Oaxaca’s Pacific Coast

For a little vacation within a vacation, we took a twisting seven-hour bus ride to Puerto Escondido on Oaxaca’s little-developed Pacific Coast. Formerly a small fishing village and coffee bean shipping port, Puerto Escondido has evolved into a haven for devoted surfers, fun-loving Mexican families, and anyone else looking for a little rest and relaxation.

Apartment View

Our room with a view

For the week, we settled into a rental apartment with light sea breezes and expansive ocean-views. From there, it was a short walk down to the local fishing port, and past epic surfing breaks, sea turtle sanctuaries, and a series of long golden beaches.

Fishing Boats

The fishing fleet in Puerto Escondido

Each morning at sunrise, boatmen gunned the engines of their flat-bottomed fishing launches and streaked directly toward land. At full acceleration, just as they hit the dry sand, they pulled up on the outboards and slid gracefully onto the beach. Before they could kill their Evinrudes, their boats were surrounded by buyers for the fresh catch of the day.

Fish fry

Red snapper for breakfast

Blanquillo, dorado, red snapper, and sail fish filled their hatches or remained entangled in their nets hastily pulled from the sea. From a boat, we purchased a plump two-pound (1 kg) huachinango (red snapper), and carried it over to a tarp-covered beachside kitchen to be cleaned, fried in boiling oil, and eaten whole for breakfast.

Surfer

Totally tubular Zicatela Beach

After breakfast, we followed the water’s edge a short distance to Zicatela Beach, also known as the “Mexican Pipeline”. Every morning and afternoon, a pod of surfers rode the massive rolling tubes before they violently pounded the sand. As we watched the action from the beach, each breaking wave rumbled beneath our feet and blew cool spray across our faces.

Crowded Beach 1

Spring Break in Puerto Escondido

Over the course of our stay, spring break (semana santa) began and the beaches filled with Mexican families on school holiday. Adults huddled together under the shade of rented umbrellas while the children played in the warm gentle surf. Vendors pushing wheelbarrows full of snacks paraded by selling everything from popsicles to shrimp cocktails.

Beers on Beach

Rest and relaxation

Most days, we walked to the far end of the two-mile (3.2 km) long beach, where the crowds disappeared, and lounge chairs and umbrellas beckoned us from the water’s edge. As we reclined with a couple of drinks, the waves crashed continuously beyond our feet, and squadrons of pelicans and other sea birds dove for their own catch of the day.

Es with turtles

Esther releasing newborn sea turtles at Bacocho Beach

When the afternoon sun was low in the sky, we made the short trip around the point to peaceful and pristine Bacocho Beach. This is part of a 17-mile (27 km) stretch of shoreline where a high concentration of sea turtles nest and lay their eggs. As part of a volunteer effort, we helped release three species of newborn sea turtles onto the sand so they could find their own way home.

Sunset at Bacocho

Sunset at Bacocho Beach

Like the daily rhythm of the ocean, our leisurely days in Puerto Escondido seemed to repeat themselves. Beginning with the sunrise return of the fishing boat fleet, we followed the rolling barrel surf of Zicatela Beach, and walked long stretches of golden sand. At the end of the day, we helped baby sea turtles find their way home, and then tracked the sun as it fell below the watery horizon on Oaxaca’s Pacific Coast.

Turtle to the Sea

Good luck, little dude

Feature Image: Lone fisherman on quiet Coral Beach, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico

16 thoughts on “Oaxaca’s Pacific Coast

    • For us, Puerto Escondido was the “Goldilocks” of the beach towns along Oaxaca’s Pacific Coast. It is less resort-oriented and expensive than Huatulco and more developed and family-friendly than Zipolite and Mazunte. We had aspirations to explore the entire 70-mile coast, but Puerto Escondido was “just right”, so we stayed there the whole week.

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    • Thanks Sue & Dave! A week on the coast was a very enjoyable and relaxing addition to our month in Oaxaca. The beaches were spotlessly clean and excellent for long walks, and the ocean water was clear and warm for swimming. I hope you can find your way there, and we can find our way to your Aussie beaches some day.

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    • Marty, We felt like we really struck gold with our apartment rental in Puerto Escondido. I hope you can make it down here too, someday. If you decide to make the seven-hour bus trip from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, be sure to take the Dramamine. The mountain road was a winding pot-holed nightmare. Joe

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  1. The view from your rental unit is magnificent! And good for you for helping the newly-hatched turtles…I’ve never been lucky enough to see one, just the nests. You certainly know how to truly experience the local color when you vacation, which I think is the best way to do it!

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    • Like you, Esther has a special place in her heart for animals, especially dogs and underdogs like the fragile baby turtles. Even though they were only one hour old, I was impressed with their navigational abilities and determination to reach the surf. I would love to help the volunteers find the nests and incubate the eggs, but just being able to release the newborn turtles was a big thrill for both of us.

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  2. It looks like you found a great spot to chill for a week, even amongst the crowds of semana santa which can be daunting. Kudos to you both for helping with the turtle release – they have such a hard time these days that every bit helps. Love the fresh fish for breakfast!

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    • It was a great week at the beach, despite the growing crowds over the course of our stay. There was plenty of coastline to get away from it all. The turtle release was an unforgettable experience. Hopefully our little adoptees are doing alright. As for the fish breakfast, I know eating whole fish is common in Portugal, but we aren’t used to it. We really enjoyed the fleshy meat, but left the head and tail for another day.

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    • Hi Michaela & Phil, We frequently remind ourselves of the wonderful month we had in Oaxaca, and especially Puerto Escondido. We found a colorful land of smiling people and delicious food, and a relaxing beach town unspoiled by the influences of the outside world. My only advice: Bring an extra suitcase to take home the handmade treasures you will find. Buen viaje!

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