La Saladita Surfing and the Road South to Oaxaca

The Pacific coast of Mexico has provided plenty of beautiful spots and good surfing, and of course a few stressful days along the way as well. In the end we spent 10 days in La Saladita, but we could easily have stayed longer. With only a small handful of cabanas, houses and family restaurants on the beach, La Saladita is barely a town – yet it draws a surprisingly large crowd of surfers because of an epic long left break, perfect for long boarding. Some surfers come for the day from Zihuatanejo and Troncones, bigger surf towns to the south, and the proximity of the international airport of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo makes it a fairly easy destination for a short surf vacation. We didn’t find many options for camping, so instead rented a cheap little cabaña right in front of the surf waves that we could park our truck next to. The surfing lifestyle there was pretty simple: surfing, siesta in the hammock, more surfing, eating and sleeping. I don’t think there are many better places to learn to surf, so it was perfect for me, with a pretty soft break and longer rides to practice standing up on. Mitch enjoyed his long board sessions, the most brutal part being paddling out after a single ride lasting sometimes almost 500 meters. The only annoyance was the crowded surfing, which we hadn’t encountered in any of the spots we had stopped at along the coast to the north. My birthday was one of the last days we spent in La Saladita, and it was a great one enjoying the sun and surf and a good mojito from the restaurant next door.

Finally we decided to keep heading south, with other travelers’ accounts of the coast of Oaxaca adding to our desire to keep exploring. However, our first day on the road turned into a long one when our back tire blew out – the second one after the first blowout in Baja. In what seems to be a typical trait of Mexico, two nice guys stopped and helped us change the tire. However, it became pretty clear that being over the weight rating for our tires was not working out well, and we needed a solution.

We finally made it to a campground just north of Acapulco after a long hot day, and had to stay two nights in order to find a new spare tire. Acapulco sprawls out over cliffs and steep hills leading up from the ocean; it has been a popular destination in the past but has some serious problems with violent crime and poverty. The evident decline of tourism there was embodied by the few elderly expats still living at the deteriorating campground, some of whom had been there for decades and seemed to be hanging on to a place that was both changed and unchanged at once.

After spending a day finding a spare tire, we were ready to head south the next morning, hoping our tires held out until we got to the first cities in Oaxaca, which we envisioned as better places to figure out a good tire solution. That night the lot next door to our campground had been rented out for a local wedding, and we got to witness both the sunset ceremony on the beach and the extremely loud music until 4am.

The next day we successfully completed a shorter drive to Playa Ventura, where a nice lady originally from Switzerland runs a turtle conservation center and camping area on the section of coast in southern Guerrero called the “Costa Chica.” Unfortunately it isn’t the season to see baby turtles hatching, but we enjoyed her beautiful spot on the beach.

The following day we crossed into Oaxaca state and arrived at the first city, set a little inland, called Pinotepa Nacional. The difference from Guerrero to Oaxaca was immediately evident with a healthier looking countryside and much more friendly and curious locals wanting to talk to us. With a combination of luck and help from friendly locals, we found tires rated for a heavier weight range at a shop in Pinotepa. After a long and hot series of hours spent changing our tires over, we headed down the road and camped at Cerro Hermoso.

Cerro Hermoso adjoins Laguna Chacahua, which is a national park area known for its crocodile habitat, bioluminescence and surf waves where it enters the ocean. We saw the laguna from shore but camped a bit further away on the beach at a friendly lady’s restaurant area. The beach was huge and empty, and the owner pan fried us freshly caught red snapper for dinner. Rio enjoyed playing with her puppy and running circles around the sand.

However, the next morning we headed off again, passing by Puerto Escondido, a bigger beach town known for its surf, and heading down the nice new stretch of coastal highway to the little hip beach towns of Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite. We are now camping for a few days in Zipolite and enjoying exploring the other towns on the moto. Our days have adopted a new schedule in order to adapt to the extreme heat that has set in since we arrived in Acapulco. We try to get up early, get things done before mid morning, and take a siesta with A/C or stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day. The combination of heavy humidity and over 90 degree heat is no joke. Apparently the months of April – May – June are the hottest of the year in coastal Mexico; on the plus side, mango season has begun. After we finish exploring the Oaxaca coast we plan to head towards the Yucatan Peninsula, where some kite spots await.

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The long left break at La Saladita
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Our cabaña/truck home for a while
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Beautiful sunsets, the last good ones before the coast became too South-facing

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Coming in from a sunset session
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Happy 24 year old!
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Wedding ceremony on the beach outside our campground with Acapulco in the distance
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Beautiful spot on the Costa Chica of Guerrero
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Playa Ventura sunset
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The giant empty beach of Cerro Hermoso
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A relaxing place for the night in Cerro Hermoso

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