Introducing Puerto Escondido
After nearly two months on the road, we have stopped in Puerto Escondido, a semi-hidden port loved by surfers and caressed by the Pacific Ocean. The beach beckoned, bringing with it memories of lazy days in the sun and an early world of shimmers. Our stay has been extended for a whole month, giving us more time to explore the sights and feel the warmth settle in our bones. This is then an introduction to Puerto Escondido, as glimpsed over two weeks of doing nothing by the sea.
Puerto Escondido is a surfer haven. The small city’s most renowned beach is called Zicatela and its large waves and severe undertow make it forbidden to anyone without a board or at least a hollow log to hold on to. Zicatela’s hot yellow sand and restless sea stretch for over 4 kilometers. There are many surf and bodyboard tournaments happening throughout the year, mostly in the summer months, bringing a further influx of visitors to town.
There are other beaches with good surfing conditions, such as La Punta in the south or the small cove of Carrizalillo, which is a great spot for beginners, but Zicatela seems to be the holy grail everyone is trying to possess. Lining its shores are plenty of bars and restaurants, providing much-needed shadow, refreshments and nourishment. Personally, we enjoyed drinking fresh guava juice at Los Tios, watching the waves and the surfers come and go.
Since we do not surf (update: first surfing lesson in Carrizalillo beach), our time has been spent meandering the coast, often stopping at Carrizalillo beach. Although it has its fair share of surfers, most are teaching young (and old) kids the watery ropes, which makes for an entertaining show while we sit back and drink/eat the 5th fresh coconut. Yes, we really like fresh coconut. Carrizalillo beach is 300 meters wide and can only be accessed through a steep rock stairway (or by boat), making it ideal for those in seek of a quieter atmosphere.
Another factor weighing (and heavily, I may add) on our choice of Carrizalillo beach as a prime destination is the flavorful presence of El Cafecito close by, in a former landing strip called Rinconada. There is another one on Zicatela, fancier and continuously full, but the food there pales in comparison with the popping colors of Rinconada.
We have made El Cafecito an obligatory stop for brunch whenever even remotely close to Carrizalillo. It’s not cheap though, at least by Mexican (and our own) standards. Usually we have a dish displaying a combination of eggs, fruit, potatoes and pancakes each, accompanied by a vegetable juice (carrot+beet+celery is positively rejuvenating), totaling around 130 MNX (7.7 EUR). We could just go back to basics and eat two quesadillas, which would be 30 MXN (1.7 EUR), but we’re at the beach and the sea makes us crave pancakes. Seriously.
More centrally located is Playa Principal, swarming with trawlers and locals taking advantage of a much calmer sea. In the early morning, it is still possible to witness newly-returned fishermen selling the fresh catch of the day. During the day, the atmosphere is festive and geared towards families with kids swimming and wailing. It’s also a major boarding point for trips to other, more desired beaches, as evidenced by the number of water taxis lying in wait.
Plenty of sun worshippers hop on a boat from Playa Principal and take the frothy way to Puerto Angelito or Manzanillo, two small beaches separated by a rock outcropping and very popular with Mexican families. The sea is swimmable, but most people prefer to lounge about close to shore and rock along the undertow, giggling and screaming as the sun glides across a blue sky and the myriad “palapas” selling seafood begin to entice hungry stomachs.
We are currently in the southern tip of Puerto Escondido, where Zicatela meets La Punta. It’s a decidedly hushed neighborhood, which suits us fine. We have rented a studio at Casa Puente, where we can enjoy our own private space, a refreshing pool and gorgeous views of the Pacific and Puerto Escondido. We are also ideally located for stunning sunsets.
The transportation system is brilliant here. Although for most purposes we are far from everything, we are nonetheless able to be in town at any time of the day in 15 minutes. This is due the the ubiquitous presence of “colectivos”, or shared taxis, which we can get just outside our studio and are mostly headed to the busy Benito Juaréz market (yes, the same moniker as in Oaxaca) in the center of town. The ride costs 5 MXN (0.3 EUR) per person, and we can hop on and off at any time during the trip. It’s cheap, fast, reliable and great for chatting with the locals.
A more scenic route is available when we take the beach option, starting at La Punta and walking the 4 kilometers of Zicatela until we reach Playa Marinero and then Principal. There, we can amble through El Adoquin, a semi-pedestrianized promenade brimming with bars, restaurant, tour operators and shops selling handcrafts and every beach item know to the human species. It’s a lovely way to start the day, but can be daunting if the clock starts ticking closer to midday. Strolling through the full extension of Zicatela is less fun when the sand is scalding and the sun is scorching, so we usually choose to return on a “colectivo”. C’mon, it’s 5 pesos!
There are still other beaches to explore and plenty of delicious food to taste in Puerto Escondido, a mission we intend to tackle as we wait for whatever the wind will bring during the beautiful month of August.