When thinking of El Salvador, visions of chest-high to overhead pointbreak perfection comes to mind. The country is awash in right-hand cobblestone points and has become a staple for regular-foots who enjoy rippable, user-friendly walls. In other words, it’s pretty much the opposite of what goofy-foot, former big wave world champion Jamie Sterling typically looks for.
But this past month Jamie headed down to the Central American country with one of his clients for a quick trip—a pre-planned getaway to warm up their arms in anticipation of the coming Hawaiian winter. They expected to surf small, groomed lines at Punta Roca and Punta Mango, making up for the small waves with big, all-day sessions. What they didn’t expect was to stumble into the biggest, cleanest swell El Salvador has seen in a decade.
Spot guide: El Salvador
As Jamie put it: “Considering we didn’t go on a strike mission, who would have thought we’d be at one of the premier point breaks in El Salvador during one of the biggest/cleanest swell in the last 10 years?
"A client and good friend Trevor Mullen organised this trip back in June of 2021, and Trevor and I were hoping to score some long, 2-to-4 foot point breaks—fun waves for him to get warmed up for another winter in Hawaii.
"Apparently, Mother Ocean had other plans. Unfortunately for Trevor, it went a bit beyond his comfort level. He decided to err on the side of caution rather than listening to his ego and opted out of the uncharacteristically heavy 15-foot faces that were freight training around the point at Punta Mango.
"While he took notes on shore, I paddled my 6'3" Richie Collins twin fin out into the dreamy chocolate runners and joined a small group of chargers in some of the best point surf I’d ever seen.”
In a world that has become increasingly digital and connected, swell strikes have become the norm for the surf community, and particularly the big wave elite. But there’s still something exciting about choosing a destination and a window in the middle of the season and hoping for the best. Is it old school? Sure. Are you less likely to score? Maybe.
But when you do, it feels that much more special. No expectations, no stressful forecast obsessions and last-minute flights. Just perfect, unexpected waves during the best swell in 10 years.