Local Surf Schools
For better or worse, in the past decade Sayulita has become one of Mexico's renowned surfing towns. For whatever reasons, though our in-town wave is rarely spectacular, Sayulita has produced national surfing champions and international competitors, and is or has been home to a couple of dozen world class surfers. People come here looking for the surfing vibe, whether it be to watch, to participate, or to learn. Lots of people come to learn these days, and so it is not surprising that many of our talented, home-grown Sayulita surfers have become surf instructors. After all, as surf instructor Eric Barraza bluntly put it, "We all need the money."
There are big operations, like Wildmex, hauling truckloads of beginners over to once-remote breaks several times a day, and El Tigre's school, owned by a local who has been Mexico's national surfing champion. There are the schools run by the bigger shops in town, such as Sininen and Lunazul.
And then there are the smaller operations, set up under temporary pavilions on the sand, where several of the town's surfers-turned-entrepreneurs offer a mix of board rentals, surfing lessons, and day trip surf safaris.
The local businesses we're looking at this week are the Sayulita Surf School, a two-year-old concern operated by brothers Sergio and Patricio Gonzales, and Get Up Stand Up, run by Eric Barraza. All three of these gentlemen are gifted surfers--Patricio Gonzales won our local longboarding competition last year, and both he and Sergio placed in the top four this year. Eric and his brother Joel have been impressing me and plenty of other observers with their long and shortboarding skills for years.
Sergio and Patricio Gonzales' Sayulita Surf School is housed in a small portable pavilion and an adjacent former lifeguard tower on the beach, a little ways south of the river. Sergio offers all kinds of boards for rent at great prices--150 pesos a day, 50 pesos an hour-surfing lessons for 400 pesos for one person and 600 for two, and drives on surf trips to nearby waves at La Lancha, Burros, or Anclote. He also takes people to El Faro, Bahia, and Chacala by a combination of car and boat.
Sergio is fluent in English, super-enthusiastic, and, he says, "I especially love working with kids." For any parents looking for surfing instruction for their kids, having seen Sergio in action I can vouch for his patience and enthusiasm. The joy he takes in showing kids how to ride the waves is evident. Sergio is 25 years old, and has been surfing for 20 years and teaching surfing for eight years.
Eric Barraza's business, Get Up Stand Up--a phrase from Bob Marley and an inspired name for a surfing school-is housed in a small temporary pavilion, sporting rastafarian colors, farther down the beach in front of Don Pedro's. Eric is bilingual, offers the same combination of board rentals, surfing lessons, and surf trips to breaks in the area. His focus, he says, is on the fundamentals: understanding how waves break, the pop-up, ocean safety, all the little things that add up to a basic sense of what's going on when you're out there in the waves. As he pointed out, "having someone push you into a wave and standing up is not a surfing lesson." Eric is 25 years old and has been surfing since he was six! He started giving surfing lessons at the ripe old age of 10. Eric does group and/or private lessons, and he loves his work, he says, because "my home is in the ocean, and my life is surfing."
If you're interested in learning to surf in Sayulita, these local guys can get you started.