|Find the best surf spots||
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Datum: WGS84 [ Help ]
Latitude: 32° 33.273' N
User rating (8)
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Fly or drive to San Diego, drive south to Imperial Beach. Take the main road to the pier. Then walk along the beach until you reach the last house on the American side right before you cross over into Mexico. (From surfexplorer: If you start walking at the pier you will be walking far mor than 5 min. to get to the Tijuana Sloughs (I have never heard it called Bartocci's River, It is the Tijuana River)turn south on coast blvd. drive south until the road ends. On foot continue south for another football feild plus until you have reached the Tijuana river, you can't miss it. If the sloughs are doing it's thing you will need to cross the river mouth to paddle out on the south side. North side is impossible when the outer shelfs are breaking. Typically when people refer to the sloughs they are talking about the outer shelfs, which only breaks when it is BIG. The breaks closer to the shore are refered to as "Boca Rio".
DistanceTake a car
WalkShort walk (5-15 mn)
Easy to find?Easy to find
Public access?Public access
Special accessDon't know
Alternative name Bartocci's River
Wave qualityRegional Classic
DirectionRight and left
Normal lengthNormal (50 to 150m)
Good day lengthVery Long (300 to 500 m)
Good swell directionNorthWest, West, SouthWest
Good wind direction
Swell sizeStarts working at Less than 1m / 3ft and holds up to 5m / 16 ft and over
Best tide position
Best tide movement
Week crowdFew surfers
- Rips / undertow
IB was always a safe bet on any swell when I didn't want to hassle with the long drive and traffic to North County or deal with the crowds. IB can be good during a variety of swell size (and directions), from small to huge. Up to head-high, conditions on both sides near the pier can be good, and you can usually find several peaks along the beach running south of the pier. There is also a good break in front of the "dinosaur cage." The clever among you can figure that one out on your own. IB can get crowded on good days (especially the weekend). I think the best spot is in front of the last house on the beach before you get to the estuary. The locals do regulate there, but I never had a problem with them. Just be respectful and dont bring a crowd. When it gets huge Sloughs really wakes up. If you can make it through the shore pound, there is an offshore sandbar directly in front of the mouth of the estuary. It doesn't really fire until it gets overhead during the winter swells. Personally, I think comparing it to Mavericks in size-potential MIGHT be overstating it a bit but I have never seen it close out. The bigger it gets, the further out it breaks. I have been out there in double-overhead conditions several times, and I would either be alone or with only a few other guys out. The right is fun, but its the left that goes off. You can get rides that are several hundred yards long - NO JOKE! Word to the wise though; this place is not for the faint of heart. Its kinda spooky being out there by yourself, a quarter of a mile offshore with a shifty peak and strong side-shore current, with the occaisional shark sighting.
It is very polluted from the Tiajuana River and the sharks come in to eat the garbage out of the river. It is not uncommon to have sting rays which are infecyed with diseases and to see logs, washing machines, ect floating by when you are surfing. When it gets huge it is the most under rated big wave in California.
Watch out for locals they are very territorial. There are a couple really cool locals that are world class surfers like Alan Cleland, Mike Johnson, Terry Gallard, Mike Gallard, who are very cool and can give pointers if you are out on huge days there because this wave can be very unpredictable at times.
By Anonymous , 05-05-2011
Who knows what lies out there - I see this spot fire hugeee and never closing out.. every time i surf at the peak where the last house ends.. its another few more hundred yards out then where im surfing and positioned infront of the rivermouth.. when im surfing 6-10 foot at the point im sure its 15-20 out there.. i always thought it would be an amazing tow wave if i had a ski. It looked so good one day in November '10 that i wanted to paddle out there but didnt because i thought about just how gnarly that would be.. being the only guy out there in that cold murky abyss.. its gotta be one of the most unforgiving gnarly spots to be out by yourself.. it just has an eerie chill.. with nobody else around you and these bombs rolling in.. this year i have my 7'5.. last year i didnt have the board.. the more and more i think about it i probably will end up out there by myself scoring gnarly bombs but god those paddle backs and set lulls are going to be a mind game..
By Anonymous , 02-06-2010
yup - the guy who posted below has a good point. Are there sharks at Sloughs? Gee, let's think about that...are sharks usually found around rivermouths, where all types of flotsam and jetsam are to be found for nature's most prolific scavenger? Yup and yup. That being said, would it be realistic to assume that a rivermouth that flows from one of the most over-populated, nastiest cities in North America that has no real sanitation systems or pollution prevention laws would be overflowing with an immeasurable amount of human waste and chemical by-products? Yup and yup.
So, along with all the vile Mexican toilet spewage, the average American may also want to consider the copious amount of Beaner Meth being cooked up just steps away from the Sloughs. One can be sure that whatever is left over from that evil slop is probably not being disposed of "properly". Surfing has never been as dangerous at the Sloughs as it is today.
I only wish that we had a river that dumped our crap in Mexico...or made the Sloughs back up into TJ.
By Anonymous , 26-04-2010
Insane - This place is by far the best river mouth break in SD, maybe in all of so cal. Personally I believe anyone that surfs there is a little crazy, and you gotta be batshit fucking insane to surf days when it is more than double overhead. The reason I say this is because it is really good at shifting the peak and creating unexpected clean up sets. I have been told that it has very strong rip currents when it is big as well. Like someone else was saying, you will end up in mexico, that wouldn't surprise me. I heard that the reason it is so good compared to other river mouths in socal is because nothing in Orange, LA, or most of Ventura can pick up big NW swell. Mexico and south bay have direct exposure to these swells. The largest rivers in SD are San Luis Rey, San Dieguito, SD river and TJ river. Of these OS harbor has changed San Luis Rey, San Dieguito has only recently been restored, SD river mouth was originally in the SD bay. During the ice age large deposits of rock and sand were pushed out these rivers, since they had more water in them. The Tijuana river mouth has stayed relatively the same for the last 10,000 years as a result there is a very long and wide deposit of cobble stones that goes out several miles into the ocean. Even when virtually all other spots in so cal are closed out this place still holds. I doubt it will ever get as big as todos santos, but it does get bigger than blacks.
I have surfed boca rio several times. On one occasion about 3 days after surfing there I woke up dizzy, I thought my head was going to spin right off, I had the runs so bad I thought I was going to pass my small intestine, not to mention I was throwing up at the same time. Just about the most horrendous symptoms that I have ever had while being sick. Then a couple months later a buddy of mine surfed there and contracted a rare microbe that caused his body to form a sist behind his eye, it began detaching his retina, and caused swelling which pushed on his brain. The doctors had to partially remove his eye and remove the sist. The doctors said if he hadn't had surgery it likely would have killed him. He was able to keep his eye and only has a scar around it. But from that point on I told myself I would never surf this place again.
I can only guess what TJ pumps into that river. Probably raw sewage, arsenic, mercury and heavy metals. As for sharks that should be the least of your worries, its the little things that you have to worry about.
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