Updated: Mar 30, 2020
I found myself living in a van in the South of France in September 2017. Summer was ending, the sunny days were getting shorter, life was expensive, and I was feeling uninspired by my surroundings and the lack of consistent waves. I was nearing the end of a 3 month stint in Europe.
I’d heard little or no information about Puerto Escondido, only that it was a surf town with a big and heavy wave in Mexico. Something I have learned during my travels is to follow my heart and gut instinct. Something was instinctively drawing me to this little Mexican town. With no rhyme or reason and having done little research, I booked a ticket for the next week from Paris to Mexico City.
Most internal flights within Mexico are directed through either Mexico City or Cancun. I caught a flight from Mexico City with Viva Aerobus (one Mexico’s leading low-cost carriers) to Puerto Escondido.
Wow, what an entrance. As the plane circled around the coastline and you get this incredible bird’s eye view of the whole town. I stepped off the plane after the hour long flight. The intense heat and humidity hit me straight away. Palm trees! There were palm trees on the tarmac. The epic arrival reassured me that an awesome adventure was about to start, and I had made the right choice in coming to Puerto Escondido.
Puerto Escondido is one of a few popular beach towns on the Oaxacan Coast, including the resort town of Huatulco and laid back hippie areas of Mazunte and Zipolite.
Puerto Escondido is overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with most of the city’s activity is on its beaches. Surfers congregate to the section of town near Zicatela beach, a ten kilometer stretch of sand. Zicatela hosts most of the towns restaurants, hotels, surf shops, bars and nightclubs.
La Punta, ‘the point‘ at the southern end, offers a more laid-back hippie surfer setting with a few eateries, hostels, surfboard rentals/ding repairers. People walk bikini clad and barefoot in the sandy streets. I personally preferred the vibes at La Punta and spent most of my time in this area.
Carrizalillo is up on the hill and a 5-minute taxi ride from the airport. The beach here is the most spectacular with a beautiful ascending staircase that lands in an incredibly picturesque beach setting. This area has a few nice restaurants and is walking distance to the safest swimming beach in the area. It’s an excellent choice if you’re travelling with a family.
Puerto Escondido is an enclave for expats and backpackers. It’s chill and eco-friendly, has great food and cheap drinks. It’s the type of place that people plan to visit for a week and stay for a month. This was the case for most of the travellers I met. I personally planned to stay for a few weeks and ended up staying a few months.
The surf season starts from late April and goes until October. If you are an advanced surfer and after some serious waves, the time to go is May to July. There are actually waves up until November. September and October are usually cleaner and more user-friendly.
I spent from mid-September to mid-November 2017 in Puerto Escondido. Being the end of rainy season it was hot and humid. I lucked out and only experienced a handful of rainy days. I also had some pretty consistent clean swell ranging from 3-8 foot. Occasionally there were flat days, windy days and bigger swells of up to 14 feet.
Puerto Escondido has 2 main surf breaks:
The heart of the action, including the famous ‘Mexican Pipeline”, is at Zicatela’s northern end. It’s a beach break that packs one hell of a punch. Non-surfers beware: the waters here have a lethal undertow and is not safe for swimming or beginner surfers. When it's pumping the wave is for expert surfers only. As you can see below, this wave is serious.
Footage taken by me on 10/11/2017
La Punta (The Point)
The point break at La Punta can be found at the southern end of Playa Zicatela. An excellent left that barrels frequently but can get serious crowds. Getting a wave can be competitive so expct a ding or two. It’s a punchy fast wave that works when its small and anything up to 8 feet.
HOT TIP - If you want to beat the crowd’s, midday is generally your best bet. If you want to stay out of trouble, respect the local surfers.
Puerto Escondido is full of expats and travellers, thankfully most of the yoga is instructed in English, some alongside Spanish. Advanced yogis please keep in mind that you will not receive the intensity of big city studio yoga in resort towns. The yoga classes are generally open level simple flows tailored to holiday makers, surfers and travellers.
One Love – La Punta
One love is a rustic but high-end boutique hostel surrounded by lush tropical gardens that hosts its own yoga shala. The yoga is held on a large, breezy, tranquil terrace overlooking the beach. It was my favourite yoga space in Puerto Escodido. The yoga varied from restorative, Hatha and Vinyasa styles. I enjoyed the nourishing restorative classes after a big surf. The Vinyasa class was decent, although slower paced. They have one 9:30am class a day here, so pre-plan your surf around this time. I would usually head out for a sunrise surf and then scurry off to make yoga here.
HOT TIP – Keep your eyes open to watch the incredible waves roll in when you in standing postures.
Casa Corzo – Zicatela
Casa Corzo is located above Spirulina cafe in Zicatela. The yoga is also held on a terrace but the view of the ocean and the breeze are limited. Located above a café, sometimes the general café noises can distracting. I found classes here hit and miss, this was usually down to the teacher. I experienced the worst ever yoga class here. The teacher was completely unprepared and quite obviously making up the sequence as she went along. Even mixing up the most basic pose names names like warrior one and warrior two. I begrudgingly handed over my pesos at the end of this particular class. That being said, I also experience a great teacher who taught a fantastic creative Vinyasa flow class incorporating philosophy and great music. The benefit of Casa Corza is that they do a morning and evening class each day. So you have more to options to align your yoga practice with your surf.
HOT TIP – Eat breakfast at Spirulina café afterwards. The veggie baguette is mouthwatering and the green juices are the best in town.
Vida Yoga - Zicatela
Vida Yoga is also located on a roof terrace with a view of the ocean. Although you don’t actually see the view whilst practicing, you can feel the refreshing ocean breeze. The space isn't as glamorous as One Love, however, the quality of the teaching makes it the favourite on my yoga hit list. They teach Hatha yoga here with an emphasis on alignment and restorative poses. A myriad of unique props are used to help you get deep into the postures. Marine was my favourite teacher. She is an expert surfer as well as a yogi who has a wealth of knowledge on poses beneficial for surfers. She teaches smart functional yoga with purpose and logic. Her alignment cues and sequencing are spot on.
HOT TIP – Marine’s classes are popular amongst the local surfers, so get in early to check out the view and secure your spot.
WHERE TO STAY
Aqua Luna – Zicatela
If you want to be close to the epic waves and hustle 'n' bustle of Puerto Escondido’s restaurants, boutiques and nightlife, Zicatela is your best bet. Aqua Luna offers cool, contemporary apartments with a pool and a panoramic deck with a hot tub. It attracts plenty of surfers thanks to excellent- value rooms, many with kitchens. All-day breakfasts and a variety of local and international dishes are served at the poolside bar.
HOT TIP – Hit the panoramic deck for an epic sunset.
Casa Kei / Casa Lani - La Punta
Casa Kei and Casa Lani are two separate properties located across the road (or dirt track) from each other in La Punta. They are a 10 minute walk to the beach. Both run by Pepe, the incredibly welcoming owner. They are great choices for the budget conscious traveller. Both properties offer 6 quaint cabanas, outdoor kitchens, huge communal tables, hammocks, fruit trees and plenty of artistic details through out. An added bonus are the property’s pets Malinche; a super friendly rescue street dog, and Freda; a sweet and affectionate cat. I stayed in Casa Lani for the majority of my time in Puerto Escondido.
HOT TIP – With a bit of encouragement Malinche will happily escort you down to the beach and join you for sunset or keep you company when dining out at the local eateries. Most local restaurants in La Punta are dog friendly. She’s also great company and a welcome addition to help fend off the territorial street dogs that you may encounter.
Frutas y Veduras – La Punta
Frutas y Veduras, translated to 'Fruit and Vegetables' in English is a hostel that perfectly gels with the rustic jungley feel of La Punta. It sports simple cabanas with shared bathrooms, a kitchen, and a pool surrounded by tropical plants with relaxed and friendly vibes. Its idyllically located on the main street of La Punta a few minutes walk from La Punta's surf break. Frutas y Veduras has a great café (Café Ole) and an organic grocer (Moringa) on site.
HOT TIP – Find the secret 3 story platform. Bring some beers, a speaker and some mates. Climb up the 3 levels to the top platform for sunset. It’s the best sunset spot in the whole of Puerto. It became a daily ritual during my stay here.
Oasis Surf & Language School - Carrizalillo
Oasis Surf & Language school is the whole package. Run by an Roger Rimarez, a local renouned big wave surfer and his family. If you’re looking at starting your surfing journey or just looking at brushing up on your surf skills, you will find it all here. It has great packages for beginner to advanced surfers that include Spanish lessons, surf lessons, fitness classes, cultural excursions and accommodation. I absolutely loved spending two weeks with these guys. You become part of the family and there's plenty of like minded people floating around to befriend. The surf instructors were knowledgeable, passionate and their teaching style is the best I have experienced. They even include Friday night drinks with surf photo coaching. If your looking at a surf and Spanish language package, I cannot recommend these guys enough.
HOT TIP – Ask them to arrange a surf trip to Barra De La Cruz for an epic day riding a crowdless point break.
WHERE TO EAT
Lychee – La punta
Lychee was hands down my favourite place to dine in Puerto Escondido. A Thai restaurant styled perfectly to mesh with the chilled out, hippie surf vibes of La Punta. With a sand floor, tables naturally carved out of wood, hip tunes, and babing barefooted wait staff. An absolute MUST.
HOT TIP – Go for the Pescado del dia (fish of the day).
Smoked Fish Tacos – Carrizalillo
BEST fish tacos in town. A tiny hole in the wall eatery with the most mouth watering tacos. The menu is simple and the food comes out quickly and fresh.
HOT TIP – Look out for the coriander salsa, it has a habit of getting stuck in your teeth, but don’t let that stop you from eating it, its delicious.
Espadin - Carrizailillo
Looking for an upmarket place for a date night or a delicious cocktail with a killer view? Espadin's atmosphere is stunning, providing one of the best sunset dinner views in Puerto Escondido. The menu offers a a mixture of Mexican cuisine and fresh local seafood. One of the more pricier places but the views make it worth while.
HOT TIP – Pre-book to secure the best sunset view. Try the margarita with mezcal for a smokey twist.
All in all my time in Puerto Escondido was absolutely magic. Its the perfect combintation of a non pretentious surf and yoga culture. Put this little Mexican town on your travel bucket list if its not already there.