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Stormrider Guide to surfing West Guerrero


, Paul Farraris


+ Long surf season - No standout thruster wave
+ Saladita longboard heaven - Expensive resorts
+ Surf breaks galore - Bandidos at work
+ Good weather - Rainy season, hurricane risk

Guerrero catapulted Mexico onto the world tourism stage with the 1940’s development of Acapulco, still the number one tourist destination in the country today. Surfing began in the extremely mountainous state in the 1960’s, then ‘70s surf explorers Naughton and Peterson unveiled Petacalco, an insane, world-class grinding, sand-churning right barrel, in a land of mellow lefts. West Guerrero is chock-full of thumping beachbreak and a fair number of points and reef/sand combos.

When to Go

Guerrero works year-round with the biggest S swells arriving between April and October. Huge rideable surf is not a common occurrence Ð offshore hurricanes will produce two days of pounding surf up to 10ft, or messy, huge and rainy conditions if it gets too close but between November and March wave heights drop a notch Ð usually waist to headhigh. W-NW winds prevail all year, only July to September sees some regular SE winds. Expect offshore/calm wind in the morning before an afternoon seabreeze comes in. Tidal range hardly ever goes over 0.6m.

Surf Spots

The long port expansion at L‡zaro C‡rdenas turned Petacalco into an ugly close-out, but it has recently risen from the ashes and is now rideable on huge NW swells, or due S. Always powerful at any size, but the sandbar shape is crucial and close-outs are the rule. This polluted industrial city receives some thumping surf along a dozen jetties and El Faro is the most commonly surfed spot. No longer secret, The Ranch attracts experienced surfers staying in nearby resorts, who regularly drive or boat in to enjoy very consistent, long, sectiony, lip-bashing lefts, plus some rights and a rivermouth on the other side of the headland. Longboarders will prefer La Saladita, a soft-breaking lefthand pointbreak where rides over a minute long are not unusual. The left pointbreak at Manzanillo packs much more power, with steep drops and long, full speed sections, before shouldering off. Overhead days are safer as the wave breaks further away from the urchin-covered rocks. This is a surf rich area, with other points and a rivermouth as you head north. Troncones is a long stretch of beach marked with rock outcrops that encourage sandbar peaks, but itÕs the moody right reef at the south end that draws the crowds in a moderate SW swell. In Ixtapa, Playa Linda is usually mushy but the rivermouth can produce long left walls as the wave reels into a sandy lagoon. ThereÕs a ferry to Ixtapa Island, where a zipping right barrels over a flat rock ledge on the south coast. Escolleras at Playa del Palmar benefits from currents running along the marina, which sometimes shape a tubular right, but you wonÕt be alone. Las Gatas takes a long walk, paddle, or a boat ride from the municipal pier. The inconsistent left there needs a good amount of S-W swell to break hollow and fast over a sharp reef, dominated by dialed-in locals. Barra de Potos’ is really sheltered from S swells, but once or twice a year a left peels down the point in huge swells. ThereÕs also some average peaks in the rivermouth and a right pointbreak. Loma Bonita is a powerful stretch of beach and reef peaks, throwing out barrels in E winds and W swells at mid tides, plus thereÕs the option of easier waves at La Barrita 2km south. Endless peaks line the coastal highway through Cayucal and further south to the Mirador el Calvario, which may be fun in small swells next to the northern headland. Papanoa is an average beachbreak with fast walls, but tends to close-out. Playa Boca Chica is a consistent beachbreak surfable year-round, and probably your last option before reaching Acapulco. CacaÕs Point is the only surfable spot within the Bay of Acapulco, otherwise thereÕs more surf at Copa Cabana. At the northern end of Revolcadero beach is a big swell right and some beach peaks, rideable when the nearby beachbreaks of Punto Muerto and Playa Princess are closing-out. Playa BonfilÕs consistent sucky beachbreak is directly in front of Acapulco Airport.


dominant swell SW -W S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW SW -W
swell size (ft) 3 4 5 6 5 4
consistency (%) 65 80 85 85 85 65
dominant wind N -NE W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW N -NE
average force F3 F3 F3 F3 F3 F3
consistency (%) 54 66 57 37 41 48
water temp (C) 26 25 26 27 27 26
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Guerrero enjoys 300 sunny days a year and in the winter months, between December and April the daytime temperature hovers around 31¡C (88¡F) with the nights going down 22¡C (72¡F). During this time there is little to no rainfall. The rainy season arrives during summer evenings or nights between late June and mid-October. Water temperature averages 26¡C (79¡F), so no neoprene required.

Lodging and Food
Winter is peak season with top prices. Itxapa is packed with luxury resorts; Zihuatanejo is more accessible with doubles around $40. Troncones area offers plenty of surf-facing accommodations. Try La Chuparosa de Saladita, Casa Delfin Sonriente or the Saladita SC (all fr $70). Enjoy shrimp and fish tacos or tiritas (fish & onions).

Nature and Culture
Explore the cave in Troncones. Fish and hike in the surrounding area. In Zihuatanejo check out the central market and walk over to the lighthouse (El Faro) from Las Gatas. Ixtapa is a modern resort with many nightclubs (Christine Club). Take a trip to the colonial town of Petatl‡n.