Its name means “Hidden Port,” but Puerto Escondido is no longer hard to find. (Come to think of it, it’s not a port, either. Its original name was Punta Escondida, or “Hidden Point.”) The coast highway, Carretera 200, runs right through the middle of town. There’s a tiny airport, and super scenic flights on small prop planes buzz in on a regular basis from the state capital, Oaxaca City, from Mexico City and from Puerto Escondido’s neighbor to the south, the low-key resort of Huatulco.
But for all of its accessibility, Puerto Escondido remains a smallish town that hasn’t gone over to the dark side of highrise hotels and bus tours. Bungalows and family-run lodgings face the beach across broad Calle del Morro, which has only recently been paved.
Waves Big and Small
Known for its huge, powerful waves, this Oaxaca-state idyll is popular with surfers from all over the world. Bikinis, board shorts and sandy feet are the norm in shops and casual cafes along Zicatela Beach. Equally laid back is “El Adoquinado” (AKA El Adoquín), the four paved blocks---lined with fish restaurants, small hotels, and sarong and sunscreen shops---facing Playa Marinero. Locals swim here at the main beach, but drainage spilling out there and the presence of fishing boats moored in the water makes this a less desirable place to swim.
Just northwest of the main beach, several lovely coves are just right for boogie boarding on junior-size waves or just paddling around. Both Puerto Angelito and Carrizalillo are great for swimming, and beach-goers can walk here from town, ride a bike, or take a brief cab ride. Continuing up the coast, Playa Bacocho is a long, flat beach above which perches a mixed neighborhood of hotels like the Best Western, along with homes and a few restaurants and nightclubs.
In and Around Puerto
Most everything you can do in other beach cities can be arranged here, such as deep-sea fishing or dive tours, but the feeling is very relaxed. Birding tours of Laguna de Manialtepec (16 km) and Chacahua (60 km) to the northwest make for awesome day trips. Migrating birds hide out within the mangrove canals during the winter months, but there are hundreds of species yearround. Even non-birders enjoy a boat ride through the mangrove swamps, most of which end with a visit to less touristy beaches between Puerto Escondido and Pinotepa Nacional, near the Guerrero state border.
Just inland in the same municipality as Chacahua, San Pedro Tututepec is a small, untouristy town enveloped in tropical forest. It’s located off Highway 200 en route to Acapulco, just beyond the town of Santa Rosa de Lima. During the Post-classic era prior to the Spanish invasion, Tututepec municipality was part of the Lower Mixtec Empire whose descendants still populate the Oaxaca coast today.
This kingdom engaged regularly in warfare with the neighboring Zapotecs, and later with the even more militaristic Aztecs. The town has a small museum housing typical pre-Hispanic weapons, tools and other artifacts as well as ancient stone carvings representing ancient deities. The Tututepec region is known for the “fandango de varitas,” music employing guitar, violin, and several different indigenous instruments. The fandango is danced at important fiestas, including Fridays during October in preparation for Day of the Dead.
There’s lots to explore south of Puerto Escondido as well. En route to
Huatulco---located a little over 100 km (60 mi) to the south---are lovely beaches in the
small towns of Puerto Angel, San Agustanillo, and Mazunte.