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Summertime and The Livin’s Easy in Puerto Escondido

Between the endless right-hand sand points near Salina Cruz and the “Mexican Pipeline at Zicatella Beach in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca Mexico

For all those who have been wondering where the North Shore’s hardest chargers go during the summer, look no further than Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is ground zero for southern hemisphere barrels—and the past two weeks have been going absolutely bonkers down there.

Pretty much the entire month of May has been absolutely firing in Central America and Mexico, and Puerto has been getting the brunt of the swell. A steady stream of five to six feet of swell at anywhere from 13 to 19 seconds is a great forecast anywhere, but at Puerto it is magnified by an offshore canyon that focuses the swell, causing Zicatella to be nearly twice as big as anywhere else on the coast. For nearly three weeks straight, Puerto has been a minimum of six to eight foot, with a number of days in the 12- to 15-foot range. And, as expected, the usual suspects have been charging.

Nathan Florence has arguably had the best year of any heavy water chaser in 2022 and 2023, from crazy left and right XL barrels in Ireland and hectic pits at Teahupoo to pretty much every other slab that turned on over the past year. It was no surprise, then, when he showed up in Puerto Escondido and immediately started turning heads. Not only has he been charging the biggest days as hard as anyone, but he also logged two of the gnarliest wipeouts of the past week, getting sucked over the falls while attempting to kick out of one wave, and then air-dropping into oblivion on a crazy left the next day. His brother Ivan also turned up and got some crazy ones.

Greg Long is another guy who is always at Puerto when it fires, where he patiently waits out the back, waiting for the biggest and best sets to come through. Greg is always a standout, and this past two weeks has been no exception. He has made a couple of crazy barrels and also paddled three of the biggest waves of the swell on the XL day last week.

Kurt Rist is another foreigner who always seems to go big at Puerto, paddling smaller boards than most people and driving through crazy barrels. One of his pits made the highlight reel last week, which is no surprise considering his chops out there.

Of course, most of the highlights have come from the locals, who are always charging harder than anyone at their home break. Jafet Ramos made one of the craziest waves of the month, a gnarly right-hand barrel that has to be seen to be believed. Roger Ramirez also made a crazy right, along with many of his fellow Puerto Escondido neighbors.

The crazy thing is that the swell train isn’t anywhere close to over. There are only two days under eight foot during the next two weeks of forecast, and the biggest swell we have seen in years is scheduled to hit in a couple of days.

The great thing about huge Puerto swells—at least for people who don’t really love huge waves—is that the point breaks an hour away are always one half to one third the size. These points offer up groomed perfection, such as what we saw during the Rip Curl Search Event years ago. But there are many other points as well—dozens, in fact—with numerous surf camps and guides available to help you find the best barrels. Unfortunately, this wealth of waves comes with crowds, and it can get pretty eggy in the lineup at times. However, with good wind all day and weeks of swell on the forecast, everyone is pretty much surfed out already, so now might be the right time to head south of the border!

For those who will be staying in Hawaii for the rest of the month, we can expect a steady stream of fun+ waves over the next two weeks, with the biggest days forecasted for the last few days of May. While this swell likely won’t be as big as the windy one that hit a few weeks back, it should still be pretty solid and the conditions look a lot better. Summertime is well and truly here, which means it’s all about the south swells. Let’s enjoy them while we have them—and if we get a chance, sneak on down to Mexico for some sandbar perfection!