First Mexico road trip - advise requested

Discussion in 'Surf Travel' started by Toonces, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Toonces

    Toonces Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2016
    What up Swellinfo. I managed to finally get settled down in San Diego for an indefinite period of time.

    I hate to be "that guy" because I'm sure this has been discussed to death, but I know that a Mexico road trip is second nature to a lot of you guys so I'd really appreciate some advice and tips.

    For my first trip, I don't want to do anything arduous...something simple to just get an idea of the process. I'm thinking of taking a day trip, maybe a weekend trip, just down the road to Rosarito or that point just south called El Descanso on Google Maps. It's pretty close, maybe 40 miles from the border.

    I don't have an offroad vehicle, just a regular Subaru Impreza, so I need to stick to paved or graded dirt roads.

    I guess that's it for now. It seems like a pretty simple thing to do, but...well, I've never driven to Mexico.
    Wavestrom likes this.
  2. DawnPatrol321

    DawnPatrol321 Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2012

  3. Wavestrom

    Wavestrom Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2014
    Do you miss the 2nd beach seaweed yet?
  4. Kyle

    Kyle Well-Known Member

    Sep 9, 2011
    Buena suerte y ten cuidado!

    SCOB3YVILLE Well-Known Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    My buddies drive their shitbox cars to MX all the time.
    Get a Sentri pass to avoid the lines.
  6. LongIslandBro

    LongIslandBro Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2017
    Rosarito is just pretty shitty beach break. Not a reason to leave SD. (The drinking age, hookers, no doctor needed prescription drugs, etc.. IS a reason to leave SD.) You gotta surf a point break if you go.
    BTW , pick up a pack of muscle relaxers for me while you’re there.
    nopantsLance likes this.
  7. Toonces

    Toonces Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2016
    LOL. I did some more Google searching after I posted this. It looks like there are some decent breaks within comfortable driving distance from the border.

    Now then, LIBro, did you want 500mg or 1000mg tabs?
  8. heaps of Meh

    heaps of Meh Active Member

    Jul 6, 2012
    we all want 1000mg bro

    nice to see you back
    LongIslandBro likes this.
  9. LongIslandBro

    LongIslandBro Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2017
    What Heaps said (1000mg)
  10. Toonces

    Toonces Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2016
    'sup all. I wanted to post a quick update since I finally did this.

    I had an unfortunate medical procedure done earlier this year, and my surgeon of all people suggested I go to a place called Las Gaviotas, about 10 miles south of Rosarito and maybe an hour north of Ensenada. Surfline has a cam pointing right at the break. My wife and I decided to take a trip to Baja over Xmas and since I had no better ideas of where to go we rented a place on VRBO at Las Gaviotas, right on the water, for 4 days over the holiday. Unfortunately the weather sucked most of the time, but my son and I did score some small surf on Xmas eve, so I got the check in the block.

    As most of you know if you've done it before, it really isn't any big deal at all to get down to that area. The border crossing on the US-Mex side is very straightforward (San Ysidro feels like the end of the world, though, especially during a driving wind/rain storm), and the signs get your right where you need to go. We followed the Playas de Tijuana signs and took the coastal route. Going through Tijuana was a bit nerve-racking as the sewers were overflowing out of the ground and there was a flooded part of the road with water about 2-3' deep we had to get through. That took us about a half hour to navigate; fortunately we took my wife's Pathfinder as I'm not 100% sure my Impreza would have made it would have been tight. Once we got through that, though, it was very simple.

    We drove past K38 a few times but it wasn't intuitive how to get down to the break. We also passed a few reefs and what looked like beach breaks from the road in that area that looked like they were absolutely firing. It was crazy how much surf was down there, and we didn't see another surfer until we got to Las Gaviotas.

    Las Gaviotas is an interesting spot. There are a few different breaks there, and I can see how it might get a bit tight in the summer with good weather. It was pretty empty while we were there and most of the rentals were empty. Next time I'm definitely bringing a longboard or something similar as it was never really good for a regular shortboard, at least at my skill level.

    Driving back was a bit surreal. We only got stuck at the border for a bit over an hour, which is quick (no Sentri or other fastpass). There are tons of people selling everything from churros to puppies that wander in between all the lanes of cars and I guess I've never seen anything quite like it in all my travels. Seeing the Tijuana river flowing out to sea has me rethinking my decision to surf Tijuana Slough or Imperial Beach ever again.

    So...trip done and I can see me doing Baja more in the future. I agree that the Sentri pass is the way to go to get through that border crossing faster. But otherwise it was pretty simple. I'm sure traveling farther south is much more difficult, but anywhere up to Ensenada seems to be a very simple day trip.

    Forgot the muscle relaxers...maybe next time!
    Kyle, La_Piedra and Notaseal like this.
  11. Toonces

    Toonces Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2016
    Also, agree that Rosarito Beach is no reason to make the trip. I'd love to go again with more time to prowl around some of those breaks around K38 though.
    Kyle, La_Piedra and Notaseal like this.
  12. La_Piedra

    La_Piedra Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2017
    Thanks for the update Toonces, brought back a lot of memories.

    surfed Gaviotas a bit many years ago. Probably cleaner and more spread out in summer, pretty much a right-hand reef-point.

    38's has changed Bigly since they built the hotel. Back in the day, the reefs between 38's and Gaviotas weren't surfed much, if at all. 38's was a huge flat vacant bluff overlooking the point, had a large metal gate in front, and an ancient wooden outhouse near the trail down to the break, which was called "Outhouse" instead of 38's back in the day. I assume you park at the hotel now, pay some random Mexican an obligatory $5 parking fee, and proceed down the cliff.

    The next reef North of 38's is a cobblestone semi-point called Teresa's, after the old woman who once ran a camp there back in the 1970's. Can be excellent, but doesn't always break on the same swells as 38's and never as crowded.

    keep your eye on a huge reef point named Calafia around K-36. There's a huge colorful disco at the top of the point. You should still be able to park off the highway at the bottom of the break, and take the sketchy trail down to the channel to paddle out. Used to be called Deadman's back in the day, due to the trail. Check out Calafia on YouTube for a glimpse of the potential, it was one of my faves back in the day.

    Another very fun wave at K-34 is Popotla, a left reef with a ton of thick kelp keeps it glassy. It's basically a small community with a trailer park. You can't see the break from Mexico 1D, so you gotta drive off the road to check it. It's not very fast or particularly hollow, but is very well shaped and fairly long. Used to be wide open, but I understand that they built the set for the Titanic movie there some years back. So look for that.

    Remember seeing a big Pemex petrol plant after passing through the first toll booth? Yeah there's surf there too, a jetty left. Accessing it is slightly dicey, as there is a small dirt road north of the plant that gets you fairly close to the break, then a short walk. I've rode this place @ 3' with crystal clear water, and at 8'-10' gnarly death walls. Either way, you'll be surfing it alone.

    Rosarito can actually get fun, there's a pier there and it's mostly popular with local Mexicans. But the sandbars are fun and hollow, and you can rock up to the Rosarito Beach hotel apres-surf for delicious fish tacos and cerveza.

    The easiest day trip to Baja you can make is Baja Malibu (BM's). If the coast is flat, do yourself a favor and check this place. Between Tijuana By The Sea and Rosarito, these sandbars pack serious punch...snaps boards @ 4', bodies @ 5' and up. Very hollow and powerful, maybe more powerful than Blacks. 2'-4' produces a very fun wave. It's easy to find as there are plenty of signs. There once was an empty lot north of the break, but several parking options abound. Look for someone to pay the Mexican parking fee, or you could wind up with 4 flat tires.

    These were my go-to spots when I lived in SD, basically 15-30 minutes on the road. Some fantastic memories were made, and some great uncrowded waves were rode.

    I hope to hear about you making more sweet Baja memories.
    antoine and Kyle like this.