The noun ‘paradise’ is often misused and/or abused. But Puerto Escondido (Spanish for hidden harbour) does deserve that title, though it is hiding in plain sight.
Mass tourism it ain’t, but there are a couple of bigger hotels in this mid-size town in Oaxaca province. Its main advantages are the well-connected domestic airport and a beach that is simply a surfer’s – eh – paradise.
(there is also an article with more Puerto Escondido pictures)
Food and drinks
You should pick your area depending on what you are looking for and what your budget is. The old town around Playa Principal is catering more for older tourists, and has decent good-value meals (Playa Carizalillo is better but requires a little climb to get there).
Activities / things to do
- Chilling: after doing some intense traveling for three weeks, Puerto Escondido turned out to be the ideal place to unwind and do… nothing! Enjoy the sound of the crashing waves, dive into those crashing waves, get a suntan near the crashing waves… or just get a cheap cocktail. Or all of them!
- Surfing: locals tend to stick to Playa Zicatela unless they want to compete with the tourists, who are more hitting the waves at Punta. That is also the place to rent boards and/or get lessons
- Walking: just strolling the beach was already a delight I couldn’t resist at least twice a day. Following the coastline is also safer than walking along the main road, which has quite some traffic. Just be cautious with walking on the beach after dark between Zicatela and Punta, as there are occasional reports of muggings late at night
- Turtle sanctuaries: great thing to do if you have kids. The best thing is you can actually find them on or close to the main beaches
- Local markets: very lively, especially the ones around El Rinconada
- Bioluminiscence: probably the thing you will remember of your visit to Puerto Escondido, if you have the guts to go into lagoons at night. There you will find plankton that in the dark gives an amazing lightglow, to scare of predators. There are two places: Manialpatec lagoon or Laguna Chacagua
Getting to Puerto Escondido and getting around
- By plane: there are a couple of flights per day to and from Puerto Escondido. Most serve the other big cities (Guadalajara, Mexico City, Cancun foremost). The airport is close to the city as well. Take a collectivo (shared mini-van) in front of the terminal, instead of an expensive official cab
- By long-distance bus: more tricky, as basically almost all buses go to or come from Oaxaca city (though one also goes to San Cristobal de las Casas for example). As long as the new highway isn’t open, the comfortable option is ADO buses, which take around ten hours to the province capital. There are also minivans that take the curvy mountain road. That cuts travel time by around fifty percent, but be prepared for travel sickness then. Same goes if you take your own car through the mountains
- as said, you can walk most distances in Puerto Escondido. If you are lazy or in a hurry, on the main road are smaller trucks / vans that stop when you signal them. Just jump in the trunk, and when you want to exit, signal the driver and pay him. Fares are ridiculously low, usually a couple of dimes
- Weather: incredibly constant. Average daytime temperatures are between 28-30 degrees all year. From april to september it is rain season. November is the most pleasant time, with strong winds that make for strong waves
- if you want a small change of beach, you can take a bus or rent a car to go to Zipolite. That village is around 70 kilometres eastwards, is famous for its nudist beaches and gay crowd. Nearby Mazunte is known for yoga
- A slightly more elaborate guide on Puerto Escondido