Wyatt Miller reveals winging excellence in Mexico
Baja California, Mexico is a 1,280 kilometre long peninsula off the Mexican mainland connected to San Diego California, USA. Both the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean sides of the peninsula offer incredible winging spots. You will find rolling swell and bump and jump conditions with warm water on the Sea of Cortez coast, while the Pacific side offers great wave breaks with a cooler water temp. Though there are arguably hundreds of great surfing and winging sites along both coasts of Baja California, there are really only three locations with rental gear for wingers, kiters and windsurfers, so I'm going to focus on those as they're also locations where you can find guidance on the spots from experienced local businesses.
PUNTA SAN CARLOS
400 kilometres south of the US border on the Pacific side is the famous wave spot, Punta San Carlos. SEASON: The windy / wavy season runs from April through October.
WHY IT’S EPIC FOR WINGING 1. Sideoffshore wind makes it incredibly easy to get back up to the peak of the wave after a ride, and keeps the wing out of your way when luffing down the face. 2. Although the waves can get big on some days, the wave is also very slow, crumbly and gentle. It is easy to stay out in front of the peak and, if you do get rinsed, the wave tends not to hold you down in a prolonged rinse cycle. CONDITIONS Consistent 20-30 knot cross offshore wind. The waves are protected by an island upwind that leaves the wave face clean even when it is howling windy. It is a south facing beach so you want to go for a south swell that will produce slow sectioning waves from 1-2km long. North swell is also ridable but tends to close out more.
GETTING THERE There are only two ways to get there. 1. Drive in camping – take a 60 kilometre drive off the highway on a rough dirt road. You will need to bring everything for your stay as there are no public services there, only pit toilets. 2. Book a trip with Solosports Adventure Holidays (www.solosports.net) where they have a surf camp set-up at the location and take care of everything. All your meals, drinks, tents, showers, wing, kite, bike and windsurf gear are taken care of. You fly into San Diego, California and then they load you into a small Cesna airplane for the two hour flight down to their private airstrip right next to the water. TEMPERATURE Spring into early summer can be a bit cold, so you will want a 4/3mm wetsuit and pants and jacket for cool evenings. From August into October the water can warm up significantly and a 3/2mm will be plenty along with boardshorts at night. ACTIVITIES Great mountain biking and hiking trails.
Towards the tip of the Baja Peninsula on the Sea of Cortez side is the windsports mecca of La Ventana, boasting warm water and sideshore wind along a massive L-shaped beach that acts as a catcher’s mitt for downwind drifters. You could ride 15 kilometres out and still have a nice white sand beach downwind of you. SEASON: The windy season runs from November through April.
There is only one paved road in town that dead ends into a beach where hot springs bubble up at the water's edge. The road is dotted with a selection of small resorts and 15-20 restaurants with beach access every 400 metres. The town has around 2,000 local residents with an additional 3,000 windsports enthusiasts in the winter months. On busy days you might count 300 people on the water along the 15 kilometres of beach. WHY IT'S EPIC FOR WINGING The safety net of the L-shaped beach is great for beginners. 15 kilometres of sideshore wind along a sandy beach makes for epic downwinders. Big rolling swell on the outside that breaks on sandbars creates fun, playful waves over a sandy bottom. Finally, the thermal wind is incredibly consistent all winter long. CONDITIONS La Ventana has a steady thermal wind that is accelerated by the venturi effect created by a 17 kilometre long island located just offshore. The thermal wind blows 15-25 knots most days from noon to 5pm. The famed El Norte winds which blow down the whole 1,300 kilometre fetch of the Sea of Cortez build bus-sized rolling swell and are a winger's dream. These El Norte winds blow day and night for 2-5 nights at a time and occur 2-3 times per month in the windy season. La Ventana is known for its downwinders and the big swells make them especially exciting.
GETTING THERE You can fly into San Jose del Cabo (SJD) and either rent a car or book a ride on one of the shuttle services running out of La Ventana for the two hour drive along the coast. There are also flights into the nearby city of La Paz (LAP) which is only 40 minutes away. Find flights from many major European cities running to both airports after a stop in Mexico City. TEMPERATURE The water temperature is 23-26°C / 73-79°F and most people are in either shorties or just 3/2mm full suits. T-shirt and shorts weather prevails by day, but in the mid-winter months you will want sweatshirts for the cool evenings. ACTIVITIES Hot Springs, 300 kilometre network of MTB trails, quad rentals, sportsfishing, scuba, snorkelling with whale sharks, donkey rides into the mountains and plenty of small bars with live music. RESORTS WITH RENTALS AND LESSONS Pro-Windsurf La Ventana Baja Joes Ventana Windsports
An hour north of the San Jose del Cabo airport on the Sea of Cortez is the sportsfishing hot spot of Los Barriles. A steep drop-off with depths of over 150 metres starts just 20 metre from shore and brings in a great array of sea life, with whale watching opportunities sometimes possible from shore. This depth also increases the size of the swell, providing for long fast glides. SEASON: The windy season runs from November through April.
Los Barriles was discovered by windsports enthusiasts before La Ventana and is more developed with larger resorts and a longstanding Vela Windsports Center. There are plenty of bars and restaurants, quad and MTB rentals and sportsfishing. Los Barriles is less crowded than La Ventana with less than 100 people on the water on the busiest days. WHY IT'S EPIC FOR WINGING Big, steep rolling swells close to shore make for epic downwind runs where you can easily connect from swell to swell. CONDITIONS Big, open ocean rolling swell with 15-25 knot wind. The thermal winds tend to be less strong than La Ventana, but the El Norte weather systems can hit Los Barriles harder as it sticks out further east in the Sea of Cortez.
GETTING THERE You can fly into San Jose del Cabo (SJD) and either rent a car or book a ride on one of the shuttle services for the one hour drive along the coast. Find flights from many major European cities after a stop in Mexico City. TEMPERATURE Water temp is 23-26°C / 73-79°F and most people are in either shorty wetsuits or 3/2mm. T-shirt and shorts weather prevails by day, but in the mid-winter months you will want sweatshirts for cool evenings. ACTIVITIES Quad rentals, MTB trails, sportsfishing, zip lines and plenty of small bars with live music. RESORTS WITH RENTALS AND LESSONS Vela Baja Exotikite Buena Vista Kiteboarding
FIND MORE SPOTS IN THE KITEWORLD TRAVEL GUIDE Updated reports for spots that are open for the summer complete with Covid protocol guidance for the UK, Europe, The Americas and the Caribbean. Open the magazine here.