Puerto Escondido - "Hidden Port"
The day when the war started, the newspapers were silent. There was no boy running on the streets and screaming "war". That boy lives somewhere in old movies and faded books. I strolled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and everyone's happiness was incomprehensible to me. I drew tears and was looking for the answers to my own questions. And waited... I was not alone in waiting.
In the morning, the locals waited for returning boats with the nightly catch, and for ladies with baskets of tamales and atole - a typical breakfast.
In this part of the world, life continued without interference. The repetitive, almost rhythmic wait gave peace and hope. The ocean breathed peace, and it was contagious.
The ocean is a king here, and whatever you do, you will most likely end up near one of its eight beaches. Beach hopping and surfing are the most popular activities. Puerto Escondido (PE) is the surfers' mecca. The main Zicatela Beach (Playa Zicatela) stretches 3.5 kilometers and it is a perfect place just to be.
About 160 steps lead down the slopes of a forest-clad cliff to the Carrizalillo Beach (Playa Carrizalillo). The beach is pretty small, but calm water attracts families with children, sports enthusiasts, and even topless sunbathers.
According to the legend, pirates once kidnapped a young woman here. While they were docked in the bay, the woman managed to escape. They looked for her every time they returned and referred to her as “La Escondida” (The Hidden One). The name stuck, and eventually, the place became known as Bahía de la Escondida (Bay of the Hidden One). A port was established in the bay around 1900 to ship coffee, but the town was only founded in the 1930s after potable water was introduced.
PE is famous for its nightlife, however, if you are like me and do not care about partying until the morning, a tour at night to experience the bioluminescence is one of the other options to do here in the evening. There are two possible places nearby: the Manialtepec Lagoon (Laguna de Manialtepec) and the Chacahua Lagoons (Lagunas de Chacahua).
Moonless nights in Puerto Escondido are the best time to swim in the fluorescent waters that light up when the sun goes down. The darker the better. This phenomenon is known as bioluminescence and is produced by microorganisms that shed light when they feel attacked. I went on a tour (MXN 350) 11 miles to the Laguna de Manialtepec. A boat takes you for around 20 minutes to the mangroves where you can swim. It is recommended to take some light, dry clothes because it could be chilly on the return trip after swimming.
By the way, in the middle of the lagoon is an island of a Rooster (Isla del Gallo), on which according to legend, a rooster can be heard singing every year on December 24 :)
Hotel El Tucan
Calle Puerto Angelito Esquina 3a. Sur, Sector Hidalgo, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, México.
Puerto Escondido is still a place without big hotel chains, although I am afraid it is not going to last that way for long. The big building right on the beach is a bad sign already. But for now, you have many options to choose from for something small and different.
I found the hotel at which I stayed accidentally. I did not have any reservations prior to coming to PE. I just exited the colectivo (a shared taxi from the airport costs 50 MXN, 2.5 USD, and drops you at any location in the center) and walked into it :) I paid for one night but later changed my mind and extended for one more: clean, quiet, and colorful, about 10 min walk to the main beach. If you aren't in the mood for walking you can always sit on the rooftop and admire the view from above.
Smoked Fish Tacos "El Viejo"
Cam. a Puerto Angelito s/n, Hidalgo, 71983 Puerto Escondido, Oax., Mexico
A place with a few items: 4 seafood/fish and 1 vegetarian taco and mainly raw fish dishes, guacamole, and sushi on weekends. But quality is more important than quantity.
"Delicias del General"
Av. Alfonso Pérez Gasga 601A, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
I am the type of person who usually looks for something new but in this case, I could not resist coming back a few times to this place. During the two full days I have spent in Puerto Escondido I ate at "Delicias del General" three times. I have to admit that the first one was the best, but probably it depends on the dishes you order as well. So I definitely recommend Aquachile (raw shrimp mixed with lime juice, red onion, pepper, cucumber, chile piquín, or chopped green chile (serrano or jalapeño), often topped with an avocado slice). It is a very light and refreshing dish and similar to ceviche. Aquachile (water of pepper) is eaten right after preparation, versus fish in ceviche being marinated at east for 30 minutes.
The difficult accessibility is probably a reason why the PE is still relatively "a hidden place".
Puerto Escondido is located 180 miles away from the city of Oaxaca on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca. It is reachable via airplane from Mexico City (a flight costs MXN700 - 3300 and takes 1h 29m), Monterrey, and Oaxaca. There is a direct bus departing from Puerto Escondido and arriving at Mexico City TAPO. Services depart once daily and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 20h 20m.
There are 3 ways to cover the 256km (159 miles) from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca: a 7-hour colectivo, a 10.5-hour bus ride, or a 1-hour-10-minute flight (including transfers). Fares range between MXN250 ($12) and MXN2,800($135).
Two small air companies fly to/from Oaxaca, and you would have to contact them directly: AeroTucan and AeroVega.
Colectivos are the fastest and cheapest option, but not exactly the most comfortable. Although it is only 150 miles, the drive takes about six hours and the road is long and winging. I would not recommend taking colectivo if you have motion sickness problems.
A little more comfortable ride would be by bus. With the journey lasting about 10.5 hours, choose the more comfortable ADO bus line. Tickets can be purchased on ADO's website and cost between $12 and $25 depending on departure time.