Hidden Beach

Puerto Escondido, Puerto Escondido mexico, puerto escondido travel

Hidden Beach: Puerto Escondido, Mexico

August 03, 2009
by findingDulcinea Staff
Exploring the surf-worthy waves and wild natural features of Puerto Escondido’s unspoiled beaches offers a rejuvenating sojourn for adventurers and sun-seekers alike.

Before the late 1980s when swarms of surfers arrived in Puerto Escondido for an international competition, this quintessential beach town, located along a rustic stretch of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, was an unknown hippie haven. Some residents had come for a holiday and never returned home, having fallen hard for the turquoise waters and carefree vibe. Today, Puerto boasts a distinctive mix of visitors, locals, expatriates and surfers, all of whom appreciate the good life—and the good waves.

Allure of the Unknown at Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido literally means “hidden port,” and is situated along a 70-mile strip of central Oaxaca’s coast. Established as a coffee shipping port in 1928, Puerto Escondido was not connected to neighboring coastal towns by roads until the 1960s, at which point surf aficionados and travelers began trickling in.

Although not as secret as it once was, Puerto, as the locals refer to it, has retained much of its off-the-path mystique thanks to three key factors: past violence in Oaxaca, bad hurricanes and the fact that it’s hard to reach—take your pick of multiple flight transfers via Mexico City and Oaxaca, or a long, harrowing bus ride.

Puerto’s Warm Welcome

Puerto is worth the trek. The vivid colors of the beach town are part of its appeal. Homes and bungalows may be stark white or bright yellow, and are set off by a backdrop of sky, water and abundant palm trees.

A down-to-earth friendliness also pervades Puerto. To glean tourism advice upon arrival, for example, several Web sites recommend consulting with a local woman named Gina Machorro Espinosa, rather than an agency. Espinosa resides over the Oaxaca Tourist Bureau booth at the western end of the town’s pedestrian mall, and leads walking tours offering historical and archaeological insight along the way.

Back to Nature

The town boasts proximity to three large beaches: Playa Principal, Marinero and Zicatela. Several smaller beaches are also worth a peek, but for world-class surfing, head to Zicatela, a lengthy stretch of sand visible from the main beach, Playa Principal. Zicatela hosts surfing competitions in August and November, but the massive waves are best left to the pros, not casual beachgoers. 

Puerto is also perfect for active travelers, hosting myriad outdoor sports including scuba diving and fishing. Adventure sports on offer include rock climbing and mountain biking, and nature lovers can enjoy hiking to waterfalls and touring lagoons.

The scenery en route to Puerto is just as stunning as the beaches themselves, say those who’ve experienced the rustic terrain. And there’s no better way to take in Mexico’s topography than to gaze out the window of a car or bus along the 200-mile route from Oaxaca City to Puerto. Travelers prone to carsickness might consider flying from Oaxaca or Mexico City instead.

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