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Things to do in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido's allure is undeniable. It's where the Pacific's mighty waves crash with a symphony that rivals thunder, drawing surfers from every nook and cranny of the globe. But it's not just any beach town; it's a vibrant blend of adventure, culture, and breathtaking natural beauty.

With a cozy population hovering around 35,000, Puerto Escondido has long been the best-kept secret among seasoned travelers. Legends are born here, with international surfing competitions leaving their mark for over a decade. Yet, beyond the adrenaline-packed shores of Zicatela Beach, there's a gentler, more tranquil side to this rustic port town. It's a place to lounge in peaceful spots, letting the ocean's rhythm whisk away everyday worries.

Imagine hopping on a domestic flight, the landscape below shifting as Puerto Escondido draws near. Or there's the scenic 10-hour bus journey from Oaxaca City, where every twist and turn offers a fresh, captivating story. Whichever route's taken, the destination is the same: the ever-evolving "cool kid" hideaway of Puerto Escondido.

But there's more to this coastal gem than meets the eye. Think bioluminescent plankton illuminating the night in a mesmerizing dance. Baby turtles taking their inaugural journey to the vast ocean—the thrill of spotting dolphins or the calm of kayaking in the Manialtepec Lagoon. Every corner of Puerto Escondido has a tale, an adventure waiting to unfold.

It's not all about the waves and golden sands. This town is a tapestry of authentic Mexican culture. Each market stall, every vibrant street, and the warm smiles of locals tell stories of tradition, history, and a community that's ready to welcome anyone with open arms. It's a place where the past intertwines with the present, where age-old customs meld with the infectious energy of today.

So, for those seeking a getaway that promises something new each day, where life's melody plays in harmonious chords, Puerto Escondido is the answer. It's more than a destination; it's an emotion, a rhythm that, once felt, lingers long after the journey's end. Dive into the enchantment of Puerto Escondido. The waves are calling, and endless adventures beckon!


01 Simmer on Puerto Escondido's prettiest beach: Playa Carrizalillo

Aerial view of surfing in Puerto Escondido beach at sunset Oleh_Slobodeniuk / Getty Images

Nestled amidst the rugged coastline of Puerto Escondido lies a hidden gem: Playa Carrizalillo. This secluded paradise, shielded from the world by a dramatic cliffside, offers an intimate escape. The journey down the winding 165 steps is a prelude to the beauty that awaits below. As the horizon expands, the tranquil turquoise waters of Playa Carrizalillo beckon. The velvety sand, perfect for sunbathing, contrasts with the vibrant hues of the ocean. Local vendors, with their array of mouthwatering delicacies, add to the charm. Whether you're catching your first wave or simply soaking in the sun, this beach promises memories that'll last a lifetime.


02 Explore more wonderful beach options

coral beach Julio Ortega / Getty Images

The beauty of Puerto Escondido lies in its diversity, especially when it comes to its beaches. Each shoreline tells a different story. Playa Coral, with its untouched beauty, offers moments of solitude and reflection. Playa Zicatela pulses with energy, its shores echoing with laughter, music, and the distant roar of waves. Playa Angelito, with its bustling local life, offers a glimpse into the heart of Puerto Escondido. Vibrant fishing boats, tantalizing taco stands, and the infectious energy of the locals make it a must-visit. With eight distinct beaches, there's a new adventure waiting every day.


03 Savor Oaxacan cuisine with a food tour

Tlayuda Mexican Traditional Food from Oaxaca Mexico Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez / Getty Images

The culinary landscape of Oaxaca is as diverse as its geography. From the rich, chocolatey notes of mole to the tangy zest of tlayudas, there's a flavor for every palate. Embarking on a food tour is like diving into a rich tapestry of tastes, textures, and traditions. With local experts leading the way, you'll traverse bustling markets, quaint eateries, and hidden gems that only locals know about. It's a sensory journey, one that weaves together the rich history, culture, and culinary genius of Oaxaca. And as you bond with fellow travelers over shared meals, you'll find that food is the universal language of connection.


04 Learn about mezcal at a distillery

Image of a small glass of mezcal with a plate of orange slices with chili powder Huds79 / Getty Images

Mezcal is more than just a drink; it's a testament to Oaxaca's rich heritage. Crafted with passion and precision, every bottle tells a story of the land, the people, and the traditions that have shaped it. A visit to a distillery is a deep dive into this world. From the sun-baked agave fields to the smoky depths of the distillation chambers, you'll witness the alchemy that transforms raw ingredients into this aromatic spirit. And as you sip on different varieties, savoring the nuanced flavors, you'll gain a newfound appreciation for the art of mezcal-making.


05 Surf's up... in the world-famous Zicatela

Swings on the beach with zicatela sign, hidden port in Oaxaca Alex Borderline / Getty Images

Zicatela is not just a beach; it's an institution. A mecca for surfers, it's where legends are made. Every November, the beach transforms into a global stage, hosting international competitions that draw enthusiasts from far and wide. But Zicatela's charm isn't reserved for the pros. Playa Carrizalillo, with its gentler waves, is perfect for those taking their first steps into the world of surfing. Whether you're riding your first wave or cheering from the sidelines, the infectious energy of Zicatela is bound to sweep you off your feet.


06 Wine and dine in sumptuous Mexican style

Amidst the rustic charm of Puerto Escondido lies a haven of luxury: Rinconada. This upscale neighborhood, with its tree-lined avenues and elegant architecture, is home to some of the finest eateries in town. From gourmet restaurants to chic cafes, there's a culinary adventure waiting at every corner. Whether you're in the mood for a candlelit dinner or a beachfront brunch, Rinconada offers the best of both worlds. And as you savor the flavors of Mexico, set against the backdrop of the setting sun, you'll realize that dining in Puerto Escondido is an experience in itself.

07 Releasing a baby sea turtle will warm your heart

Hatchling baby sea turtle crawling to the ocean on Fernando Frazao / Getty Images

There are moments that stay with you long after they've passed, and releasing a baby sea turtle into the vast expanse of the ocean is one of them. As the sun casts a golden hue over Bacacho Beach, you'll join fellow travelers in this heartwarming ritual. Guided by experts, you'll learn about the incredible journey these tiny creatures undertake, braving countless challenges to return to the very shores they were born on. It's a celebration of life, a moment of connection with nature that's both humbling and awe-inspiring.


08 Fly through the air with ease on a zipline

woman during a zip-line THEPALMER / Getty Images

Adventure has many faces, and in Puerto Escondido, it takes the form of a zipline. As you soar through the skies, with the wind rushing past and the world below in a blur, you'll feel a rush of adrenaline like no other. It's a journey that's as exhilarating as it is scenic, offering panoramic views of the lush landscapes that define Puerto Escondido. And as you touch down, with your heart still racing, you'll realize that sometimes, the best way to appreciate the beauty of a place is from up above.


09 Bedazzled by a lake of light: Laguna Manialtepec

Nature has its own magic, and in Laguna Manialtepec, it comes alive in a dance of light. As darkness descends, the waters of the lagoon light up in a mesmerizing display of bioluminescence. Whether you're watching from the boat or diving in to create your own patterns, it's a surreal experience. It's a reminder of the wonders that lie hidden in the world around us, waiting to be discovered.

10 Boating with the playful dolphins

Watching a dolphins from cruise Zbynek Pospisil / Getty Images

The ocean is a world of wonders, and among its many treasures are the playful dolphins that call it home. On a boat tour, you'll venture into their realm, watching as they leap and frolic in the waves. It's a spectacle that's both heartwarming and awe-inspiring, a testament to the beauty and intelligence of these magnificent creatures. And as you sail back to shore, with the memories of the day still fresh, you'll be left with a sense of wonder that only nature can inspire.


11 Join an ATV and river rafting adventure

Group of hispanic tourists driving 4x4 vehicles THEPALMER / Getty Images

Adventure is a way of life in Puerto Escondido, and there's no better way to experience it than on an ATV and river rafting tour. As you race through the rugged terrains of the South Sierra Madre Mountains, you'll get a taste of the wild side of Puerto Escondido. And the adventure doesn't end there. A river rafting session on the Copalita River adds a splash of excitement to the mix. It's a day of thrills and spills, set against the stunning backdrop of Puerto Escondido's natural beauty.


12 Gallop into a horseback riding tour to Atotonilco Hot Springs

Riding a horse through the rainforest Jose Yague / Getty Images

There's something timeless about exploring the world on horseback. As you journey through the Southern Sierra Madre Mountains, with the rhythmic beat of hooves as your soundtrack, you'll be transported to a simpler time. The destination? The Atotonilco Hot Springs is a haven of relaxation nestled amidst the rugged landscapes. As you soak in the warm waters, with the stresses of the world fading away, you'll realize that sometimes, the journey is just as beautiful as the destination.


13 Witness sea turtle nesting at La Escobilla Beach

Turtle laying eggs on the beach. davidevison / Getty Image

Nature has its own rhythms, and at La Escobilla Beach, you can witness one of its most mesmerizing spectacles. As the moon casts its silvery glow, thousands of olive ridley sea turtles make their way to the shores, continuing a cycle that's been repeated for millennia. It's a dance of life that's both humbling and awe-inspiring, a reminder of the wonders of the natural world.


14 Go snorkeling in Huatulco

Snorkeling in Carribean sea Patryk_Kosmider / Getty Images

Huatulco, with its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life, is a snorkeler's paradise. Just a short drive from Puerto Escondido, it offers a world of underwater wonders. From the vivid corals to the playful fish, every dive is a new adventure. And as you glide through the waters, with the sun casting its golden hue, you'll be left with a sense of wonder that only the ocean can inspire.


15 Try the Playa Principal coastal walk

Zicatela beach in puerto escondido oaxaca with palm trees and mexico flag Alex Borderline / Getty Images

The Playa Principal coastal walk is more than just a stroll; it's a journey through the many faces of Puerto Escondido. From the bustling markets to the serene shores, every step offers a new perspective. With the ocean as your backdrop and the wind in your hair, it's a walk that's as refreshing as it is scenic. And as you make your way, with the world unfolding before you, you'll be left with memories that'll last a lifetime.


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