Not long ago, only discerning travelers with a deep love for Mexico found their way into Puerto Escondido. Back then, peanut farms and mangrove forests blanketed this small town on Oaxaca’s (at times) tempestuous coast.
Today, surfers, water sport fans and other hip, young things have discovered it too, adding a bit more color to its streets while rubbing elbows with their Canadian expat neighbors.
It’s still one of Mexico’s best-hidden secrets, but Puerto Escondido is thriving in its own, small-scale way. The cuisine is delightful, the landscape is spectacular and, most importantly, outdoor adventures are abundant.
Its warm, shimmering beaches aside, Puerto Escondido’s best attraction might just be Laguna de Manialtepec. The coastal lagoon, which pours into the Pacific Ocean at high tide, is the venue for many of the town’s outdoor offerings.
Bird watching proves the most popular. Many species—from wild ducks and hawks to storks and cormorants—feed, breed and nest among the trees. This makes a leisurely boat tour of the lagoon an entertaining pursuit and half a day well spent. It affords visitors glimpses of both the birds and their nests.
While probably one of the least adrenaline-charged outdoor activities, sending baby turtles off to their great big adventure out in the open waters is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Puerto Escondido.
A stay at Vivo Resorts, a quiet hotel-slash-residential property only a few minutes out of town, means a chance to participate in their turtle release program. Working with a local group and its own non-profit, Vivo Foundation, the resort secures the turtle eggs until they hatch. They then enlist the help of guests for releasing the newly hatched babies on the beach.
It’s certainly a precious way to spend an afternoon.
Another way to explore Laguna de Manialtepec? On a paddle board. A boat tour is a more passive experience and good enough for those who prefer to sit back in the shade.
Paddleboarding the big lagoon is more active, albeit still laid-back, and best for the more adventurous set.
Watersports shops in town offer individual paddle boards for rent, which is great for self-guided tours. On the other hand, several tour companies have group tours, led by experienced and knowledgeable guides.
These days, bioluminescent bays are few and far between. Only a few have survived in the world so an opportunity to see one must not be turned down.
Laguna de Manialtepec is not only interesting in the daytime; it’s also spectacular at night when its waters light up from the dinoflagellates that thrive in its waters.
There are a few operators that have bio bay tours on offer. The best ones, however, are those that let participants take a quick dip in the illuminated water.
Some say Puerto Escondido is one of the best surfing destinations on Earth. It has some amazing surf breaks—ones that attract surf nuts from all over the world. So it only makes sense that riding the waves has become one of the town’s biggest pastimes.
There are several breaks to choose from for different skill levels. Playa Zicatela and Playa Zicatela are among the most popular spots. Surf shops for rentals abound, as do surf schools for beginners and non-surfers alike.
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