Surfing Rio Nexpa
Pack your bag and get the board waxed,
you’re going to surf Rio Nexpa…
When we first arrived in Mexico to surf its Pacific stretch, Rio Nexpa was one of the spots we constantly began to hear about. Knowing little of the break ourselves, we did a little research and were introduced to this long peeling left hander up the coast. For a goofy footer, Nexpa appears to be what surf dreams are made of.
We had to experience Nexpa asap. Through friends, we met up with some locals surfers from Zihuatanejo and all gazed over the swell charts. Nexpa was going to be on in the coming days. It was agreed. It was a date. The following day a car was arranged, the boards packed, enough supplies for a few days were all loaded and ready for our first surf trip in Mexico.
Arriving late at Barra de Nexpa as the sun was setting we were a little underwhelmed by the waves with the wind producing light onshore small and messy conditions. We were still in good spirits watching the sun go down and exploring the deserted beach with empty huts on the sand - knowing that tomorrow could still be fun. It was an early night to ensure we’d be first to rise. And, sure enough the next day was firing.
Rio Nexpa is another river mouth breaking over cobble stone. The main peak is a long peeling left breaking far outside. On the right conditions the inside section can be fast and hollow. The break is about 3 hours drive north of Zihuatanejo and just beyond the small town on Caleta de Campos where you can find most supplies you’ll need for longer stays. There isn’t much in Nexpa itself. Basic beach shack accommodation on the sand, a slightly fancier (not fancy) hotel, a few houses and two or three restaurants up the beach including a restaurant at the main hotel. The setup is basic but when the waves are pumping that is all you need. With a comfy bed and some decent options for surf food, life doesn’t get much better than this.
LET’S MASTER THE BREAK
You will find surf with consistent swells rolling through all year round at Rio Nexpa…
Like most of the breaks around the area, ‘it’s all about the left’. Occasionally on bigger swells the right hander behind the main peak does work but it’s a big paddle unless you know someone with a jet-ski.
In comparison to Ticla, the waves here at Nexpa in our opinion has slightly more power. Especially in front of the river mouth in big swells, the water can fiercely move around. This is where the inside section begins and the waves start to hollow out especially on the outgoing tide.
The main left peak is a good paddle also breaking outside. The wave is clean breaking over cobble stone and will hold up for most of the way to the inside section and almost all the way into shore on clean days. On other days if it is a little messy the wave can be slightly peakier and shutdown in sections.
Locals Name: Nexpa
Skill Level: All Levels
Best Season: Summer
Wave Type: River Mouth
Wave Direction: Left
Wave consistency: Consistent
Bottom Type: Cobblestone
Best Tide: Low to mid
Wind Direction: North East
Best Swell Direction: South
Water Temperature: Warm
Location: Easy to locate
Access: Good all vehicle access
Road Type: Paved road
Parking: Good, sandy carpark
LET’S GET PREPARED
Understanding everyone has different time and monetary restraints, we have put together some recommendations to hopefully assist you getting to Rio Nexpa and starting your surf trip.
Rio Nexpa is not a secret spot and more details can be easily found on the web or any travel guide of the region. There are still plenty of secret breaks to be explored and once you arrive there, the local surfers will more than likely share these with you as long as you are friendly enough - and maybe shout them a taco or two. At s u r u n c l o u d, we just would like our friends and families to enjoy our discoveries and at the same time why not let others share in the same experiences as us and help local communities. We were nervous at first and found it hard to blog about our favourite spots without feeling guilt of giving up ‘secret’ locations and names in fear of the wave becoming known and also out of respect for local surfers. But it occurred to us that if you dig deep enough, all this information is already out there and available online anyway, just without these personal experiences. So here it goes…
Barra de Nexpa is about a 3 hours drive north from the city of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. Travelling north from Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa take the highway 200 towards Lazaro Cardenas followed by La Mira. The small township of Caleta de Campos is the final town and just after this near km55 you will pass over the Nexpa bridge before turning left and driving down to the break past the houses and into the hotel carpark where you can check the surf from. Travelling south from La Ticla, again along highway 200 until you reach the sign Nexpa.
By Air – The closest airports to Caleta de Campos are at Lazaro Cardenas (1 hour drive south) and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa (3 hours drive south). Flights can be found on Skycanner direct from Mexico City for around US $150 round trip for travel in 3 months – from the major cities of the United States, direct flight round trip are around US $300. Detailed information about flights and flying to/from Mexico coming soon.
By Bus – The bus trip to Caleta is a long and slow journey depending on where you are leaving from. Buses run all up and down the coastline and leave from Lazaro Cardenas, Zihuatanejo or Manzillo to Caleta. Durations vary depending on origin. Detailed information about buses in Mexico coming soon.
By Car – If you are keeping the #vanlife dream alive then keep following the main highway that runs parallel with the coast north-south, depending on the direction you are coming from and look out for the signs to Caleta de Campos. If you are in no rush the drive along the coastline (not the highway) is a little slower but far more scenic. We have driven the coast from Zihuatanejo to Rio Nexpa a number of times and find it easy and breathtaking. Be respectful when passing through smaller villages on the coast and NEVER drive at night or early before sunrise. Once in the Caleta Area, the following options may be considered for easier and more efficient means of getting around. Additional information about driving in Mexico coming soon.
By Rental – If you want to make the most of your surf trip and Mexican experience then you’re going to need a car. This gives you more flexibility and allows you to surf the breaks you want and on your own time. From our experience as much as the local bus is a great adventure, sometimes it’s difficult to access all the spots you want to go via bus. Read our guide to Car Rental in Mexico Coming Soon to learn all there is to know about car rental and connect now to Skycanner to compare all the rental company available and get the best price.
By Ferry – If you are coming from Baja California (Ferry Port in La Paz) to the main land (Ferry Ports in Mazaltan and Los Mochis), there are a number of ferries available daily. Ferry times will vary depending on the service and can take anywhere from 3 hours up to 18 hours each way. Visit ferrytmc.com for the timetable and pricing.
By Taxi – Taxis are familiar to picking up surfers in these areas and most come equipped with roof racks and tie downs – beware you might want to handle your precious sled as some taxi drivers will have little care for your surfboard. If you can speak a little Spanish this will also go a long way to negotiating a good price which we recommend you do upfront as no meters are available. Generally speaking in comparison to most major countries, the taxis here in Mexico are reasonably priced and it’s not uncommon for your taxi driver to wait at the break while you surf then drop you back home after.
By Local Bus – For those on a tight budget or even just looking for a good local adventure, the local buses are for you. The local bus operates between Lazaro Cardenas, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo and all other major destinations. Unfortunately the services are limited and will simply not allow you to see everything there is to see on this incredible coast line.
The waters temperature in this area of Mexico is generally warm all year round except for two months from late March to May when you may need a wetsuit top or spring suit. Other than this the water is always warm and boardshorts or a swimsuit is all that is needed.
Weather wise the area has a pleasant, temperate climate for most of the year. The spring months of March to May see cooler warm temperatures. The summer months of June to August are hot and can be wet with August receiving the highest average rainfall throughout the year.
Unfortunately at the time of writing this post there were no nearby surfboard rentals or board shops.
There are no official surf teachers at Rio Nexpa. We’re sure however, if you ask around you will find someone keen to help you get in the water.
At the time of our stay there were no yoga studios on offer in Rio Nexpa. If you need someone to practice yoga with, ask around a few of the traveling surfers and we are sure you will come across a yogi willing to offer their services for a small fee or may even just be happy to have a yoga buddy to practice with.
Idon’t like Mexican food, said no-one ever! So, after surfing perfect Mexican waves all day long the next best thing is eating the tastiest food around. Our favourite restaurant is Chicho’s located right on the beach. All of the restaurants around Rio Nexpa offer good, cheap and local Mexican cuisine. If you have strict dietary requirements we suggest you to bring and cook your own meals. The restaurants only cater to local cuisine of fish, beans and taco’s and you may find it difficult to find the exact food you require.
The decision is simple as there are limited options in town. We’ve stayed at the Hotel on the beach every time we go to La Ticla. This is the only tourist hotel you will find in the area and rates are reasonable charging around MX $150 pesos per night for a basic room (bed, private bathroom and fan). At the camping area, tent or hammock fetch for about MX $50 pesos per person. Otherwise checkout Airbnb with 11 rentals to choose from starting at US $18 to $600 per night.
The small restaurant between the river and hotel also offers a basic room for rent. Enquire with the restaurant owners for more details.
And of course, La Ticla is the perfect destination for v a n l i f e. There’s specific spot to park your camper for about MX $50 pesos per night.
Travelling with a surfboard: If you are weighing up the cost of flying with your surfboard vs purchasing or even renting a board once you arrive in Mexico, then this may assist with your decision. Most airlines will charge anywhere from $25 to $150 per flight for a surfboard. It also depends on your mode of transport once you arrive in Mexico. If you have your own car or van then it may be worth taking your favourite surfboards from home. However, if your main mode of transport is going to be bus, keep in mind most bus lines will more than likely treat your precious quiver like any other baggage item, so be prepared fro dings, and plenty of them. It may be worthwhile buying some cheaper local boards. Most surf shops in coastal towns sell second hand boards and keep an eye out on Facebook groups also. Also if you happen to have a layover in LA you may even have time to pickup a fresh board in California for a decent price before starting the surf trip.
Telephone: Mexico’s telephone network is well-developed in comparison to other Latin American countries. Mexico offers a whole range of telephone services from simple land-line telephone services to high-speed internet services. Prepay cell phones are a simple way to communicate and have no lock in contract. Telcel, AT&T, Movistar and Virgin Mobile SIM cards each cost between $50 and $150 pesos and sometimes include some data within that.
Internet: Just about every town and city in Mexico has at least one Internet Cafe. Look for signs reading “Acceso a Internet” or “Cibernautica” or “Cibercafe.” Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location. Most restaurants and hotels offer free Wi-Fi.
Exchanging Currency: Mexico has plenty ATMs which dispense usually both pesos and US dollars. Many of the restaurants, hotels and shops in Mexico accept credit cards. During business hours, banks and Casas de Cambio will buy traveler’s checks and foreign cash from you as well, although it does take time, so you’re better off using ATMs.
Travel Insurance: We recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Health services and treatment normally covered under other countries medical system are not available in Mexico. Generally, travel insurance MUST be purchased within the country where you are a resident BEFORE prior to travelling.
Medical Attention: Most larger towns and popular tourist locations have local, government-run, health centers. Private clinics can also be found, both with English-speaking staff available.
Other than surfing, Rio Nexpa doesn’t offer much to passing by tourists like many of the smaller coastal towns along the Pacific. Away from the waves there is a beautiful waterfall and hot springs to be discovered. Enquire with the main hotel or most locals for directions. So once you’ve surfed your brains out, scoffed down a few fish tacos and had your daily ritual of a hammock siesta, we then recommend you enjoy beautiful neighbouring beaches and coastline. Enjoy…