Operating on a tip that surfing in Mexico is better than surfing in California, I booked a two-hour flight from Los Angeles to check it out for myself.
It’s true. The water is warmer, the crowds are smaller, and the competition is less fierce. Throw in Baja’s famous fish tacos and a few bottles of Pacifica and I would say Baja has you covered.
There are three main towns in Southern Baja. San Jose Del Cabo, which has the airport, is actually not bad for an airport town with lots of quiet hotels and a public plaza downtown. Twenty miles west is Cabo San Lucas, this is the part of the area that typically comes to mind when you think of Baja – where the cast from the MTV show The Hills comes to stumble around and drink tequila at 10 am. An hour up the Pacific Coast is one of Mexico’s Magic Towns, Todos Santos, which is an authentic, small artist enclave full of art galleries and shops.
I stayed at Prana Del Mar, a yoga resort ideally located midway between the breaks on the Sea of Cortez side and those on the Pacific coast. The perfect secluded spot an hour away from Cabo San Lucas’ wild party scene, Prana also offers mostly organic, vegetarian cooking that will make you forget about cheeseburgers. In between meals and yoga, I managed to scout some of the best surfing the peninsula has to offer. No matter if you are a beginner or a pro, adventurous or spiritual, Baja has a break for you.
For rookies wanting to hone their surf skills, the best bet is Los Cerritos, located on the Pacific side, about 45 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas. Make sure to bring a wetsuit as the water can be about ten degrees colder here, but with a sand bottom and lots of playful waves, Los Cerritos is one of the most popular places to surf. Camping on the beach is also available, with cold showers and flush toilets. Masseuses set up shop under awnings to ease over surfed muscles.
Looking for something more challenging? On the Sea of Cortez side head over to The Rock, which is full of, you guessed it, rocks. Especially at low tide it is an obstacle course of board-shredding boulders, a challenge even for the locals. It breaks mostly right, so if you’re a goofy foot surfer, this isn’t your best option. The takeoff here is located right next to the biggest protruding rock, and it’s a small space, so be prepared to wait your turn. Remember the golden rules of friendship we all learned in kindergarten: smile, take turns and be respectful.
Zippers is the most famous break in Baja. And rightly so, it’s fast and fun, with an easy takeoff that then zips laterally along a cobblestone reef picking up speed while it maintains its side all the way down the line. The only downside to this break is the crowds. The old timers have this place staked out; stay out of their way, or incur their wrath. Often the most verbal “locals” are Americans who moved to Cabo in the 80s. If the vibe starts to get you, take solace at one of the many taco stands across the street.
I like Old Man’s for some old-fashioned spiritual contemplation. With consistent knee-high waves, a surfer can just sit on her longboard and contemplate the universe, staring out at all that blue. When the mood strikes, it’s easy enough to paddle out to the top of the point and ride a wave all the way into the beach with a couple of other very satisfied rookies.
My life has been threatened over the location of a secret surf break on the Southern Baja Peninsula. Writing the name of this secret break may get me killed, but I feel safe enough now that I am back in the US and my tan is fading: Fig Tree.