The Best Things to Do in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
The world is only just waking up to the sleepy charm of Puerto Escondido | © EyeEm / Alamy Stock Photo
A haven for beach-bums, Mexico’s Pacific coast hideaway of Puerto Escondido is packed with fun things to do.
A mountainous 7-hour bus ride from Oaxaca or a string of domestic flights from elsewhere in Mexico fetch visitors to Puerto Escondido. Nonetheless, it is always a shock to see that there’s little high-end development in this Pacific seaside town where rustic accommodation, beachside bars and plenty of sun, sea, sand and seafood remain the main draws. Puerto Escondido has been attracting surfers for decades, even if the rest of the world is only just waking up to the coastal destination’s laid-back vibes. To inspire your trip to the Oaxacan coast, here are the best things to do in Puerto Escondido.
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Surf’s up at Playa Carrizalillo, where the waves barrel in along the sandy shores of one of Puerto Escondido’s most famous beaches all day long. Fringed by a low cliff, this sheltered beach is readily accessible and ideal for beginner and intermediate surfers who don’t want to be crushed by the huge waves that the pros tackle further along the coast. And if you’re not into surfing then relax, rent a beach umbrella for the day, order up fresh fish tacos from the beach huts and sit back with an ice-cold margarita.
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If you want to be close to the barrel waves and seafood shacks at Playa Carrizalillo, then make Carrizalillo your home base while you explore the best things to do in Puerto Escondido. Wake up with views over the Pacific, then take a ten-minute stroll down to the seafront to tackle the 160 or so steps that lead down the cliffs to Playa Carrizalillo. From there, the day is yours. Rent a surfboard or hire an instructor for lessons, book out a sunbed and beach umbrella or just kick back, take a swim in the sea and watch the world and waves go by.
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The Pacific waves that smash into the beach at Playa Zicatela can reach heights of up to 4m (13ft) as they make their way towards land. The current here is spectacularly strong – don’t try swimming – and all day long you’ll see surfers out on the water waiting for the killer wave known as the Mexican Pipeline. Playa Zicatela is pro surfing territory – so much so that world championships have been held here in the past – but if you’re not down to hit the intense surf then pull up a chair at a beach bar and watch the professionals from the safety of the shore with a cold beer in hand.
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Playa Zicatela offers over 3km (2mi) of sand, surf and beach bars and while the northern end is the domain of the pro surfers, the southern end at Punta Zicatela is far more relaxed. Punta Zicatela is a laid-back, chilled-out beach that beginner surfers can tackle after a few lessons. For non-surfers, Punta Zicatela moves at a slow pace too, whilst backpackers love the mellow vibes, smoothie bowls and vegan tacos. Grab a beer, order a michelada and watch the surfers from the beach.
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Walk down a steep cliffside path and you’ll emerge into a secluded bay lined with palm trees and neatly hidden away from the rest of Puerto Escondido. This is Playa Coral, where the Pacific waves are calmer than usual – at least by Puerto Escondido standards – and the sea is perfectly refreshing on a humid day. Curiously, an abandoned hotel lies overgrown and ready for urban exploration; a legacy of a hurricane several years ago that smashed into the seafront. Grab a few cold drinks, then take the cliff path down the beach for a day of peace and quiet away from Puerto Escondido’s main beaches.
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If you’re looking to explore Puerto Escondido’s best coastline then head over to Puerto Angelito – a small, sheltered bay where fishing and tour boats alike are sheltered from those fierce Pacific rollers. At Puerto Angelito, you’ll find a sandy, crescent-shaped beach that’s lined with palm trees, seafood shacks and boat tour operators. Grab a cold beer and a bite to eat then sign up for a cruise along the coast. In the same bay, you’ll also find Playa Manzanillo, where you can sit back on golden sands and watch the fishermen glide past.
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Puerto Escondido’s longest stretch of sand is the place to hang out if you’re in the mood for a day at the beach club. Golden sands meet the strong waves of the Pacific here and while the surf and current can often be too intense for swimming, order a round of drinks at Club de Cocos beach club or Villa Sol beach club and take a dip in their outdoor swimming pools. There’s not much else to do on Playa Bacocho except lap up the sun and sand, but that’s the beauty of this beach!