If my nerve would just double or triple in size, like the Grinch’s heart when “Welcome Christmas” chimes up from Whoville, I would so love Puerto Escondido. I devoted 20 years to what we call the “shorebreak” at Ocean Beach, San Francisco (as distinct from the much better known outside sandbars), and Puerto is the same high-handed dominatrix of a surf break, but on a larger scale. Much larger. OB shorebreak maxes out at what someone like Shane Dorian would call four-foot, which, as it turns out, as far as pulling into seriously hard-breaking tubes, is smack in the middle of my red zone. Puerto at eight-foot, 12-foot, 20-foot? Bring me a beach chair and umbrella.
Strategy and tactics, and all the joy to be found therein, is a big part of why surfers chase huge barrels. Teahupoo is mostly about fine-caliber positioning. Pipe brings in a broader field of play; First Reef, Second Reef, left, right, and holy fuck what’s Kala doing back out there?!? Puerto pushes things up to an even higher level. More choices, more decisions, more terrain to cover. More traps to avoid, in the form of rip currents, closeouts, and heat stroke.
The best tube you get at Puerto will not be measurably, categorically better than the best one you get at Pipe or Chopes. But you will work harder for it. You will paddle harder, wait longer, wear more waves on the head, spend more time underwater. Sand rinsed from your head and ass crack will form a Lawrence of Arabia diorama on the floor tiles of your hacienda shower. The layers of high-zinc-content sunscreen will eventually be removed only the aid of steel wool. And thus your Puerto tube—not in spite of all these things, but because of them—will be the sweetest.
Just posted the Puerto Escondido page. Another webclip on there, just as eardrum-bursting as the one above.