Punta San Carlos, Baja

Punta San Carlos is what people mean when they talk about Baja.

It’s a very desolate place, on the edge of nowhere with the nearest shop a 4 hour drive away. No mains water, no mains electricity, no mains sewage systems and camping is the only option. Why would you go there? Only to experience the most awesome down-the-line wave sailing in the world. Dave Horrocks was there in MAY…

Fact File

Windy Season All year round. April – November windiest period
Wet Suit? Yes, long arm summer suit.
Average Wind Speed 3.7m to 5m weather if the ‘system’ wind is working. 5.8m weather with just a thermal wind.
Flight Time (From UK) 10-12 hrs from Europe
How To Get There

You need to get to San Diego and then you have three options.

  • The crazy option: hire a vehicle from the airport to drive you and your kit the 8-10 hour dirt track drive to San Carlos or if from the States, rent/buy an RV for the road trip of a lifetime.
  • The sensible option: hook up with Solo Sports (the only company that looks after you down there) who will take you and your kit to their Camp at San Carlos in a huge truck.
  • The pimp option: For $600 fly down (and back) in a little plane and land 20m from the beach, taking 40 mins. Your kit follows in the Solo Sports truck and if it’s windy on arrival, you can hire kit off them until yours shows up 10 hours later.

Flights to San Diego

Average cost from the UK: £400-500. All sorts of airlines fly this route including charter.

Try www.flightcomparison.co.uk orwww.cheapflights.co.uk or www.flights4less.co.uk

How The Wind Works

It is windy all year around but most consistent between April and November. For 3.7 to 5m weather you need the ‘system’ to be working. Don’t ask me exactly what this is, but it’s something to do with high pressures out in the Pacific! But being on the edge of a huge desert, you also get a decent thermal wind so if the system isn’t working the thermal will at least give you 5.8m, floaty board, drift out, ride in weather. The thermal tends to pick up at two in the afternoon and dies off around seven in the evening. However if the ‘system’ is working, the wind will blow from as early as 7am right through the day. The wind is always cross-offshore from the right (starboard tack riding – like the south coast of England and Maui !)

The Sailing Spots

Any Events that are held there + any stand out sailors

The PWA O’Neill Wave Classic was held there in 1999 (won by Jason Polakow). Tristan Boxford’s Tropical Energy Challenge was also run there in 2004 (won by Keith Teboul).

The 4 Breaks

Bombora: The break upwind of the Camp. This is a one hit wonder wave then a big shoulder. Not for beginners and not that popular.

The Camp: The next section downwind is right opposite the Solo Sport Camp. This I beginner wave heaven: a soft, long wave and super easy to get in and out. Pick your day swell wise and you’ll learn loads.

The Point: Around the corner from the Camp section. A more taxing wave that breaks with more power but usually gets more wind.

The Chilli Bowl: Pretty full-on break for practising that one aerial, although I got about five turns on the wave. You’re up in the teens at The Camp and The Point!! The wind can get a bit light on the inside so you need to be a wobble master and pretty handy in waves.

For all breaks:

Best wind direction: East/South-east.
Worst wind direction: Don’t really get anything else.
Tide: There is a fair bit and the wave sailing is best on the push. High tide can be dangerous on a big swell as there is no real beach, just a rocky shoreline or small cliffs. Low tide provides the easiest sailing all round.
What’s on the bottom?: Sand and rock with slightly more rock at The Point & Chilli Bowl.
Any hazards: Kelp! Catch your fin on this stuff and it stops you dead.
Other water users: A few surfers and kitesurfers.
Suitability/levels: Beginner wave sailors to Pros.
Wipeout factor: It’s not a shallow break as such and I never touched the bottom with my kit even during some heavy wipeouts. If you do break kit in the white water then you will end up on the beach or against a rocky shoreline if sailing at high tide. The currents/rips are stronger at the Chilli Bowl than the Camp and they all take you downwind. Solo Sports have a jet bike for rescue but it is very rarely launched.
Water State

The best time to go for swell is the spring as you get a southerly swell and ‘system’ wind but you can get waves all year around. The average size is between shoulder to head high which is perfect for ‘beginner wave sailors’ at the Camp section (see below). However, it can get bigger, a lot bigger. When I was there for 10 days in May we had everything from shoulder high to mast high and it can get bigger so you just have to pick your day and your location depending on your ability.

Instruction And Kit Hire

Solo Sports provide the kit and wave sailing instruction. There are also special coaching weeks, like the EZZY rig-n-rip Wave Camp.

Accommodation

The majority of windsurfers who come here go with Solo Sports. You can get there on your own and some have huge RV’s and drive down there. They have to pay $5 a night to stay (as Solo Sports also own the land) and they can use the toilet facilities (well, an outhouse). But remember there is nothing there: no mains water, no mains electricity, you have to take everything with you so unless you’re a seasoned camper – just go with Solo Sports!!

Considering it’s a ‘camp’ it’s pretty luxurious. You have your own tent which is erected over a nice carpeted area. You’re allowed one hot shower a day and as I said before the toilets are outhouses (basically a hole in the ground). The food is excellent: BBQ’s are the norm, huge tortillas, lots of fish and you all eat together so very sociable atmosphere. There is even internet access so you can catch up with work (if you must). The Camp can hold around 30 and whilst I was there, there were around 13. Americans tend to come down for a few days whilst us Europeans are there for 10 days to two weeks.

Round trip transport from San Diego, food & drink, camping, use of surfboards, bikes, kayaks for one week – $1600. Add $300 to rent windsurfing kit. However, for group bookings there all sorts of deals and help with flights if coming from abroad.

Go to: www.solosports.net/2006_schedule or email them at baja@solosports.net or ring them on  949-289-7779.

Dave: My trip cost £2000 for 10 days with flights from the UK and the pimp option of flying in to the Camp and renting kit.

www.solosports.net

Nightlife

In bed by 10pm listening to the rattle snakes is about as crazy as it gets! Come 7am, when your tent begins to rattle in the wind, you just have to get up.

Bored Of Windsurfing

Excellent mountain biking trails and of course Solo Sports provide the bikes and the transport to the trails. As I said before, the nearest town is about 50miles away (El Rosario) and that is hardly a shopping metropolis!

 

Hot Tips

It does get cool at night, down to 10 degrees and below so take hat, gloves, hoody etc. Dinner will be in jeans and a jumper but then wake up the next morning and you’ll be back in your shorts!

Conclusion

It’s the best wave sailing I have ever had and I’ve been to Maui, Cape Town and Ireland. It was the cleanest ride, the longest ride – no where else like it! Ok, it’s a little bit pricey compared to other locations but that’s because of the logistics of getting there. There is nothing else to do granted, but with that wave breaking in front of your tent each morning, who needs anything else in life!

Tourist

Name: Dave Horrocks
Local Beach In UK: Rhosneigr, North Wales
How Many Years Sailing: 5 years
Last Windsurf Move You Cracked: One-handed spock on port.
What You’re Working On Now: Backloops in general, starboard tack forwards
Sponsors: GoyaFunsportAmexZero Gravity DistributionO’Neil.

  1. DDoc

    he’s got it pretty much right but let me clarify a couple things. first, although it can be windy all year round you want the south swell that comes from april to october. During that time there is almost always a little wave coming through with periodic bumps. the wind is very consistent from the north making a perfect sideoff angle for easy powered wave riding. there is very little current making getting back up wind no problem, and no fish to speak of.. ever. just mammals.. seals, whales, dolphins. Its not a place for beginner windsurfers or kiters, but it is great for beginner surfing, sup or kayaking, plus the MTBiking and hiking are fantastic. There is alot to do for someone who doesn’t sail or kite. the drive down is no big deal, drive during the day and stay on the main highway. I have been going there for over ten years and never heard a story of anyone having any real trouble, just mechanical problems and border delays. once you are there you are totally safe and there are no worries. it does take about 8-10 hrs to drive down, the last 2 hrs are on a dirt road. a regular car can make it no problem but you will have to drive slowly. if you are not from the west coast america then you are going to want to go with solosports, camping there is serious business. Overall, except for the bathroom situation there is little to complain about. even my 16 yr old daughter loved it, she fell in love with the wave, as everyone does, and cant wait to go back next summer. the wave is the reason people come here from all over the world. its so sweeeet!

    oh and you cant hear rattlesnakes at night! they are very rare and don’t make noise.

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