Located on the southern Pacific coast of Mexico, Puerto Escondido is now one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world. With its wonderful beaches, affordability, and exciting nightlife, it isn’t hard to see why!
Several surf spots at this location offer awesome beach breaks, attracting daring surfers to take them on with their gun boards.
For those of you who aren’t aware, gun surfboards are longer than regular boards, with extra thickness. They are narrower at the nose and tail, making them designed to tackle bigger waves.
They are not for the faint-hearted, with only very experienced surfers using gun surfboards for these kinds of waves.
This beauty of a place is known for its massive barrel waves, and they can reach heights of over 40 feet in some areas. It is a place that attracts expert-level surfers from all over the world.
Puerto Escondido only has a population of around 50,000 but despite its small size, it offers some amazing surf spots, lovely beaches, and plenty of things you can do to have fun in the sun.
Whether you’re looking for some gnarly waves to surf, a relaxing day soaking up the sun, or some fun nights with friends, this place has something to suit the needs of everyone.
Where Is It, And How Do You Get There?
Puerto Escondido is on the Pacific Coast of the state of Oaxaca. It is on the Mex highway 200. There is a small airport in this town, but there are only a few domestic connections to Mexico City and Oaxaca.
Other ways you can get there are from Salina Cruz, which is a four-hour drive, Oaxaca City, which will be a six-hour drive through the mountains, or Acapulco, this last option will take around 7 hours along the coast.
Although the travel time is lengthy, the scenery you will pass is breathtaking, and the travel time will be worth it once you arrive at the gorgeous Puerto Escondido.
This surf town stretches across a few beaches. The south area is known for being the Bohemian party district of La Punta. In the middle, you’ll find the more touristy part of Zicatela, with a bar strip!
Then towards the north, you’ll find some more family-friendly areas such as Carrizalillo and Bacocho.
Which area is right for you depends on your personal preferences and what you’d like to experience, but conveniently, everything is around a 10-minute cab right from everywhere else,
so you can experience a bunch of different aspects of this wonderful place no matter where you base yourself.
What You Should Bring
This is a hot and sunny little gem, so taking sunscreen is essential, especially if you’re going to be out in the water all day. Although there are some spots that are good for beginners, this is a location that leans mainly towards short board territory, so if this is you, bring one along.
Some other gear you should bring is some wetsuits. Although the water here isn’t cold, you’ll be in for quite a few hours, making most of the swells,
so you could get cold after some time. Ensuring you have a wetsuit or vest will also prevent any rashes from forming from the friction of the board against your skin.
Puerto Escondido is quite different from other parts of Mexico in the north when it comes to the best time to surf.
This area is less likely to experience winter swells, which the water is relatively flat sometimes, from December to March. The waves that do occur during this time, tend to be almost mushy and don’t hold up too well.
If you want to experience the full swells of Puerto Escondido, then summer is the time to do this. From the month of May to August, southerly winds from the Southern Ocean bring with them shore breaks in Zicatela, attracting all the gun board professionals to the area.
Morning surfs are exquisite at this time, with heavy sets of waves that pound onto the beachfront.
Once September hits, ocean storms can occur, which can offer some more beach breaks, but things can also get a bit messy and rough in Zicatela.
Later on during this season, things can get a bit unpredictable when it comes to swells, with November offering a good balance of big wave days for those at an intermediate level.
After this, it’s good news for all the beginners out there as there will mainly be smaller waves dominating the beaches, in order for you to learn and get comfortable with the sport.
Now that we’ve covered how to get to this gorgeous Mexican town, what you should take, and the best time to visit, let’s go on to the best surf spots you can find there.
Also known as the Mexican Pipeline, this beach is known all around the world for some of its incredible waves. During the summer, this beach falls into the big wave surfing category, especially during the summer months.
The waves at this location can be well over 10 feet, with other sets peaking at unpredictable points. Once surfers take off on these waves, they can experience a barrel that goes from the right of the beach to the left.
Some incredible drop-ins can also be seen, but it must be known that these conditions are not for beginners.
Just west of Zicatela lies Playa Carrizalillo, a beautiful beach with palm trees swaying, and soft golden sand that’ll make you feel like you’re in heaven.
There are two separate breaks that’ll move in towards the center of the beach. These waves are wonderfully mellow, with many surf schools providing lessons here.
If you’re on a family vacation, this spot is perfect for any kids who want to learn to surf. You can sit back, relax, and watch them from this gorgeous beach, best of both worlds,
right? The waves come up to around chest height, so you won’t need to worry about your child’s safety.
La Punta is the intermediate area of Zicatela Beach. It is located on the southern side of the point break and is beyond the main swells of the center of the beach.
This area has waves that are less powerful and easier to maneuver, making it perfect for intermediate surfers, rather than beginners, or professionals.
This doesn’t mean to say La Punta is an easy surf, because it definitely is not. There are some hefty rips that can be found here. Smaller days are calmer, and surf schools will use this beach on those days, but bigger days can get messy and dangerous.
Where To Stay
As mentioned earlier, Puerto Escondido is not a very big place, so wherever you decide to stay will be a short cab ride away from other areas you may want to visit.
Despite this, searching for accommodation can be overwhelming, so we’ve done the work for you. Below are some wonderful places to stay in Puerto Escondido.
The villas at Carrizallilo will make you feel like you’re in a relaxing retreat, away from the rest of the world and its distractions. Their villas have breezy patios and swinging hammocks, perfect for cuddling up with a good book.
As a guest here you are also offered surfing lessons, horseback riding, cooking classes, Spanish classes, and a bioluminescent lagoon boat tour to experience the waters in the lagoon of Manialtepec.
You are also a short walk away from the Playa Carrizalillo, making this the perfect place to stay if you’re a beginner surfer! If you are on vacation with kids, this place has the right amount of activities on offer to keep you and your family happy!
If you are looking for some luxury, then the Shavana Boutique Hotel will have everything you are looking for. They even have co-working spaces available for all their guests,
so if you need to catch up on any work, or just need some peace and quiet to get some stuff done, you can find that here!
You’ll be pampered with delicious Mexican meals and soft and warm king-size mattresses. Their outside courtyard has a wonderful communal pool, with many spots for you to sunbathe and catch that tan in peace.
Find yourself right on the beach at the Casa Pridda hotel. This simple but clean little hotel is located just to the south of Zicatela, perfect for those advanced surfers. Some rooms come with a balcony, so you can enjoy the views of the beach.
This option is perfect if you want to get away from the busy center and hear the ocean waves and feel the sea breeze.
Mexico prides itself on its delicious food, so you won’t be short on yummy places to eat! In Puerto Escondido, you will find an area named Benito Juárez Avenue.
This area is filled with taco shacks and little food spots. You’ll also find many beach bistros, serving refreshing margaritas and of course, tequila! Here are a few restaurant recommendations.
Although the food here is a little on the pricey side, it truly is worth it for the Mexican feast you’ll experience. The menu at this restaurant changes along with the seasons and whenever the Chef is inspired to create new dishes.
The food usually revolves around beef, chicken, pork, or fish, along with some vegetarian options also. The interior space is elegant, with an outdoor space to enjoy the warm summer air after a crazy day on the waves.
Located in the heart of Puerto Escondido, at the end of the busy Benito Juárez Avenue, you’ll find Restaurant El Nene. If you’re looking to try some authentic Mexican tacos, then this is the place to go. You can try their perfectly cooked tuna, fish tacos, grilled octopus, and enchiladas.
They also offer some delicious margaritas and mojitos. The atmosphere in this restaurant is charming, and you’ll be well looked after by their friendly staff. This is a great spot to eat that is also very affordable.
Right in the heart of town, you’ll find the Benito Juárez Market which will be bustling with locals, and that is always a good sign. You’ll find products of all sorts here. As well as all kinds of food, there’ll be stalls selling shoes, clothing, leather goods, and much more.
You could even get all your souvenirs for loved ones back home while enjoying some delicious food you can find here. Everything in this market is very authentic,
with all the restaurants serving similar menus with outstanding quality. Wherever you decide to go, order the mole de pollo, a traditional Oxaquenan dish.
If you are looking for a truly authentic experience, then don’t hesitate to head to this market.
If you’re a fan of seafood, then you need to visit Costa Hermosa. Located on the beachside of the shopping district of Adoquin, this restaurant will offer you a vast selection of seafood, all locally caught by the local fishermen.
The restaurant also has a second-floor seating area where you can enjoy the lovely view of the sea in front of you.
If you are interested in fishing, the people at the restaurant can also connect you with a local pescador, a fisherman.
In case you didn’t have enough space or time to pack all your surf gear, you haven’t got to worry! Puerto Escondido has some great shops where you can buy or rent boards and all kinds of gear.
This surf shop doubles up as a surf school, with one of their locations being situated pretty close to the highway.
This makes it easy to find, and its boards located outside the shop, spray-painted with Mexican colors will guide you directly to this wonderful little shop, stocked with a selection of rental boards and other gear such as wetsuits, rash vests, waxes, beach wear etc.
This little gem is part surf shop, part workshop, making handcrafted surfboards to meet the needs of all customers. They make gun surfboards, longboards, shorties and shallow tails.
Every single product has been shaped and glassed carefully by hand, so you know you are getting quality Mexican surf gear when visiting this shop.
Other Things To Do When You’re Not Catching Waves
Are the waves not up to your standard? Fancy taking a break and resting those muscles? Maybe there are a few non-surfers in your group, and you’d like to find something you can all enjoy together. Here are a few suggestions.
Hit The Beach And Don’t Surf
In Puerto Escondido, beaches are a part of every day life. No matter what kind of experience you are after, there is no shortage of beaches offering what you’d like.
If you are after a laid back, relaxing day, check out the cove of Carrizalillo. This beach is known for its beauty and has crystal clear water and a few bars and restaurants close by.
It is a perfectly family-friendly beach, where you can spend a few hours soaking in the sun, while the kids splash around in the warm crystal water.
Another family-friendly option is Playa Principal. This beach has calm waters and plenty of boats around offering a variety of tours, including dolphin watching! There are several restaurants and bars around too. This is an all-round fun option, no matter if you’re with children or with friends.
Playa La Punta is a great spot to watch the sunset, with the rocks reflecting a red and yellow glow in the later hours.
Party On The Beach
The party scene in Puerto Escondido is not one to be missed. Once you’ve enjoyed the sunset from Playa La Punta, head towards the music on any night of your choosing, and enjoy it till the early hours of the morning.
The same goes for Zicatela, where most of the beach bars are in full swing. This is perfect if you’re a group of young travelers who want to unwind and have fun after catching those waves.
Experience The Bioluminescent Water
Ever watched those movies where people are swimming in the ocean at night, and it’s literally glowing around them? You can experience this at Puerto Escondido. Around 20 minutes north of there, lies a lagoon where you can see the bioluminescent plankton.
You can pick from a variety of tour companies to take you to experience this, from boat tours, kayak yours, and stand-up paddle tours.
Release Baby Turtles Into The Ocean
Puerto Escondido and its surrounding areas are where turtles will go to give birth. Without human intervention, many of these little creatures won’t survive very long after their birth. You can join one of the local organizations in Puerto Escondido that help preserve the turtles.
Once sunset hits, the baby turtles are released into the sea. You can enjoy witnessing this magical moment with your whole family, with most organizations picking you up from your location, and dropping you off after.
This guide has discussed Puerto Escondido and all it has to offer as a surfing location. It’s safe to say it is a wonderful option if you are looking for a new place for a surfing vacation.
It is a laid-back town that isn’t only great for surfing, it also has some breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Furthermore, it is important to remember that its popularity came about as a result of surfing entering a more daring stage,
when gun surfboards were introduced. This makes it popular for more advanced, professional surfers.
Despite this, there are still several spots that are perfect for beginners, as we’ve discussed in this guide, and there are plenty of surf schools to choose from.
If you’re not a surfer, there are still an array of things you can do, from renting a boat, enjoying the wildlife, and just relaxing in one of the paradisaical beaches.
Although it can be a tricky place to get to, the journey there is beautiful, and once you arrive it’ll be all surfing, relaxing, eating and partying from there!