Playa Colorados

Colorados by Kevin Huang

There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you paddle out expecting it to be small, and end up getting caught inside as set after set of perfect head high+ waves steamroll through the lineup and clear everyone out.  

Colorados definitely did not disappoint.

We were all looking at the swell chart that morning and there was about a 2.5 - 3 foot swell in the water at about 14 seconds.  We had a pretty uneventful session out at Lance's in the morning so we weren't really expecting anything.  It was a couple of the guests' last day in Nica so they just wanted to get one last session in before they took off back to the real world.  Since they hadn't gotten the chance to surf Colorados (and since it's only like a 3 minute boat ride), we all decided to just pull up to Colorados and give it a go.  We rolled up to the spot and didn't even bother looking at it.  The guides and I unstrapped everyone's boards, tossed them into the water and everyone took off on their merry way.  Notably, it was also the first time I took my water housing out  in Nica. 

I swim out to the lineup with my bright red helmet on, and not five minutes passes when a massive three wave set, probably a foot or two overhead sweeps through and WRECKS everyone.  A couple of our guests were riding longboards and had been surfing relatively softer waves so when that first set came through they got absolutely demolished.  

Yup....deeeefinitely too far inside on this one...

There's no better feeling than rolling up to a spot in a boat, but from a purely practical point of view, sometimes it's actually better to humbly paddle out from the beach.  When you pull up to spot in a boat, especially a beachbreak where you can't get a good angle on what the wave looks like as it's coming in,  it's very difficult to get a read on what the wave is doing.  When you paddle out from the beach you have a lot more time to analyze the wave, see where it's breaking, how it's coming in, and to get a read on how big it is that day.  When you paddle out from shore you can feel how the current is moving and you get a better idea of what's happening that day.  When you come in from the boat, especially at a break like Colorados, all you see are the backs of the waves so you really have no idea how big it's actually going to be. In Nica, it's fairly common to see the backs, think it's about chest high, and when you finally get out into the lineup it's overhead+.  That's exactly what happened this day.

I ended up paddling in a little too close to shore and essentially got caught inside on that set, and on the next one.  My camera was causing me some issues and wasn't focusing properly.  I was frothing so hard I hadn't double checked everything before I jumped off the boat.  I realized this as I was already in the lineup so as I was trying to fiddle with the settings on my camera, wave after wave came crashing right on my head.  Since Colorados is a beach break, there's no channel to comfortably shoot from, and waves and people were coming at me from every which way.  Not only that, but it was the first time I had been in the water in waves that large and powerful with my water housing.  All in all, definitely not the greatest day of shooting I've ever had.  

In any case, I ended up switching to video and managed to get a couple of little snippets here and there.  At the very least, it captures the franticness of the session hah!  After about 10 minutes though, I realized I was in over my head.  I ended up paddling back out to the boat, trading my fins and camera for my board, and paddled back out into the lineup.  

 

With my board I felt way more comfortable.  I took some time to figure out the wave and found the peaks.  There was one A-frame peak in the middle that was coming in bigger than the others.  The wave would come in at the same spot every time, and it would be a huge wall stretching out for 100 yards in either direction.   Ideally, you could shoulder hop the wave, and MAYBE make it out if you raced it.  However, due to the crowd, everyone kept pushing each other deeper and deeper, and people were taking off right on the peak, pulling in, riding the barrel for a couple of seconds, and then it would clamp on them.  Eventually, excitement got the better of me and despite my hatred of crowds I paddled for the peak.  I bided my time, and when I finally saw an opening I took off on a nice left.  I paddled, felt the wave pick me up, grabbed my outside rail, and pulled into a nice little lefthand cavern.  Unfortunately it closed out on me but tube time is still tube time.

Conditions were challenging, but it was as good as any one of the best days back in California.  People were getting barreled left and right, but only I only saw one guy make it out.  For a first session at Colorados, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

 

Even with all the craziness, I still managed to snap this little gem.