The Mexican Pipeline: Surfing Medical Emergency in Mexico

By Danielle Rivet

Medically Reviewed by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Danielle Catching a Wave at Trestles in Orange County California, Photo by Nicole Grodesky

As I packed my bags, the excitement of a surf trip to Mexico filled my mind. A good friend's birthday celebration and the X Games surfing competition being held with predictions of a large south swell were just some of the highlights I was looking forward to. Puerto Escondido, Mexico was the destination. It would be my first time venturing down to this particular part of mainland Mexico that has such powerful surf; it is known as the "Mexican Pipeline" because of its similar treacherous conditions to the famous Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore. Despite the tales and warnings I received from other surfers about the place, I was ready for an adventure. Little could I have predicted that I would receive more "adventure" on this surf trip than I had anticipated.

With three boards in tow and a week's supply of bikinis and clothes for hot humid weather, I set off to catch my flight to Puerto Escondido, Mexico. After a full night and half a day's journey, I exited the Puerto Escondido airport. The cab ride with other surf travelers, including even some pro surfers coming in to compete in the X Games, only took a few minutes to reach the hotel that faces the infamous beach break. As the luggage was unloaded, the sound of eight foot surf turned my head, and I found myself in perfect viewing distance of hollow beach break waves spitting surfers out right and left like baseballs in a batting cage.

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