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Stormrider Guide to surfing Nayarit


Las Islitas, John Callahan


+ Surfable year-round - Lack of "Mexican Juice"
+ Top longboard/SUP spots - Restricted access spots
+ Surf schools, camps and boats - Some sharky locations
+ Resorts option - Rainy peak surf season

Mostly undeveloped, the scenic coastline of Nayarit has attracted hardcore surfers since the late ‘60s, hoping to score Matanchen Bay, known as being the longest right in the world. But things have changed with the fast rise of Puerto Vallarta, once a tiny fishing village in the neighbouring state of Jalisco, now attracting 4-5 million tourists each year.

When to Go

Winter (Nov-Mar) is when W-NW swells wrap into Banderas Bay, losing some size but cleaning-up with the northerly offshores. Occasional W swells will provide the biggest conditions on most spots. March and April are usually windy, before summer pushes in long period S-SW swells in the 4-8ft range, the perfect direction for the northern lefthand breaks. Winter N winds progressively shift W-NW for summer. Semi-diurnal odd tidal range hovers around 1m (1.6m max).

Surf Spots

The remote offshore Isla Maria Cleofas has nice offshore peaks at Hammerhead accessed via surf charters leaving from Nuevo Vallarta. The banks of Los Corchos are powerless, but the peaks can get good shape from the river flow. San Blas has poor beachbreak at El Borrego, but paddle the rivermouth to StonerÕs Point, a classic pointbreak that works in all swells and any N wind. More power and hollowness than other breaks, itÕs a consistent spot but hard to get to. Las Islitas is one of the longest waves in the world, with cover-up to cutback symmetry as the wall speeds up and slows down on the long journey down the point. It hardly ever breaks and only a huge S swell will do, along with a very long board. There are peaks right around Matanchen Bay for almost any wind direction and there is generally a good vibe in the water. The pointbreak lefts at Aticama are much more consistent in S-SW pulses and of excellent quality, but being so close to a fishery thereÕs plenty of sharks drawn to the area. Santa Cruz needs a sizeable pure S or SW swell to get the left pointbreak peeling over the boulders beside the jungle cloaked cliff, otherwise check the sharky, polluted rivermouth if itÕs too small. Take a boat from Chacala to the rocky, urchin-infested lefts of La Caleta or Lolas especially in W swells. Gets crowded and a bit aggro, but the line-up has a few take-off spots. San Pancho is a fast lefthander off the point and sucky peak in front of the river that can hold some size and gets hollow around low tide. Ostiones is accessible by sea or land (long walk) and the lefts are worth checking on a big SW swell. The surf town of Punta Sayulita is ideally suited to beginners and longboarders. Rights off the point are slow and predictable for the surf school hordes, while the lefts at the rivermouth are steeper and faster. Punta Mita access is thoroughly guarded and requires a long paddle or a boat to these fast rights that need W in the swell. Well exposed to all swells, The Cove is a fast, sectiony right that lines up best in NW. Sensitive to wind and gets sucky at lower tides. The long workable rights of El Faro are the best in the bay when a W swell spokes around the point. Lower tides and N winds make for long rides through the multiple sections into the protection of the bay. Anclote beach has beginner beachies beside the rivermouth jetty and a righthand reefbreak to the west. Costa Banderas set-up favours rights and La Lancha, Punta Burros, Pools and Destiladeras are all worthy spots. Puerto Vallarta only works on big days when the beaches at el Tizate and the Holiday Inn in the hotel zone are pumping. Take a panga water taxi to Quimixto, a popular local beachbreak and rivermouth facing north.


dominant swell W -NW SW -NW S -W S -W S -W SW -NW
swell size (ft) 3 3-4 4 5 4-5 3-4
consistency (%) 65 75 80 80 80 65
dominant wind NW -N W -N W -NW W -NW W -N NW -NE
average force F3-F4 F3 F3-F4 F3 F3 F3
consistency (%) 71 86 73 49 60 82
water temp (C) 23 23 25 28 28 26
wetsuit springsuit springsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Abundant rains and humidity in the summer, mixed with intense sunshine, regularly take temperatures beyond 30°C (86°F). The mountains generate cooler breezes at night, making the climate more bearable than further south. Winter sees daytime temperatures around 27°C (80°F), but nights get cooler, down to 15°C (59°F). Hurricanes usually stay out at sea, tracking W-NW towards Hawaii or Baja. Water temps range from 22-28°C (73-82°F) so a spring suit is advisable.

Lodging and Food
Resorts are plentiful in San Blas and PV. In Sayulita try Bungalows Las Gaviotas ($60) or Las Olas all women surfcamp ($2850/week). Viva Vallarta resort faces Punta del Burro, Punta de Mita’s Meson de Mita is $60/dble. A $10 dinner lets you sample tasty specialties.

Nature and Culture
Sayulita is a laid-back city. San Blas is Nayarit’s tourism centre and starting point for jungle river boating to La Tovara springs. Check out remote beaches, or snorkel/dive around Islas Marietas. Along the Malecón (downtown PV), a strip of restaurants, bars and clubs will provide all night entertainment.