With its long, gentle rides and 3'–6' year-round break, Punta Mita, Mexico, just north of Puerto Vallarta, may be one of the best places to learn standup paddle-surfing (SUP). And thanks to Oregon native Greg Warnick, a longtime local surfer and resident, it couldn't be easier to set up camp in style.
Warnick owns two excellent spots in town: the sleek, laid-back Cinco Hotel, with excellent, healthy locally grown food and '70s pro surfer Gerry Lopez in charge of SUP and yoga clinics (if Lopez isn't around, you can learn from Cinco's in-house teacher, Oso Negro, who rides waves with his dog perched on the nose of his board); and the just-finished Villa Lunada, one of the sweetest homes on the coast, with organic gardens, an infinity pool, and views of the mile-long surf break from every room of the high-tech, indoor-outdoor space. Villa Lunada isn't cheap – $3,500 a night – but the 5,500-square-foot house is perfect for multiple families or a surfing retreat with the dudes.
Another excellent way to learn SUP is to head to the neighboring surf town of Sayulita and stop by to see Geovani Cervantes (pictured, above) at his Sayulita Surf Co. shop. Cervantes, a member of the Mexican National surf team, rents boards, gives lessons, and knows all the best breaks up and down the coast. He'll have you riding the warm Pacific waves your first day, and – if you're anything like us – hooked on SUP for life. To reach Geovani, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.