The Wild Coast – Baja Sur

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The Surfer’s Guide to Baja describes our current location as a legendary string of point breaks, and during our visit it has lived up to its reputation. Breaking on southerly swells, we found the most consistent surf and the most comfortable climate in Mexico. It’s also the most expensive camping you’ll find in Mexico, with an asking price of $150 pesos per day, per person – that’s over $10 per day. This doesn’t even include a hot shower, which is $50 pesos extra. I never actually experienced one of these four-dollar showers, choosing instead to be “invigorated” by rinsing off with cold water after surfing.

Despite the high camping fee, it’s worth it because the desert weather is warm and sunny, with dry air to keep your surf gear from stinking. With no insects like horseflies or mosquitoes, it’s a welcome change from our last surf camp in the sticky tropical weather and flesh-consuming bugs of Oaxaca. Afternoon offshore winds can crank up and drive dust over the cliffs, but it eventually dies down. Cool evenings are perfect for driftwood bonfires and admiring the moonrise. Mind the occasional tarantula, centipede, scorpion and stingray and you’ll be fine. Other non-threatening wildlife we’ve spotted includes eagles, roadrunners, kangaroo mice, owls, seals, dolphins, pelicans and very tiny lizards.

The town next to the surf spot is a laid-back place with primary and secondary schools, some vacation houses on “gringo hill,” a few little tiendas (stores), a farmacia, a gasolinera and a couple of places you can check email very slowly. The main employment for people here is fishing, construction, and tourism. There is major development planned but right now there is just a campground, a few palapas for rent and some trailers parked around the point. While it appears muy tranquilo to the untrained tourist eye, apparently there is tension (and legal battling) around development plans and rights to seaside land. The cantina at the campground was burned down this summer, with the arsonists giving a two-hour warning for the resident-caretakers to vacate. Rumors abound about what will happen to the land next to the wave. Will the government require the current owners to sell the land back to the ejido? Is it possible to save the site and turn it into a national preserve?

We got a chance to have a few drinks with the mayor and ask his perspective when he visited our neighbors’ campsite. He explained that the locals support development of the tourist industry because it brings jobs and improves quality of life in their town. Some long-term resident gringos, however, don’t want an influx of newer gringos to ruin their little piece of paradise. In any case, he said it will likely be about five years before the planned condominiums are constructed. We suspect it may be a lot longer unless somebody finds a new source of water. Currently all water used at the campsite is trucked in from the well in town.

Not everyone in town plans to line their pockets with Los Cabos-style development in the future. With the tough conditions of survival in the desert, there are some community-development oriented people working on sustainability projects including affordable solar panel construction and community agriculture projects. Look for a post on greening Baja coming soon!

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1 Comment

  1. Raf said,

    January 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Is that Scorpion Bay?


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