Kiteboarding and Windsurfing in Baja

BY: RICK CASTAGNER

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Kiteboarding and windsurfing season in Baja is November-March. La Ventana south of La Paz and Los Barriles on the East Cape in Baja Sur are two of the most popular spots for kiteboarding and windsurfing. A large community has built up around the sport in these two areas.

Los Barriles

Over the past number of years, Los Barriles has established itself as a world-class spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing. The sandy bottoms and shore break make this is a good spot for beginners, while the large swells that pick up in the afternoons bring excellent waves for more experienced riders. The annual Lord of the Winds Competition is a kiteboarding event that takes place over five days every January. The competition brings riders from around the world.

Los Barriles is located on the shores of the Sea of Cortez right in between Los Cabos and La Paz. Los Barriles is a great sandy spot, perfect for beginners who can practice their wave style thanks to this great shore break. The entire beach at Los Barriles is a good spot but the best place is in Playa Norte, in the north-east side of the beach. A huge beach with lots of options. Los Barriles is very safe with safe launching techniques.

If you are coming down to Los Cabos for a short trip and like at least a hint of resort life and the proximity to the Los Cabos nightlife and shopping, this is the best place to be.

La Ventana

La Ventana is a small Mexican fishing village situated on the Sea of Cortez just 30 minutes southeast of La Paz. Discovered by windsurfers 15 years ago, La Ventana has become a great kiteboarding and windsurfing spot thanks to its steady winds from October to March and to its L-shape sandy beach with side shore winds. Every year, during December and January, La Ventana offers international kiteboard competitions, clinics and expos, the La Ventana Classic and the traditional Kite Expo.

The water and air are warm and the campsites are fairly protected from the wind. If you are driving down for a week or two and sailing is your only goal, this is a good place to spend your trip. The side shore winds at La Ventana are a combination of two wind patterns. The hot, broad San Juan de los Planes valley downwind creates a local thermal wind that accelerates a mild 18 knot El Norte into a fun 20-25 knot breeze. When El Norte cranks up, this thermal assist gives La Ventana some serious winds.

Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo near San Jose del Cabo: Baja’s only coral reef, has spectacular scenery, fishing, whale watching, kayaking, hiking, biking, snorkeling, diving, surfing, huge swells and can have some very high winds for kiteboarding and windsurfing, but at a price. The only element missing for many years is a reliable wind.

There are only about 20 wind-protected camping sites and they are usually taken by long-term campers. Camping on the exposed beach in 25 to 40 knot side offshore winds is not fun. The winds are side-offshore and the shore break fattens up on broken masts. If you break down far outside you risk being washed up in Central America.

On the upper reef, the breaking swells are far larger and more vertical than other sites and the white water can sweep your equipment away. Five hundred feet downwind, the razor-sharp lower coral reef has fangs that stick above the surface at all but the highest tides. Do not sail near the lower reef since the water ranges from 4 feet to 4 inches in depth.

Experienced sailors only.

Todo Santos / Pescadero / Cerritos Beach area

I absolutely fell in love with the lifestyle pace on this coastal stretch on the Pacific side. There is just something special about being on the actual ocean and hearing the wave’s crash against the immense unpopulated beaches. This side of the peninsula is known for its surfing and tranquil style of life. I have camped a lot on Cerritos Beach where I surfed and spent many evenings watching a crazy amount of whales breach under the golden sun. During their migration season, it is worth the drive, even just to poke your head below the surface and experience the underwater music they make.

The occasional kite session will pop up in the afternoon in the area depending on the systems brewing out in the Pacific and you will likely be the only person out playing in the shore break. It will be on the lighter side so bring big kites and/or a foil board to make the most of the double sport days.

For me, I found that the mornings were always early here no matter which break I chose. La Pastora, Pescadero or Cerritos Beach are all spots within a short 30 min drive of each other. All of these waves are beach breaks and have many rocky patches so be careful with your board and your limbs.

Northern Baja California Sur

These surf spots are listed assuming that you are driving north on Mexico 1.

Bahía Magdalena / Bahía Santa Maria

Bahía Magdalena is home to some of the best windsurfing and kiteboarding on the Pacific coast of Baja. The barrier islands protect the bay from large swells and strong winds blow year-round. There are three right-hand point breaks in Bahía Santa Maria (one of the bays within Bahía Magdalena): Cuevas, Campsites, and Betadines.

For beginner surfers, the estuary mouth has a sand bottom, beach break.

Time your trip to whale season, an awesome bay for whale watching.

Bahia de la Conception / Playa de Los Naranges

Bahía Concepcion is one of the most beautiful spots on the peninsula with stunning clear waters casting beautiful turquoise colors and white sand beaches. Enjoy a beach day along the white sand beaches and crystal waters of Bahía Concepcion. Spend the morning kayaking or snorkeling at Playa Santispac, or just sunbathe and enjoy the beautiful setting. Grab a burger and a beer at Playa Buenaventura.

Located at the mouth of the Bahia de la Conception near Mulege, this spot offers mostly light wind sailing in the 5-6 range and great camping and boating. You can buy fresh seafood at the fish camp. Lots of long-term non-windsurfing campers. Typically the winds blow 2 or 3 days per week.

Punta Chivato

Located between Santa Rosalia and Mulege at the end of a 15-mile dirt road, Chivato offers scenic high wind camping. The winds here are accelerated by the thermal warm basin of spectacular Conception Bay to the south. Typically the winds blow 2 to 3 days per week. There is big swell and flat water speed sailing here in strong winds. The rumors of the camping area on the beach being closed have so far not been realized and improvements to the camping area are being made. The camping is on a firm sand beach. The launch is sandy with none of the rocks found at most of sailing sites.

Produce and water are sometimes available and there is a resort nearby. They have reopened the resort restaurant and are building a second restaurant near the airstrip.

Chavato is easy to find. There is a sign “Palo Verde” at the entrance to the road to Punta Chivato. Once on this 15-mile dirt road follow the sign “New Road” at the fork in the road. The road is usually in pretty good condition unless it has rained recently.

Punta Abreojos

Punta Abreojos is a small fishing town in Baja California Sur on the Pacific side. The nearest town is San Ignacio and the nearest city is Mulege. It has an exposed point break that provides excellent waves, a great spot for windsurfing, kiteboarding and surfing. It is known by windsurfers and kiteboarders who take advantage of the predictable onshore afternoon winds from the northwest that blow all year round from 12-25 knots. Difficult to find but almost empty here.

Baja California Norte

These surf spots are also listed assuming that you are driving north on Mexico 1.

Bahia de Los Angeles / Punta la Gringa

Turn off of Mexico 1 at Km 280 and drive 65 Km (on a paved road) east to the Sea of Cortez. This popular side trip from Mexico 1 takes visitors over to the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula to Bahía de Los Angeles referred to as L.A. Bay, BOLA, or just “Bahía” by the expats and regular visitors. This small fishing village has become a very popular spot for expats and travelers looking for a place to get away from everything.

Kiteboarding and windsurfing at Punta la Gringa at Bahia de Los Angeles. On the north side of the bay is a beautiful place for surfers of all levels. It’s particularly good for beginners because the conditions are easy, especially on the waters between the mainland and the sand spit. The best season is November-April when the “El Norte” Baja winds blow.

Punta San Carlos.

Punta San Carlos is located in Baja California Norte on the Pacific Ocean, near to El Rosario. Punta San Carlos is an exposed reef and the point break is amazing for kiteboarding, windsurfing and surfing. There is no nightlife, only dessert wilderness. It's the perfect place for eco-tourism and outdoor sports. The wind blows all year, special thermal winds sometimes can be very strong, usually side shore.

Life is short. Find that windsurfing or kiteboarding spot of your dreams.