About Northern Baja

The most crowded part of Baja is between the US/Mexico border and Ensenada. Expect very little in the way of the 'true Baja' experience here; instead, it's easy road access and mass tourism with crowded waves at a variety of good breaks. Beyond the average beachbreaks of Playas de Tijuana and the subsequent private condo developments, Baja Malibu is a powerful and consistent peaky beachbreak that takes any swell from S to NW and is best from low to mid tide. It's very easy to find and will always be crowded. Rosarito, a few miles further south, has a long stretch of exposed beachbreak scattered with reefs and rivermouths. It's a crowded party town and has good facilities, including a surf shop and a hospital, but the water can be polluted.
Distance markers in kilometers are used to name breaks like K-38 and K-38.5 which get California-crowded thanks to easy access and quality waves. These spots break year-round; they work best on a S but will handle a big W or NW. Spots like K-40, Las Gaviotas, Raul's, and others offer above-average waves, but can get crowded too. Campo Lopez (K-55) is known for powerful, tubing beach peaks with some lefts off the rocks; very consistent, but new development will severely restrict access. La Fonda (K-58) has good rivermouth-fed sandbars that keep the beachbreak waves hollow and punchy. Salsipuedes (reef) and San Miguel (slick cobble) are legendary Baja right pointbreaks. The area has some sharky breaks, like 3M's, near the canneries and fish-processing plant. The metropolis of Ensenada is the jumping-off point for Baja's most famous wave, Killers, which bombs onto the reefs off Islas de Todos Santos 20km (12mi) offshore. This is a world-class big-wave spot where any available winter swell is focused and magnified. (Rental boats are available from Ensenada; 6 people with guns for $100).
South of Ensenada, true Baja surf missions begin where the highway leaves the coast and strays into the beautiful and barren inland. There's still plenty in the way of 'civilization' all the way past San Quintin and on to El Rosario, which is sort of a halfway house between the crowded tourist reality north of Ensenada and the remote and challenging country below El Rosario, where the winds get stronger, the water gets colder, and the waves are less crowded away from the well-known spots.
Past Ensenada and the military checkpoint at Maneadero is the little village of Santo Tomas. Head west from here along one of the unpaved tracks and you'll arrive at Punta San Jose or Punta Cabras. Both have great point, reef, and beachbreak waves, and the kelp helps keep 'em glassy in this wind-challenged area, but they're only five hours or so from the border, so they can be jammed with San Diego weekend warriors. There's a rare signed and paved road that leads straight to the reefs and beaches of K-181 and the well-stocked town of Erendira. Access south of there gets difficult until San Telmo de Abajo signals a string of kelpy, righthand points from Cabo Colonet down to Punta Camalu. Name breaks like Quatro Casas (Punta San Telmo) are often crowded with longboarders who relish the forgiving waves and camping scene overlooking the break. Freighters (Rincon de Baja) is located at Punta San Jacinto, where surf-camp clients enjoy long, mellow rights.
The coast west and south of San Quintin is an abundance of sand interspersed with volcanic reefs. Problems with tough access and strong NW winds are offset by minimal crowds and great sportfishing. The empty beachbreaks sheltered by Cabo San Quintin are great on a S swell, with more of the same stretching for miles down to El Rosario.

Pros

  • Quality right pointbreaks

  • Consistent winter swells

  • Year-round destination

  • Wind protected options

  • Cheap tacos, Mexican beer & tequila

Cons

  • Lack of lefthanders

  • Surprisingly cold water

  • USA style crowds

  • Basic accommodation

  • Lots of potential dangers

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