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Mexico: Puerto Escondido

Moonlit turtle marches, mountain mezcal, venom therapy.


Playa Carrizalillo  

Choose Your Beach-venture
Whether you’re looking to spot a turtle or catch a 30-foot wave, surf instructor and owner of Puerto Surf Lessons Celestino Rodriguez sketches out the ideal spot.

Surfing: “Pros from all over the world come to Zicatela, one of the easternmost beaches in town, to try their luck with the ‘Mexican Pipeline’—its perfect barrels can reach 25 to 30 feet.”

Sunset walks: Bacocho is a very long beach facing the open ocean and very near the Aldea del Bazar hotel, which has barely anyone there.”

Swimming: “Because it’s protected by high rocks on both sides, Carrizalillo has very calm, turquoise water. You can find it by heading to the restaurant Cafecito on the main drag in Rinconada; a path of stairs behind it leads down to the water.”

Wildlife-spotting: Puerto Angelito, a small cove west of the lighthouse, is filled with boats for hire; you might have hundreds of dolphins jumping alongside you, and you’ll see shy turtles hanging out on the surface.”

Family frolicking: “In the afternoons you’ll see Mexican families playing Frisbee on La Punta, just southeast of town. In winter the waves get so small it’s like a pool.”


Eat the Source
Puerto Escondido dining is more likely to involve fried fish and sand between your toes than white tablecloths. But who needs elegant restaurants when you can have oysters shucked in front of your face? Here, Puerto restaurant consultant Robert Herger’s hyperlocal foodie map.


Oysters
“At the rock formation at the far west end of Playa Carrizalillo, a leathery old sea dog named El Pantera (translation: the Panther) dives for and shucks oysters and serves them, with chile sauce, to beachgoers for about $9 a dozen.”

Mezcal
“There’s this one local distiller, Los Cántaros, that has a tasting bar just to the east of Puerto across the Colotepec Bridge (Carretera Costera Km. 148; 160-8636). They produce a variety of mezcals, including tobala—made from a wild, high-altitude-mountain agave—as well as añejo, joven, and coffee-infused versions.”

Coffee
“The owners of the Hotel Santa Fe organize daily excursions to the Finca las Nieves coffee plantation ($85 for a minimum of four people; fincalasnieves.com.mx), about an hour and a half north. You can tour the grounds and try the traditional café de olla, coffee blended with a little bit of cinnamon and cloves.”

Sailfish
“Local fishermen take tourists out every morning from the Playa Principal in the center of town for fishing excursions on their lanchas. They may cut up some fresh-caught dorado or sailfish right on the boat and serve it raw with chile and onions; bring the rest back to a beachside restaurant that will cook up your catch on request. The trips run about $30 to $40 per hour for the boat; booking a day ahead is best, but captains are always looking for people to take out at the moment—just show up on the beach [Playa Principal] and ask around.”

Juice
“Puerto’s main food market, El Mercado Benito Juarez, is one of the most abundant on the coast. Wednesdays and Saturdays are when you’ll find the freshest produce, including mango, papaya, banana, guava, and pineapple picked from a tree just the day before—which are used to make fruit smoothies called licuados in any concoction you choose.”


The Crocs and the Bees
Get your thrills among the Mexican wildlife.

Observe an arribada: A few days after each full moon, you can watch tens of thousands of sea turtles crawl ashore to lay their eggs at the Escobilla Sea Turtle Sanctuary (tours $45; 58-202-76), an event of mass reproduction known as an arribada.

Snack on ants: On Gina Machorro Espinosa’s two-hour food-focused walking tours (from $25; email ginainpuerto@yahoo.com), you’ll sample all manner of regional specialties, including chicatana salsa, made from flying ants, which some consider an aphrodisiac.

Float in a crocodile-infested lagoon: Row through the Laguna Palma Sola—a refuge for roughly 350 once-endangered crocodiles—guided by local fixture Cresencio (book through the Puerto Escondido tourist booth; $19).

Get stung by bees: Every Tuesday and Saturday at the Hotel Santa Fe, for a mere $5, bee-venom-therapy practitioner Juan Ramirez will insert a dozen tiny stingers from live bees into your body; the venom alleviates arthritis, migraines—and, presumably, fear of bees.


Where the Locals Would Stay


“Between the two surf breaks of La Punta and Zicatela, One Love Hostal (from $30; hostalpuertoescondido.com) has a real surfer vibe, with a big hammock-strewn communal palapa.” —Ariel Seeley, co-owner, Zicazteca Surf School

“Villas Carrizalillo (from $135; villascarrizalillo.com) sits on a cliff above one of Puerto’s most beautiful beaches—which you can reach only by walking down a path of 170 steps.” —Gina Machorro Espinosa, tour guide


“Right next door to the Casa Wabi arts foundation, Hotel Escondido (above; from $225; hotelescondido.com), new from the Habita mini-chain, has 16 private cabins with individual plunge pools, all facing an empty beach.” —Bosco Sodi, artist and founder of Casa Wabi Foundation


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