The Ultimate Guide to Cabo San Lucas Surf

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Cabo San Lucas surf offers a break from the wild party bars of this laid-back Mex town, and some serious quality waves.

Cabo San Lucas surf

Cabo San Lucas surf at a glance

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

The good

  • Variety of beaches and reefs
  • Big swell window
  • Party town!

The bad

  • Gets busy but not in the water
  • A slight lack of surfing in Cabo for beginners
  • A car is needed to make the most of it

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing Mexico

What’s in this guide to Cabo San Lucas surf?

An introduction to Cabo San Lucas surfing

Cabo San Lucas is known as just Cabo for short. In the last couple of decades, it’s become something of a byword for vacation vibes on the Mexican Pacific. Spring breakers and celebs alike flock down to the town at the tip of the Baja California. They come to get lose in the tequila bars, shop in open-air malls, and bronze those bodies on the beaches. Cabo doesn’t dissapoint.

Cabo San Lucas also happens to cap off a region that’s pretty darn awesome on the surfing front. Just look at the map – it’s basically a continuation of Southern California, after all! The Cabo San Lucas surf you’ll be able to reach from the town itself spans about 40 miles to the north of the headland’s southernmost tip. That starts with some mixed reef and beach spots that get heavy on direct northern swells like the top end of the Golden State. Then come a series of shapely right handers off the points of the desert. Finally, you get the Cabo San Lucas surf that spans the Hotel Corridor and the southern areas, which benefits from a huge swell window and proximity to the resort.

Thanks to decades of largely US-based surfers chugging down this way on road trips, secret spots are now virtually non existent in Cabo. You can thin out the line up if you’re willing to drive on some sketchy backroads further north. That said, we kinda’ prefer the vibes around the town, which are rarely spoilt by bad mojo. The other great thing about Caba San Lucas surf is that it lets you fling off the wetsuit. You might need one in midwinter in some places but it’s rash vests and boardies for much of the year.

Where is Cabo San Lucas?

Cabo at Land's End

Most American travelers will have a decent idea about where to find Cabo San Lucas – they’ve been heading there for R&R for some decades now! If not, it’s easy. Just look to the long, thing Baja California Peninsula. It’s that finger of land that juts out of SoCal past the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Cabo San Lucas is right at the far south tip of it. Don’t go thinking that’s an easy drive from the US-Mex border. It’s not. It can take over 22 hours to complete!

A guide to the Cabo San Lucas surf spots

The sheer variety of the Cabo San Lucas surfing is what’s kept folk coming back to this part of Mexico for so long. We have to say, there’s something great about being able to pick where you want to head each morning. That means having your own wheels is a good idea, because some of these breaks are 40 mins+ from the town itself. We’ll start with the spots that are farthest away in the north and move around the headland to the east.

Todos Santos

Don’t confuse this one with the other Baja break on the Isla de Todos Santos. That’s a much heavier prospect (an XXL tow-out, in fact). Here, just 76 clicks up the lovely desert coast road of the Baja California Sur, you can find a real mix of breaks.

Experienced riders are sure to love the exposed reef at La Pastora. When it’s working, that can roll into very fast barrels on low tide. Look right and get position well and you’ll be pitted and spitted before you can shout Baja. A little to the south are the more practicy waves of Playa San Pedro, which is also stunning!

Pescadero

It’s all reef at Pescadero and the access is pretty poor. That’s why the line up is usually locals and clued up American travelers on their umpteenth Baja surf trip. The reward for going off grid is a spot that picks up pretty much all the swell angles on offer, apart from straight south. When it’s right (NNW is best) it’s a chocolate box of A-frames. Rocks and urchins are the problem, so booties are a must.

Cerritos

On the hunt for surfing in Cabo for beginners? Cerritos is certainly up there with the best spots. It’s a wide expanse of a bay that has some approachable whitewash all the way from south to north. That’s favoured by the Cabo surf schools, who will often make the 45-min drive up to have sessions on the breakers. To the north end of the strand is Cerritos point. That’s a lovely right-hander that harnesses NW swells to give arguably the best log wave in the region. It can get big in winter, which also causes it to fatten out and become rippable on a shorty.

Migrino

Thanks to its west-coast location, Migrino enjoys a wide 180-degree swell window that keeps it in action from summer to winter. It’s also one of the closest breaks to the resort (20 mins in the car) on the Cabo San Lucas surf line up, so the crowds will make an exodus if it’s smaller to the south. Wave wise, you’re looking at a few peaks along the sand. However, the piece de resistance is the right hander at the point, which has some good moxie when it’s rolling.

Monuments

The only real spot to surf in Cabo San Lucas town is Monuments. It’s not the surfing in Cabo for beginners, either, because we’re talking a speedy left that’s a joy for seasoned goofies. The wave breaks on the point at the end of the main beach and closes fast, so you’ll need to pump the back foot to get on the shoulder. When you catch it, it’s zippy and heart-thumping. When you don’t, just pray the urchins don’t get you!


Bahia Chileno

Approximately midway up the Hotel Corrido from Cabo downtown is this relatively hidden spot. It’s patchy reef and sand, so pack the booties to feel safe. Waves are shallow on the incline, which means it’s a lovely longboarders or intermediate shortie’s spot. Fantastic for practicing turns off the lip, with lots of forgiving drops that won’t rag-doll you around. Works best on SW swells with an offshore northerly and heights of about six foot.

Costa Azul

Most of the locals will check Costa Azul first. That’s because it’s probably the best break on the whole of the Cabo San Lucas surf scene. When the summer swells start cooking from the south, there’s no better place to be than this breezy right. For us, it mimics the Moroccan star of Boilers but without the extra punch. Rippable, wally, fun. That’s it. Downsides are that it’s one of the few Baja spots that suffers from consistent localism.

El Tule

A hidden beach just below the flyovers of the main freeways that go from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo, this one’s a popular spot for more advanced surfers. It’s a two directional beach-reef break with some good speed credentials. Hard to get in the water without boots.

Shipwrecks

Shipwrecks is one of the last Los Cabo surf spots you can rely on to get rolling on normal ocean swells. That’s because it’s tucked a little into the mouth of the Sea of Cortez. That mean good protection from summer onshores but less flow-in W and NW sets. Still, it works beautifully between 5-9 feet, offering a cruisy point with a big shoulder to play on.

Shipwrecks is the name of just one break, but the area here actually has nearly 10. They all work on the same swell angle so it’s one or none, sadly. There’s also a playa beach break that can get hollow but dumps on shallow at high tide.

What we’d take on a surf trip to Cabo…

WEAR (men) Vissla 7 Seas 4​/3 Chest Zip Wetsuit | The Vissla 7 Seas is a doozy of a suit. It’s ultra flexy and stretchy, which we love in Cabo cos’ that makes it easy to whack on and off when you move from break to break. 4/3 is all you’ll need to carry through the winter months. Go thinner – like a 3/2 – if you’re coming in summer.

WEAR (women): Sisstrevolution 3​/2 7 Seas Back Zip Wetsuit | We’ve been super impressed by the tech and the flwex of the __ suits in the latest seasons. We also love the minimal look with the centered logo. 3/2 is good for warmer months on the Baja, but crank it to 4/3 in the winter.

BOARD: Lib Tech Nude Bowl Surfboard | One of the most versatile shortboards we know, the Nude Bowl has extra volume to ease the paddle out, balanced out by a high-performance nose, and a low rail for speed. It’s like the dream versatile board – perfect for long-haul surf trips and capable of cutting up all the breaks on the Baja and in the Sea of Cortez.

CARRY: Dakine John John Florence Mission Surfboard Bag | Eek! We hate flying with our precious quiver. This JJF board bag has some of the best padding you could hope for.

Where to stay when surfing in Cabo San Lucas

We’d say the best surf camp Cabo San Lucas has to offer sits up the Hotel Corridor where the rights of the Sea of Cortez get pumping. Basically, you’re going to wave goodbye to the party hotels in the resort if you want to be close to the breaks. That’s what we’ve focussed on here…

Hotels in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo Surf Hotel ($$-$$$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

Cabo Surf Hotel takes what you want from a surf camp in Cabo San Lucas and puts it on a whole new level. Seriously, this is one of our personal favorite surf hotels in the whole of Mexico. Uber-cool rooms done in whitewash with stunning bedspreads and balconies open straight onto the Costa Azul break. You’ll ride endless rights and return to an al fresco hot tub by the Pacific Ocean.

Surf Hostel Cabo “The Riptide” ($)

Best for: Affordability and making line-up buddies

Surf Hostel Cabo “The Riptide” sits the historic town of San Jose del Cabo, close to the airport but further from the main town of Cabo San Lucas. Honestly, it’s a cracking place if you came here to surf and not drink tequila to sunup. Right points and beach breaks like Shipwrecks are just up the coast. What’s more, the hostel is affordable and fun, with a shared lounge where you’re sure to meet new surf pals.

Cerritos Surf Town Beach Front Hotel ($$)

Best for: Being in Cerritos – a great all-level surf spot

Cerritos Surf Town Beach Front Hotel keeps things simple for surfers on the Baja’s southern end. You get a comfy – even luxurious – room that’s right on the beachfront at Cerritos. That’s perfect for all levels of surfer, and has good consistency. There are board rentals right on site, along with a pool and sunning area where you can sip a margarita and watch the sunset. Lovely.

When to surf in Cabo San Lucas

In a land where the surf spots spread along the south coast and the west coast, you can look forward to a pretty wide swell window. There’s almost always something worth waxing the board for in these parts. To make the most of it all, we’d recommend a car hire. Alternatively, plan your trip for when the swell should work in your favor.

Cabo town and surroundings

Summer (June-August)

This is prime time to hit the Cabo San Lucas surf. The engines of the S-SW swell system turn on and you’ll catch the Sea of Cortez spots around Cota Azul working a charm. It’s a little harder for the west coast spots of Cerritos et al, but they are swell magnets so there are good waves there too.

Winter (November-March)

Winter is the time of the north swells and the north winds in the Baja. Those are ideal for much of the Pacific-side breaks, like Todos Santos and Cerritos. Things can be big and daunting, though, so surfing in Cabo for beginners might be out of the equation a lot of the days – just be sure to check the forecast. Further north, the water can get chilly, so you might want to pack that 3/2 and the boots. Other problems include the fact that it’s high season – the hotels will be pricy.

Fall (September & October)

The SW swells of the summer start to drop away and the action shifts into the west and NW channel. That’s fine, though, and there are nice groundswell surges pumping from Todos Santos southwards. Also good is the drop in traveler numbers. This is shoulder season, so expect good rates in the hotels. The main downside comes with the chance of cyclones. They’ll smash up any surf but can work well on the spots further into the Sea of Cortez.

Spring (April & May)

As US travelers leave the Baja to return home after their snowbird vacays, the hotels get more affordable in this part of Mexico. Sadly, the swells, like the resorts, also quieten down. We’d recommend waiting until the end of the spring for a surf trip to Cabo San Lucas. You might be in time to catch some nice S-SW pulses then if you’re lucky.

Surf shops in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo doesn’t have too many surf schools, but there are enough to keep you stocked up on your trip…

Line Up

A surf school and a surf shop, Line Up is a well-known name on the Cabo San Lucas surf scene. They do rentals and a range of surf wear, including rash vest, bikinis, surf fashion and hats.

Costa Azul Surf Shop

Conveniently located just above the rights of Costa Azul, this shop has a range of board lengths on its rail. They also do rentals and a nice range of locally made and locally designed surf wear that’s emblazoned with the Mexican flag.

Best places to eat in Cabo San Lucas

From chic French bistros to hearty taco stands, Cabo has it all. You won’t go hungry for waves or great food. Trust us…

Tacos Marissa ($)

Up on the hill above the Marina is this traditional Mexican taqueria. The meat fillings are stunning but you also get a whole salad bar of jalapenos and habaneros. This is the sort of thing that you’re supposed to eat south of the border!

Comal ($$$)

Comal is a trendy spot that turns dining in Cabo into a full-on luxury experience. It serves a fusion of local Baja ingredients and international dishes in a super nice space above Chileno Bay near El Tule and Costa Azul.

Freesouls Cerritos Restaurant ($$)

Freesouls Cerritos Restaurant is a great dining choice if you’re basing our Cabo surf trip up in Cerritos Beach. Healthy salads infused with fresh Pacific seafood join pizzas and French crepes on the menu. There’s also a nice rooftop terrace with views of the sea.

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas surf trips don’t have to end when the waves are over. There are loads of things to do in this buzzing Baja town. We’ve listed some below, but there are plenty, plenty more besides

Lands End at Cabo San Lucas

Visit Land’s End

Surfers are sure to be entertained on a trip to Land’s End. It’s marked by rugged cliffs and huge arches of stone, which showcase the point where the Baja terminates at the Pacific Ocean. Stunning stuff. Charge the camera. Come for sunset!

Party

Cabo is a party town at heart. From the Marina to the center, there are more pulsing spring-break bars here than you could possibly get through in one surf trip. Mango Deck Beach Club and Cabo Wabo are two of the most legendary – and fun!

How to get to Cabo San Lucas

  • Fly: The fastest way to Cabo San Lucas is via the airport in San Jose del Cabo. Oodles of international carriers and budget American carriers make the trip there because this is such a darn popular spot. Even better than that, most of the area’s best surf breaks – Costa Azul, Tule, Shipwrecks – are closer to the airport than they are to the resort.
  • Drive: Driving down to Cabo is something of a rite of passage for many Californian surfers. It’s no mean feat, taking at least 22 hours on the road from the border. It can be a real adventure, cruising all the way through the desert on MX1. The other bonus with driving is that you’ll have your own wheels when you arrive, which we can’t recommend enough – the breaks are a little spread out from east to west.

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Mexico

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