Boca de Pascuales is one of the premier surf spots in Mexico because beach break creates ideal conditions for big barrels. It is often compared to Puerto Escondido because of the size and ferocity of the waves.
The tropical coast of Colima is an agricultural hub that is famous for limes, coconuts, and salt. The Armeria River flows from the Sierra de Manantlán to the coast sustaining the agricultural industry and building world-class sandbars where it meets the ocean. During the summer months, the waves are enormous and the barrels bring professionals from around the globe to try and score some photos.
Boca de Pascuales is not a surf trip for novices. Much like Black’s Beach in La Jolla or Moss Landing in Monterey, the sea floor gets very deep very quickly and the canyon focuses open ocean swell from just about every direction into a massive A-frame peak.
The waves are huge along this stretch of beach. It is more likely that the waves will be too big to surf than the conditions will be flat.
Hanging out in Pascuales feels a lot like surf camp. There isn’t much to do other than surf and drink beer. The locals and transplants are really into fishing but large chartered sport fishing yachts don’t fit in the estuary harbor.
Where is Boca de Pascuales?
Boca de Pascuales is located in Central Pacific Mexico in the state of Colima in western Mexico. It is the beach 10 km outside of the city of Tecoman. The Municipio de Tecomán is halfway between Colima City and Manzanillo where the Carretera Federal 200 (coastal highway) meets the 110 (toll road to Guadalajara about 230 km away). El Paraíso is 5 km on the other side of the Armería River.
Tecomán is the main city in the area and Pascuales is kind of like a suburb. Not too many people actually live in Boca de Pascuales rather live in Tecomán and just make their way down to the beach to hang out and surf.
Tecomán is an important agricultural region in Mexico with a satellite campus of the University of Colima and coconut palm trees as far as the eye can see.
How to get to Boca de Pascuales
There is no commuter airport in Tecomán so travelers will usually require some transfers to get to Pascuales. The closest airports are in Colima City (60 km away), Manzanillo (100 km away), and Guadalajara (250 km away).
The easiest way to get around is with a rental car. Taxis to and from Tecomán are expensive and the bus only comes around once an hour.
From Guadalajara, the cheapest way to get to Pascuales will require some transfers. The local (slow bus) will stop at all the pueblos between Guadalajara and Tecomán and double the amount of time it takes to get there. The fast bus does not stop in Tecomán.
Take the Primera Plus or ETN luxury buses from the Central Nueva in Guadalajara to Colima City. From Colima, you can take the local bus to Tecomán, and another local bus to Boca de Pascuales.
Another option is to take a taxi from Colima City to Boca de Pascuales for around $500 pesos.
Many taxi drivers in Tecomán have roof racks to accommodate surfboards with board bags. However, many of the roof racks are not designed specifically for surfboards and lack padding to protect them from dings. I recommend putting some towels under the surfboards to create a little extra padding.
Surf Spots in Boca de Pascuales
There is easy access to the beach with parking available just about everywhere. Obviously, this changes during Semana Santa and high traffic holidays when the village will be packed.
Waves break up and down the beach for many miles but the best peaks are south of the river mouth. The most competitive peaks are between the Hotel Real de Pascuales and the Hamacas del Mayor Restaurant. There are almost always photographers sitting on the second-story balconies of the hotels shooting photos.
The wave breaks best on a mid-tide. Low tide can make the sand bars difficult to surf and on high tide the wave gets wonky looking like it will break but not actually breaking.
The peak directly in front of the Río Armería river mouth tends to be a little smaller than the rest of the beach.
Playa el Real, just south of Pascuales is another section of beach with enormous waves. This is where the guys doing step-offs with jetskis like to hang out. Unless the waves are so big that nobody is paddling anymore, the jetskis are not welcome at the main peak. There was a period of time when every barney would bring their jetski to Pascuales and take every wave before the guys paddling could even get close. The local surfers and lifeguards have established a set of rules for using jet skis in the area based on the Hawaiian lifeguards’ best practices.
Playa el Paraiso is five kilometers north of Pascuales along the beach.
Boca de Apiza is another popular surfing spot 45 minutes to the south that forms the border between the Estado de Colima and the Estado de Michoacan. The coast of Michoacan is full of exceptional waves that need to be explored.
Surf Seasons in Colima
The coast of the state of Colima faces southwest and picks up just about every drop of swell energy that originates in the southern hemisphere during the summer. Playa de Boca de Pascuales will pick up some swell energy from the north during the winter but there is no comparison to the summer surf season.
Waves in Pascuales during the summer season are huge and water sports should be reserved for the experts. Beginners and intermediate-level surfers are likely to get hurt.
The water temperature in Boca de Pascuales ranges from 85 degrees Fahrenheit to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The air temperature is almost always hot and the day weather forecast rarely changes.
Where to stay in Boca de Pascuales
Hotel Real de Pascuales is the hub of the local surf industry in this part of Mexico. Local chargers from up and down the coast flock to Edgar’s place for the best price on accommodations, local knowledge, and quick ding repair.
Edgar has been building up his hotel for decades now. There is a place to camp, simple hotel rooms and some new suites that are looking very nice. Most of the rooms have air conditioning which is really a necessity in this part of Mexico most of the year.
The Tsunami Restaurant serves simple Mexican food to surfers who are very hungry after a long time in the water.
Edgar operates a surf shop with some really cool Pascuales branded clothes and surfboards that he shapes himself. The imported gear like leashes and wax are expensive but this is the only surf shop this side of Manzanillo.
There are a lot of broken boards in these parts and Edgar’s ding repair guys can have your favorite stick back in the water in a couple of days for a fraction of what you would pay in California. If the ding is minor they can have it ready in less than 24 hours. Edgar also shapes custom surfboards when he can get the blanks. His shapes are designed for the fast and hollow waves of Pascuales.
Down the beach is Paco’s Hotel which is slightly more expensive than Edgar’s place and a little more comfortable. This is where most of the professional surfers from California stay as is apparent from the design-by-surf sticker motif on the lobby windows.
Where to Eat
Pascuales is a fishing community and the seafood is local and excellent. Cash is still king in this part of Mexico and credit cards are not widely accepted.
Las Hamacas del Mayor is one of the most famous restaurants in this part of Mexico. Part beach club, part restaurant, the palm frond roofed palapa is easy to spot in plenty of surf media spreads that show Boca de Pascuales photos. Families from Colima and Guadalajara love to spend Sundays at the beach relaxing in the hammocks hung throughout the restaurant and watching the kids play in the pool.
The specialty is a filet of whitefish (usually Dorado) stuffed with shrimp, octopus, and calamari. Make sure to get an order of the tacos de frijol to start. They are grilled and come with some bomb salsas.
Boca de Pascuales is easily one of the most important surf spots in Mexico that most people will never surf. It is a nice wave to look at but the consequences of making a mistake are significant. If you are looking for some heavy surf, this is the place to plan your next surf trip.