What’s so Special about Zicatela?
Situated just 50 kms from the southern most tip of Mexico’s coast, Puerto Escondido sits on a stretch of Oaxacan coastline that forms the kink between the continents of North and South America –a huge point of energy on our planet. Hanging out like an elbow into the ribs of the Pacific, there is little between it and the peaks of Antarctica half a world away. The coast draws and absorbs whatever the Southern Hemisphere winter can throw at it, and every storm between New Zealand, Antarctica and Chile will send its swell marching thousands of kilometers north over the equator, and this coastline will be its first stop.
The beach at Puerto Escondido faces southwest, deviating from the general line of the coast, and this causes the generally straight, long period lines of swell to refract and show some form. La Punta, on the southernmost point of the beach is the first point of contact for a set. It’ll stand up and explode onto some nasty looking exposed rocks right out on the point, it will then bend and march along a jagged line of pinnacles and sand that eventually turn into a beach. The swell continues charging up the beach from left to right on its way down Playa Zicatela, gathering size and intensity as it runs. The main break at Puerto is 2.5 kms down the beach, and a 6-footer at La Punta will eventually detonate as a 10-foot beast at “the arena” in front of the lifeguard station on Zicatela.
In another unique geographical phenomenon the San Andreas Fault Line comes to within a few hundred meters of the shore at Puerto, where the ocean bed plummets from a depth of two kilometers to depths that can only be guessed at. Submerged swells funnel through this gorge at huge speeds before they’re forced over the giant ledge on shore, forcing them to stand up and form the giant barrels the wave is known for.
It’s this combination of factors that has seen this stretch of beach become a regular destination for the best big wave riders in the world. With their boards, balls, dreams and delusions they come to try and score one of Puerto’s big dirty sand churning barrels.