Do you like to play sports while traveling? While sightseeing can be fun, world class sports destinations are even better. I personally love traveling to exotic surfing destinations, which can be found throughout the Hispanic world. In the past, surfing was restricted to Australia, California, and Hawaii. Currently, once unsurfable places like Canada can be surfed due to technological advances. While many Hispanic countries offer surfing, Peru, Spain, Costa Rica, and Mexico have world class surf within their borders.
Ah Peru, the land of the Incas and awesome lefts. Peru has a special place in the surfing world and some scholars believe that surfing originated here. While common lore states Hawaii as the birthplace of surfing, numerous native tribes have been surfing since 1000 B.C. These natives used rafts made of reed-like material to surf the waves. Currently, many areas in Peru pay homage to their roots by surfing with these rafts.
Besides having a rich surf history, Peru has numerous left point breaks including Chicama, Herradura, and Lobitos. Its most famous point break is Chicama and is said to be the longest left in the world. Chicama’s waves can break for as long as two miles, and include many sections. Peru isn’t tropical but water temps are manageable. In the summer, which is the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures hover in the 60’s and 70’s, while the winter months drop into the 50’s. The water is warmer in the north than in the south, due to the Humboldt Current.
Spain borders 2 oceans and a large sea, so there must be some good surf over there. Luckily, there are many surf breaks such as Zarautz, El Palmar, and Mundaka. Mundaka is Spain’s, if not Europe’s best wave and is located in the Basque country. Mundaka is a sand bottom left point break that not only includes awesome surf, but cool scenery of a medieval village. Many of Spain’s best waves are located in Basque Country, located in the Northeast. The water temps in this region can range from upper 60’s in the summer and can dip into the low 50’s during the winter. Also, Mundaka is generally flat during the summer and prefers Northwest swells which occur during the fall and winter.
In addition to its Mainland, Spain has sovereignty over many islands including the Canary Islands. The canary islands are an overlooked surfing destination and have been called the “Hawaii of Europe.” These islands are volcanic and boast many premier breaks including Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. However, these waves are very powerful and you should know your limits before paddling out.
What good would this list be if Costa Rica were excluded? The land of “Pura Vida”, or pure life is famous for its surf culture. Surfing is practiced in the northern, central, Caribbean and southern regions in the country. However, most famous surf breaks such as Witches’ Rock and Ollie’s Point are located in the northern region. This northern region has tropical weather and the water temperatures range from the mid 70’s to the low 80’s. Due to its proximity to Lake Nicaragua, the waves are blessed by offshore wind. This region boasts a variety of breaks from right point breaks (i.e Ollies Point) to beach breaks (Playa Grande) with everything in between.
Costa Rica’s best wave is located in the southern region and is called Pavones. Pavones is a long left point break located in the remote Golfo Dulce. Pavones is a world class wave, but it’s harder to access than the northern region.
Mexico is one of the largest Hispanic countries and has the most Spanish Speakers in the world. Mexico’s terrain varies from desert in the north to tropical in the south, with both regions having high class surf. One famous surfing area is Puerto Escondido, located on the Pacific Coast of mainland Mexico. Puerto Escondido has been called the “Mexican Pipeline”, due to its large surf. A large offshore underwater canyon significantly amplifies the waves at Puerto Escondido with surf rarely dropping below 4 feet. In addition, there are many types of waves around Puerto Escondido including La Punta, a high quality point break.
Mexico’s Baja Coast has many high quality waves located near the US border all the way down to Cabo San Lucas. Baja has a variety of beach breaks, reef breaks and point breaks, but it’s known for Scorpion Bay. Scorpion Bay is a series of right point breaks that are located approximately in the middle of the peninsula. On the right swell, you could ride a wave for more than a minute. Some other famous right point breaks include K-38 and Las Gaviotas close to the US Border. These waves aren’t as long as Scorpion bay, but they are high quality waves that are easy to access.
Traveling to world class athletic areas can be very fun. Surfing has spread throughout the world and many Hispanic Countries have premier surf breaks on their shorelines. Many Hispanic countries have great surf, but Peru, Spain, Costa Rica, and Mexico stand out among them. Have you surfed epic waves in one of these countries? Please share below!