of Troncones Point. Several surf shops in town rent out boards and offer lessons. Check Swell Magnet for up-to-date surf reports.
When to go: November to March.
Todos Santos, Baja California
The stretch of coast between Los Cabos and Todos Santos is famous for world-class surf. During summer months the impressive swells draw crowds to San Pedrito, where the big-wave action is, while beautiful Playa Los Cerritos is a big hit with camping surfers looking for a warm-weather escape.
When to go: Summer is the most popular time for serious surf fans
Ensenada, Baja California
This good-time town 70 miles south of the border was once the haunt of singer Jim Morrison, who used to hang out at San Miguel, a surfer’s beach north of town. Santo Tomas, also in the north, is another popular spot.
When to go: The best surfing is had during the winter months, so pack a wetsuit.
Playa La Ticla, Michoacan
Unlike some of Mexico’s more well-trodden coastal areas, Michoacan state is virtually tourist-free, with many deserted stretches of beach and uncrowded water. This beach is known for its long left point reef break at the mouth of Ostula River. Facilities are basic: some surfers choose to camp out in their own tents.
When to go: While the surf is consistently good year-round, summer months tend to be more popular.
The charming city of Mazatlan is known among surfers for famous beaches such as Playa Bruja, Playa Olas Altas (which means “big waves”), Cerritos Beach, Cagadazo Beach, and Playa Los Pinos.
When to go: Summer tends to yield better waves, with milder swell between November and April.