Once upon a time, Puerto Escondido was exactly as the translation implies: a hidden port largely unknown to the world.
Although the outlying areas were inhabited by indigenous populations for centuries, Puerto Escondido was first officially established in the 1920s. The small seaport deep down on the southern Pacific coast of Oaxaca became a departure point for coffee shipments from the plantations in the surrounding mountain towns like Pluma Hidalgo and San Juan Lachao.
In the 1930s and 40s, more residents began to permanently settle in town and the primary means of subsistence became fishing. Outside commodities were still difficult to obtain, so locals lived off the bounties of the land and the sea.
As the town slowly grew, becoming connected with both Oaxaca City and Acapulco with the construction of new roads, tourism to the pristine, quiet beaches of Puerto Escondido began to trickle in. Its original function as a shipping port diminished as trucks took over for transporting coffee, but fisherman continued to thrive as tourism increased (and subsequently, the demand for fresh fish).
In the late 1960s/1970s, the first surfers from California made their way to town and with them came the discovery of the famed ‘Mexican Pipeline’ of Zicatela beach. As word spread of the huge, powerful waves in Puerto Escondido, the stream of arriving surfers became increasingly steady along with the surfing media who published photos that circulated in magazines all over the world. The once-hidden port grew into an internationally renowned surfing mecca, attracting the most experienced watermen to test their skills (as well as those who just want to spectate in awe) and playing host to countless professional surfing events each year. Surfing and fishing continue to play a key role in the way of life in Puerto Escondido for both locals and visitors alike.
Even though the town has significantly grown, it has maintained much of its original charm. There are no high-rise hotels, sprawling resorts, shopping malls, or fast-food chains like those found in other beach vacation destinations; the magnificent coastline and traditional culture is the draw in itself.
The modern-day Puerto Escondido is divided into three main tourist areas, each with their own distinct appeal:
Home to the notorious waves of the Mexican Pipeline. This area is also the primary focal point of hotels, beachfront dining, bars and nightlife most often frequented by foreigners.
An eclectic community with a laid-back bohemian vibe nestled along dirt roads dotted with cafes, hostels, and organic goods. Popular surf spot with its lefthand point break suited to intermediate+ surfers.
The home of Oasis! The picturesque bay of Carrizalillo is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and has a gentle, rolling wave that is ideal for learning to surf. The adjacent neighborhood is lined by a great variety of shops, restaurants, and cozy homes and apartments.
In addition to the tourist zones, Puerto Escondido has several other iconic areas that are important to the local culture and daily life. The Bahia Principal is a bustling fishing bay, both commercially and for sport with major contests that attract thousands. The surrounding streets are referred to as ‘El Adoquin’; at night they are open only to foot traffic and it becomes a lively hub of activity packed with al fresco seafood dining, salsa dancing, discos, and vendors of local goods and souvenirs galore.
The business district of town is known as ‘El Centro’. Head here for the most authentic and economical cuisine: tacos! This area is also home to the famed Mercado Benito Juarez; packed full of the freshest deliveries of produce, meat, and fish as well as traditional Oaxacan art, textiles, and more. Puerto Escondido is a little town with a lot to offer and we can’t wait to welcome you to our piece of paradise!