Surf the best spots around La Paz

Updated: Feb 23

Visit La Paz for the surf? You bet you should!

Whether flying in from far-flung destinations or making a quick border hop from California, droves of people are heading to Baja California Sur (in winter AND summer) on the hunt for that perfect wave.

It’s easy to see why when you look at the map and realize the Baja Peninsula is sandwiched by the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, sometimes only an hour’s drive from each other!

But, when you’ve also got Los Barilles, Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos, La Ventana, and numerous other waterfront towns to consider, why are so many surfers opting to base themselves in La Paz City?

It’s because La Paz is the most liveable city you will find. Today, more and more “sport tourists” are also culturally curious; cruising the coastlines looking for somewhere that feels authentic and grounded. Where one can actually live while in between waves.

Flat-water days spent strolling in this vibrant capital city will undoubtedly lead to friendly chats with local residents (yes, even with your broken Spanish and Google Translate). Museums, cultural exhibits, and festivals balance the outdoor allure of life in Baja California Sur. But La Paz isn’t all about tourism even with all these attractions. This great city offers an opportunity for connection with real people going about their real lives – a connection perhaps as strong as the one you’ll feel with the waves!

And, oh, the waves.

I will touch on three of the most popular surf spots around La Paz, tell you what makes each one so special, and provide an insider tip for each when preparing for your visit.

surfer on a wave in Todos Santos Mexico

Photo by Serg Alesenko on Pexels

1. Cerritos Beach – The winter surf spot for everybody.

Located on the Pacific side, 1.5 hours from La Paz, Cerritos Beach is pure fun and festivities!

A shallow beach break over a sandy bottom makes this a wonderful place for beginners to learn, and also fun boogie boarding for your non-surfing friends or family.

Beyond the inside white water, more experienced surfers enjoy steady right-hand breaks toward the north end of the beach and also a possible left-hand break, depending on the interaction of the swell and a sand bar mid-beach. Waves are clean and fast with not a lot of downtime in between sets.

One thing about Cerritos, with all this amazingness, is you won’t be the only one there! Camping is a popular activity on this beach, and there are board rentals and classes available, as well as restaurants and hotels fringing the beach. It’s truly the atmosphere that makes this surf destination special.

Pro-tip: Spend your day on this beach and you may also get lucky with some star sightings – either our biggest winter “snowbirds”, the humpback whales down from Alaska, or surf pros such as Kelly Slater.

2. Costa Azul – the summer spot you can count on.

Located on the Gulf of California near San Jose del Cabo and known as “Zippers”, this exposed beach and reef break has the most consistent and powerful surf in Baja California Sur – 94% of waves here are clean, groundswell, right-breakers.

The best month here is undoubtedly May, but the summer season, in general, is the best time to surf Zippers. That’s when the offshore winds are primarily from the northwest and the best swell direction comes from the south.

Mostly a spot for experienced locals, there is also an opportunity for learning here. South of the main arroyo (a dry, sandy riverbed) the middle break is more beginner-friendly in smaller swell conditions.

Pro-tip: It starts getting pretty hot around this time in BCS, so though the waters are nice and comfortable in your board shorts, a rashguard is recommended for sun protection – UV ratings are consistently 11+ (extreme).

3. San Juanico – the longest wave potential.

Depending on who you ask, this is the second-longest wave in the Americas, or the longest in the world, or…the internet is also undecided. But, 100% of everyone you ask who’s ridden San Juanico agree that it’s magical.

surfer riding wave mexico la paz

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels

Worth the drive (and a couple of nights camping), at just over 6 hours from La Paz on the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula, San Juanico is made up of 4 different breaks that when the surf stars align can join together into one! The resulting ride can be over a minute long!

The best wave is the third break, followed by the second, which has a chiller but more consistent vibe. Bring your longboard if you’ve got one. It’s known that the breaks at San Juanico can be inconsistent and a bit too small sometimes, but just one great day and it’ll be a ride you will never forget.

Another summer spot, San Juanico or Scorpion Bay is best visited in April/May when the southern swells really turn this spot on.

Pro-tip: bring everything you’d need for your surf and stay here because the small town of 300 residents doesn’t have many services to offer.

With all of this info at your disposal and no doubt your fingers itching to purchase that plane ticket, I’ll sign off with confidence, saying, I look forward to seeing you on the breaks around Baja California Sur and relaxing on the La Paz Malecon at sunsets!

Cheers!

By: Terri Lynn Manna

Terri Lynn Manna

Terri Lynn Manna is an avid writer based between La Paz, Mexico, and Montreal, Canada, where she draws inspiration from the waterways and wilderness that surround her. With over 50 countries stamped in her passport, she's a seasoned backpacker who shares her insights on travel practicalities and the myriad adventures waiting to be experienced.

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