Puerto Escondido is a laid-back town on Mexico's Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca. Surfing is this town's main claim to fame -- it's home to the "Mexican Pipeline" with some of the biggest and strongest waves to be found in Mexico, but anyone who enjoys being near the beach will find something to love about the destination. With some 50,000 inhabitants, this is a sizeable town. The resort area of Huatulco, located about 60 miles north along the coast, is Oaxaca state's more popular beach destination; it has an international airport and large resorts. There are also some small fishing villages nearby that people seeking an alternative experience should check out along this interesting stretch of coastline.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Puerto Escondido.
Go Surfing on Playa Zicatela
Puerto Escondido's Playa Zicatela has been attracting surfers since the 1970s. This two and a half mile long beach is the place to catch the “Mexican Pipeline,” Mexico's strongest swell, and one of the strongest in the world, named after the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii on the north shore of Oahu. Zicatela's waves are best left to the experts, but there are restaurants and hotels lining the beach, so if you're not an experienced surfer, you can enjoy a beer or cocktail while watching the pros in action.
Hit the Beach
Although it's best known as a surfer destination, Puerto Escondido does have spots that appeal to travelers who are looking for a more relaxing beach experience. Playa Manzanillo is one such beach, located just east of Puerto Angelito between two rocky outcroppings that protect it and ensure gentle waves, making this a great spot for swimming or snorkeling. Playa Carrizalillo is another picturesque spot with serene waves. If you have no experience surfing but would like to learn, this is a good place to get some beginners' lessons.
Tour the Manialtepec Lagoon
The Manialtepec Lagoon is a large, beautiful body of water situated between the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Pacific Coast and surrounded by mangroves. During the rainy season, the water level rises until the Manialtepec River breaks through its sandbar and the lagoon becomes a tidal estuary, where three different aquatic ecosystems converge, creating a unique biodiverse environment. Rent a kayak or take a boat tour to see the wide variety of birds that congregate here, including herons, ibis, ducks, and parrots. You'll no doubt spot some iguanas too, and possibly crocodiles.
There are nighttime boating excursions on the lagoon to witness bioluminescence. This is the natural phenomena in which plancton in the lagoon emit light when disturbed. Although it's offered every night, the best visibility is on nights with very little moonlight.
Oaxaca's prime coffee-growing region of Pluma Hidalgo is located just inland from the coast. A visit to one of the plantations allows you to enjoy the mountain scenery and learn about all the steps in the labor-intensive process of bringing coffee to your cup. The surrounding area offers forest landscapes of a mystical beauty where visitors can enjoy horseback riding, agrotourism, and hiking.
When considering scuba diving in Mexico, many immediately think of the Riviera Maya and its fantastic Mesoamerican Reef, but the Pacific Ocean also has plenty of underwater attractions. On a diving adventure just off the coast of Puerto Escondido, you can explore volcanic rock reefs covered in spectacular coral while enjoying the relaxing flow of warm water currents. Pressure Point and Punta Colorada are two excellent dive spots for those looking to explore the area around Puerto Escondido.
Enjoy the Local Cuisine
Oaxaca city is popular as a foodie destination, with one of the main dishes being mole. Here on the coast, seafood rules, and you'll be able to find fish and seafood prepared in many different ways. Try a shrimp cocktail or a grilled fish. If you see a pineapple stuffed with seafood on the menu, order that! If seafood is not your preference, Puerto Escondido also seems to have a disproportionate number of Italian restaurants serving delicious brick-oven pizzas and pastas, and of course, you'll find all the Mexican staples including rice, beans, tacos, and guacamole.
Take It Easy
Puerto Escondido is an easygoing destination, and you'll enjoy it best if you can channel that same mood. Take a leisurely walk along the beach or the Adoquín, Puerto Escondido's boardwalk, find your spot on the beach and take it easy. A hammock and a coconut are waiting for you, all you have to do is relax and enjoy them.