Voices of San Miguel: What It Means to Preserve the Birthplace of Mexican Surfing

With the historic announcement declaring San Miguel the first state park in Baja California, we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on the local community that demanded action for the iconic surf break and whose initiative kicked off a multi-year struggle to preserve the birthplace of Mexican surfing.

With every iconic surf break, there’s history and community. By protecting these waves, we’re protecting everything they stand for.

So, we asked some Coalition friends a simple question:

What does the San Miguel State park designation mean to you?

Ignacio Félix Cota
Pioneer and 'Father of Mexican Surfing'

Unforgettable years of surfing with our friends and the excitement of preparing the next Baja Surf Club Invitationals. We had our club meetings at the little restaurant in San Miguel where we planned the first Mexican Nationals, our participation as the Mexican Team for the World Surfing Contests in 1966 and 1968 to come, and our Surfaris to explore the Mexican coastline. It all happened there.

The most memorable was the Baja Surf Club Invitational events and the gathering of the most legendary stars of surfing of that era: Doyle, Dora, Frye, Nuuhiwa, Corky, Grigg, Takeyama, Muñoz, etc.

Three days of surfing, competition, parties and extravaganza in San Miguel with all of them … those were the days!!!

Finally, a long overdue, but celebrated action from a new generation of community leaders and local authorities to start preserving and protecting our most important beaches and surfing spots in Ensenada.

Mariana Valencia
Surfer & Environmental Activist

San Miguel is not only a surf spot with a lot of history, but it’s also very important for the new generations of surfers.

For me, the designation of San Miguel as a State Park means that we will have the wave for many, many years. The coastline is changing rapidly, and it is good to know that one of the places I love will be protected. It also means that we will have a place where we can enjoy the outdoors, surf and walk, go camping, and finish, among other activities. Our community really needs areas for recreation. 

I think that San Miguel means very different things to everyone. Everyone relates to San Miguel differently, but we all care for it and enjoy it in different ways.
Beatriz Ibarra
Surfer & Environmental Scientist in Bahía Todos Santos

En realidad no puedo seleccionar una memoria favorita, he pasado más de la mitad de mi vida en San Miguel. En esa playa he hecho mis más grandes amistades, donde me enamorado, donde he criado a mis hijos, donde aprendí a surfear y donde he agarrado las mejores olas de mi vida, pero también los peores sustos y revolcones, es donde he comido los platillos más deliciosos, donde he visto la naturaleza resplandecer, donde más me he divertido, donde he pasado mis mayores alegrías y también donde he llorado mis penas más grandes.

San Miguel ha sido mi hogar durante estos últimos 20 años.

I can’t really select a favorite memory, I have spent more than half of my life in San Miguel. On that beach I have made my greatest friendships, where I fell in love, where I raised my children, where I learned to surf and where I have caught the best waves of my life, but also the worst scares and tumbles, it is where I have eaten the most delicious dishes, where I have seen nature shine, where I have had the most fun, where I have spent my greatest joys and also where I have cried my greatest sorrows.

San Miguel has been my home for the past 20 years.

Nacho Félix
Ensenada-Based Surf Photographer

San Miguel has a huge significance to the local and international surf community. It is the birthplace of Mexican Surfing and is regularly visited by surfers all around the world due to the conditions of the break. The first international contest organized by the Baja Surf Club and the USSA (United States Surfing Association) was held there in San Miguel in the summer of August 1966.

I have many memories from San Miguel. I met my first girlfriend there and have had innumerable surf stories and experiences there. I would say that I enjoy just sitting with everybody in the lineup and surfing. Cheering everybody on and watching the sunset and getting a feeling of satisfaction with the end of my day. 

San Miguel is a place of gathering for many families and friends. And the sport of surfing has continued and prospered through the new generations of Mexican families. It is something that fathers have passed on to their sons and daughters and friends. And is enjoyed by all.

Gabriela Caloca
Coordinadora del Programa de Conservación de Agua y Humedales en Pronatura Noroeste A.C.

El Arroyo San Miguel es uno de los 8 arroyos en la Ciudad de Ensenada que está mejor conservado y la comunidad local, nacional e internacional lo usan para recreación y deporte.

Con la protección de las 67 hectáreas aseguramos un total de 9.5% de las áreas verdes naturales que se necesita por población para la Ciudad de Ensenada y se cubre el total para la Delegación del Sauzal de lo recomendado por la población.

Es un paso muy importante, ya que no contamos con ninguna Área Natural Protegida Estatal en Baja California, es abrir el camino para poder designar mas y asi poder contar con un sistema estatal de áreas protegidas. 

The Arroyo San Miguel is one of the 8 streams in the City of Ensenada that is best preserved and the local, national and international community use it for recreation and sports. With the protection of the 67 hectares we ensure a total of 9.5% of the natural green areas that are needed per population for the City of Ensenada and the total for the Delegation of Sauzal is covered as recommended by the population.

It is a very important step, since we do not have any State Protected Natural Area in Baja California, it is to open the way to be able to designate more and thus be able to have a state system of protected areas.

Jesús 'Chuy' García
Surf Photographer & Historian

Historically, this place has been visited by Americans since the 1950s – a decade before Mexican surfing even started, meaning that this place has given Mexican families an economic income since then.

 This surf spot became very popular because of the break characteristics which let them surf their 10 foot and 20 kilos boards, a very consistent and high quality wave through out the year. This led to a cultural exchange that has been practiced since then. 

When Mexican surfing started, there were no magazines, they learned by watching Americans in this particular place. It took a couple of years for Mexicans to master this place, it is for sure one of the four Mexican surfing pillars where Mexican surfing started.

 My best memory of San Miguel is when I first crossed the jetty on a big North West swell, I ended up crossing it four times that session. This is when i got hooked to this magical place. 
I have surfed the best waves of my life here. I would like my kids to do the same.

Learn more about Arroyo San Miguel.

Scroll to Top