In many ways, Puerto Escondidio, Mexico, lives up to its name, which means "hidden port." Located 90 mi/145 km south of Oaxaca, it retains the feel of a sleepy coastal village, with fishermen repairing colorful nets and locals riding burros along sandy side streets.
When adventurous surfers from around the world discovered the town's perfect crescent-shaped bay, they contributed to the laid-back atmosphere and added a certain cosmopolitan edge. Puerto Escondido hosts two surfing competitions each year, one during summer and another in November.
Playa Zicatela, on the south side of town, was a hippie hangout in the 1970s, and it is now considered one of the top five surfing destinations in the world. New hotels and restaurants are springing up there and changing the formerly ragtag surfing beach into a more touristy area. Note: The undertow and giant waves at Zicatela can be dangerous. There are lifeguards, but only experienced swimmers should take to the waters. There are calmer, safer places to swim closer to town.
Inexpensive to moderately priced hotels are found in town along the Adoquin, in the Zicatela area and in outlying neighborhoods. Surf bars (blasting Bob Marley tunes) and funky cafes (serving spirulina yogurt shakes and vegetarian omelettes) dot the Adoquin. Nightlife action typically begins about 11 pm.
If you tire of the beach and surf action, take a boat tour of Lagunas Chacagua National Park, east of Puerto Escondido. The mangrove-lined lagoons there are rich in bird life (egrets, hummingbirds and kingfishers).
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