Beach Time!! I always plan beach time in my holidays, just to chill and relax from my travels, I call this; The Holiday within my Holiday. The Pacific coast of Oaxaca is not yet overdeveloped and you can do many activities at these white/golden beaches. The coast is full of wildlife, turtles, dolphins and whales; perfect for snorkeling, diving and fishing. This coast has some good constant swell too. I love to surf and the vibe around it; so for me that is the perfect way to relax and meet other people. The scenery is spectacular and you feel in your element at one of the many beach towns along the coast. See below my tips and experiences on a part of the great Oaxaca coastline including Puerto Escondido, Mazunte & Zipolite. Enjoy!!
I decided to travel by plane from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. I experienced it as an adventurous tour flying in a Cessna which was faster, more relaxed but more expensive than the 6 to 8 hour windy bus/shuttle ride of course. It’s all up to your budget and the time. I booked my flight online with Aerotucán for 2550M$ (133$) and paid with credit card. Very easy and comfortable; I could even sit in the front which made the flight even more adventurous!!
In Puerto Escondido I booked online the ADO night bus to my next destination San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas (842MXN). The bus left around 21:30PM at the PE station and I arrived the next morning with a couple of hours detour, due to road blockings by ingenious people, at 11:00AM in San Cristobal de Las Casas. It was a long ride but I could sleep due to my sleeping routines I use during my travels.
Beaches, Tours & Surfing
In the Puerto Escondido area you can find many beaches. Some are perfect for surfing and some are better to chill or release newborn turtles. The Playa Principal in town is the main port area, from here the boats leave to do tours. See next chapters Boat Tour and Turtle release. Below I will give you my option and tips on the beaches around Puerto Escondido or places you can visit during you stay in Puerto Escondido. I start with the most Northern beaches of Puerto Escondido all the way down to the Southern towns of Mazunte and Zipolite.
Playa Palmarito (Turtle Releasing)
This beautiful Palmarito beach is known for the Baby Turtle Releasing; which you can undertake all by yourself. Take a taxi to Palmarito beach and make sure you arrive before 17:00PM. The beach is located 10 minutes from the city center and 20-25 minutes from La Punta. A simple turtle rescue shack is located on the beach where local guides will check you in (50MXN) and explain to you how they work to protect and save these amazing turtles. It gave me a warm feeling to give something back and hope my baby turtles will survive the birds hunting them. But the worst enemy are humans; the plastic in the ocean and the noise pollution on beaches. Did you know that the turtles come back at the same beach they are born, to lay their eggs?
You release the turtles into the ocean right before the gorgeous sunset; at the same time scare away the birds that are looking for their dinner meal….. By releasing these small baby turtles you know you are doing a great job to help to save and protect these precious animals and donate to the Palmarito Sea Turtle Rescue who makes this wildlife event possible. So in many ways a big recommendation and don’t forget donate!!
Tip: Try to refill your water bottle!!! In my hostel I could refill my Camel bag Eddy and I kept on refilling it my whole trip (9 weeks). Haven’t bought one plastic bottle during my trip; good for the turtles and rest of the planet!!!
Playa Carrizalillo (Surf)
During my stay in Puerto Escondido the waves were not big, lucky me I don’t like huge waves. Playa Carrizalillo is known for the small surf and lessons are given here too (La Punta is the other spot). This small beach is sheltered in a cove which you can only reach by stairs. At the local vendors you can get your refreshment after the surf or swim.
Playa Principal (Boat Tour)
Playa Principal is the main beach of Puerto Escondido. This is the local harbor where the fishermen leave and arrive and where you can buy the fresh fish. From this beach the boat departs if you book one of the many tours.
I booked a morning boat trip via my One Love Hostel. The guy picked me up on a motorbike to drop me of at the beach to get on board of a small fisher boat with 12 tourist on board. During the tour we caught many fish, spotted many dolphins, turtles and even a humpback whale!!!
The skipper guided us to the best areas where we could see everything, we jumped overboard to swim as close as possible with the dolphins and turtles. We caught many black tuna fish (cheap version of the real tuna) and it was my idea to let the fish cleaned and prepared at the beach for lunch! Could it be fresher than this? Tasted great with some tortillas and hot sauce. Great day which I really recommend you to do!!
Playa Zicatela (Surfing)
Puerto Escondido with Playa Zicatela is the best known surfing spot in Mexico. They even call it the Mexican Pipeline; named after the world known surf spot Pipeline in Hawaii. This surf beach break is too heavy for me, so went surfing at La Punta and Playa Agua Blanca. The beach houses and restaurants are nice and fully equipped to chill and hang out during the day and night. I took a taxi from La Punta to Zicatela to have dinner one night. I started at a cool place at the beach called Palapita to drink a splendid Mezca Maracuya cocktail. Then had dinner at Fresh, I was not keen on the food, the service was better. If you like to party; Zicatela is perfect for that, till early in the morning. At least that is what I heard; I did not experienced it myself. I found Zicatela a bit touristy and busy. Preferred the chill vibe of La Punta much more.
Tip: During the day you can walk all the way to La Punta if you stay at Zicatela, it’s a nice walk along the beach. Other way is off course possible too. Take a taxi back if you don’t want to walk.
La Punta de Zicatela (Surfing)
La Punta is totally my place to be; unpaved roads, hippie style and mellow vibe. Surf shops, bronze surfers walking everywhere and nice small restaurants with great healthy food. La Punta is on the far south side the of the Zicatela beach at the point or rock; walk or take a taxi to get here.
My hostel One Love was located at the beginning of La Punta, the name already says it: Love! And I loved it so much; perfect location, good vibe, great food at the restaurant, comfortable rooms and lovely garden with small pool. I attended a yoga class at the special yoga floor with sea view and breeze! You should be really lucky if you get a spot at this popular hostel; but if you get a spot take it and you won’t regret it for a minute!
Tip: Buy a cold drink at the bar at One Love and walk to the beach for the sunset, you will not be disappointed!
Here my recommendations for eating & drinking at La Punta:
Ink at Avendida Juarez Esquina: Nice cool spot for fresh spicy fish taco’s; cool vibe and nice owners. Great spot!
Aloha Bowls at the main road: I went here for a dinner Poke Bowl with Tuna (125MXN) and twice in the morning for a Fruit Bowl. Loved it!!
Lychee Thai Food on the main road: Great dinner if you in for a healthy Thai dinner. Lot of veggies and good vibe in this popular spot! Sweet and Sour dish 140MXN and juice 40MXN.
Café Olé / Fruits y Verduras on the main road across Aloha Bowl: Popular spot with great food and service. It is worth waiting to get a table. Very popular in the morning for coffee and breakfast (Acai bowl 90MXN, Cafe Latte 40 MXN). At the back they rent out rooms as well. Great vibe; but that is applies for the whole La Punta area!!!
Bikini Cocktail Bar on the main road: Piña Coladas in a fresh pineapple in a happy hour (first 80MXN, second 25MXN)!! Is there a better way to start the evening. Cool place with swings at the bar. Enjoy
Surfing La Punta! I got my board (rent full day 250MXN) at Punto Magico Surfshop and booked a surf tour via them as well. Surfing La Punta is a challenge; it gets very busy with lessons and it only one left point break. The beach break is barely to surf. I don’t like the crowds while I’m surfing but managed to get some waves at the end of the day (±17.00PM) when the classes left the spot.
Tip: Go surfing La Punta in the early morning or in the late afternoon avoiding the crowd and surf lessons in the line-up.
Playa Agua Blanca (Surfing)
I went to Playa Aqua Blanca with my surf trip from Puerto Escondido (400MXN). It was about an 30-40 min ride from La Punta. The surf was small but nobody in the line up; perfect for me!! Loved it so much and the beach is beautiful. You can surf a right point break and a beach break here. Next to the point break you have a rock formation where natural pools are created and some small local vendors to buy a fresh coconut or tortilla. Perfect beach for a day trip!!
Manzunte and Zipolite are two beach towns more south of Puerto Escondido. Some people stay overnight in one of these villages, but I did both in a daytrip. In the morning I took the first colectivo to San Antonio(1 hour, 40MXN). Then changed to another colectivo, which was more of a truck with seats to Mazunte (10MXN). These colectivo’s go regular and the trip took me about 1 ½ hour one way; for a taxi you will pay 800MXN, easy choice right!?!? The town Mazunte had a real hippie style; people with dreads, yoga studios and healthy food places. I loved the style of the streets and the beach is gorgeous! I had my breakfast at Café-Café at the main road, a nice local place; El Tiburon looked nice too in the street to the beach!
Tip: Be aware of the strong beach break and under currents that are existing here at the Pacific coasts. I normally just cooled off with only my feet in the water or walked to places where the waves were not breaking on shore.
If I knew in advance, I would have stayed here for the night. The vibe in Mazunte is nice and very tranquillo. I saw some cool places to eat and sleep, so I will recommend you to explore this place a bid longer than I did!!
On the main street of Mazunte the colectivo departs every 15-30 minutes (10MXN) to the end stop Zipolite. This is a large and stretched beach and I noticed a lot of wind but no kites. I had lunch at Posada Mexico Hotel & Restaurant which was ok, the recommended cevicheria in the main street was closed. If you like to sunbath nude this is the place to be. I was not surprised because I knew in advance that this is a nudist beach; and not only at Playa Amor at the far end of the long stretched beach behind the rock, but everywhere at the main beach of Zipolite too.
Tip: Walk all the way up to the end of the main beach of Zipolite to Playa Amor and asked if you could to see the view at the restaurant Vista del Amor; perfect view to both sides of the rock but Playa Amor looks picture perfect from here!!
Along the entire beach you will find nice beach clubs, hotels, hostels, bars etc. I had a drink at a cool place called El Bicho Meeting Point, where I could chill in a hammock before taking my colectivo back to Puerto Escondido.
Zipolite is bigger and more spread than Mazunte and of course the nudist sunbathing is a big difference too. I preferred Mazunte much more, but I talked to people that liked Zipolite even more than La Punta. So you have to check for yourself and make your choice or not!!!