Punta de Mita – Warm Water Tropical Surfing Trip

Punta de Mita Surf Trip

I first visited Punta de Mita on a cruise ship shore excursion that took me to La Lancha beach. I knew after that excursion that I had to come back and spend more time there.  There are so many great spots within the area and WARM WATER was the key.

I love San Diego, but even last summer the water didn’t stay warmer for very long. Notice I said warmer as the water never truly gets “warm”, as in the high 70s that it is in Punta de Mita.

I did a whole series of YouTube videos on it, a video for each day and then a highlight reel set to music.  I’ll link to the videos below as I recap more details that aren’t in the video below.

Friday: Arrival Day & Massive Lobster Dinner

I stayed at La Quinta del Sol hotel and they arranged for a cab to meet me at the airport. Of course, when I arrived at the airport, I forgot my pen again and it was a struggle to find one there as the pens had been all torn off their chains and disappeared on the counter area where I could find pens. Another lady ended up just giving me her pen.  I brought my inflatable surfboard that I carried as a bigger heavy backpack, plus my suitcase and travel carry on bag.  I was glad to see the cab was there as soon as I exited the airport as that was a lot of gear to transport.

It was about a 40-minute drive from the Puerta Vallarta airport to the hotel in Punta de Mita and I arrived shortly before dinner time.  The cab fare was around $90!!! There wasn’t enough time to get a surf in so I decided to just to explore the town area and have some dinner.

There’s a bridge overpass that has a big sign for Lobster Paradise and I knew I had to hit that restaurant up first. They had their local lobster and Caribbean lobster to choose from and I chose the Caribbean one since it came to the table lit on fire. I’ve never had such a big lobster in my life.  The restaurant even said they gave me a half of one since I was there by myself, but it seriously provided me for a couple more meals after that, well worth it.

The restaurants were all great that I went to as well, but none had the amazingly soft huge flour tortillas that you can find around Puerto Nuevo!!!

Saturday: Day Trip to Sayulita

The waves were supposed to be a bit bigger on Sayulita that day so I decided to make a day trip there to surf and explore that little town/village as well.

You can take a bus or cab from Punta de Mita to Sayulita but I took a cab since I had limited time there and wanted to spend as much time actually there as possible.  It took about 20 minutes to get there from my hotel and the cab fare was around $45 each way.

I didn’t bring my inflatable surfboard with me since I didn’t want to have to carry it on my back while I was walking around the town. I heard of some close surf shops next to the beach that you could rent surfboards at but then I spotted a place right on the beach that was renting surfboards and that was where I rented from.  The guy’s name was Betos and he had a good selection of boards to choose from too, not just foamboards.  I definitely recommend bringing cash here for this place.  The board I got was a solid 8-footer and was fun to ride.

I didn’t film any of my surfing with my Insta 360 camera as it was a bit busier out in the lineup and I just wanted to focus on catching waves vs. filming. I also didn’t bring my Soloshot to film from the beach since I was trying to pack as light as possible. Even though it was a bit crowded, the lineup had a happy cheerful vibe and people were rooting each other on.  You could definitely tell there were a lot of locals out there in the lineup as well which was cool, it wasn’t totally touristy! It was definitely the biggest beachy area I surfed as well on the trip, lots of cushy sand which I love!

After I surfed, I had a light lunch at Coco’s Beach Club.  They have an amazing second level view of the surf and beach at Sayulita. Since it was rather hot, I wasn’t that hungry but they had a refreshing shrimp ceviche and great margaritas!

After lunch, I explored the town a bit and came across some tequila shops. I bought a bottle as a souvenir but mainly just to be able to have a few margaritas at my hotel and enjoy them with its great balcony rooftop view of Punta de Mita.  I also needed to find some pure Mexican vanilla for my mom which I did at a local grocery/tienda.

Sayulita has lots of cool little shops and restaurants/nightlife so it’s definitely better for someone that is coming with people that don’t surf.  Punta de Mita also has a restaurant row and shops but just not near as many to choose from. However, Punta de Mita is closest to the best surf spots, which for me as a surfer was key.

I took a cab back home and had some leftover lobster for dinner while enjoying a margarita on the rooftop!

Sunday: Flat day, no surf, so lunch and then exploring/hiking to La Lancha

There was no surf Sunday really so I got up late and went to El Pescador. It’s a super nice fancier place with a great view of the ocean. I just had some basic fish tacos for lunch as I didn’t want anything too heavy before my hike.

The website for the hotel I was staying at had an overview of some of the surf spots that I had previously read and it mentioned you could drive to La Lancha, paddle there, or even hike there.  I like beach hiking/exploring so I thought I’d get some exercise and try hiking to La Lancha.  I really don’t know how anyone could hike there with a longboard, maybe a shortboard, but it’s way to rocky/sketchy for me to have ever done this with a longboard.

You really need to hike there when it’s low tide, which it was when I hiked there, as high tide, it’s just really sketchy with all of the rocks around.  I’m not scared of much, but rocks do scare me so I faced my fears on this hike.  The hike to La Lancha really wasn’t that bad though. I got through the main rock part and then you get to this second beach area before you go through this last bit of rocks before you can see the La Lancha surf spot.  If you did hike there with your surfboard you really need to start paddling out before you get to this rocky patch though, as it’s just impossible to get over, that’s where I stopped hiking.

On the way back, I thought I’d just walk on the shore where I saw these other people walking when I was up on the rocks.  That was a bad idea as I didn’t realize how many submerged rocks there were so I ended up having to go back a bit and then up the rocks to get around that patch.  Then, when my flip flops were wet, it was much harder to navigate these rocks as it was so easy to slip. One of my flip flops even broke because of all the slipping on my feet.  That was the tough part, but I survived the walk back, but I would never hike there with my surfboard.  Perhaps I would try paddling there from the hotel, but that would be the longest paddle I’ve ever done.  Maybe next time I’ll have my Boost surfing fin which would definitely come in handy for paddling a long distance like that.

After I got back, I was just exhausted and went into town to pick up some great shrimp quesadillas from a local authentic restaurant to take back to the hotel and eat. Just a tip, the more local types of restaurants and shops don’t accept credit cards but do accept dollars, so having a good amount of cash on hand is very helpful.

Monday – Surf Boat Trip to El Faro and La Lancha

The waves were bigger Monday but it was a bit cloudier.  I didn’t care that it was cloudier though, as in La Lancha, clouds are my friend, as the sun is just much more intense down there.  I definitely needed my SURFCHIQUE water resistant/reef friendly sunscreen down there!

The Mictlan surf shop offers several ways to help get you to different surf spots by boat.  They can drive you to a surf spot and wait while you are surfing and then go to another surf spot after, which is what I did that day.  They can also just drop you off for a pre-determined amount of time which is what I did on my last day in Punta Mita at La Lancha. It’s about $60/hour to rent a board and they prefer cash but will take a credit card. A rental board is also included in the deal which was great, as the inflatable surfboard I was going to use, I realized was missing a metal bracket in the fin area so I wasn’t able to use my fins on it.  I tried surfing it finless right in front of my hotel at Stinky’s and quickly learned why fins are so necessary for controlled surfing and why it’s so easy to do a 360 on a finless board!!

I just wanted to try a new surf spot out in the area and I saw the surf was a bit bigger at El Faro too (more like 2–3-foot waves vs the 1-2 feet in the area).  I started out and caught a wave or two but it was in a rockier area and my boat driver had me move in further away from this bigger rock.  He was holding my Insta 360 camera but it didn’t catch the waves I caught out there and the one I caught more inside. 

It was a bit scary surfing there as even on the inside wave I caught a couple and felt like I was surfing right towards the rocks, which I was able to avoid, but they are still there, ha!  El Faro is supposed to have epic long rides though on bigger days, which would be great to try the next time I’m there.

From El Faro, we took the surf boat to La Lancha.  I stayed at La Lancha for about an hour and caught all of 1 wave. It was just a bit difficult there that day as the waves were smaller and there were other surfer newbies getting “assists” – ya know a little boost push, from their surf instructors.  I did catch one great ride at the end of the hour though and then I went back to the boat to head back to the hotel.

I was craving some non-seafood Mexican that night and went to another local authentic Mexican place for dinner, Rocios, and had some great steak fajitas and a good strong strawberry margarita!

Tuesday: My Birthday Surfday at La Lancha Beach

This was my last full day in Punta de Mita and it was also my birthday. I was super excited it was a sunny warm day and the waves were perfect, in the 2–3-foot range which is all I need.

I had the Mictlan surf shop take me on a boat to La Lancha around noon and they dropped me off pretty close to the beach. I had this whole waterproof backpack prepared to paddle in though, even though I didn’t do much paddling, but it still came in handy for carrying all of my camera/beach gear for a full day at the beach in La Lancha.  I almost forgot to tell the boat driver when to pick me back up but I yelled it to him as he was pulling the boat away and put 4 fingers up to signify the 4-o clock time. I was concerned about the pick-up part but it went smooth as can be as well and I was picked up right on time, very close to the beach with minimal paddling needed with my big waterproof backpack.

It was nice to just relax on the sandy beach.  It can be a bit pebbly around the Punta de Mita restaurant area but there is good sand out in front of Anclote beach (although it is super rocky at low tide) in front of these fancy condos as well as at Stinky’s in front of my hotel.

It’s just a beautiful remote beach and was nice to just relax and check out the surf/surfers before I ventured out. I was able to get some 360 footage in around the beach area and the surf boat trip there (my camera was having issues on the way back). I wanted to take the 360 camera out surfing but I had the Soloshot filming from the beach so just didn’t want to chance losing it.

I surfed La Lancha for over 2 hours and it was the best time ever. The waves were so warm and it was sunny and the water was crystal blue, it really was one of the best birthdays ever!!  I caught a couple really great waves, one that you can see in my YouTube videos that I tried to make into a barrel but was obviously too small for that! I tend to always be in the wrong spot at the wrong time so a lot of my waves ended up being foamers, but the thing with foamer waves, if you catch them outside, you can still get a green wave on the reform!

After surfing I went back to the beach and chilled again, just enjoying the suns rays and getting hydrated. I wanted to go out again for a bit but just didn’t think I’d have enough time and wanted to be all ready and packed up when I saw my boat came back. It didn’t take long though, and I saw the boat coming in and started heading back to the hotel.

That night I wanted to eat at this restaurant I saw that was on top of the tallest building in the town and was closed the day I went by and inquired about it.  I was just craving a hamburger then which they had, which was great.  The restaurant is called La Terraza De Manolo and really has the best view in Punta de Mita. It’s on top of a condo building as well and has a rooftop pool beside it. That would be an amazing condo to live in! As I was eating dinner and watching the sunset, I was overlooking the Anclote surf spot that I really wanted to surf. I was hoping to surf it the following morning before my flight out.

Wednesday – last day in Punta de Mita, Surfing Stinky’s Surf Spot

My flight was at 2:45pm on Wednesday so I got up early, but not quite early enough to hike down to the Mictlan surf shop and rent a board and walk to Anclote beach. I just wanted to maximize my surfing time so I just rented a board from the hotel, which is super convenient.  The surfboards are stored in the lower level which opens up directly to the street that you cross right in front of Stinky’s surf spot.

They call this surf spot Stinky’s because it’s right by the fishing boats in the town. I don’t think it was stinky though, maybe some days are stinkier than others depending on how much fish was being brought in, ha.

I had tried surfing this spot a few days earlier on my inflatable surfboard without any fins, but it was much more fun on my surfboard rental that had fins. I caught some super long rides there and the waves were pretty frequent.

My one word of caution though is beware of the urchins. I knew the spot had urchins but I didn’t want to mess with getting my water shoes wet before I headed out to the airport so I just made sure not to put my feet on the ground.  However, even with your legs dangling down from the board, certain places there are super shallow and you can easily swipe across the urchins while sitting on your board. This was what happened to me. I didn’t get any huge urchins in my feet, but enough that it was slightly uncomfortable to walk for a few days. When I got home, I soaked my feet in vinegar and hot water multiple times and that seemed to do the trick and get rid of them.

I didn’t film any of the surfing at Stinky’s as it was my last day surfing and just wanted to focus on having fun surfing.

Overall Surf Trip to Punta de Mita Summary

So that’s it, my day-by-day recap. Overall, it was a super fun trip.  The hotel was a great deal and not too expensive.  My main expenses of the trip were the hotel and transportation costs (cabs, surf boats, etc.).  I think I ended up paying around $300 in cab fare (including tips) plus about the same in surf boat rentals (including tips). I also had a couple higher cost meals at fancier places like Lobster Paradise and El Pescador, but for the main part I ate cheap!

The waves are supposed to be a bit smaller but cleaner during the winter/spring time when I was there and bigger, more wind, etc. during the summer when it is hotter.  The last time I came on the cruise ship excursion it was in October which was a good time to go as well.

I definitely recommend Hotel La Quinta del Sol for surfers. It has great views and an open balcony with grills, hammocks, etc. and is right in front of the Stinky’s surf spot and close to the town area for all the rentals, etc.  There is a bit of a dustier/dirt path that has a bit of a sharp incline to it for older people that have a harder time walking, for example my mom. But other than that, it’s a perfect place for a surfer to stay while in Punta de Mita.

La Lancha is still my favorite surf spot there but I really want to go back when Anclote is firing as I hear it is known as the Mexican Malibu with amazing super long rides. I just didn’t time it right this trip with the swell not quite being on my side as well.

Here’s the music video highlight reel of the whole trip if you’re curious!

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