Punta de Lobos: Treacherously Beautiful

“It’s not ‘el mar’ its ‘la mar’”, says a man simply known as Marzo, “and I’ve never known a love as pure as hers.”

The rocky stretch of shoreline known as Punta de Lobos is Chile’s pride and joy when it comes to surf destinations, and for fishermen like Marzo it’s both the office and a cherished companion. But regardless of whom you talk to, no one can deny the sheer drama of this treacherously picturesque section of Chile’s central coast.

Morros (photo by Ginger Wojcik)
Morros (photo by Ginger Wojcik)

Unlike most renowned beaches in the world, Punta de Lobos has retained it’s rural charm. Situated a quick ten minutes from the quaint surf town of Pichilemu, the beach is pleasantly void of businesses, save for a few restaurants and surf schools sprinkled throughout the point.

It’s midday as Marzo’s friend Nono fills my glass with red wine. Through a window behind him the ocean sparkles beneath a cloudless sky as wave after perfect wave peel through the inside section of Punta de Lobos. Although now regarded as one of the world’s prime big wave locations, Marzo and Nono were here decades before the hype.

“It all started about eight years ago,” says Marzo in reference to the monumental rise in surf tourism to the area, “And every year since then there are more and more people from around the world.”

Midday Snack (photo by Ginger Wojcik)
Midday Snack (photo by Ginger Wojcik)

This influx in popularity can be largely attributed to the installation of The Ceremonial, an internationally attended big wave surfing contest now held every spring between the months of April and June. As is customary with big wave surf competitions, a relatively long waiting period is put in place to allot ample time for the arrival of a swell powerful enough to produce massive waves.

Punta de Lobos exists where a massive outcropping of the Chilean coastline falls steeply into the Pacific, creating a row of three brilliantly designed left-hand breaks. The inside bowl section is called Diamantes and is the least life threatening of the three, although still challenging for anyone with little surfing experience. It is also where you’ll find boards and wetsuits for rent as well as friendly Chilean surf instructors ready to help you conquer your, in this case, well warranted fears of the sea.

Directly above Diamantes is Mirador and this is where the fun really starts. Hosting a fierce current and an array of submerged rocks, this break has its share of obstacles. However, if mastered, it also has the potential to provide an incredible ride on a remarkably powerful wall of water.

Diamantes (photo by Ginger Wojcik)
Diamantes (photo by Ginger Wojcik)

Lastly, at the head of the point lies the awe inspiring Morros. As the site for The Ceremonial, Morros deserves all the credit when it comes to Punta de Lobos’ infamy. When storms thousands of kilometers westward send torrents of energy through the Pacific they eventually collide with the suddenly shallow seafloor at Morros, creating a beautifully shaped and ferociously large wave. From the headland you are able to watch comfortably as millions of liters of turbulent saltwater crash violently against a cluster of monstrous rocks. It really is a sight to behold.

Nursing a sore groin muscle recently injured at the hands of Mirador, part time Californian student and international vagabond Marion Ramos can attest to the unforgiving nature of this wave. “The last three weeks I’ve been here there was only one day the waves weren’t big,” says Ramos.

In the surfing world that’s a notable statistic. There is, in fact, such a constant onslaught of swell that surfers can afford to be picky with the days they choose to get in the water, meaning it can be 27 degrees out with overhead surf and only a handful of people in the water.

Morros (photo by Ginger Wojcik)
Morros (photo by Ginger Wojcik)

However, once the green light is given for The Ceremonial to begin this quiet stretch of beach will be transformed into a gladiator style arena with surfers from around the world attempting to coax this beast of a wave into dishing them a kiss or two. Fortunately for the surf fans among us, the headland at Punta de Lobos provides a convenient, and in the big wave world, rare opportunity to watch the world’s most fearless surfers do what they love to do.

Stay posted on the status of the event at http://quiksilver-ceremonial.cl/

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