Surfers Guide to Baja

In this surfers guide to Baja, you'll learn about the different surf spots in Northern Baja, Baja California Sur, plus get tips on driving.

The Baja coastline offers surfers an abundance of surf spots to choose from and explore, ranging from beginner-friendly breaks to challenging waves that will test even the most experienced surfers’ skills.

Although it has been a surfing hub for decades (since the 1940s), both the northern and southernmost parts of Baja California have only recently begun to receive worldwide recognition again for surfing.

Despite this newfound popularity, lineups at these beautiful beaches remain relatively empty.

So, whether you’re new to surfing or a wave-riding veteran, here’s where you should be heading for the best breaks in Baja.

Surfing in Baja is a surfer's paradise with waves that suit all levels of surfers.

With its warm, temperate waters and long sandy beaches, it is the perfect surf spot for all surfers.

Also check out our guide to 7 of the Best Surf Towns in Mexico.

USA Passport Requirements for Baja Mexico

First tip in this surfers guide to Baja is about your passport.

If you're planning a trip to Baja Mexico, it's important to make sure you have the proper documentation.

All travelers need a passport that is valid for at least six months from their date of travel.

In addition, all travelers must have a tourist visa, which can be obtained from a Mexican consulate or embassy.

Finally, all travelers should have proof of Mexico car insurance in case of an emergency.

By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip to Baja Mexico.

Car Insurance is Required Before Surfing Northern Baja

If you're planning on hitting the waves in Northern Baja, there's one important thing you need to take care of first: car insurance.

Mexico has a very different approach to car insurance than most other countries, and if you're not properly insured, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

In Mexico, car insurance is mandatory, and you must purchase it before driving across the border.

There are two main types of car insurance available in Mexico: third-party liability and comprehensive.

Third-party liability covers damages caused to other people or property in an accident, while comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle.

Most rental car companies will only provide third-party liability coverage, so it's important to purchase additional protection if you want to be fully covered.

Comprehensive insurance can be purchased from an insurance broker in the U.S. or Mexico, and it's essential for anyone planning on driving in Baja Mexico.

By taking the time to purchase car insurance before you hit the waves, you can ensure that your surfing trip is safe and enjoyable.

Crossing The Mexican Border

The first step is to make sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order.

This includes your passport, driver's license, and vehicle registration.

As mentioned above, you'll also need to purchase Mexican auto insurance.

Once you have everything in order, you can drive through the border checkpoint and into Mexico.

Remember, always drive carefully and obey all traffic laws.

With a little preparation, crossing the Mexican border by car can be a hassle-free experience.

Surfing Northern Baja

Northern Baja is home to some of the best surfing spots in Mexico.

The area boasts a wide range of breaks, from beginner-friendly, surfs to more challenging ones for experienced wave riders.

Baja Malibu Surfing

The conditions have to be just right, but when they are Baja Malibu offers some of the best waves in all of Baja.

This specific stretch of coastline is perfect for long-period NW swells or a combination swell involving both NW and S/SW.

Thanks to offshore bathymetry, those winter lines get broken up into beautiful peaks loved by surfers everywhere.

When there's offshore wind blows, it creates waves like no other place in Baja can match.

But, if there are onshore winds, the waves will be ruined and it'll be impossible to surf.

Therefore, you should always look at the forecast before going to this wave.

If conditions are ideal though, Baja Malibu is a great place to go for a quick getaway from San Diego.

Rosarito Beach

The waves at Rosarito are perfect for both experts and beginners.

During summer, bars of sand form on the right side of the pier in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, creating excellent left-breaking waves during winter.

Popotla

Popotla, located in Baja Norte, is an exposed reef break with great surf typically during autumn and winter.

The best winds for waves blow offshore from the southeast.

It receives distant groundswells mostly from the west but there are also left-breaking and right-breaking reefs at Popotla.

Calafia

Calafia is one of the first waves surfers hit up when they visit northern Baja because it's user-friendly and close to the border.

If you're looking for a long right-hand point that works best with a solid south and is offshore in the daily northwest wind, this is the wave for you.

The close-by reefs usually get swell from any direction, so surfers can almost always find good waves in the area.

If you're looking for a simple adventure south of the border and love being around people, this place is perfect for you with its many hotels, restaurants, and clubs that line the cliff.

But if you were hoping to be alone in the desert with only the stars and your thoughts for company, look elsewhere.

K38

K-38 is an excellent location for surfing for multiple reasons.

It lies on Kilometer 38 of Baja Highway 1, which any surfer who has explored northern Baja knows well.

When the conditions are ideal, riders at The Point can stay on their boards for up to 200 yards. Depending on the waves, surfers will either use a longboard or a shortboard.

The Left break isn't incredible, but it's still doable given the right circumstances.

Maria's is usually where beginners go since the waves aren't too intense, while Theresa's (or El Morro) is reserved for more aggressive surfers since it mostly produces short boarding waves.

However, Theresa's can be amazing when conditions are good enough – big enough to support double overhead surfing sessions.

Even though K-38 has great accessibility and reputation,[citingxa1]it gets crowded quickly – especially during weekends.

If you can get away during the winter weekdays for a Baja surf trip, K-38 will be less crowded.

The rocks here are covered in sea urchins, so always wear booties.

Many surfers have made the mistake of paddling out without shoes while the tide is up, and then they get their feet ripped open when the tide goes down and they come back in.

If you're looking for K-38, it'll be a piece of cake to find.

Take the exit from the paid highway that's just south of Rosarito Beach, and once you're on the free highway (which runs parallel to the paid one), drive south until you see the huge Jesus statue perched on the hilltop 15 minutes later.

A few more markers to keep an eye out for Taco Surf restaurant next door, and of course, the big green K-38 highway marker!

To avoid having your car stolen, it is recommended that you find secure parking at the hotel or any paid parking area with a security guard.

In this vicinity, cars have been known to go missing frequently, so it's better to be safe than sorry!

Paying $5 for guarded parking is much preferable to the headache of filing a police report for a stolen vehicle.

Las Gaviotas

Looking for a place to catch some waves?

Look no further than Las Gaviotas! Our secluded location means you'll never have to fight for a spot on the wave, and our villas are specifically designed with surfers in mind.

You can store your boards safely inside and park your car within the walls without having to worry about security – we've got you covered 24/7.

Las Gaviotas is a surf spot known for its reliable waves and exposed reef break.

The best time to surf here is in the autumn and winter when offshore winds blow from the northeast.

Most of the waves come from groundswells, with the ideal swell direction coming from the south.

Both left- and right-handed surfers can enjoy good conditions at all stages of the tide. And one more bonus – it's very rarely crowded here!

Puerto Nuevo South

K-55's waves are a surfer's paradise, especially in Puerto Nuevo.

Stuffing yourself with lobster before you leave is strongly encouraged by the locals– it's delicious!

If you're looking for other good spots, K-44, Cantamar, Dunes Hotel Cafe America and Halfway House are also popular among visitors.

All of these areas have the potential to be great depending on the swell, but remember that Baja can be fickle so get out there and explore!

K-55 or Campo Lopez

Though one hundred homes sound like a lot, Campo Lopez is easy to miss if you're driving by on the Mexican highway going south to Ensenada.

And yet, this small camp sits on some of the best waves in Baja–a true hidden gem for surfers.

The homes in Campo Lopez look like they were built by beach bums who threw together whatever materials they could find.

But somehow, it all works and nothing about the place is pretentious.

K-55 is a surf spot that's Baja funky—way different from the touristy structures that appear every year along the coast.

I've had some great days out at K-55 throughout the years; it seems to catch any wave and produces righteous barrels.

The best reefs are at the north end of the beach, and they can handle even the biggest waves. The downside is that it's a private beach community.

La Fonda or K-58

I always make sure to surf this wave at least once whenever I go on a surfing trip to Baja– and this will be our last break for the article.

La Fonda is an unpredictable and amazing place—last year we went to Baja in June expecting flat waves, but were blessed with head-high barrels instead.

Some of the best surf I'd had in quite a while!

You never know what you'll get at La Fonda.

Be aware that the waves here can get massive, and if you're caught off-guard you could be thrown onto a sandbar.

The best waves occur during combo swells, but too much north or south in the swell can make the waves less consistent.

Salsipuedes K-87

Salsipuedes, south of La Fonda, used to boast some of the best surfing in northern Baja.

While it's still there today, you can now only reach it by boat.

Salsipuedes is a notoriously difficult right point to surf, but it's beautiful when the waves are big.

Be careful if you attempt it.

Scorpion Bay

Scorpion Bay is a place where people can go to have fun and relax.

It is located 650 to 890 miles south of Tijuana. You can see Baja California Sur's west coast when you are there.

Even though Scorpion Bay in Baja Sur doesn't have great waves all the time, it has the potential to be world-class.

Surfing Southern Baja

list surf spots in southern Baja Mexico

There are plenty of surf spots in southern Baja Mexico to choose from, and each one offers its own unique set of challenges and rewards.

Want to surf in warmer water with a great nightlife afterward, and have the option to stay somewhere luxurious?

The Southern Baja is where you want to go.

The south is also ideal for beginners and those still improving their surfing skills as there are smaller waves at the beach breaks.

Just be aware that every year, more and more tourists visit, so expect busier lineups at the popular spots and pricier accommodation options.

Here are a few of the best surf spots in the area:

Cerritos Beach

Playa Los Cerritos is a prime surfing destination for newbies and experts alike.

Just 30 minutes from Todos Santos, this beach break is perfect when the swell size is just right.

Unfortunately, the large crowds flocking to the easy access and consistent waves can be overwhelming.

But don't worry – more experienced surfers will usually find a secluded spot if they venture out past the beginner's section.

Isla Natividad

The search for the “holy grail” of waves takes determined surfers to Isla Natividad, where – under conditions- they are met with world-class beach barrels at Open Doors.

There is no easy access here though; you either need a small private plane or boat ride to get there.

The brake is extremely powerful and only recommended for advanced surfing due to its fast speed and large size.

Punta Abreojos

Experienced surfers always have Punta Abreojos at the top of their list because of the excellent right reef breaks and long 200m (656ft) rides.

If you're new to surfing, don't worry!

There are also some easier beach breaks here.

Make sure to buy fresh seafood from the local fishermen for your campsite barbecue after a day of surfing.

Playa La Pastora

La Pastora, located in Cabo San Lucas, is one of the biggest waves and is usually only attempted by professional surfers.

However, those who have tried it say that it is perfect for surfing enthusiasts.

The best time to ride these waves is during mid-low tide with both left and right breaks over a sandy bottom.

Nine Palms

Do you enjoy surfing in remote areas where you're unlikely to encounter many other people?

If so, Nine Palms is the perfect surf spot for you!

This reef break is located near Shipwrecks in the Los Cabos area.

The Santa Elena landscape has a small palm grove that is eye-catching among the desert.

With nine palms, it offers more protection from the wind than other surrounding areas and usually has waves when there's a south swell—even though they're often mushy, they are long compared to most waves.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna is another delightful wave located between 9 Palms and Shipwrecks.

Surfers can enjoy a few options in the bay, as well as a right that breaks quickly off an inside rock.

Another section to the left of the rock offers slower waves ideal for the south swell.

Departing Mexico by car

If you're planning on driving back to the United States from Mexico, there are a few things you need to know.

First, you will need to have a valid passport.

You may also need a visa, depending on your citizenship and the length of your stay in Mexico.

Second, make sure your vehicle is in good condition and that you have all the necessary paperwork, including insurance and registration.

Finally, be aware of the risk of crime and violence along the border region – it's always best to travel in groups and during daylight hours.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure a safe and smooth journey back to the US.

Surfers Guide to Baja – FAQs

Is Baja California good for surfing?

Baja California is one of the best places in the world to go surfing.

The reason for this is that the water is very warm and there are many different types of waves.

Surfing in Baja California is possible all year round, but the best time to go is from October to March.

This is because the water is at its warmest during this period and there are also more waves.

Surfers of all levels will be able to find a spot that suits their abilities in Baja California.

When can you surf in Baja California?

Baja California is a great place to surf all year round.

However, the waters are generally cooler from November to March.

The best time to surf is during the summer months of June to August when the water is warmest.

Several surf schools in Baja California can help you learn how to surf.

They offer lessons for all levels, from beginners to advanced surfers.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, you're sure to find the perfect waves in Baja California.

Do I need a wetsuit to surf in Baja?

Yes, the water temperature can vary depending on the time of year and the location.

In general, the water is warmest from May to September, with average temperatures in the low to mid-80s.

However, water temperatures can drop as low as the high 60s during the winter months.

As a result, you may need a wetsuit to surf during certain times of the year.

Where can I learn to surf in Baja?

Baja is a great place to learn to surf, with plenty of beginner-friendly beaches and waves.

Surf schools can be found in most coastal towns, and many offer package deals that include accommodation and meals.

The best time of year to learn to surf in Baja is from October to March when the conditions are more forgiving for beginners.

Are there great white sharks in Baja California?

Great white sharks prefer cold water and the waters off the Pacific coast of Baja California.

Specifically, off the coast of Ensenada has the most Great White Sharks.

Great Whites are not seen in the Sea of Cortez and the gulf side of Baja, which is much more temperate.

Can beginners surf in Cabo?

Cabo San Lucas is a great place to surf, whether you're a beginner or an experienced surfer.

The waves here are generally smaller and more manageable than in other parts of the world, making them ideal for beginners.

In addition, there are plenty of surf schools in Cabo that can provide you with lessons and equipment rental.

Once you've mastered the basics, you can explore some of the more challenging surfing spots further north along the coast.