By Justin Porter Biel
Huge waves roll towards the shore and bobbing in the swell sits a lineup of tan surfers. One catches a big, crumbling wave. Edging down the face, he cuts hard left, barely escaping an explosion of whitewater. Trailing his board, sea froth churns over the turquoise surface.
Past the break, the Cabo coastline looks immaculate – luxury hotels, mansions, white sand beaches, and boats out for a morning sail. The cliffs of Lover’s Beach sit silent and immovable. Beside them, Medano is alive, buzzing with weekend activity, a scattering of blue tents, Jet Ski’s and glass bottomed boats. Birds glide effortlessly overhead and the mid-day sun is beating down. My stomach is gurgling and my face is hot. I’m holding a surfboard between sweaty fingers and my legs are shaky and weak.
I’m standing with Mike and Heather, a couple who are visiting from California, and my fiancé Rose. Together, we survey the beautiful coast. But while they are oohing and aahing at the postcard view, I’m looking at one thing only – Monuments.
Catching my gaze, Mike hands me his polarized glasses and tells me to put them on.
“See those rocks under the surface,” he says.
Immediately I see them, all of them, a garden of jagged stone and coral. It’s the type of break where falling the wrong way has serious consequences.
“You’re gonna want to avoid those,” says Mike.
With Mike’s pep talk out of the way, we’re scaling the rocks, moving down towards the beach. I don’t share my hesitation, but in my mind, a silent debate is playing out.
You sure this is a good idea? You’re feeling a little shaky.
The ocean is the cure.
Now we’re off the cliffs walking across the beach. I barely notice the grains of sand burning my toes.
You’ve never surfed a rock break in a swell this big.
Exactly. Here’s my chance.
Applying a final layer of board wax I stare up at the posh hotel overlooking the beach. Guests in shaded cabanas are picking at fresh fruit plates and sipping cocktails; tan, fit bodies situated on different patio levels, seamlessly built into the chalk cliffs above. They are wearing dark sunglasses, looking out over the ocean holding books, magazines and iPads.
Do I have to remind you?
Remind me of what?
I slather a gob of SPF 30 over my face, chest and shoulders.
Sometimes you can be a little, well, overzealous.
That’s one of my best qualities.
There’s a break in the set and without thinking, I’m paddling out into the ocean. I move quickly to keep up with Mike. My shoulders are burning, my heart rate’s rising, and adrenaline surges. I try to find balance, joining the water’s rhythmic flow, but the rocks below look rigid and menacing.
Making it out past the whitewater, I spend a few minutes simply observing. I study the break, trying to get a feel for its patterns. I take note of every nuance, watching the experienced surfers, gathering what tips I can. The whole time, my body stays in motion, rolling up and down, up and down, in the massive swell. Mentally, I’m feeling more confident, but physically, something is off.
My gut is cinching into knots. A fury is building in the depths of my stomach. I breathe deeply attempting to calm the nausea, but the growing urge has become unstoppable. Knowing I have only seconds to act, I turn my face away from the beach, watching helplessly as my breakfast becomes fish food over the front of my board. I wash my face with salty water. Looking around, I expect to see a number of laughing faces and fingers pointed, but no one is watching. The surfers are gazing outward toward the horizon. Heather and Rose are doing yoga on the beach. The hotel guests are too far away to notice.
My eyes linger on the sandy shore. The beach is fifty yards away, past head-high waves crashing over a garden of stone.
Time to paddle in.
Nope. Time to surf.
A wave is building. I’m in the perfect spot. My brain shuts off, and suddenly, I’m operating through feel alone – paddling, looking back, committing. I jump up just before the wave crumbles. The takeoff is smooth. The face is open. I cut hard to my backside, feeling water and wind rush past. The rocks are still there, but they are no longer fatal; they’re beautiful.
I’m dancing with the ocean, and nothing else matters.
Completing a smooth, long ride, I cut over the lip and paddle back out. I don’t look back at the beach and I barely notice the other surfers. I’m fixated on a single thought as it dashes upon the hamster wheel of my brain.
Catch another wave. Catch another wave. Catch another wave.
Monuments Surf Break.
Directions to Break:
You’ll find this break just east of Cabo San Lucas off Highway 1. Look for a statue or monument at the entrance near the Misiones del Cabo Hotel on the Cabo corridor. The break is located below the hotel’s restaurant, or directly in front of The Cape Hotel. Monuments can offer decent size breaks even when the rest of the area is flat.
About the Author:
Leaving his home state of Colorado behind, Justin now calls the beaches of Baja California home. A writer and recent expat, he is a resident of Todos Santos, Mexico.