Surf Baja Now!
The first time you cross the Mexican border you will likely
experience some apprehension. We’ve all been there. In that
moment the anticipation of a surf trip switches to trepidation, as
visions of Federales, Montezuma’s Revenge, sharks, barren deserts,
filthy jails, drug dealers and gun barrels replace fantasies of perfect, offshore-groomed barrels. It’s just a
blip, however, caused by the jolt from seeing this Third World country for the first time. A jolt that conjures up
recollections of rumors and horror stories of trips gone bad. Then, in 10 minutes or so of smelling new,
especially unpleasant smells and winding your way through Tijuana traffic you will find yourself
looking out at Oceano Pacifico, measuring every hump for tube potential and once again anticipating a real
If you’ve been surfing awhile you know that surf travel has changed dramatically in the past decade. It wasn’t
long ago that nearly all surf travel was an adventure. There were no packaged surf tours. No luxury yachts
with chefs, air conditioned cabins, satellite phones and entertainment centers. No surf resorts with epoxy
board rentals and surf schools. The magazines weren’t filled with articles on fantasy surf travel. No surf
cams previewing exactly what you could expect at breaks thousands of miles away. No surf reports. It was
only The Surf Report with a few pages of bare-bones but vital information and one or two photos, some
unidentified clips in videos, and a few dog-eared pages torn from long-lost surf mags. And rumors.
For Baja, that hasn’t changed. It’s still pretty much the old way – an adventure. From that trip through Tijuana
to that last right point around the East Cape, it’s full-on adventure. Except for a half-dozen guidebooks or so,
and a ton of scattered info on the Internet, Baja has been bypassed by the surf travel industry in favor of the
more expensive trips with higher markups and promotion from the surf media, and that’s a good thing.
Sure, Baja has changed and will keep changing, but for some reason it’s just not as exciting to the surf
travel world as other destinations. So there are still no boat trips to Isla Cresciente or the East Cape and the
packaged trips involve sleeping bags, cold showers and no a/c. Baja remains a grittier experience, one that
much resembles surf travel of days gone by.
In one respect it will be good if more surfers travel to Baja. A string of Baja’s best breaks are facing
extinction, as they are in the process of becoming boat harbors. The Department of Mexican Tourism
(Fonatur) has an approved and funded plan to build a chain of 27 boat harbors covering the full length of the
peninsula so boaters can tour Baja from the water instead of the land. It was called the Escalera Nautica
but has been renamed the Loreto Bay Project. Breaks destined to change forever, if not disappear include
Abreojos, Scorpion Bay, Punta Rosalillita (already done) and more. Had enough surfers traveled to these
breaks over the years the dollars would have come to build local economies and prevent this stupid plan. At
one point the plan was almost foiled thanks to protests from many parties, much driven by surfers, but it
reared its ugly head again. Who knows what the outcome will be. In any event, you probably should get
down there soon if you want to surf these legendary breaks. And keep supporting the groups fighting the
Escalera Nautica/Loreto Bay Project, including Wildcoast and others.
With or without those incredible, endangered breaks, most of Baja is still unsurfed. The spots have been
mapped for years, but most surfers just don’t make the effort to travel much beyond Ensenada’s horribly
crowded San Miguel. Even spots like K-38, a well-known and easily accessible break just south of the
border that’s crazy crowded on weekends but empties on Mondays. The fact is, most of Baja is unsurfed
most of the time, and it will stay uncrowded for a while.
So get ready for some surf adventure, mixed with dust, tequila, fresh corn tortillas, lobster, garbage, teenage
soldiers with AK-47s, roadside shrines, toothy smiles, tittie dogs, diarrhea, moonscapes, bitter expats,
Tecate with a lime, patience, more patience and tons of uncrowded surf there for the taking. It’s all yours.
From The Surfer's Guide to Baja, available at core surf shops, SurfTravelGear.com and other online retailers.
The Surfer's Guide to Baja
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