For surfers worldwide, the Mexican beaches of Puerto Escondido are one of the top ten surfing destinations in the world, thanks to the strong Pacific waves crashing unimpeded on its eastern shore.
Originally a coffee-shipping port and tiny fishing village, Puerto Escondido was popular with surfers before it became a tourist resort. Known as the “Mexican Pipeline”, the eastern beach of Zicatela is for serious surfing, with international championships held here each year. The waves are a hollow tube, running about 6 to 15 feet (1.8 to 4.6 meters), or higher. It appeals to a younger crowd, reflected in the cluster of lazy beach bars serving drinks long after the sunset.
But because swimming can be challenging here, the eastern beach is usually quite empty, in spite of its refreshing breeze. For many middle-class Mexicans, the favorite spot is the northern beach, with its sandy cove sheltered by picture-perfect palm trees, and dotted by straw-roofed gazebo-topped cafes and seafood restaurants. Families flock from all over Mexico to spend their Sunday afternoon pick-nicking and sun-bathing here.
For snorkeling, the beaches of Puerto Angelito and Carrizalillo are a short walk south from Zicatela. Its water is much quieter, very transparent with pleasant green tones.
The main marketplace, Mercado Benito Juarez, sprawls along the beach twice a week, offering clothing and local handicrafts including silver, pottery, and leather goods. Many merchants actually crisscross the beaches to offer their art to the tourists
Worth visiting around Puerto Escondido, especially if you are part of the growing trend for ecotourism, are the two freshwater lagoons of Manialtepec and of Chacahua National Park, where visitors can observe close to 200 species of exotic and colorful birds in their natural habitat, plus some unique species of mangroves.
Zicatela Beach, Puerto Escondido
Located on the eastern shore of the city of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Zicatela Beach is one of the most famous surf spots in the world. A beach break with right and left-hand tubes explains its nickname as “The Mexican Pipeline”.Annual surfing contests include:
- Mexpipe August Open, in Mid August
- The Longboard Invitational, usually late September
- The International Surfing Tournament, around Thanksgiving
Tropical Landscapes along Oaxaca’s Coast
Until the 70s, the coast of Oaxaca was isolated from the rest of the country by the Southern Sierra Madre Mountain range, known for its high, rugged mountains and deep, fertile valleys. The area is surrounded by waterfalls, rivers, and wondrous mountainous landscapes. During May through December, the vegetation is lush jungle green, offering a great variety of eco-tourism activities and a discovery of its natural wonders.
From its peak at 12,300 feet, a mere 50 miles north from Huatulco, the Sierra Madre plunges abruptly toward the pacific coast, through dense tropical forests and shallow canyons. The lush vegetation and forests in this tropical region remind many of Hawaii.