On this cold February morning in London, with temperatures hovering around just 1 degree Celsius, it feels natural to review our Boardies® trip to Mexico last month, daydreaming of the sumptuous sunshine, epic waves, delicious tacos and tempting tequila!
This marks the first of a new series of blog posts following the travels of Boardies® founder Nick, as he takes the brand around the world, sharing his adventures along the way.
Mexico was an obvious destination for Boardies®, with its year-round sunshine, beautiful coastlines and incredible culture and cuisine. I had an amazing time in Tulum some years ago, but had heard the area has now lost some of its innocence and “off the beaten track” vibe that it once promised. So, in light of that, I was looking for somewhere new and authentic to relax, improve my surfing and celebrate New Year's Eve in style.
Chatting to friends from Central and South America on top of doing some of my own research, steered me in the direction of Sayulita, a vibrant and quirky surf town on the west coast in state of Nayarit which first became popular with travelling surfers in 1960s.
After a quick two-hour flight from Mexico City to the Puerto Vallarta, which served up incredible views over sprawling mountains and countryside, I was eager to get to the beach! The taxi ride took longer than expected from the airport - it should have been around40 minutes - but the driver took me on a scenic route around Sayulita, searching for the hostel which the surf school had organised for me. It was called “The Amazing Hostel” but unfortunately it didn't live up to its name...
First impressions of Sayulita did not disappoint however, and was it exactly the kind of place I was looking for, with heaps of character, authenticity, atmosphere and a real positive energy. On landing in the town, you are instantly greeted by streams of multicoloured holiday decorations stretching across the buildings overhead. Delicious street food is also abundant, with sizzling tacos, quesadias and burritos luring you in. But one of the first things I did was drink a fresh coconut, before putting on a pair of Boardies® prototype in preparation for the beach.
The first beach I visited was packed, mostly with locals and a smattering of tourists. I learned that the holiday season gets pretty busy, but in a couple of days it was set to wind down. There was a real carnival atmosphere on the waterfront, with locals dancing to music, basking in the sunshine and watching the surfers at sea. I couldn't wait to get in the water, so I quickly picked up a board and went to hit some waves. I had surfed a little before, more recently in Portugal and Hawaii, but I was still a bit of a novice. My aim for the trip was to improve my surf skills and get some turns in! After battling through some white water I made it out to the breaks. It felt amazing being back in the water. I stayed away from the packs of other surfers and tried to get my bearings. Surprisingly I caught my first wave pretty quickly, which felt awesome, but after that there were fewer waves and as the afternoon faded away and sun started to set I called it a day. Instead I headed back to the hostel and decided to conserve my energy for the first day of surf camp, which would start early the next day.
Walking back with my board I bumped into an old friend from London, who I used to work with. Small f*cking world, huh?! Samantha had been in Sayulita for a few days already so was able to show me around and introduce me to some cool people that night! Guess my evening of conserving energy was off the cards...
Sayulita has a great nightlife, really eclectic and vibrant. After some delicious Mexican food and cocktails at the “swing bar”, I was ready to hit the sack!
The next morning I couldn't wait to get down to the surf camp and check out some waves. It was early and quiet out, as most revellers were still in bed. The only people I spotted were some travellers, who were camping on the beach, and a local band doing some filming. It felt a million miles away from London and I couldn't hide the smile on my face as I headed down to the camp.
I booked surf lessons with the guys at Wildmex, a really cool family-owned business with a down-to-earth relaxed vibe, but super hospitable and friendly. The surf coach we had was a dude called “Mitch”, a big Aussie with huge dreads and colourful character to match.
The beach break was 30 mins away in Punta Mina, where the other Widmex office was located. It boasted super-chilled vibes with hammocks, an amazing coffee shop and juice bar to boot. It was the perfect place to get ready and relax post-surf.
Mitch spent time showing me how to handle the board - an 8ft 3 Foamie - with tips on how to paddle and pop up correctly. The surf on Day One was pretty big and the two other students were getting up quickly. While I was less experienced, I also managed to catch a few good waves. The feeling was exhilarating and I could feel my technique improve with each set that I hit.
On my second day at camp the surf was really small and inconsistent, but I tried my best to make the most out of it, concentrating on my posture and reading the waves better. Each day I felt like I was picking up something new - even from the wipe outs and mistakes I was making. Gradually, it seemed like it was all coming together.
Day three was probably toughest as I was feeling really rough following a big night on the tiles. There was also a stomach bug going around, which I was struggling with. I let Mitch know that I would play it by ear. At one point, I honestly thought I was gonna barf in the sea! As soon as we paddled out the point break, I could see a nice-looking wave rolling forwards so I went for it and caught probably one of the best waves of the week. The adrenaline was pumping. I managed to start turning on the board and ride a good 20-30 seconds. I couldn’t wait to get straight back out! Remarkably, I hit my second and third waves consecutively straight after, both almost as good as the first. I couldn't believe it, especially given how sick I was feeling. At one point I decided to call it a day, but the waves continued to roll and it quickly became addictive! In the end, I stayed out in the water for the whole session and was completely buzzing when I finally scrubbed up on shore.
The final day, Mitch got me onto an 8ft Hawaiian hard board which felt awesome, as it was so much more responsive and easier to turn than the foamie. It felt great and I took to it well, catching two or three waves quickly. I also did my first “social surf”, which saw me catch the same wave as two other dudes, with us all riding it together.
The whole experience in the water was epic. Everyday I wore a new pair of the Boardies® flat-fronted shorts with a fixed waistband, which were great to surf in, however by putting them to the test, I've seen scope to improve on the designs a little. The experience has inspired me to develop some more performance styles for the collection.
The celebrations for New Year's Eve in Sayulita were very special. The locals came out to party across the town square and of course the beach, where fireworks and lanterns filled the skies. The sound of music and waves crashing in the darkness punctuated the air. I have to say it was a truly magical experience and at midnight, we found ourselves in a really cool club overlooking the square, listening to some wicked mixes from the DJ. The fun crowd was an added bonus.
My experience in Mexico was amazing, with stunning beaches, awesome people and a rich history and culture. It felt so good being away from a capital city, living at a slower pace, appreciating nature and enjoying the simplicity that life offers there.
From Salyulita, I flew back to Mexico City Where I hung out with my mate Daniel - who now lives out there - before heading on to Colombia, where a whole new adventure awaited...