The ALLURE of SCORPION BAY
Scorpion Bay is a legendary surf spot. It’s been compared to other legendary point breaks such as Malibu, Rincon, and Jeffery’s Bay. When Scorpion Bay catches the right swell, few waves on Earth can match its form and length.
Scorpion Bay is located 600 miles south of San Diego in the state of Baja California Sur in a small fishing village known as San Juanico. Looking at a map, San Juanico is just north of Loreto, directly across the peninsula on the Pacific.
The first surfers to document their experience at Scorpion Bay came in the form of Scott Dittrich's surf movie Fluid Drive in 1974. The movie subsequently attracted interest from Surfing Magazine which wrote a spread in 1975. Now, Scorpion Bay is home to 800 or so residents and about half of those are expatriates of the US and Canada, most of whom have relocated here for the infamous surf. Though Scorpion Bay is remote and somewhat difficult to access, thousands of surf aficionados flock here every summer for a once in a lifetime experience.
Surfer Magazine has Scorpion Bay ranked the 36th best wave in the world! Click here for the full article.
The WORLD-RENOWNED SURF
Scorpion Bay consists of 4 points that break to the right. (There are really 8 points, but only 4 are really special.) For the most part it is a sand bottom, but Third and Fourth points possess numerous lava rocks. The unique surf at Scorpion Bay is attributed to the way the points face extremely to the southeast. This allows for steady offshore winds to perfectly shape the waves and generate the famous rides that can last over a minute long. Because Scorpion Bay faces southeast, it only picks up south swells. Generally speaking, south swells occur between March and November, more frequently during the summer months and with more intensity during the hurricane season. Optimal conditions for Scorpion Bay are strong south swells with a direction between 180° and 215°. During these conditions, surfers have been known to ride waves in excess of 3 minutes long. For up to date surfing conditions at Scorpion Bay, check out the Surfline link.
Due to the perfect shape and the incredible length of the waves at Scorpion Bay, surfers of all ages and skill levels can experience the ride of a lifetime. And because the 4 points are so uniquely different, there is a perfect setting for every surfer to excel.
First point creates the smallest, slowest, gentlest, and often shortest waves, but it is a perfect spot for novices to maximize their surfing potential through quality amounts of face time
Second point accepts most of the swells that comes into the bay and therefore the most consistent of the 4 points and usually the most crowded. Depending on the swell, Second Point is where most surfers visiting Scorpion Bay for the first time get the ride of their life. The steady offshore winds create long, perfectly peeling waves that will allow you to cruise and play for well over a minute. The paddle back to the lineup can be strenuous, but the memory and prospect of more waves makes it well worth it.
Third point is for more advanced surfers because it can get fast and hollow. It is somewhat difficult to access due to the steep bluff and the lava rocks on shore, but it is the place of legend. When the swell is big enough, Third point has been said to connect to Second point creating a ride in excess of 3 minutes long. There are not too many places on Earth where this is a possibility.
Fourth point is also somewhat difficult to access and the form is not as good as the other 3 points. The angle of the point bends just enough so that the winds don’t hold up the waves as they do at the other 3. When there is a swell and the winds are calmer, Fourth point can be just as good as Third and is usually less crowded.
Though Scorpion Bay has sometimes been referred to as “rare” and “fickle” in its frequency of good waves, none can protest the perfection and the surreality of a classic Scorpion Bay wave.
Baja as a whole is one of the most diverse and abundant habitats for sea life in the world. It is no wonder that the people of San Juanico have been reliant on its waters for sustenance. The local fishermen make their living by fishing for shrimp, lobster, and abalone, all off limits to visitors. The waters of San Juanico, however, do offer its visitors plenty of other game to fish. Corvina and sand bass can be fished all year round. Halibut can be fished from May to July, and from November to February yellowfin and yellowtail. If you are going to fish in San Juanico, be sure to get a fishing license at Chapo’s.
Scores of tourists flock to the Baja peninsula every year to observe and experience the migrating California grey whales. These majestic creatures can be seen a mile or 2 off the coast of San Juanico. Though San Juanico is not the most popular or traditional location to experience Baja’s rich sea life, it still offers a similar and more private experience.
GETTING to SCORPION BAY
There is no easy or best way to get to Scorpion Bay. Though no truer words have been spoken, getting to Scorpion Bay is part of the great Baja adventure.
Flying is the most time efficient method of getting to Scorpion Bay. If you want to get to Scorpion Bay as quickly as possible, flying privately on our company plane is the way to go. If you leave from San Diego, you can be in the water in 5 hours. See the information below about our plane owned by our company Contractor’s Flight Service, LLC.
The closest commercial airport to Scorpion Bay is Loreto International Airport. Alaska Airlines is currently the only carrier to fly to and from Loreto direct from the US and only flies on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. For more information about these flights, go to www.alaskaair.com. Another route is flying Volaris Airlines from Tijuana to La Paz. For more information on flights, go to www.volaris.mx/en/.
From the Loreto airport, it will be necessary to rent a car to make the 2.5 hour drive to Scorpion Bay (directions are below). The rental companies at the airport are: Alamo, Budget, Europcar, and Hertz.
From the La Paz airport, it will be necessary to rent a car to make the 5 hour drive to Scorpion Bay (directions are below). The rental companies at the airport are: Alamo, Auto Europe, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Hertz, Honk, National Car Rental, Thrifty and Zoom Car Rental.
Nota bene, do not leave the airport without checking for a spare tire and tools to change a spare. It is also a good idea to check current road conditions in Baja in advance at www.bajanomad.com
Though driving is the most common method of getting to Scorpion Bay, you really only need to drive if you are going to camp. And why would you camp when you can be a Member of the Scorpion Bay Surfing and Fishing Club and have the best accommodations Scorpion Bay has to offer? Anyway, there are two options to get to Scorpion Bay by car. Both options will take at least 12 hours (from the Tijuana border) on the windy, two-lane Highway 1. When you reach San Ignacio (about 450 miles from San Diego) you can either choose to stay on Highway 1 or take the north road into Scorpion Bay. Taking the north road is much quicker (saves about 3 hours) but requires the experience of having taken the north road before and a vehicle that can handle the bumps and dips of a dirt Mexican road. Staying on Highway 1 is the slow but sure way to go and if you don’t mind the drive, there are some very beautiful beaches and coves between Santa Rosalía and Loreto to admire.
Once you reach Ciudad Insurgentes from either Loreto or La Paz, keep driving north for another 1 hour towards La Purisima. Beware of potholes around the 75km mark when driving north from Insurgentes. Start slowing down. There is no Scorpion Bay sign from the main highway. It is painted on the back of a sign in red on your left side which is around the 85km mark when you are driving north from Insurgentes. Essentially you are making a left to Las Barrancas and then making your first right to Scorpion Bay after 8 minutes. There will be a few more potholes on that road so beware. The drive from Las Barrancas to San Juanico is about 45 minutes. Once you reach San Juanico, you will be on the main road called Dionisia Villarino. Follow the road a few blocks until you reach La Joya and turn right, the Club is on the right side. Below is a map of the location of San Juanico.
No matter how you get to Scorpion Bay, don’t forget a passport and a visa when traveling to Mexico. If you do, you might as well stay at Scorpion Bay forever.