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The Best Surf Spots in Baja California

Find more than 2,000 miles of coastline offering perfect waves, fish tacos, and plenty of adventure just south of the border
Casalava at Punta Pequeña at Scorpion Bay surf spot in Baja California
Courtesy of Casalava at Punta Pequeña

Growing up riding the waves of San Diego’s many breaks, I’ve come to appreciate our city’s consistent surf and beautiful beaches—but as summer arrives, so do flocks of tourists, beginners on wavestorms, and other coastal calamities. During these times, I daydream of the surfer’s paradise that lies just below our southern border: Baja California, Mexico. There, untouched reefs and punchy breaks await those that seek them.

And while each San Diego surf spot has a handful of nicknames assigned by locals, Baja surf spots are often identified by the kilometer marker along Highway 1 (K-38, K-42, K-55, and so on), as thousands of waves extend beyond surfers’ dominion. So, grab your board, wax, and pesos, and embark on an adventure to Baja California’s best surf spots. 

Longboard surfer at a Baja California surf spot at sunset or sunrise

Tips for Surfing in Baja California

  • Get car insurance and consider renting a car if your vehicle isn’t equipped with a reliable suspension. If you’re planning on venturing further south, four-by-four drivetrains and wheels of 15-plus inches are highly recommended.
  • Respect the locals in and out of the water, and touch up on your Spanish. Here are a few helpful phrases to know:
    • ola de izquierda: left wave
    • ola de derecho: right wave 
    • boya: kook
    • lo siento: I’m sorry
  • Pack adequate food and water, especially if you’re venturing deep into Baja California Sur. You never know when you’ll pass the last mercado or convenience store.
  • Make photo copies of your passport, ID, and credit cards in case of emergency.
  • Use ATMs at reputable banks in Mexico to get the best exchange rate. ATMs will ask you if you accept their conversion rate. Select “No” and you’ll have the option to use your own bank’s conversion rate, which is typically better.
  • Buy bottled water at the start of your trip. Tap water quality is notoriously unregulated in parts of Mexico, so use caution.
  • Bring sunscreen and a first aid kit.
Baja surf spot called Baja Malibu near Tijuana, Mexico
Courtesy of

Baja California Norte Surf Spots

Baja Malibu 

Malibu without the crowds? Sign me up. Contrary to its name, Baja Malibu isn’t a peeling canvas for longboarders to dance across. Instead, it’s a fast-breaking beach break ideal for shortboards. Just 30 miles south of downtown San Diego and southwest of Tijuana, it is many San Diegans’ first stop in the search for Baja waves. This spot packs serious heat, given a solid south swell and even some barrel time for those who can make the drop. Pack your shortboard and paddle out into world-class waves. Afterwards, stop by Bullies Patisserie or burger bar Plan B for fuel and start all over again tomorrow. 

Type of Surf Break: Beach break

Skill Level: Advanced

Ideal Tide: Mid

Aerial view of K-38 Baja surf spot near Ensenada, Mexico
Courtesy of Surf Forecast


One of Northern Baja’s most beloved waves is a reliable, bowly right known simply as K-38. Just 25 miles south of Rosarito, this popular point break dishes up waves across four peaks known as The Point, The Left, Maria’s, and Theresa’s, which provide consistent rides year-round. Consider wearing booties to avoid grating your feet on the rocks and watch out for sea urchins ready to sting you on a wipeout at low tide. Just up the street, K-38 is home to its own surf shop, motel for lodging, and a Surfline cam, making it one of Baja’s more accessible waves.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Type of Surf Break: Reef with rocks

Ideal Tide: Mid or low

Aerial view of Rosarito beach Baja surf spot and pier
Courtesy of Tripadvisor

Rosarito Beach

If downing tequila shots and dancing at bumpin’ beachside restaurant Papas & Beer til midnight, then paddling out six hours later sounds appealing, Rosarito Beach is your spot. Often known for its lively nightlife and popularity as a destination for expats, Rosarito can provide fun waves and sandbars to ride if paired with a proper combo swell. Pollution can be a factor here after rainy days, and booties are recommended—not to protect you from submerged hazards, but from a smattering of relics in the sand from partiers and local horseback tours.

Skill Level: Beginner

Type of Surf Break: Beach break

Ideal Tide: Mid

Sign for Playa Saldamando aka Salsipuedes surf spot in Mexico near Ensenada
Photo Credit: Cole Novak


Perched on some of Northern Baja’s steepest cliffs, Salsipuedes translates to “leave if you can.” Heed the locals’ advice and bring a four-by-four vehicle with proper tread, a big wave gun or step-up, and a renewed health insurance policy if you plan on visiting during a powerful southwest swell. Surfers can access this spot through the Playa Saldamando campground for around $19 per night—or via a friend’s boat, if you’re so lucky. Salsipuedes transforms into a surfer’s paradise when bigger swells hit the point. To the north is a fun A-frame breaking over a reef, and further south is a point break with hollow rights sure to evoke Baja euphoria

Skill Level: Advanced

Type of Surf Break: Point break and reef

Ideal Tide: Low

La Fonda in Mexico also known as K58 or Alisitos campground
Courtesy of Airbnb

La Fonda

Baja is a regular-footers paradise, home to endless rights, but here’s one for the goofy-footers. This exposed rivermouth point break hosts a left that’s only 58 miles from downtown San Diego. Pay for parking at the Alisitos K-58 campsite, scope the waves from the cliffs, and paddle out to an empty peak (if you can find one). La Fonda is a gem when a solid west or south swell hits and can get crowded when it’s pumping. Visit La Mision for fish tacos and a cerveza in this small pueblo community just a few minutes inland to end a relaxing day of surfing. 

Skill Level: Intermediate

Type of Surf Break: Point break

Ideal Tide: Mid

Aerial view of Baja California Sur surf spot Scoprion Bay at sunset
Courtesy of Casalava at Punta Pequeña

Baja California Sur Surf Spots

Scorpion Bay

For more seasoned vagabonds traveling down the Baja coastline, stop by Scorpion Bay for a glimpse of longboarding heaven. This point break has been heralded as one of Mexico’s best surf spots, but those drawn there must be prepared for ungraded dirt roads, limited reception, and long stretches of emptiness. Rows of waves curl into this peculiar bay, breaking over a tabletop slab—a mirage in a landscape painted with sand dunes, distant plateaus, and a handful of local fishing vessels. Visitors can camp on the point for around $200 pesos per person for prime beach access or stay in a bungalow in the quaint town of San Juanico. 

Skill Level: Intermediate

Type of Surf Break: Point break

Ideal Tide: Low or mid

Beachbreak Playa Los Cerritos with the Hacienda Cerritos hotel in the background on the cliffs
Courtesy of Expedia

Playa Los Cerritos

Journey north on your next trip to Los Cabos to ride waves at the pleasant beach of Los Cerritos. The spot, known for its iconic Hacienda Cerritos hotel atop the cliffs, attracts flocks of surfers of all skill levels while providing a sandy beach for land-faring travel companions. The main peak breaks over sandbars, offering mellow waves, while the southern reef peak provides more lip for advanced surfers. After a session, paddle in and grab a few fish tacos and a margarita to enjoy on the water.

Skill Level: Beginner

Type of Surf Break: Beach break and reef

Ideal Tide: Mid to high

By Cole Novak

With a background crafting digital strategies and storytelling for brands, Cole loves reporting on local figures, businesses and nonprofits. A lifelong San Diegan, Cole is passionate about photography, surfing, music, cooking, the local art scene, and the great outdoors.

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