Adam Wright
(Wednesday) 6.1.11

El Camaron – Mazatlan, Mainland Mexico

PHOTOS: Tony Roberts

Considering that Mainland Mexico has (conservatively) well over 1200 miles of exposed coastline Mazatlan isn’t exactly keeping a low profile. Mostly known as a premiere party destination on the Mexican Riviera, Mazatlan with its limited swell exposure and more SW’erly facing orientation, doesn’t exactly scream “surf zone” but if you have had the pleasure, (or misfortune…depending on how much you mixed the Tecate and tequila), of stumbling out of a nightclub in the wee hours of the morning along the stretch of beach called Zona Dorada (“The Golden Zone”) you may have found yourself laying “aka sprawled” on the sand watching a fun left peeling off a rock reef while the soon to be blistering Mexican Sun rises behind the hills

This left, now known as el Camaron, has had many names over the centuries (the Spanish were occupying the area as far back as 1531…which means the reef and wave breaking off of it probably had nicknames for at least 480 years. Hell even the Aztecs probably had a bunch of names for it too), is a mix of rock reef and sandbar…with some heavier duty stone resisting the coastal erosion much better than the material on either side, which allows this rock to anchor the sand moving down the beach and creating a decent sandbar that gives the waves their definition.

The Surf

El Camaron is not what you would call a high-performance wave…oh like most breaks it has its moments…but like just like the “average spots” all over the world it takes a special combination of swell, tide, sand shape, and wind to make it truly fire.

Most of the time the wave is a playful, sort of soft and slow, left that sets up on the top of the rock reef and peels along the sandbar but isn’t really in any sort of hurry to get down the line.

You can surf the wave with pretty much any type of board you want…though overall size will determine what will let you have the most fun. Since the wave can be on the slow side it seems like gear with less rocker, that lets you, rather than the wave, generate most of the speed you’ll need to push through the mushy sections would be the best call. As the size picks up you can shift your gear selection to higher performance boards but you still want to have something that works well with open face waves and soft shoulders (expect to do a lot of cutbacks to keep in the better part of the bowl section).

The wave does max out at certain sizes…the rock reef doesn’t extend out far enough to create the setup you need to hold considerably solid surf.

As the waves get bigger and the swell periods get longer, the waves start to feel the sea floor about the same time as they hit the top of the reef, particularly if the sandbar on the rocks isn’t all that stable or filled in. So instead of getting a progressive bigger peak blasting down the reef it starts to break and feather all over the deeper outside sections giving the wave less definition and sectiony shape that can even come close to closing out the main wave. In fact on some swells you might find that you take off on the reef left, then surf over to a little right-hander reform/section and head toward the beach on the inside right. Sounds weird…but it is better to think of the wave as more of a softer beach break than a reef break as the swell gets bigger.

Spot details:

Best swell direction: SSW-SW (190-225) and a little sliver of a S-SE (168-172)
Best Wind: Light and variable to light SSE-ESE keep it nice and glassy while E-ENE winds blow offsore
Sea Floor: Rocky Reef at the top of the point with most of the inside sections filled in with sand.
Best Season: Spring, Summer, and Fall…basically anytime you can get a good sized SW swell pushing out of the Southern Hemi.
Crowds: Heck yeah…the wave is a little fickle to start…then add in the fact that Mazatlan has nearly 800,000 people living in the city and surrounding area, then stir in the tour groups and cruise ships that dump a grip more visitors into the city every day and you can expect a lot of fiberglass spread along the point if it is working.

  • collin bryer

    ive been there it sucks big time

    • http://surf.solspot.com adam wright

      There are a lot of waves you can say that about. Really it is about hitting it on the right conditions.

      It is also about attitude…not everyone wants to charge pipeline or spend their whole time in lineup dodging death bombs…sometimes a mushy, rideable, semi-playful, warm-water wave with ice cold beers nearby is all someone needs to make someone happy.

  • http://Calisecretspot.blogspot.com Matty

    That sounds like it would make me super happy.

    I’m glad to see Quik gIving you some love, and I’d also like to throw a shout out to ITV360, the webcast company bringing you all the action.

    We are broadcasting the MAloof Money Cup from New York on the 4-5 of June. Check it out.

    8:20 AM JWA 2 NYC

  • collin bryer

    iv been there twice its very weak!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jack

    surfed the left off Valentino’s reef for several days during a decent size south swell and it was still weak. Good take-off, but then the rest mush. At the peak of the swell, the inside beach break in front of the restaurant worked for about an hour and was good and punchy, but by the zillion people on it, it’s even more popular than the point – stress fest.

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