Sunlight dances across the Pacific Ocean and rides the waves to the beach below Paradise Cove and Tiki Bar. Herb calls out a big welcome as I walk in to have a look around and talk with him about the big waves that attract the experienced surfers to the Calafia and Widow Maker breaks. Paradise Cove is a destination pleasure center for surfers as well as vacationers and locals who know a good thing when it comes to town. Herb Thomas and Chris Grebisz are the visionaries and owners of Paradise Cove just south of Rosarito Beach. People who love a fabulous view, glorious sunsets and great music return again and again.
Many people, who have been bitten by the Baja bug, will say that love blossom easily in Baja California. Eleven years ago Herb was surfing at K38 and Chris was camping. The rest is history. Not yet of retirement age and living in Baja, Herb finally admitted “We dreaded the thought of going back to San Diego to work.” They set about creating a new life and a new pleasure center for the Rosarito Beach community. Herb admits to being an expat and an avid surfer since he was 6 years old. He still gets in hours of surfing before opening the restaurant. He is grateful for Chris’ business sense as she has exciting plans for expanding the music to include two concerts a month, fashioned after Humprey’s on Shelter Island in San Diego. She is drawing the Stoney B. Blues band nominated as one of the Best Blues Band in the San Diego Music Awards. Herb, of course, wants to make it very friendly to surfers. Together they created this little bit of coastal paradise into a very unique place to play. Spacious indoor seating with bright colored glass floats hang over the bar with a view of the stunning Pacific sunsets. Propane fire rings add firelight for friendly gatherings while swapping stories about “the wave of the day” or a romantic evening under the stars. A grinning Tiki watches over everyone’s good time.
Herb sets a basket of fresh coconut fried shrimp in front of me, his hair still wet from his morning "go-out" and fills me in on his passion for the sport. He has surfed all these areas for 55 years, shrugs and grins, as much as to say, how could it really be that many years? Seeing pictures of "Herbie" surfing you can only exclaim, "Oh, he is really good!" Chris says with a certain amount of pride, "That's what 50 years of paddling does...he is the hero to all the younger boys."
Paradise Cove is situated between two expert "point breaks", that is, surfer lingo for good waves. I asked him to tell me about them. Widow Maker is a grim name for the point just south and within walking distance from the restaurant where surfers can park their cars securely for a day of surfing. It is for expert surfers only. The extremely rocky conditions make it very dangerous, a good challenge. Herb shrugs and says, "Thus the name."
There is a little of everything for everyone. A place called Bus Stops sits between the two expert breaks and is literally where the buses stop. It is good for beginners with a nice sandy beach right at the foot of the bluff that Paradise Cove overlooks. Herb says thoughtfully from his years of experience, "It breaks all seasons." Calafia point is a favorite for the very best surfers. However it is dangerous with hidden ledges and rocks. Herb stresses, “The bigger the waves the better,” It is a good summer/fall break, especially with an offshore Santana. Some surfers suggest that it is among the best anywhere, even Hawaii with the right conditions.
There is talk of a Big Wave competition in 2014. Even though Herb has surfed around the world, he has never gone into competition; he is what is called a “Free Surfer,” suggesting he does not take money for enjoying his passion. Herb and Chris are working together on the big promotion sometime in September or October when the swells come up from the “southern hemi” of Australia and New Zealand possibly a “devil wind” to make those waves really stand tall. There will be no prize money, “only bragging rights.” Paradise Cove will live up to its name as a true surfing paradise. Those interested are invited to email anytime for Baja surfing conditions.
While there is no camping on the wide open grounds between the restaurant and the Pacific there is nearly everything else, including secure parking. After a full day on the waves, "paradise" also takes the form of a really hot indoor shower and ice cold beer. More entertainment for all visitors includes volley ball, basketball, horseshoe pits and pool table. A 70” TV with sports packages entertains when there is no music and even Interactive XBOX KINECT for “friendly indoor competition.”
Let’s talk about food! Like the roast pig that is done to perfection in the unique La Caja China roaster above ground making it easier and serves it up moist and juicy. A simple menu will piqué the curiosity to give it a try with mouth-watering treats like Spicy Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Shrimp Mango Sushi Roll. The Coconut Shrimp is to die for. Oysters come up from San Quintín fresh daily. The Tiki Bar is one of a kind in the area featuring luscious exotic drinks as well as a very good Margarita.
Paradise Cove - killer waves, killer food, killer music.
Paradise Cove Tiki Bar & Grill
Km. 36 Rosarito-Ensenada free road
1/2 Mile South of Calafia
Open: Wednesday thru Sunday Hours: 12:00 to closing