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Surfer Colin McPhillips living it up in Mexico


Toes on the nose in Mexico with Colin McPhillips; photo courtesy Salt Life

Toes on the nose in Mexico with Colin McPhillips; photo courtesy of Salt Life

A surf trip to Mexico has been a California surfer’s rite of passage for decades—and 38-year-old professional surfer Colin McPhillips from San Clemente, California, has logged plenty of kilometers down south in search of surf, adventure, and good times. “I’ve been traveling to Mexico for as long as I can remember,” he says. “From learning how to drive on the dirt roads, to memorizing every road that I knew would lead to surf, Mexico has always been dear to my heart.”

A typical day for McPhillips in Mexico is simple: “If there is surf—we’re on it. No questions asked,” says the father of four. “It’s really unbelievable to ride waves early in the morning, go catch some fish, dive down to see the beauty below, and then end the day eating the sashimi from a fish you reeled in.”

Even getting to Mexico is simple for Colin, whether he’s traveling by car or plane. “It all depends on the amount of time you have. When traveling by air, it’s easy to do a hit and run, but nothing beats loading up your truck and going with no real schedule. Either way, just go with the flow and follow what you think the ocean is doing!”

With those words of wisdom and a spirit of adventure on our minds, here are five things Colin loves about Mexico, in his words …

Colin McPhillips looking to reel in dinner; photo courtesy Salt Life

Colin McPhillips looking to reel in dinner; photo courtesy of Salt Life

1. The adventure!
It’s about the feeling you get when you’re done loading up the truck for a 4 a.m. departure. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re just so fired up to get in the dirt, camp, and surf waves alone. There is nothing better than a two-day drive through the desert and getting your first surf with just the friends you’re traveling with.

2. The people you encounter along the way
I’ve had my share of mishaps traveling, and there has been nowhere in the world that I’ve had more help and generosity from complete strangers to get me back on my way. Any time I go down there, I can’t wait to see friends who owned a taco stand or sold tamales at a certain gas station. These are encounters that happen in your life that you’ll never forget.

Colin McPhillips at one of Mexico's myriad pointbreaks; photo courtesy Salt Life

Colin McPhillips at one of Mexico’s myriad pointbreaks; photo courtesy of Salt Life

3. The surf
It’s no secret that Mexico is the land of rights—there are so many right pointbreaks to surf it’s crazy. They might not all be the best waves in the world, but I will never forget all the times I’ve been surfing with my dad, brother, and friends without another person in the water. Sharing waves in the middle of Mexico with no one else in sight is just incredible.

Follow the lead of Colin McPhillips and turn right; photo courtesy Shutterstock

Follow the lead of Colin McPhillips and turn right. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

4. The drive
If you want to get to certain waves, you better be able to burn the miles. For me, that’s one of the things I like the most—driving through the desert looking for the small, unmarked dirt road that you know has a pot of gold at the end, or at the least a mushy Trestles-like pointbreak that you will be sharing with the friends you are camping with. I love seeing how hard you can push it through the washboard roads, then locking the hubs into four-wheel drive to cruise down the beach.

5. Family
I started going to San Felipe in Baja California at a really young age with my best friend and his grandparents. I remember doing the runs on Christmas break and Easter. This led to countless trips with my dad, brother, and friends when I got older and capable of holding my own in the water. Surfing, camping, and adventure … that’s what Mexico is all about!

Colin McPhillips (left) and Salt Life ambassador Jimmy Nelson with a nice haul; photo courtesy Salt Life

Colin McPhillips, left, and Salt Life ambassador Jimmy Nelson with a nice haul; photo courtesy of Salt Life