Marina Projects Threaten Surf Destinations In Baja California

Punta Santa Rosalillita is the heart of Baja’s Seven Sisters region, a conglomeration of mysto right point breaks that attract a steady stream of visiting surfers throughout the fall and winter surf season. However, rather than finding a sleepy fishing village when they arrive in this remote site 411 miles south of San Diego, surfers now stumble out of their 4x4s to find two rock jetties that have destroyed the inside of what was once Baja’s Winter Rincon.

Unfortunately, if Mexican President Vicente Fox has his way, the Santa Rosalillita jetties could be replicated throughout Baja California. The Mexican National Fund for Tourism Development, or FONATUR, plans to develop an Escalera Nautica (nautical staircase) throughout the peninsula that would include a chain of 22 marinas, complete with hotels and facilities, airstrips, and golf courses all in hopes of drawing tens of thousands of yachts and the projected 1,000,000 “nautical tourists,” needed to make the project an economic success.

Besides the existing jetties at Santa Rosalillita, marinas are planned at six other Baja California surf breaks including Cabo Colonet, San Quintin, Punta San Carlos, Punta Canoas, Punta Abreojos, and San Juanico (Scorpion Bay).


At Scorpion Bay, where the surf industry generates considerable income for the small fishing community, FONATUR has yet to consult residents and service providers regarding the marina it plans to build. The planned marina could destroy one the finest right point breaks on the West Coast.

California-based environmental organizations, Pro Peninsula, WiLDCOAST, and the Surfrider Foundation are working together with Mexican environmentalists and communities to stop the destruction of Baja’s premier surf spots. This effort has also been aided by the generous support of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA).


In July, WiLDCOAST and Pro Peninsula organized a surf contest at Punta Abreojos for locals up and down the coast who ripped in honor of coastal protection. Critical articles on Escalera Nautica have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Diego Union Tribune.

The Mexican government recently announced plans to delay project development until an environmental impact assessment is prepared that examines the ramifications of all the projects that are planned. Hopefully the downturn in the U.S. economy will be enough to persuade U.S. investors to avoid the project.

Surfers are urged not to stay on the sidelines. Log on to, or send a letter to President Vicente Fox at urging him to halt the wanton destruction of the Baja California peninsula’s precious coastline.

— Serge Dedina contributed to this article

Chris Pesenti is the codirector of Pro Peninsula and can be reached at: Serge Dedina is the director of WiLDCOAST and can be reached at