by Bill Cooksey
The state of Guerrero is home to a plethora of surf, the variety of different types of surf the area has to offer is beyond compare in Mexico! Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is located right in the middle of your surf choices. One can venture both north and south from the center and find all types of surf. Guerrero offers several left point breaks, each with it’s own unique type of wave, a variety of rock/reef surf spots, rivermouths, and beachbreaks. It would be impossible to explore all of the surf spots in the area in one article so I intend on devoting each month to a different area.
Let’s start with the central location, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. In this area alone a surfer can find a number of choices to fit both his abilities and the conditions. Without a doubt, the best wave in the area is an elusive left pointbreak located on the south side of the Zihuatanejo bay called Las Gatas. This wave needs a big south, southwest or westerly swell to break so if we catch it good six times a year we are happy. This pass summer (south swell time) was good for Las Gatas, it showed it’s true colors around ten times! The wave comes in out of deep water with plenty of power and hit’s the shallow rock/coral reef along the south shore of Las Gatas. It immediately becomes very steep, requiring a free fall drop to a hollow wave. If you make the drop you will find yourself facing a juicy and hollow section. Goofy footers (a surfer who faces left) can set himself up for a deep tube ride, very makeable, once he is blasted out of the tube the wave backs off in intensity giving the surfer a chance to position himself for the inside section. The inside section is very unique, the wave breaks over a man made rock ridge that was placed there historically to protect the princess from the perils of the ocean. All of a sudden the wave becomes very fast, hollow and exciting. If the surfer makes it that far he starts to see the rock ruins boiling under him and the bottom becomes extremely shallow. It is here that a decision needs to be made and made fast, do I kick out now or push it a little farther, either way you are in for a great ride. Once the surfer kicks out he finds himself wondering what happened, it was like running a hundred-yard dash, a very gratifying wave but not recommended for beginners.
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Since the wave breaks so few times a year it can become very crowded. The locals rule the wave but a visitor can catch his far share if he remains patient and keeps his cool. There are tricks, if it is real crowded stay inside, pick off the waves the group outside either missed or did not want, the beauty off this wave is it will break good all day long, the onshore winds do not effect it like a conventional wave. Stay calm, surf inside and eventually the outside bowl will open a slot for you. Another trick is to dawn patrol it, be the first out, you will get an hour or two with less crowds. One seems to get a few more waves after you have shook the hand of the tiger! That is what the locals call it when you get raked across the sharp rock and coral, it happens to everyone who surfs there enough including yours truly. If you get it in the face or head they say you where kissed by the tiger. It sounds bad but the wave is worth it.
The next wave in this area is located on the beach of Ixtapa, walk to the north end of the beach by the marina. This wave is called Escollares. It breaks off of a rock jetty built to protect the marina. This wave is a very hollow wave, it is one of the few right handers in the area, short but very sweet. This wave can close out on south swells, it likes a westerly to northwesterly swell direction. When it is right, it can offer a makeable tube ride, short but intense and has been know to break a few boards. Once again, it can get crowded with both board riders and boogie boarders. Not for the feint of heart, beginners beware!
Further to the north you will find Playa Linda. It is a long beach but if you go to the end of the road and park in the last parking area you will see to your right a river mouth. It is here that the waves will be found. South swells do not do well here, Ixtapa Island is due south of the beach and prevents a south from hitting directly. The beach is set up better for west to north swells. The wave has many personalities, tide and swell direction play a big part. I have seen the wave hollow and A-framed peeling both left and right. On other days, the left will peel like a pointbreak, long and playful. Playa Linda is a nice beach to spend the day, it is user friendly providing beach lovers with a sandy beach and a clean river to swim in during the dry season. In the rainy season the river can get muddy and surfers should beware of bacteria washing down the river at the start of the rains. This spot can be fun for both beginners and advanced surfers. If you are here visiting definitely surf it at least once!
Another spot that comes to mind is Barra De Potosi. A very elusive wave, it only breaks when most of the other spots are closed out. It needs a huge swell to break. The wave can be fun, peeling down the coast mechanically. It is rare when it breaks, if you do get a chance to surf it consider yourself lucky!
The waves discussed in this article do not cover all the choices in the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo area but they are the main surfspots. There are several beach breaks in the area that can be fun depending on swell directions, tides etc. The object is to have fun, remember to respect the ocean, the surfspot and the locals, most local surfers work for a living so when the surf is good they are just as wave hungry as the rest of us. Don’t worry, your in the right place, IXTAPA/ZIHUATANEJO IS A SURF MACHINE!
Bill Cooksey, is a Texas born surfer with 40 years experience. His first trip to Mexico was in 1966 and he has been coming to Mexico ever since. He has surfed the north shore of Hawaii, all of the Central American countries, California and the East Coast. He owns and operates JAGUAR TOURS in Troncones ( just twenty-five minutes from Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo) where he conducts zip-line and cave tours daily, www.jaguartours.net. With 20 years experience teaching surf lessons, he still loves to surf and has no intention of stopping. You can reach him at Jaguar Tours in Troncones, (755) 553-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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