Surfing put Mal País and Santa Teresa on the map, and the two communities still very much revolve around the rollers just offshore. Playa Carmen is an excellent beach for beginner and intermediate surfers, with a long right and a shorter left breaking over sand. More experienced types head north to the steeper waves at Playa Santa Teresa, where there are beach breaks and point breaks; on high swells, particularly between March and July, Suck Rock, at its northern end, peels into long, right-handed tubes. Only pro surfers and masochists ride Sunset Reef (also known as Playa de los Suecos), an extremely dangerous shallow reef-break with a fast take-off at the far southern end of Mal País; rocky outcrops along the rest of Playa Mal País render it uninviting for both swimmers and surfers, though Punta Barrigona, a slow, long left-hander halfway between Sunset Reef and the intersection, works well on a high-tide swell.

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