Its name literally translates to “Hidden Port,” but Puerto Escondido, a water lovers paradise on Oaxaca’s Pacific coast, is easier to get to than you might expect.  And once you’ve experienced the wonders of this hidden gem, you might not want to find your way back.

Relatively quiet, but certainly gaining in popularity, Puerto Escondido practically didn’t exist prior to the 1930s, but is now one of the most beloved attractions on the Oaxacan coast.  Its more than a mellow Mexican beach town with fantastic tropical weather; you’ll mix and mingle with backpackers, surfers, and authentic local families.

Of course, beaches are a main attraction, and Puerto Escondido has seven beautiful ones.  You’ll likely find yourself at Carrizalillo Beach for swimming and lounging, but if you’re looking to surf — or watch some of the best surfing in the world — you can’t miss out on Zicatela Beach, the site of many major surfing competitions.  Puerto Escondido is arguably the third best surfing spot in the world and Zicatela Beach is its main wave riding destination.  Nicknamed the Mexican pipeline, its waves draw an international crowd of surfers.

One of the most luxurious — and most ecologically conscious — places to stay in Puerto Escondido is Vivo Resorts.  The unique resort community offers beachfront condos and villas (you can even own one when you decide you never want to leave!) with the conveniences of home, and the extravagances of vacation.  Vivo Resorts is the only all-suite accommodation in Puerto Escondido that also has restaurants, a business center, spa, fitness center and more including 12 miles of private sandy beach. Some of guests favorite activities at Vivo Resorts involve its local projects and partnerships, including investments in ecological initiatives that support wild life and wild spaces like the cherished Palmarito Sea Turtle Camp.

Now, the food.  Puerto Escondido isn’t just beach side bars with fish tacos and beer. The area is known for gastronomic delights, and one of the best and most affordable luxury dining experiences of all comes with a free million dollar view!  Famous for its menu of interesting fresh caught seafood selections and great Mexican choices, Restaurant El Espadin is equally as known for its tables overlooking the Bay.  Snag a spot in the evening to sip an El Espadin martini-style mezcalini and watch a most impressive sunset over Playa Carrizalillo!

Textiles are a tradition in Puerto Escondido — a part of the indigenous culture made with dyes from the coasts of Oaxaca.  While there are a nearly endless number of local shops to peruse, one store that truly stands out for its artistry is Manteleria Santo Domingo.  This family business not only offers a remarkable selection of authentic ethnic fashions, housewares and other artisanal pieces, but guests often have the chance to experience how the functional art is created by watching weavers operate an intricate loom on the building’s rooftop.  Fascinating!

Two markets are worth visiting.  The first, Mercado Benito Juarez, is an authentic community gathering place where locals find produce, tirada strips of meat hanging in the carnicerias, and tempting tastes of tortillas and soft and stringy quesillo.  And then there’s El Adoquin…

The main street at Playa Principal is flooded with vendors setting up booths to sell everything from rafts to ice cream to fashion.  Called El Adoquin for its cobblestone streets, it’s a maze of tables and stalls selling anything and everything; a shock to the senses in the best way.  Nighttime is the best time to go, when the street is closed to vehicular traffic and you can really take your time wandering to find the best curiosities, food and fun.  Street musicians add to the party atmosphere of this Puerto Escondido diamond in the rough.

Whether you’re looking to hit the surf, queue up some culture, or simply relax by the sand, a visit to Puerto Escondido is exotic and tropical, yet mellow and affordable.  And it should totally be on your list of places to stay and play in 2019!