History Puerto Escondido

Exploring Puerto Escondido: A Hidden Gem on Mexico’s Coast

aerial view of Santa María Huatulco Oaxaca México holiday homes sea

If you’re seeking a hidden paradise with a rich history and stunning natural beauty, look no further than Puerto Escondido, a small port and tourist center tucked away in the municipality of San Pedro Mixtepec Distrito 22, within the vibrant Mexican state of Oaxaca. Before the 1930s, Puerto Escondido was not a thriving town; it was a place known for intermittent coffee shipments and a lack of potable water. The very name “Puerto Escondido” hints at its intriguing history, rooted in the legend of a courageous woman who escaped her captors and found refuge in this enchanting locale. The Nahuatl word for this region was Zicatela, which translates to “place of large thorns” – a name that now graces the area’s most renowned beach. Join us with a cup of coffee as we chat about history of Puerto Escondido

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History Puerto Escondido

The Legend of Puerto Escondido: The bay of Puerto Escondido, once known as Bahia de la Escondida (Bay of the Hidden Woman), has a captivating legend. It tells the tale of a fearsome pirate, Andrés Drake, brother of the infamous Sir Francis Drake. In an audacious act, Drake and his crew had kidnapped a young Mixtec woman from the village of Santa María Huatulco, making her their captive. During their stay in the bay, this brave woman, known as “La Escondida” (the hidden one), managed to escape and swim to shore. She found refuge in the jungle beyond the beach, eluding the pirates’ relentless search efforts. This legend gave birth to the name “Bahía de la Escondida,” a name that continues to enchant visitors to this day.

From Punta Escondida to Puerto Escondido: At the dawn of the 20th century, the area was called Punta Escondida (Hidden Point). It was a quaint fishing village, occasionally used as a point of departure for coffee shipments. But the absence of a reliable source of drinking water hindered its growth. Some early residents, like Nazario Castellanos and Escolástica Valencia, settled in the area, becoming its first inhabitants. Yet, it wasn’t until the 1930s that Puerto Escondido evolved into a permanent settlement, its role as a port becoming more firmly established.

Municipal Shifting: Initially belonging to the municipality of Santa María Colotepec, Puerto Escondido later sought a change in jurisdiction, leading to its inclusion in the municipality of San Pedro Mixtepec in the 1940s. This shift marked a significant step in the town’s development.

Puerto Escondido: A Blend of Culture and Nature

The City: Located in the western part of Oaxaca’s coast, Puerto Escondido is an inviting blend of natural beauty and vibrant culture. It boasts a tropical and humid climate, with an average annual temperature of 28°C (82°F) and a rainy season during the summer. The town’s heart lies on the north side of the bay, overlooking the majestic cliffs that adorn its bay.

Surfing Mecca: Puerto Escondido is known as one of the premier surfing destinations globally, with Zicatela Beach earning a spot in the top ten surfing spots. This area is often referred to as the “Mexican Pipeline” due to the striking similarities it shares with the renowned Banzai Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore. The waves that break on Zicatela Beach draw surfers and bodyboarders from around the world. The beach itself stretches four kilometers, with waves that can reach heights of up to sixteen meters. While it’s a paradise for surfers, the strong rip currents make it unsuitable for swimming.

A Scenic Paradise: The town center bustles with life, centered around Pérez Gazga Avenue, locally known as “El Adoquin” or “La Zona Adoquinada” – a charming stone-paved street. Here, you’ll find an array of bars, hotels, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, craft shops, internet cafes, corner stores, tour operators, and scuba diving rentals. It’s the perfect place for an evening stroll, especially after 17:00 when it becomes pedestrian-only. The Adoquin is also a treasure trove for those seeking Mexican handcrafts, from blouses and shirts to jewelry and seashell items.

Carnival Celebrations: Puerto Escondido knows how to celebrate, and its annual Carnival is a testament to its vibrant spirit. The festivities begin with the “quema de mal humor,” or the burning of bad mood. This ritual, involving an effigy meant to rid people of negativity, sets the stage for weeks of joyful celebrations.

Education Opportunities

Universidad del Mar: For those interested in higher education, Puerto Escondido is home to one of the campuses of the Universidad del Mar. This institution provides educational opportunities, contributing to the town’s growth and development.

Beaches that Mesmerize

Playa Zicatela: As previously mentioned, Zicatela Beach is a magnet for surfers, attracting international competitions and enthusiasts alike. Known for its colossal waves, it’s aptly nicknamed the “Mexican Pipeline.” Lifeguards diligently watch over this high-risk beach, making it a surfer’s haven but unsuitable for casual swimmers.

Playa Marinero: West of Zicatela lies Playa Marinero, offering a more gentle surf and safer swimming conditions. It’s an ideal spot for beginners and bodyboarding enthusiasts.

Playa Principal: This beach, fronting the town proper, is where fishermen arrive at dawn to sell their fresh catches. It’s also the primary departure point for boat trips to inaccessible beaches, dolphin and turtle watching, and deep-sea fishing. Families often gather here for picnics and soccer games.

Playa Angelito and Playa Manzanillo: Westward from Playa Principal, you’ll discover the twin beaches of Puerto Angelito and Manzanillo. These sheltered coves provide safer swimming conditions, with Playa Manzanillo being the calmer of the two. Small, family-owned restaurants in thatched-roof palapas dot these beaches.

Playa Carrizalillo: Located west of Manzanillo, Carrizalillo Beach boasts white sand and cobalt-blue waters. Although it takes some effort to reach, the reward is a tranquil beach with gentle waves perfect for swimming. It’s also a prime spot for snorkeling, with rocky outcroppings providing a habitat for a variety of marine life.

Playa Bacocho: At the westernmost end lies Playa Bacocho, known for its upscale beach clubs. Here, you’ll find soft sand, palm trees, and a serene ambiance. While the surf can be moderate, be cautious of strong rip currents in the far west.

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Reaching Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido International Airport: The town is accessible via domestic flights from the cities of Oaxaca, Monterrey, and Mexico City.

By Bus: If you prefer a scenic route, you can take a commercial bus from the city of Oaxaca. Be prepared for a seven-hour journey with breathtaking views.

Coming Soon: A Quicker Road: A new three-lane superhighway from Oaxaca is under construction, set to connect with Ventanillas, Oaxaca, just 13 kilometers east of Puerto Escondido. Anticipated to open by the end of 2022, this highway will significantly reduce travel time, making Puerto Escondido even more accessible.

Embracing the Local Culture

Media Presence: Puerto Escondido has a local AM and FM radio station, along with Spanish-language weekly newspapers. The bilingual magazine ¡Viva Puerto! showcases the town’s vibrant life and culture.

Fiestas de Noviembre: Every November, the town celebrates the “Fiestas de Noviembre” (Festivals of November), a month-long extravaganza filled with events and activities. From motocross events to surfing tournaments, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Discover the Enchanting Laguna de Manialtepec

A mere 10 kilometers west of Puerto Escondido lies the breathtaking Laguna de Manialtepec. On your way, you’ll pass through the charming village of Bajos de Chila. Here, you’ll also find a small archaeological zone that offers a glimpse into the Chatino culture, with its Sun Stone representing the solar deity and a statue of a high-ranking priest.

The lagoon itself is a haven for nature enthusiasts, teeming with mangroves and a rich diversity of birdlife, including pelicans, seagulls, ibises, storks, cranes, jacanas, buzzards, kingfishers, swans, and more. Other wildlife residents include raccoons, weasels, deer, wild boar, foxes, and even crocodiles. The preservation of these species is crucial, as some face threats from poaching.

In the middle of the lagoon sits Isla del Gallo, where, according to legend, a rooster’s crow can be heard every Christmas Eve, adding a touch of magic to this already enchanting destination.

In Conclusion

Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, is a hidden gem on Mexico’s coast, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From legendary origins to world-renowned surfing spots and serene beaches, this town has something for everyone. With improved access via a new highway on the horizon, Puerto Escondido is poised to captivate even more visitors seeking an authentic Mexican experience. So, if you’re in search of a tropical paradise with a rich tapestry of stories and adventures waiting to unfold, make your way to Puerto Escondido – the hidden port that’s not so hidden anymore.

Come and discover Puerto Escondido, where the past meets the present, and nature’s beauty awaits at every turn.