Surfing Sea of Cortez

Discussion in 'Mexico Pacific' started by RKsurf, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. RKsurf

    RKsurf Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    I was wondering if anyone knew how far up the coast (east or west side) of the sea of cortez you could surf? More specifically, if a hurricane such as Odile this past season, takes just the right path and is literally sending a South-East swell straight up the sea of cortez, there has to be waves all along both coast right?

    Obviously the sea isn't very deep so the waves would likely quickly refract to both shores...

    Check out the wave models from Wetsand for mainland mex and set the start date (bottom left corner back to Sep 15th. You can see that there is a strong fetch with wind aiming up the sea.

    I've searched around and can't seem to find much. One day I dream of taking our boat down there and just exploring and finding potentially unridden waves...

    what do you think?
  2. Ronnie Mund

    Ronnie Mund Well-Known Member

    Jul 6, 2012
    I doubt there's much surf north of Los Mochis. I could be wrong.
    kaisergama likes this.

  3. kidrock

    kidrock Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2010
    RKsurf, I have thought the same thing for many years. I sometimes look up into the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) on Google Earth whenever the chubascos start churning in that area. Last year, there were at least 4 swells that originated south of Baja and not far from Mazatlan that were close enough to the coast to throw a SE swell, which actually works very well in that area.

    I agree with Sobx, it would be hard to imagine any kind of swell working it's way past Los Mochis northward. But, I've heard of wave refraction, so it might be possible. I've traveled through Guaymas a couple of times, I can't imagine waves ever breaking there.

    My version of Google Earth shows 2 left hand points appearing to be breaking very well near a town called El Tambor. I'd love to take an extended safari in that area, but's in Sinaloa. I speak Spanish and carry extra cash, but "La Mordida" can take a lot of joy out of your trip. And getting "bit" would probably be the best case scenario these days.
  4. waterbaby

    waterbaby Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    Fetch in Sea of Cortez can be fairly long (about what most gulf of mexico beaches usually get)...or short as lake tahoe (people surf there, too...rarely).

    I've seen plenty of satellite images showing surfable windswells on the east side (west coast) of the sea of cortez. In the current set of Google sat images, there's a little semi-clean swell just north of Isla Tiburon. Don't know how much power in them, but definitely longboardable (or sup, kayak, etc).

    Thing is, why would anyone really ever want to go there? looks like one of the most isolated places on earth.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  5. splendid isolation

    splendid isolation New Member

    Mar 16, 2015
    was just checking the swell and saw this question so i thought i'd comment.

    i live on a sailboat with my girlfriend and 2 cats. we left dana ponit, ca 2012 and sailed south down baja and then up into the sea of cortez. we spent about a year on pacific and sea side of baja.

    baja is a magical place. the sea, at times, can get more ruthless than the pacific. but it is short period swell.

    so far as swell on seaside of baja. cabo frailes is about as far north as "surfable" swell wraps. outside of la paz there seems to be a couple spots that get refractions. so, not much surf north of cabo frailes/la paz area. plenty of waves, wind, swell, beaches, etc. just not consistent surf.

    as far as mainland side of the sea. los mochis is considered the farthest north, but you may get lucky as far north as empalme though.

    storms/hurricanes are what they are, and if you are down there when one happens i doubt you'd be surfing.
    barely any rainfall for years, so when they hit, it's hard. anything and everything flows from the deserts to the sea.

    traveling at a walking pace, with all my belongings, it was nice to have a quiver on hand. i do admit though, it rarely came in handy while sailing the sea.

    Baja, both Pacific and Sea of Cortez, is a vast part of our world, so close yet so far from "home". definitely recommended for anyone who loves saltwater and independent travel.

    hope i answered a question and gave some insight.
    Yankkee likes this.
  6. Barry Cuda

    Barry Cuda Guest

    HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!!!! You are serious??!!?? You think you are going to be first on any break there?? And to find "unridden waves"?? First with a boat there??? hahahahahaha!!
    That's rich. Real rich.
    You will be in long line with a flotilla of other boats; they will be suffering from the same hallucinations you have just expressed. They will all be americans, recent arrivals to surfing. They discovered Malibu also......
    Are you the first surfer to travel to Mexico?? there is a novelty!! Why didn't anybody else think of that before???
  7. splendid isolation

    splendid isolation New Member

    Mar 16, 2015
    i guess "senior member" entitles one to make fun of people for asking questions and wondering about a more secluded part of our world?

    i used to use forums a lot, it was fun. now i forgot that the internet has turned into a place for people to hide from reality while knocking other people down.

    we lived in the Guaymas boat yard (marina seca guaymas) for a few months. up the road at Playa de Cortes in Bahia Bocachibampo i have seen a small loggable wave roll in. that is mainland side though, 6+ hour drive south from Tucson. Baja side, Mulege or Concepcion i saw a few coves that also had a longboard wave rolling in.

    RKsurf, hope i answered your questions in a positive light. if you are curious about baja and the sea. PM me, i can give you a list of books and coordinates that will change your life, whether you surf there or not.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
    Yankkee likes this.
  8. nynj

    nynj Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
    If you think you can not find a wave with nobody out in Baja you are wrong.
    You will most likely not be the first to surf it, but you can certainly find places to surf alone.
  9. Barry Cuda

    Barry Cuda Guest

    I was talking solely about FIRST TO SURF a spot. That is long gone.
    I have surfed Baja twice, 20 years ago--all spots had surfers, not a lot, but enough. You will USUALLY have company, which does not bother me in the least. Sooner or later, a few show up to join you if you are first out.
    It has gotten worse in recent a lot, I am told.
    So, if you wish to join the my guest!!
  10. nynj

    nynj Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
    There's A LOT of coastline in Baja. And it's much different doing it from a boat.
  11. splendid isolation

    splendid isolation New Member

    Mar 16, 2015 is our new site under construction. but if you go to the archives, back to our old blog. nov. 2012 - march 2013 is scattered with info and photos. i tried to name each post after the bay that we were tucked into at the time.
    countless nooks and crannies on both coasts. countless breaks, coves, even saw some open ocean/sea reefs/shoals that would be epic tow-ins. baja has it all, except roads. ignore the popular surf breaks and towns, melt in with the local culture, and disappear for a while.
  12. Barry Cuda

    Barry Cuda Guest

    Huge amount of coastline for sure. But it all has been surfed at least once. Surfing has turned into a major travel industry--there are boats everywhere catering to the same dreams expressed above. The last 20 years has really crowded all breaks with tourists. There are no virgin breaks anymore. The tour guides will all tell you, in Mexico as in Hawaii - "there are plenty of virgin spots". Hell, in Hawaii they will even tell you of a newly discovered spot called Pipeline, or Sunset. In PR, same thing. You might find virgin spots in southern Chile perhaps, but even there.......
    Again, uncrowded, sure on a weekday or off season. Virgin spot?? Long gone.
  13. sisurfdogg

    sisurfdogg Well-Known Member

    Jun 17, 2013
    Don't let the cynics bum you out too much. Sometimes we get bored and start ish. Great post, and thanks for the solid info. Keep em coming.
  14. nynj

    nynj Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
    Northern and southern spots are crowded, but most of Baja is not crowded.
  15. waterbaby

    waterbaby Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    I drove all the way down to cabo in '96...and back. I bought one of those maps Surfer mag used to sell and hit all the major spots. I also explored some sketchy as hell dirt "roads" and found many isolated/perfect cobblestone point breaks with no one else out...and no one else even showed up the whole time. Solo spots are definitely still in Baja...question is: are you're brave enough to paddle out.
  16. Barry Cuda

    Barry Cuda Guest

    Perhaps, but it will not last long. The mexicans are starting to surf as well. That was the death of uncrowded surfing in PR, and it will be the same in Mejico, I presume. But that is okay with me--I have no intentions to return there.
  17. kidrock

    kidrock Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2010
    solid and informative posting from the new guy. Hope to see more stuff from you soon. Please let us know when the new site is up and running.
  18. nynj

    nynj Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
    It will not get crowded in middle of Baja. It doesn't matter if Mexicans surf. It's too vast.

    Long Island has 3x the population and 1,000 lest coastline and you can surf by yourself there if you choose to.
  19. sbx

    sbx Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2010
    In the biggest city in the U.S. it's easy enough most days to walk to an empty spot. I doubt Baja will ever be completely overrun.
  20. ukelelesurf

    ukelelesurf Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Some people will go find waves with nobody on them.....and not really care if someone had once surfed them one time.........and love it. Others will come on internet threads and tell everyone else what isn't possible. It is pretty obvious who is who.

    I walked 4 miles down a deserted beach in Mex one time and found an empty river mouth that was pumping insanity ! Someone had probably surfed there once but I was pretty sure I didnt give a kcuf. It's out there . Nice convo from most of you