Beach Scenes: Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico

Puerto Escondido view of Bococho Beach

Puerto Escondido is laid back a beach town in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Its Pacific coast shoreline offers everything from calm coves backed by steep cliffs to wide sandy beaches with intense surf. Once a quiet surf town, Puerto Escondido has become well known for its Mexican pipeline, beautiful beaches, and buzzing nightlife. As such, it appears to be going through some changes.

As the sunrise breaks over Playa Manzanillo, a cup of beach vendor coffee in hand, I take in the serenity and beauty of this place. It is always a good decision to hit the beach early in the morning. The soft light of the golden hour combined with a mostly empty beach is always a great start to the day. With seven beaches in total, this sunrise on Playa Manzanillo is one of the many beach scenes I would encounter in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Beautifully clear skies are the norm in Puerto Escondido during this time of year. Although they make for lovely days on the beach, those sunny skies are not typically the best for dramatic photos. As a result, I welcomed a day of overcast skies during a visit to Playa Coral, a small and quiet beach in Puerto Escondido.

A day spent on Playa Coral is a peaceful one, as it is one of the least visited of the seven beaches in Puerto Escondido. Arriving early rewards you with the sound of the breeze bristling through the palm trees, aquamarine-colored waves crashing into golden-hued sand, and not much else. Sublime.

On this day, rays of streaming sunlight, mixed with sea mist and rocks, created a colorful and dramatic backdrop for the lifeguard tower in the distance.

Later in the day, the golden hues of sunset, combined with the sea mist and rock formations, can give the beach an almost alien look and feel.

Playa Bococho, which can be found just on the other side of the rocks from Playa Coral, is one of the larger beaches in Puerto Escondido. Large enough that it never felt crowded, despite being more popular.

The larger Playa Bococho provides ample space for kite flying. It is also the location of Puerto Escondido’s sea turtle conservation efforts.

Friendly beach dogs add to the experience on the beaches of Puerto Escondido.

Puerto Escondido has long been known as a surfing town. As a result, both novice and expert surfers can be seen on the beaches and in the water daily. The large Playa Zicatella, with its strong and dangerous surf, is the location of surf competitions and is frequented by the more experienced surfers. However, beaches such as the smaller and more calm Playa Carazalillo are preferred by the less experienced surfers and those receiving surfing lessons.

My time in Puerto Escondido was filled with relaxing days on the beach, seaside dining on freshly caught seafood, enjoying wonderfully rustic meals in Centro, and engaging with local folks and foreigners alike. My visit of two and a half months provided a lot of time to observe and reflect beyond the infatuation that one experiences during a short stay in beautiful coastal towns like this.

Puerto Escondido is indeed a wonderful place. But, I fear for its future. Once considered a hidden gem, I can confidently say this is no longer the case.

Puerto Escondido has definitely been discovered.

I have observed a large amount of home construction while here. In fact, I was alerted to the plans of a large condo building that is slated to be built adjacent to the sea turtle sanctuary. It is my understanding that the infrastructure of Puerto Escondido is not capable of handling this rapid rate of development. The quality of life and ecological impacts are of great concern.

In addition, some of the more popular and picturesque beaches have been completely lined with beach vendors and can become quite crowded. Along with this comes the unfortunate consequence of increasing amounts of trash and cigarette butts left on the beaches. I have witnessed this behavior from both foreigners and Mexicans. The lack of awareness and concern is shocking. It saddens me and is completely unnecessary.

I am in no way suggesting that people should stop visiting the wonderful town of Puerto Escondido. The livelihood of many people who call this place home depends upon tourist dollars.

In addition, I’m not so gullible to think places won’t change. Once they are discovered the developments and tourism will come. It’s not my place as a visitor to determine if this is right or wrong. What I can tell you is there is a lot of concern from the local residents regarding the environmental and cultural impact of what is happening. I do hope Puerto Escondido’s development can be managed in a way that keeps it beautiful and maintains its uniqueness.

When you do visit, I encourage you to be mindful of the impact your visit will make. I respectfully encourage all of us to be mindful of the impact we have on all the places we visit. Small, seemingly insignificant changes by all of us can indeed have a large positive impact.

Please follow this link to learn more about an organization dedicated to the conservation of natural resources and culture on the coasts of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico:

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  1. Stunning images! Your concerns are the same ones I thought about on my first visit almost 40 years ago, before the first jetway was built, the first ATM installed & the main road through town was widened and paved. I’ve been visiting on and off since then and have seen the changes with development, in fact surprisingly slow over 40 years. Life is never perfect anywhere but it is close to it in Puerto.

    1. Hi Kristin. Thank you for the kind words. Wow… 40 years ago? To be honest, those concerns can be applied to many places around the world. Change is inevitable. I just hope those changes and growth can be managed in a sustainable manner. Thanks for stopping by and offering your insight. Hope to see you around here more. Safe travels.

  2. It looks even better than I remember it. Fantastic shots!
    I didn’t know it was facing major development. It was sleepy when I was last there five years ago.

    1. Hi Ellen. Thanks for stopping by. I was expecting it to be a bit more sleepy than it was. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Cancun. However, I did see a lot of home building going on and the smaller beaches like Carazalillo can get crowded by the afternoon. There was quite a bit of protesting going on regarding a new condo development that started construction right on Playa Bococho. The last I read, the development was on hold indefinitely. So, maybe a sign things will be managed better? Let’s hope so.

  3. We are always so amazed by your photography. You captured the ocean waves to make it feel like we are actually there experiencing it for ourselves. Beautiful colors in the sky too.

    1. Hi guys. I’m always so happy to see you stop by. Thank you for your descriptions of how the photography makes you feel. It is very meaningful to get feedback like this and it is greatly appreciated.

  4. Pictures are stunning as always Skip! Glad you had lots of opportunity to soak in life there ❤️

    1. Thank you Carrie. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to just hang out and chill in a place for a while. Puerto Escondido was the last place we would be visiting in Mexico, so we wanted to relax and soak it in. It turned out to be a great place to do so. We were able to get a really good feel for the place. I hope you are enjoying your travels.

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