It needs no introduction. A wave with a fearsome reputation, a thumping beach break with no swell too big, and frequented by the world’s best big wave surfers each year. It’s one of the heaviest beach breaks in the world, with the capacity to break boards and even claim lives.
But Puerto Escondido has more to offer than death-defying beach breaks, with a thriving backpacker culture, excellent cuisine, an array of non-surfing activities, tropical weather and on a 3-4ft day, one of the most enjoyable waves on earth. We’re talking hollow, peaking wedges unloading perfectly onto the sand. Here’s everything you need to know about surfing in Puerto Escondido.
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Puerto Escondido Surf Season
Because Puerto is exposed to the vast expanse of the Pacific, it gets waves all year. However, the place only truly gets going between April and October. (Winter in Mexico).
This is when Puerto gets the swells it’s so famous for, and it’s common for Puerto to be 10-12ft daily. You can still surf out of season, but don’t expect to see the same swell intensity as the winter. This could be a good thing!
Puerto Escondido Surf Spots
While Oaxaca has hundreds of surf spots, and to surf them all would take years of exploration and dedication to the area, Puerto itself only has a handful of spots, at least ones I’m willing to mention.
Playa Zicatela is what Puerto is famous for. A miles-long stretch of beach showcasing thumping barreling A-frames. It’s heavy, shallow and damn-right scary. It’s the heaviest wave I’ve ever surfed in ten years of surf travel and exploration. On a 3-4ft day, the beach becomes an almost playful experience with hollow wedging peaks dotted up and down the beach!
Around the corner from Zicatela, Carazillo is a playful left reef break that makes learning to surf in Puerto Escondido possible. Even on larger swells, this reef remains mellow, perfect for beginners and intermediates alike to practice their kills. The wave is located down a flight of hundreds of steps, but the beach is stunning. White sand, pristine blue water, doused in tropical sun. A Mexican dream scene!
If you’re looking for something between the thumping a-frames of Zicatela and the beginner-friendly reef at Carazillo, head to La Punta. A playful left-hand point located at the southern end of Zicatela beach.
While the wave itself doesn’t possess the same world-class wave characteristics of its right-hand point break cousins further south, it is fun and can serve as a welcome break if you’ve been dodging sets and bodyboarders over at Zicatela. However, La Punta does also get super crowded.
On smaller days, La Punta is another excellent place to learn how to surf in Puerto Escondido! And there are numerous surf schools in the area. For some more beginner-friendly breaks in Mexico and beyond, check out my guide to the best beginner surf destinations.
Puerto Escondido Surf Forecast
Keen to see what the waves are doing in Puerto right now? Discover the surf forecast on Surfline Puerto Escondido or MSW Puerto. If you’re reading in season, you might be in for a spectacular webcam wave-riding show!
Where is Puerto Escondido?
Puerto Escondido is in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. Coined “Puerto,” the town is arguably home to surfing in southern Mexico. A region with countless world-class waves, from the hollow beach breaks to the famous and perfect right points.
How to Get to Puerto Escondido
To get to Puerto from overseas, you’ll need to fly to Mexico City, then hop on a domestic flight to Puerto Escondido. You can find these flights cheap on SkyScanner
If you’re hiring a car in Mexico, you can easily access Puerto via the Mex 200. This is the main highway that runs the length of Mex’s Pacific coast. (And all of it’s world class surf spots.
Getting to Puerto Escondido via bus is also super easy. The bus system is solid throughout the country and you’ll find bus tickets from other major cities. I always use BusBud for longer journeys. (Check out times and routes here).
By Shuttle Bus
Shared minibuses known locally as “Collectivo” are common in Mexico, and if you’re on a budget surf trip, will be your best friend. These minivan-style taxis are shared with other people for short trips. A cheap but unpredictable means of getting around the country! The good side? They only cost a few bucks!
For example, I took a “Collectivo” bus from Selina Cruz to Barra de la Cruz – Two of Mexico’s other best surf towns.
If you’re staying at Zicatela, you walk to the surf and a handful of shops and restaurants. Whereas in town you are closer to more conveniences but further away from good surf.
While you could walk around town (I did) and grab a taxi when you need to), a moped or even bicycle is perfect for getting around town. This way you’ll be able to nip to the shops and shoot down to La Punta when you’re too scared to surf Zicatela.
Where to Stay?
You have three areas to choose from, Centro, Zicatela and La Punta. If you’re in Puerto to surf good waves stay at Zicatela; if you want to party and sample some mellow waves, stay in Centro and if you’re looking for chilled, backpacker vibes with some playful lefts, head to La Punta. Throughout Puerto Escondido, there are countless accommodation options for all budgets.
Tower Bridge Hostel
Tower Bridge Hostel is a wicked budget friendly surf hostel in Puerto Escondido. With rooms for less than $12 per night, a lively vibe, pool, decent wifi and consistent crop of young backpacker passing through, it’s a wicked spot to meet people, and stay close to all the bars and restaurants!
Selina Puerto Escondido
Selina hostel is always a solid bet for any surfing digital nomad. With the perfect mix of affordability, location, workspace, vibe and convenience Selina has become my go-to hostel for anywhere in Latin America. The Puerto property is no different! It’s worth noting that Selina has the most reliable wifi in Puerto Escondido as it can be pretty bas across town.
I stayed at a wicked hostel called Casa Daikiri. Originally, I stayed here because Selina was full, but it’s actually in a more peaceful location and much cheaper! A clean hostel with a pool, clean rooms and a super helpful owner. I’ll stay here on my next visit. Oh, and Zicatela is only a 2-minute walk away!
Best Hostels in Puerto Escondido
Where to Eat?
As you’d expect from a thriving backpacker and surfing digital nomad hotspot, there are many options for food. If you’re on a budget, I’d highly recommend sampling some fresh bread and Oaxacan cheese from one of the Teindas in town.
Alternatively, for a fresh, clean, and healthy option, hit Spirulina in Zicatela. The place is wicked for a post-surf health kick and smoothie. A quick Google search will have you spoiled for choice after a day surfing in Puerto Escondido.
Where to Learn Surfing in Puerto Escondido?
Throughout Puerto, there are countless places to learn how to surf. Check out some of the best surf schools here. Most surf lessons in Puerto take place at either Carazillo or La Punta. Zicatela is a spot reserved only for advanced to pro-level surfers.
Digital Nomad Surfing Lifestyle in Puerto
For somewhere as established on the surfing/backpacker map as Puerto Escondido, the wifi is, for lack of a better description…shit. While the connection is ok most of the time, drops are frequent across town, which, if you’re halfway through an important Zoom meeting, isn’t the best look, especially if you didn’t tell your boss you were on a surf trip to Puerto Escondido.
That said, Selina in Zicatela always has excellent wifi. You can pay to use the workspace or sit in the cafe for a few hours; as long as you order a coffee, you’ll be fine! There are also some other co-working spaces in Puerto. Learn more here.
Non-Surfing Activities in Puerto Escondido
With any good surf trip, there comes a time when the boardshorts rub, sunburn, and muscle soreness take over, and you’re forced to take a rest day. A drop in swell or bad winds typically forces this anyway; however, in Puerto, a decrease in swell isn’t a thing, and you’ll likely need a couple of rest days out of pure exhaustion. Luckily there’s heaps of cool stuff to do, from dolphin watching, snorkelling at Carazillo, relaxing on the beaches or indulging in some of the lively after-hours activities.
Surfing in Puerto Escondido is a must-do; whether you’re chasing the barrel of your life at heaving Zicatela, or just an epic spot to meet other travellers and enjoy a digital nomad surfing lifestyle, Puerto has it all.
- Stay at Zicatela,
- Hire a moped to zip between Centro and La Punta
- Eat at the supermarkets and various health food joints.
- Get a step-up
If you’re looking for more inspiration on making a Latin American surf trip happen, check out my other posts below and my YouTube channel. Both detail my experiences from Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Central America!
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