Six waves that will keep you enamored until the end of your days

| posted on October 15, 2012

Photo: Munoz

Sometimes life is only as big as your imagination. In his mid-20s, Mike Dobos was working 14-hour shifts, six days a week, in a Florida milk factory. He says if he hadn’t made the right decisions he’d “still be milking cows in Florida.” Nowadays, he says, “Most people know me as the grumpy night watchman at the Hotel Mundaka.”

In 1995, Mike scrapped together savings from the gig at the dairy and used it to visit an airline stewardess he’d met in the Caribbean. She was living in Madrid at the time, and knowing how much Mike loved to surf, she booked him accommodation right next to a wave she’d heard about in the north of the country. The hotel turned out to be the one-year-old Hotel Mundaka, and the goofyfoot arrived to meet a run of swell he just couldn’t believe. Ten days later, he still hadn’t had enough, and canceled plans to meet the stewardess back in Madrid. About that time Marco, the hotel owner, was working night and day. In broken English, he mentioned to Mike how, if Mike could learn Spanish, he’d have a night shift available for him. At the time, Mike says, he knew enough of the language to order a beer and ask for the bathroom. So, he returned to Madrid, and then to Florida, where he hit the books and taught himself.

A year later, Mike returned to Mundaka and asked for a job. In the end, things didn’t work out with the stewardess, but Mike says, “I ended up falling in love again, except this time with Mundaka.” When your vacation becomes your life, he says, you end up leaving a lot of the familiar things behind. Mike doesn’t often speak English or see his family or childhood friends. But he lived through Mundaka’s golden age, witnessed the wave’s competitive history unfold, and is now on a first-name basis with its champions. “If you told me 20 years ago what I’d be doing now,” Mike says, “I would have laughed in your face.” Well, he’s still laughing. —Kimball Taylor

  • Mange mongland

    I live in Hossegor and you really can’t compare it to desert point or cloudbreak! Seriously! It looks like the picture once every other year. It’s crap more often than not

  • Whamo

    “Freedom has a 1,000 charms to show, that slaves, however contented, never know.” — Mickey Dora —

    I have a lot of respect for Jim Banks and the hotel night manager at Mundaca. Not many people pursue their dreams like these two did.

  • gannysesh

    Does Banks have some family cash keeping him going? Or does he take jobs that give him just enough to get by? or what?

  • Meatball

    Hello to all,,,some of us from S.Fla. in 1978 flew into Acapoco,,then took 14hr. bus ride south to get to Puerto,,,the lack of people,the offshore winds in the mornings,the sound of the police band music in the line up & those XLg. Barrels rides !!!! Just spectacular views,times & memories for all of us !!!!!

  • Eric

    Putting ‘Rifles’ on that list is asinine….Great wave, but hundreds of better waves that people try and score, and return to year after year. There are 50 waves in Indo alone to hit before that one.

  • http://any mark connolly


  • Freddy

    @Eric if you scored this wave you would know why its on the list. One 12 day boat trip to the ments ain’t going to do it. I have been to the playground area of the ments 10 times for months at a time and have scored riffles one time. It went off for 10 straight days best waves I have ever seen and surfed. Its 600+yard backdoor barrel every wave. Surfed it other trips but not proper. If you go to this area thinking your going to score riffles think again. It is a VERY fickle wave and any signs of it being good you can assure the resorts are on it dumping on average 20-40 guys in the line-up. But dont worry there are several other world class waves very close by.