There are many reasons why Mexico’s Pacific coast is one of the most beloved destinations among surfers. Not only does this wild stretch serve up stunning sunset-facing beaches with incredible waves, but it’s also home to many surf towns that cater to intrepid wave chasers with low rates for board rentals, ice-cold beers, and the best post-session tacos you’ll ever have.
While some cities on the coast have emerged as surfing meccas, many of Mexico’s best surf spots are still hard to reach and range in size and budget. Some destinations cater to luxury travelers with large-scale resorts, while others will point you to a point on the beach to pitch your tent. When the lineup in the big coastal cities like Puerto Vallarta and Salina Cruz gets crowded, it’s worth making your way to one of these amazing Mexico surf towns, where the population is small and the vibes are muy buenas.
Punta de Mita, Nayarit
North of Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita is the striking peninsula that marks the northern border of the Bay of Banderas. While luxury resorts like the Four Seasons and St. Regis sprawl along the lush green coastline, there’s also a small town, Punta de Mita, where budget travelers can find hostels and more affordable hotels along El Anclote Beach. You’ll need a car to explore all the best surf spots, but if you’re staying at a large resort, it’s easy to arrange lessons and transportation to the best nearby breaks like La Lancha and Punta Burros. One more budget-friendly alternative to the grand resorts is to rent an apartment at the Punta Mita Surf Lodge, where you can also arrange lessons and tours.
About an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is a small fishing village that has attracted hippies and surfers since the 1960s — and its countercultural spirit still carries on today. Along the narrow cobblestone streets are hostels, yoga studios, and more vegan restaurants than you would expect for such a small town. The main beach break is popular with beginners, but advanced and intermediate surfers can explore the many nearby breaks if Sayulita gets crowded.
Sayulita is an incredibly budget-friendly destination, especially when it comes to accommodations. For those who will be getting a little work done between sessions, the co-living hostel Selina has an outpost here. If it’s a luxury getaway you’re after, the Amor Boutique Hotel has oceanfront villas with personal infinity plunge pools.
San Pancho, Nayarit
Just 15 minutes north of Sayulita, San Pancho is another surf town growing in popularity. It offers even smaller small-town vibes than Sayulita and a beach break ideal for intermediate and advanced surfers. Although the waves are not ideal for beginners, many surf schools like Wildmex provide shuttles from San Pancho to Playa La Lancha. Even if you’re not ready for the San Pancho surf, the town is still worth a visit, packing in many lovely restaurants, cafes, and art galleries along the busy main street that leads to the beach.
It’s generally a much more affordable surf town for Nayarit, and its position on the coast guarantees beautiful sunsets whenever the skies are clear. Accommodation options range from contemporary and comfortable hotels like Ciyé and nature-inspired concepts like Maraica, in addition to many bed-and-breakfasts and hostels that cater to backpacking surfers.
La Ticla, Michoacán
Along the rustic coast of Michoacán, a 90-minute drive from Tecomán, La Ticla is a beach where you’ll find a classic no-frills Mexican surf town surrounded by nature. With golden beaches filled with palm and papaya trees, it’s a beautiful place to lay out in the sun, and surfers will find thrilling waves to tackle, especially in the summer when conditions are best.
The town is very small and offers extremely limited accommodations and no surf schools, which means beginners should have more than a few lessons under their belt before paddling out here. Many surfers opt to bring their own tents and camp on the beach, but basic cabañas are available at Parador Turístico and Cabañas Roga.
A 30-minute drive from Ixtapa in Guerrero, Troncones is a small surfing village that offers a mix of breaks for all levels. Here, you’ll find a range of low-key bungalows as well as sophisticated hotels like Lo Sereno Casa de Playa. With approximately three miles of beach, the waves are suitable for first-timers and pros alike, and the conditions are best between the spring and early fall. The vibe here is all about surfing or relaxing, so you won’t find too much variation in restaurants or entertainment. When you’re not in the water or lounging at a beach club with a cold cerveza in hand, though, you can pop in for a yoga class a the Present Moment Retreat, which is also a hotel and spa.
Even non-surfers should pay a visit to Cuyutlán to see the phenomenon known as La Ola Verde (or the Green Wave). At this beach break, the black sand gives the water a dramatic green hue, but what’s even eerier is that the right swell conditions can occasionally produce 20-foot barrels. If you’re lucky, you may even catch some advanced surfers taking on this big green monster.
While these waves should be left to the pros, you can still stay in town and travel 30 minutes north to the city of Manzanillo for a lesson. When you’re not watching the extreme feats of athletic ability in the waters of Cuyutlán, the town offers much to do, from visiting the salineros at the nearby salt mines and farms to helping some baby turtles make their journey from egg to ocean at the sea turtle education center.
Todos Santos, Baja California
Todos Santos may be emerging as Baja’s new creative and bohemian paradise, approximately 50 miles down the road from Los Cabos, but it’s still a small town at heart and a great place to stay and surf. Beginners can travel 15 minutes to El Pescadero, where the Mario Surf School gives lessons on the easy breaks of Playa Cerritos and intermediates can check out the waves at Playa La Pastora, a wide and empty beach that’s popular with campers. Beware that the waters of Todos Santos are much colder than other surf towns in Mexico, so be prepared to rent a wetsuit.
In Todos Santos, you’ll also have your pick of boutique hotels, including the Todos Santos Inn, and top-notch restaurants like Miguel’s, which promises the best chile rellenos you’ll find in Baja.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Puerto Escondido is a big town known for supplying large waves on the legendary Playa Zicatela. However, it has other central surf spots, like La Punta and Playa Carrizalillo, that make it a great town for beginners and intermediates to hone their skills. The scene here is lively at night and relaxed during the day, with hangouts that range from your standard sleepy palapas to Instagrammable beach clubs like La Principal.
For the surfer that is no stranger to a good time, parties are plentiful in this Mexican surf town, but if you stick to the local residential enclaves, you’ll find that Puerto Escondido is a laid-back surfer’s paradise at heart. It also has its own airport, plus it’s a great launching point for a road trip along the Oaxacan coast.
If Puerto Escondido is too busy for you, travel an hour north to a Mexican surf town that’s so remote, it’s technically in its own time zone. On the far end of the protected Lagunas de Chacahua National Park, only reachable by boat, there’s a small town that offers a wide, empty beach where people come to camp or stay in rustic cabañas. While the surf school will take beginners to the main beach break, there are many other good spots for those who are up for an adventure across the lagoon or out by the rocks. However, if you do need a bit of luxury, check out the bungalows that have popped up down the beach at Casa Tata, a luxury glamping hotel.
Barra de La Cruz, Oaxaca
After surfing took the world stage at the Tokyo Olympics, gold medalists like Carissa Moore and Ítalo Ferreira joined the World Surf League on a trip to Barra de la Cruz. The small village is located in a remote jungle, 45 minutes from the Huatulco International Airport, and slightly inland from the beach. Although Barra de La Cruz does not offer as many surf schools as other towns in Mexico, board rentals are available. You’ll have many accommodation options in the form of charming posadas and large vacation rentals suitable for big groups. Plus, there are many restaurants and bars in town for relaxing after long days in the surf.