point break

surf trip

Michoacán, Mexico

It being Spring and a very long time indeed since we last saw our swim shorts, we recently made a trip to Mexico to find some Pacific waves and pre-season sunshine. Being New Yorkers, we're not above a little base tanning, but a tanning salon is no place for two grown men with surfboards. 

We landed in Guadalajara and picked a line for the Michoacán coast, driving as fast as our feeble rental car could carry us, stopping occasionally to take photos and to sample the ceviche in Tecomán The report had shown the last shreds of a previous swell lingering for a shoulder-high evening session after the long drive. A fresh pulse swung into the coast the next morning and kept up for the next four days, easing slightly for a few days and then picking up again at the tail end of our visit. In short, we scored. We shared a perfect, peeling left point and occasional crunchy rights with a handful of friendly locals and a passing video crew from Vissla. For 10 perfect days.

As the sun began to climb in the sky each morning we would wait for the 'morning sickness' in the water to pass. Once the air had warmed and the wave settled, we would walk towards the point, first across the river mouth, picking our way over round rocks and then through a dense palm forest, littered with fallen coconuts. On some mornings we startled a nervous donkey tied up to a wooden fence by the beach, setting the creature off on a prolonged bray that echoed up the river valley. 

Eventually, we would emerge on the other side of the forest in a shady patch, dropping off water and something to eat after the session. We figured our way out into the water over seaweed-slippery stones and paddled out to the peak, marked by a huge cactus growing on the beach in front of the jungle. Then, for as many hours as our arms lasted, or until the sun had become so hot and high in the grey-blue above that the water offered no comfort, we surfed in glassy, peeling perfection.

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

The tiny village by the river mouth was peaceful and friendly, with a few small, family restaurants serving up ceviche, tacos, gringas and quesadillas prepared to perfection.  

Michoacán province has had a troubled and sometimes violent past due to the growing, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs to America, but the area seemed only mildly tense during our stay, with relaxed checkpoints on the roads and occasional patrols to the beach from Federales and even the military.

Almost the only downside on the whole trip (barring an episode with some seemingly undercooked octopus) was a long walk across hot rocks to access the point and the defensive line of bristling Pacific sea urchins waiting just beyond the rocky water entry. One errant step on the way in or out was a costly mistake we had all made several times by the end of the week. The wave was worth every urchin-spine. 

Above: The palm forest and unfinished shacks standing on the beach in front of the point; the wave itself, viewed from above on the curving coastal road of Michoacán.

Below: Local kids playing in the warm lake at the mouth of the river; Cam Richards picking a high line during an evening session. 

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

Cam Richards - Vissla Team

surf trip

Baja California Sur

Julien just came back from a trip to Baja California , Mexico. 4 days on the East Cape. A part of Baja that has remained under developed for the past 20 years, but might be changing in the near future with the new highway under construction.

For now, only one dirt road, poorly maintained, and your intuition will lead you to different surf spots. On the way you run into wild horses, donkeys and cows, and dozens of empty million dollars villas, most of which bear a "se vende" sign. Odile, a category 4 hurricane (on a scale of 5), severely damaged the peninsula in 2014, with winds reaching 140mph. It seems to have kept investors away, on the East side at least.

The drive is stunning, crystal clear water on your right and, on the other side, oddly sized and shaped cactus adorn a barren land. Most likely you will see only a couple other cars. 

People who actually live there, will drive to town once a week (Cabo San Lucas) to stack up on food, beers, purified water and other necessities that the ambulating food truck coming up there once a week won't supply. He only sells roasted organic chickens, avocados, eggs and mangoes, if they are in season. 

The most well known spots will gather less than a dozen people on a decent day. The typical pattern of glassy waves early in the morning / blown by 10 am remains true there. This leaves you 4 hours of great surf, from dawn to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The afternoon surf is definitely an option, textured water, less people - if not empty, but still offering longer rides than any place on the East coast.

There is no world class wave here. There are better places to scout when Surfline announces a purple blob in the South Pacific. However, 300 yards rides, mellow crowds (aside from that old and grumpy American guy), empty beaches and the occasional barrel are not uncommon sights.

Baja California - Julien Roubinet 3.jpg