A surfing hub since the 1940s, both the northern and southern tips of Baja California offer incredible right-hand swells and barreling beach breaks. And the best bit? Lineups still, despite worldwide recognition, remain beautifully empty. So, whether you’re new to surfing or a seasoned pro, here’s where you should be heading for the best waves in Baja.
Baja California Norte may not have the glamour and glitz of the south, but it has something even better: uncrowded line-ups, year-round surf, and the biggest waves on the peninsula. Remote beaches, fast pointbreaks and epic reef breaks make northern Baja the perfect spot for intermediate to experienced surfers. The water here can be pretty chilly all year round and facilities limited, so you’ll need to come prepared with your own wetsuit, board and, in some cases, camping gear.
Producing some of Baja California’s largest waves, Baja Malibu is a right of passage for many an experienced surfer. During winter (the most popular season for this beach), expect huge barrels with a strong northwest swell. In the summer, it’s also possible to surf a decent beach break (although note that swells will be a lot lighter). Due to its chilly winds and lack of facilities (only basic camping and no board rental nearby), this is one of Baja’s least busy beaches, meaning you’ll likely have this surfing paradise to yourself.
Just a short drive south from Rosarito, K-38 has been luring keen surfers over the border since the 1950s. And it’s easy to see why: this wild beach has an almost perfect swell which can be surfed, if the conditions are right, in any direction. Being one of Baja’s most popular surf breaks, lineups can get busy during the summer. However, if you come during the winter or avoid the weekends, chances are you’ll still find your own spot.
With a long stretch of varied beach breaks, Rosarito is a great option if you want surf suitable for all levels. The biggest waves – which will keep even the experienced surfer entertained – break at the south end of the bay, but there are also some fun beginner waves on the north side. In the summer, Rosarito is one of Northern Baja’s most popular tourist beaches. This means that, whilst you may not have the place to yourself, there’ll be a lively nightlife scene and plenty of board shops, restaurants and places to stay nearby.
For those brave enough to take it on, San Miguel offers some of the best right-hand point breaks in Mexico. Waves here are consistently fast and break over a reef, so should only be tackled by experienced surfers. Despite its difficulty (or maybe because of it), San Miguel sees a lot of surfers, particularly during July and August. However, compared to lineups in US waters, this is still relatively quiet. Please note there is no board rental here and only a very basic campsite, so come prepared and stock up on supplies from the nearest town, Ensenada.
If you’re looking for warmer waters, a lively apres surf scene and some luxury accommodation options, Southern Baja is your ticket. The south is also a better option for beginners and improvers, as there are smaller, slower beach breaks on offer. Be warned though: with a growing number of tourists every year, expect busier lineups and pricier accommodation.
Playa Los Cerritos, just half an hour from artsy town Todos Santos, is a hugely popular surfing spot for beginners due to its fun beach break. When a big swell hits, this can also be a great place for more experienced surfers too. With a consistent, varied surf that’s easily accessible also comes the large crowd. However, the more experienced surfers will usually find a spot out the back.
For those hardcore surfers in search of the perfect, empty wave in the middle of nowhere, Isla Natividad is the answer. If conditions are right, you’ll be met by one of the best beach barrels in the world, known as “Open Doors”. However, you’ll have to work for it: the wave can only be accessed by a small private plane or boat ride. The break here is extremely powerful, fast, hollow and can reach up to double overhead, so it goes without saying; this is strictly for the pros.
Known for its epic right reef breaks and 200m-long rides, Punta Abreojos is always on the top of every Baja surf veteran’s list. If you’re just starting out, there are also some easier beach breaks here. After your surf, make sure you stop by the local fishermen boats to buy the fresh catch of the day for your bbq back at the campsite!
Known as Cabo San Lucas’ “premier” big wave, La Pastora has been known to reach triple overhead. In other words, she is HUGE, and usually reserved for the pros. Those who do manage to take her on, however, say she’s absolutely perfect. The best time to surf here is during mid-low tide. Expect both left and right breaks over a sandy bottom.