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G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Surfing: Part 5 El Anclote

They call El Anclote the Mexican Malibu for good reason. This long and winding right hander peels across a gently arcing point for a long way when it's small, and for a longer way when it gets bigger. Optimum surfing for this wave is during the hot, humid rainy summer months, when the south swells pour into and over the Punta de Mita at the northern tip of the Bay of Banderas. But even during the off-season when El Anclote is small it's super ridable and lot's of fun.

M and I got our first look at El Anclote (the anchorage) late one afternoon after a trek into Puerto Vallarta for a timeshare presentation. What predicated this astonishing "anti-vacation" act was the lure of 3,000 pesos in cash to sit through it and the fact that I am a dedicated cheapskate. (I was able to subsidize my rental car costs by half.) So on our way back to Sayulita from PV we decided to take the back road via Punta de Mita and El Anclote. As we pulled into the parking space that directly faces the break, looking through a chain link fence, it was firing. The ever present offshore winds were blowing the tops off the sweetly reeling chest/head high waves in perfectly hued colors of the tropical sea. Of course I didn't have my board with me. I drooled, I groaned, I lamented, I shot some vid. And we vowed to come back soon.

I should have returned sooner than two days later, when the south swell dropped way off, but it was early in the trip and I hadn't gotten my internet forecasts sites up and running so...I really missed it. But I still got some fun little waves and a taste of what it could be like.

El Anclote could be the most friendly "learn how to surf" location on the face of the planet. It's a small friendly community with 12 or 15 restaurants, surf schools, shops, hotels and condos conveniently located on a gently s-curving strip of shoreline that is both beautiful and accommodating. When it's small the wave is a soft, cleanly synchronized and symmetrical breaking wave with lots of face to play on and easy on mistakes. A learner's paradise. The water is clear and shimmering with translucent blue-green color. The beach is clean and spacious with plenty of room for families. Food, drink, pangas for rent and other resources are at your beck and call.

Beginners will have access to numerous Mexican surf instructors who are very good. I watched four or five groups receive lessons from extremely competent local instructors who were both excellent teachers and professional level surfers. SUPs are popular here, not as much in the surf as for paddling, and this is a great place to learn. So what if you fall off, the water was 74 degrees, and that's as cold as it gets here.

After my SUP session in the waves of El Anclote, M and I set up our beach chairs and umbrella for a day of relaxing and doing what we like doing best here in Mexico. Nothing. When we got hungry we wandered over to the nearest restaurant, located at the Coral Hotel complex. The food was outstanding and the portions served so large we ended up taking our meal home and eating the rest of it for dinner. The cervezas were ice cold.

El Anclote means "anchorage" and two jetties provide shelter for a number of small boats. Pangas can be hired for transport to a half dozen surf spots only accessible by boat, FWD vehicle or a $400/night stay at the fancy resorts at the very tip of Punta de Mita. For more on surfing the area, check out this website. The owner rents his condos to surfers and has provided a lot of good info. I would go back there in a heartbeat and if I can swing it this summer, I just might. I would love to hook into some head high plus bombs and snag some 200 yard rides.

Viva Mexico! Chapter 1 Part 5 El Anclote from Srfnff on Vimeo.


Here are a few tidbits re the group Los de Abajo, their name, and their tune Cabanas.

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