“Strike mission” is such a militant, rigid term. You’re not crossing the border for a tactical assault, you’re going because you saw a Southern Hemi swell en route to Salina Cruz and you’re calling in sick on Wednesday night for a long weekend of draining right tubes. You’ve given your mediocre home break, loving wife and office job more than ample face time. It’s time to do you. It’s time to hurt your hips from crouching in 80-degree, sand-bottomed dream-pits — not your office chair. It’s time for Salina Cruz, and four days is all you’ll need. Don’t waste ‘em seeing anything but the inside of a reeling right tube. The ruins at Chichen Itza can wait for the Mrs.
At a glance
Best airline: Delta or AeroMexico (Average $650 roundtrip from LAX)
Best swell: South-Southwest
Best months: April-October
Best boards: Just bring a couple standard shortboards. Unless it’s going to be massive, in which case bring a slight step-up.
Before I book, what conditions am I looking for? Like most sand bottomed breaks, the dispersion and amount of arena is a consideration, but if you’re going in the summer (and you should), somewhere will be good. Besides that, you want a sizeable south swell between 190 and 220 degrees and south-southwest winds. If it’s blowing hard north, it’s best to wait for another window.
Where am I going, exactly? Fly into the town of Huatulco (HUX) located in the state of Oaxaca and a (pre-booked) shuttle from the surf camp will take you the two-hour drive to the city of Salina Cruz, where you’ll be staying. It’s at this point that you relinquish control and let your camp guides bring you to one of the dozen right pointbreaks and a few choice beachbreaks.
Is it really that good? Is John John Florence good at Pipe? Is To Catch A Predator creepy? Have you seen Dusty Payne’s part in Lost Atlas? The place is full of 100-yard hollow and rippable right points. Unless you’re a picky goofyfoot with something against your backside (see: Ry Craike), then yeah, it’s that good. Stall for thick-lipped kegs, perfect your tight arcs and punt when the wind blows slightly onshore. It’s an any-footer’s fantasyland.
If I’m dropping two grand, will I surf all day? If you’ve got it in you. Commonly, you, the guide and whoever else is at the camp will get up before dawn and log a solid multi-hour morning session. The winds usually come up after 11, and you can still surf, but that brutal Oaxacan heat will have you running for cover. And a cold Modelo.
Surely there are others with the same dream. There sure are. But the beauty of Salina Cruz, as opposed to its neighbor Puerto Escondido to the north, is the sheer number of wave options. If you’re driving along the sand and one spot is too crowded, the point or jetty or beachbreak just around the corner is usually another option.
And if I’m jonesing to go left? You should’ve gone to Indo. Kidding. But there is a beachbreak an hour south and another one in town that attracts a lot of swell and turns on when the wind switches.
I heard surf camps are the only option — that true? Pretty much. The camps and their guides run the show down there while it is theoretically possible to access the breaks on your own, you don’t know which obscure dirt alley to turn down, where it’s OK to drive on the beach and where it’s not. And even if you did figure it out, the vibes from the locals, who make their living helping you score, wouldn’t be worth the few bucks saved and hours wasted .
OK, so surf camp it is. Which one? Use your Google machine to connect you with the fine folks at Las Palmeras Surf Camp, Casa El Mirador or Punta Escondida Tours. The earlier you book, the better. Enjoy.