With over 7,000 kilometers of Pacific coastline, stretching from the sumptuous Baja Penisula to the Guatemalan border, it’s no surprise that Mexico is home to several exceptional surfing destinations. Whether you’re a wobbly beginner or a seasoned professional, Mexico surf has something for everyone.
Since the 1950s, tourists have flocked in their thousands to the sun-scorched Baja shores in search of sand, sea, and surf. Today, the surfing spirit is still alive and well, with a stronghold over the popular resort towns that line the west coast.
From the hotel-fringed beaches of Puerto Escondido and Punta Mita to the less-trodden Zapotecan sands of Barra De La Cruz, surfer’s are spoilt for choice in Mexico. Even the Gulf waves shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to quality surf. This guide looks at the nine best surf destinations in Mexico that deserve a place on your surf bucket list. Let’s get into it.
Boca de Pascuales, Colima
Kick-starting our list is a lesser-known jewel on Mexican’s surfing crown. Removed from the hoards of tourists further northwest, Colima is a central pacific state and vantage point to the wild southern coast of Costalegre.
Still, Colima itself is peppered with coastal hotspots for seasoned surfers, particularly Boca de Pascuales, with its quality breaks and perfect tubes. With waves reaching over 25 feet, Boca de Pascuales isn’t for the fainthearted or newbies to the sport. But the untamed and isolated beaches appeal to the diehard surfer in all of us, and these breaks offer big rewards to those willing to put in the grind.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Puerto Escondido has a thriving ex-pat community and digital nomad population that’s on the rise. This, in part, is due to the iconic surf breaks to be found all along the Oaxacan coast.
The port town is a lively party destination with palm-lined beaches and thatch-roofed bars. The busiest beach in the area is Playa Zicatela which put Puerto Escondido on the map in the late ‘50s for its world-famous Mexican Pipeline break. But it was the shortboard revolution that boomed in the 1970s that opened Puerto Escondido to the world of surf tourism.
Zicatela pulls in surfers from all around the world and is the dream spot for masters of the waves. The break produces powerful, temperamental, and some of the most dangerous waves in the world, but the challenge is welcomed by expert-level surfers who populate the trendy hostels, seafront hotels, and beach bars from April to August every year.
Barra de la Cruz, Oaxaca
It’s not only Puerto Escondido that deserves recognition when it comes to Oaxacan surf. The coast is home to several globally-renowned surf spots, and Barra de la Cruz is one of the best surf destinations in Mexico.
Located some-20 kilometers from the coastal resort of Huatulco on the edge of the Sierra Madre, Barra de la Cruz is an unspoiled gem for sea-lovers and a rising star in the world of Mexican surf. It’s been on the radar since 2006 when the Rip Curl Pro-Search competition was held on the desolate beach. Since then, the fisherman’s village has been highly regarded by the surf community but left largely untouched by mainstream tourists.
“Barra,” as it is locally called, is shielded on two sides by jungle-swathed hills and is only reachable by a treacherous dirt path. But this only adds to its magical appeal. There aren’t many amenities beyond standard bungalow accommodation and local dining options. Still, it’s a dreamy destination for devoted surfers with a solid south swell and dredging tubes.
Todos Santos, Baja Norte
Not to be confused with the island of the same name, Todos Santos is a Pacific town in the Baja Californian Peninsula. Set to the backdrop of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, the area is a favorite of artists and home to a number of impressive galleries. But to the south of the laidback village lies the beaches of San Pedrito and Los Cerritos that are well-known for their cranking surf.
The region has long-been popular with surfers of all levels. There are tons of surfing schools lining Cerritos Beach, where perfect beginning waves lap the golden shore. At the same time, San Pedrito draws experienced surfers with the best waves at the end of summer and middle of winter.
The Bahia de Todos Santos, the full name for the sheltered bay where Todos Santos lies, was named the sixth World Surfing Reserve and is an epicenter for Mexican surf and culture. From the boutiques to the big breaks, Todos Santos is an escape for all travelers from the bustle of Los Cabos.
Ensenada, Baja Norte
Just minutes from the bay of Todos Santos is the busy Port of Ensenada, with excellent access to some the best surf destinations in Mexico. Ensenada is only around 100 kilometers from the Californian border and pulls surf-seekers from The Golden State’s sunny shores to the colder waters of Northern Baja.
Playa San Miguel is the highlight of Ensenada surf, an exposed point break with reliable waves for expert surf throughout Autumn and Winter. The Baja Surf Club international, Baja’s first competition in the late 1960s, was held in San Miguel, and just off the coast is Todos Los Santos Island, a location for the Big Wave Tour of the World Surf League.
For beginners just getting their footing, Playa Hermosa’s gentle rolling waves are the perfect welcome to the world of surfing. But watch out for big crowds. Ensenada is popular with surfers and sun-lovers, and day-trippers from the states dwell in their hundreds here all year round.
Location 280 kilometers north of Acapulco, the underdeveloped and uncrowded seaside town of Troncones is off the tourist trail but not the hardcore surfing one. The sleepy village has a small ex-pat community intermingled with locals devoted to the sea. This makes Troncones an ideal hideaway for sun and surf-seekers.
There’s little to do that isn’t centered around the sea or the surf. You’ll find plenty of local board rentals and lessons, but most activity happens around the Troncones Surf Club and Hostel. It’s by no means luxury, but the perfect place to soak up the laidback surf vibe and smalltown buzz.
Punta Saladita is just a stone’s throw from Troncones. It’s even sleepier than the fisherman village, but wave-chasers lap up the sultry shores for the renowned “Ulbiam” wave, a favorite of longboarders.
Riviera Maya, Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf isn’t the first place that comes to mind when conjuring images of the best surf destinations in Mexico. The luscious stretch of the Riviera Maya coastline is home to the party hotspots and tourist-choked beaches of Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and more. But the forgiving waves of the Mexican Caribbean are an excellent place for beginners to find their groove, along with budget-friendly surfing deals in the otherwise expensive resort area.
The Riviera Maya stretches from Cancún to Punta Allen, and a mixture of bays, white sands, and limestone cliffs can be found peppered along the coast. Where there’s no outer reef, the waves come in directly. Tropical weather and hurricane swells also mean waves can reach heights of eight feet, especially in the winter. This makes an excellent alternative for intermediate boarders who’ve missed the summer swells in Oaxaca.
Some of the best beaches for year-round surf lessons and gently rolling waves are Playa Ballenas, Playa Delfines, Playa Chac Mool, and Playa Marlin. You’ll find bigger crowds and a lively atmosphere. If partying and beginner’s surf are on your agenda, you shouldn’t overlook the Gulf of Mexico.
Sandy beaches line the 21-kilometer malecón boardwalk of Mazatlán, the longest in Mexico. But it is the bays just north of the city center that cater to all crowds of surfers, from the pro-level waves of Olas Atlas to the beginner breaks at Playa Los Pinos.
Still, the lively and romantic town is much more than a surfing destination. From the 19th-century theatre and basilica to the modern district of Zona Dorada, there are boutiques, restaurants, culture, and nightlife down every cobblestoned street. The family-friendly feel of the malecón balances the laidback surfer vibe, and the area really comes alive at night.
And for the more sophisticated surfer, Sinaloa Surf Adventures is one of the only private surf resorts globally. Occupying all of the private land surrounding the world-class 200 to 800 yard left “Patole” break, you can escape the crowds for an exclusive surf experience here.
Punta Mita, Nayarit
The luxury capital of Mexico’s Pacific coast, Punta Mita occupies 1,500-acres of private, pear-shaped peninsula and is where you can see five-star names like St. Regis and Four Seasons lining its shores. But there’s more to the Riviera Nayarit than exclusive honeymoon hideaways, and the sheltered reefs of the Bay of Banderas come alive with surfers in the winter.
Punta Mita is one of the best surf destinations in Mexico for its variety. La Bahia, or “The Cove,” is home to fast waves that draw seasoned surfers with their northwest swells and lined-up perfection, while the eternal La Lancha is a favorite break of longboarders.
Or better yet, head north to the sleepy boho escape of Sayulita with its own epic breaks, slow pace of life, and tight-knit ex-pat community. The waves here are also well-suited to beginners, with tons of surfboard rentals and teachers along the boardwalk.
What part of Mexico has the best surfing?
The best surf destinations in Mexico are on the western Pacific coast, from Baja Norte to Oaxaca, and everywhere in between. The most famous breaks can be found here, like the Mexican Pipeline, which hurls itself onto Playa Zicatela’s sands and some believe to be the world’s best break. Baja Norte, particularly Ensenada and the surrounding bays, also provides some of the best surf in the country. Day-trippers flock from California just to ride the exposed point break of San Miguel and Todos Los Santos, the island and town, have made important contributions to Mexico’s rich surf heritage.
Is there good surfing in the Gulf of Mexico?
Surfing isn’t the first thing associated with the Gulf of Mexico’s resort towns, but Riviera Maya produces some quality surf, and the hurricane swells and cold fronts contribute to this. The Gulf is also a great place to learn to surf. The gentle breaks are perfect for beginners with crystal clear waters and sandy seabeds, particularly in Cancún, where the steady wind and heavier breaks also cater to kite and windsurfing.
What time of year is best for surfing in Mexico?
The primary surf season in Mexico lasts from April to October, with good nationwide weather, warm water, and reliable waves. The South Ocean’s low-pressure systems and the start of the hurricane season generates strong south swells toward the end of summer, while the weather remains pleasant. However, Baja Norte still provides some of the best surf in winter, and the same can be said for the Gulf of Mexico. This time of year could be perfect for learning to surf or avoiding the crowds while you soak up some winter sun.