Girmantas | Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, Travel, Spots | March 03, 2010
Baja California is probably the longest peninsula in the world. It’s located between Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez (aka Gulf of California). It’s famous not only because of the oncrowded beaches and constant wind, but also as a homeland of interesting unique plants, flowers and animals. In southern part of peninsula – Baja California Sur, on the shore of Sea of Cortez beautiful Ventana Bay lays. Sandy beach, coconut palms and beautiful view to Isla Cerralvo, wich was recently reowned by the Mexican government and renamed as Jacques Costeau Island.
One of the main reasons to come here is the trip to the island. You may want to get there for fishing, snorkeling, as well as kiteboarding. Isla Cerralvo is an uninhabitted island located about 10-11 miles off shore in Sea of Cortez. Getting there is quite easy. 6-7 kiteboarders fit to one panga – small fishermen boat. Of course as waves get higher, the travel with the panga get complicated. But once you’re there wonderful sandy beaches, sand spits forming flat lagoons and incredible underwater world greets you. It is exceptional experience to enjoy the ride in almost untouched nature. After the Island session you may do a 10 mile crossing through the sea back to La Ventana. As any other challenge this also requires some skills and physical state, but that is the nature of a challenge.
First surfers came to Baja by land. Exploring the unknown beaches and points. Nowadays you can easily find a direct flight to Cabo San Lucas or La Paz airport from US or Mexico City airports. Local airlines are pretty cheap and the quality, at least in our experience, was really good. Car rental is not so necessary, but as usual, makes the life easier. Regular small car costs arround $50 USD per day.
On the other hand, the roads are way better now, so there is no problem to drive down with a camper or motorhome. Many kiteboarders and windsurfers travel down here from the US for the wintertime. Anyway, you have to keep in mind that foreign citizens can’t own and drive local car. Exceptions apply when you rent a car, or come to the country by your own car (with foreign number plates).
There are many places to stay in La Ventana. For those who are looking for uncrowded place and prefer calm stay we recommend Ventana Bay Resort. As the resort is further from the main spot, you will never get a crowd on the beach or in the water. Also the resort is very eco-friendly and have great restaurant. You can easily find other accommodation options closer to the action and the heart of La Ventana. Palapas Ventana, Baja Joe’s, Captain Kirk’s are the ones to mention.
If you come by land, La Ventana has a few campgrounds. Of course there are quite many empty beaches on the shore of Sea of Cortez and if you’re ready to camp with no facilities, you can easily do that. Furthermore, there are a few places in the very center of La ventana, where people camp free of charge. But if you’re looking for some more comfort including restrooms and shower – here are the main ones: Ventana Campground, YoYo’s camping and also Kurt n’ Marina has some room for the RV’s.
Wind and waves
Winds in La Ventana are created by the difference of the water and valley temperatures. On a sunny day valley heats up and constant winds starts blowing. With the forecast of 7 knots you may actually get 12-17 knots on a sunny day. But this rule applies only to the north direction. If you would add El Norte wich comes over the Sea of Cortez from the very north, you may expect a good day with constant 20-30 knots wind.
La Ventana also gets some east winds, but never actually works with any of the other direction. Still with W-SW winds you can try La Paz bay. Water area is choppy, but in the mornings and late afternoon (sometimes it depends on the tide) you may get flatter water. With good El Norte wind some waves starts to form. Sometimes with the right tide we have had waves up to 1,5 m (~5 ft) right in front of Ventana Bay Resort. Waves are peeling nicely all the way down the beach, so downwinders just love to ride them. Down in the end of the bay, a place called Bufadora, you can catch up to mast high on-shore beasts. It’s pretty hard to ride them with the windsurf, but kiters (especially goofy) can have a lot of fun there.
Downwinding is another great thing you can do here. Driving up to Hot Springs take less than half an hour and you can come back to La Ventana savoring the constant wind, rides with manta rays and dolphins as well as beautiful views.
La Ventana – is one of the best windsurfing/kitesurfing holiday destinations. The weather conditions here are very constant. Out of 10 day vacations you can expect to spend at least 7 in the water. We are here three months already and the longest period that there were no wind – 3-4 days. Windsurfing/kitesurfing conditions here are quite easy. Best for quick improvement fro total beginners as well as intermediate windsurfers/kitesurfers. You can even get some waves here. Only have to wait for really good El Norte. Or… just travel a little bit North and after a two hours drive you’ll find the Pacific.
A little bit more about spots:
La Ventana is a sandy beach full of palm trees. Still in the water you can find some really unpleasant rocks. On the other hand you should worry about the rocks only with the low tide. The rock reef is very different, so almost everywhere you can find some sandy spots to enter and exit the water. Thus, you can windsurf/kitesurf almost everywhere. Of course before hurrying into the water it is always better to talk to the local guys and find out where to go and where you could get in trouble. The only thing you would worry about is traffic. Though you can find some really crowded and some empty spots. Still deeper you go into the Ventana bay water gets more choppy and the wind – more gusty.
El Sargento was the first village on La Ventana bay (the same name often confuses and you might think that La Ventana is the “capital” of the region). The beach is a little bit further from the main road here so there are no crowds in the water. Still the biggest part of the beach is private and you can feel it immediately – simple rules of order applies here. People that are causing trouble or displaying non safe behavior are quickly asked to leave. Rock reef near the shore is a little bit bigger than in La Ventana but again you don’t have to worry about for the most of the time. The biggest plus for this beach – the wind is way more consistant and a little bit stronger. It also turns on earlier than in La Ventana.
Hot springs is a little bay with few beach umbrellas. The name of the beach comes from the hot springs that come down from the mountains. If you want to find this hot spring you have to dig a little into the sea bottom. The best time to do that is when the tide is low and the water is flat. Hot springs is the very Northern point where you can start a downwind trip. From here to La Ventana main spot you can get 5-6 miles of a fun down wind ride. Wind is a little bit gusty at Hot Springs bay but once you are further from the shore – it is good. Also in the end of the bay there is a rocky point that you should be aware of. Thus, begginers might want to enter the water right behind the point, in the dry (only in summer time) river bed. The beach is sandy here and there are a lot of place to launch the kite.
The beautiful sandy La Ventana bay turns to the East and continues for a few kilometers accompanied by the sand dune. This dune is famos because some Mexican guys like to get stuck on it once in a while. All this South part of the bay is perfect with the East wind. East wind here is cross-on-shore from the right and usually stronger than in the bay. The water here is pretty flat and it is possible to go down wind from here straight to La Ventana.
However with the North wind you’ll not find a flat spot in La Bufadora. The bay is being washed by swells. Since the wind is on-shore, it is not easy to ride the waves. However, the point on the end of the bay adjusts the shore line and the wave too. Thus, this spot is perfect for the wave riders. Still, bigger waves comes here only with the El Norte winds. But those waves can really surprise you!
You can’t miss spotting Isla Cerralvo from La Ventana. Almost 20 miles long, over 2000 feets high. Uninhabited beaches on the island attracts to get there and spend some time as Robinson Cruse did. The best beach for kiting and windsurfing is right in front of La Ventana. Any fishermen would bring you there by his panga for $150 USD. Beach has a nice sand spit. Above the spit spot is suitable for the beginners and ones who are not so sure about themselves. Thus, downwind of the spit you have perfectly flat water for freestyle tricks or other fun stuff. Still you have to consider, that wind might be quite off shore, so coming back might be difficult.
Island is perfect with western winds. La Ventana gets off shore conditions, while Isla Cerralvo is working perfectly with constant side-on-shore to side-off-shore winds. After the day on the island you may ride the board back to La Ventana. 30-40 minutes ride on one tack takes not only some physical strenght, but also requires a mental state to be prepared to go over the deep water full of sea life.