Puerto Escondido feels like home!

We’ve spent a lot of time in beach towns along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and I think we’ve come to realize that Puerto Escondido provides everything we love about relaxing along the coast.  There is a bay to visit for whatever your activity; from calm waters to surfing the waves.  We’ve discovered Rinconada is our favourite area, quiet and calm, most residential and great restaurants.  Not only that, it is a great walk to Playa Bacocho.

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Playa Bacocho, 2 km long and a fantastic morning walk.  These waves and undertow can be treacherous, so watch the waves for 10 minutes or so before getting in.  We enjoyed swimming and bobbing in the waves every day here.

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Playa Carazalillo is perfect for playing in the water – safe and entertaining with snorkelling around the rocky areas, where turtles are often spotted.  This is also a great place for learning to surf or boogie boarding.  A popular spot with both locals and tourists, the entire bay is lined with palapa restaurants.

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It is difficult to figure out when it is going to be a “day off” in Mexico, but when it is the beaches are full of locals.  It is so much fun to watch the families arrive by the bus load, or truck bed, carting food and drink, swimming in clothes and generally having a fantastic time.  They laugh as they bob in the waves and their joy is contagious.  Who wouldn’t love to be hanging out on this beach?

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La Punta ….. a great beach for watching surfers, boogie boarding or body surfing.  Not for the faint of heart or weak swimmers.  Find a nice shaded palapa and relax with some guacamole or tacos while you are scanning the horizon for dolphins or whales.  We were treated to quite an amazing dolphin show here, with them leaping out of the water and playing for an hour or so.  I so wish either my camera or my skills had been able to capture that!

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Zicatela is the primary surf beach, and on a high surf day the waves will be packed with surfboards.

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dsc03459Our home in Puerto Escondido was amazing.  We loved staying at this small 6 unit complex with truly magnificient ocean views.

Take a peek at those ladders between our pool and the beach view …… The “ladder rep” wandered the streets with this push cart selling ladders.  Seems unlikely, but we watched that ladder carrier go from maximum capacity to these few over 2 days!

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Right across from our gate at Las Turquezas was a path winding down to the beach at Playa Bacocho, every day started with a trip down that path for a morning walk and bobbing in the waves.

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Okay, well maybe we didn’t manage to get Vivi out of her hammock EVERY day …

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Going local …. we had use of a wash machine so instead of taking our clothes to the lavanderia we washed them and hung them on the rooftop clothes line.  Now, that is my idea of laundry heaven.

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Sunsets were amazing here, so colourful and while the colours lasted for a while, it is always surprising how quickly that sun goes from just above the ocean to dropping off out of sight.

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Puerto Escondido is a prime growing area for sesame seeds, peanuts and mango to name of few of the crops.  I’ve never seen how sesame seeds grow before so that was fun!

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Gina, the “information goddess” has a tourist information booth in Puerto Escondido, and she can organize pretty much any tour you’d like to take.  We did go on an agricultural tour with her, and while it was informative and entertaining, it was probably a bit overpriced at 600 pesos per person.

Loved the plants here, such vivid colour everywhere you look.

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One of the people we met on our tour is Gallo …. He runs a sanctuary for critters, everything from iguanas to turtles, to crocodiles and birds.  It was amazingly clean and well organized.  For years he did this on his own, from his own pocketbook, but is now partially subsidized.  Here he is, explaining that the reason he looks like Zapata is because that was his great uncle … or great great great uncle …. some things get lost in translation!

Once you leave the interior of Mexico, often the best food is also left behind, but not here!  We had some amazing meals here and can hardly wait to go back.  We usually mix things up quite a bit when we are away, cooking at home with local ingredients and eating out as well.  This time, I’ll admit, we ate out more than not, but it was an easy decision with such good restaurants within walking distance.

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Almoraduz Cocina Mexicana de Autor – OMG …… we ate here twice it was so good.  last year I also had back ribs here that I still dream about.

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Turtle Bay Cafe was also a real winner, this sesame crusted tuna was out of this world, and so were the prawns with saffron aioli.

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After day at the beach you just know you want a popsicle ….. we tried the lime, the strawberry with slices of kiwi and mango, and the fresh grated coconut popsicle, all were simply refreshingly perfect!

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I know, I know, the crowds are quite bothersome …..

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Thinking of this moment at home …. remembering the feel of the sun and the sound of the waves ….

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The nightly crib match kept Grant and Wilson competitive right to the trip home.

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Need a pick me up?  Juice water …. I love them all, from this pineapple water, to my all time favourite, green juice.

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Normally we eat at Mexican places ….. but the aromas drifting out of El Sultan finally dragged us in, and we had their chicken schawarma pita twice!  They make their own pitas fresh daily (about 4 times a day!) and it was fantastic.

The ultimate moment of the time spent in Puerto Escondido, of many fabulous moments, was the trip out to swim with bioluminescent plankton.  This is a spot you should visit after dark, preferably really dark, or raining.  Anything to avoid a bright moon.  A short drive from Puerto Escondido and you reach Laguna de Manialtepec, where boats are waiting.  Originally  the plankton was thought to be a curse by the fisherman when their nets were illuminated enough by the bioluminescence that the fish avoided them.  Only a short ten years later they no longer think of it as a curse as 20% of their income is derived from tourists to see this phenomenon.  If you are brave enough, you jump off the boat in darkness …. I wasn’t, but Grant, Vivian and Wilson sure did.  Once in the water the movement is totally illuminated by the plankton, and it is like your body is covered in sparkly jewels.  A few nibbling fish too …..   Another moment where I wish I could have taken a photo.

In many areas of the Pacific coast this is the time of year turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in droves.  We’ve participated in helping at sanctuaries, when the baby turtles are ready to make their journey to the sea, but this is the first time we have been around when the turtles make their way onto shore to begin that process.  It is pure magic.  Just take a moment to sit and watch the waves, and a turtle will suddenly appear, then another, then another.

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This entire beach is covered in mounds ….. how many turtle eggs are under those mounds is anybodies guess.  Each turtle lays between 80-150 eggs.

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With a determined pace they make their way up the beach.

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This same beach can see 2500 turtles appear on one night ….. and no, I didn’t take this particular photo, our driver had taken it on an earlier morning trip out there.  We went at dusk to watch them coming in.

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These poor mama turtles work so hard to get  up the beach, dig the hole with their hind flippers, drop in their eggs, cover them back up with sand and tamp the sand down.  It was amazing for us to watch the whole process, and listen to the sound of the weight she uses to tamp it all down.

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The eggs dropped out in singles and doubles until the hole was filled.  Once done, she makes her way back down the beach to return to the sea.

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We are usually in Mexico for the Revolution day parades, and they are so entertaining!

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Those dancers knew that Vivian and Wilson were tapping their feet, so they pulled them right into the street with them.

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Ahh, Puerto Escondido ….. love these beaches, the sunshine, the amazing food and I just know we’ll be back.

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Hasta la vista Puerto Escondido ……

Zihuatenajo

Something about beach life just makes everything slower …. like sleeping 9-10 hours a night …..

The sun slipping over the horizon in Zihuatenajo

The sun slipping over the horizon in Zihuatenajo

In the past we have stayed at Angela’s Hostel – it is now named Angelita’s Hostel – but closed and up for sale. We chose a smaller hotel right down the street – Fiesta Paraiso. The beds are super hard, but otherwise the rooms are comfy and clean – and the pool is delightful. If we only had a kitchen it would be great for a longer stay. And – 400 pesos per night which is pretty close to perfect.

Poolside at Hotel Fiesta Paraiso - pretty easy way to relax after a busy day at the beach ...

Poolside at Hotel Fiesta Paraiso – pretty easy way to relax after a busy day at the beach …

Along with beach towns comes a more limited menu and every little beach palapa will pretty much have the same thing on the menu, so pick the place with the comfiest looking chairs! We did yesterday – at Los Gatos beach and enjoyed a great day in the sunshine, swimming, reading and chatting with Canadian neighbours … yes, only Canadians at our little chosen spot. The couple next to us – Alison and Rauz, are a retired couple from Kelowna and they stated we have given them the encouragement they needed to explore a bit more, in particular Mexico City. No doubt we will get together at home to share a few notes! (and maybe a glass of wine)

The beach at Los Gatos - an easy water taxi ride over from Zihuatenajo - beautiful water, lots of loungers to relax in - just watch out for those guys trying to help you in and out of the boat - they are not official in any way, and will want a tip for helping you!!  (whether or not you need it) :o)

The beach at Los Gatos – an easy water taxi ride over from Zihuatenajo – beautiful water, lots of loungers to relax in – just watch out for those guys trying to help you in and out of the boat – they are not official in any way, and will want a tip for helping you!! (whether or not you need it) :o)

After our return from the beach we wandered up to a place recommended – Taqueria Papas Loca. This place takes baked stuffed potato to a whole new level. They had a whole row of baked potatoes ready to go, which they then stuff with your choice of fillings; I chose bacon, shrimp and tomato, Grant chose tacos al pastor, pork and pineapple. They were delicious! Huge too … we really should have shared!

These guys work crazy fast - choices of toppings go onto the grill surface, cooked up and diced while the other guy opens the potato, stirs in sour cream and butter, mixes it all in together, toppings applied, cheese applied, lid on to steam it a bit, and presto … whew.

These guys work crazy fast – choices of toppings go onto the grill surface, cooked up and diced while the other guy opens the potato, stirs in sour cream and butter, mixes it all in together, toppings applied, cheese applied, lid on to steam it a bit, and presto … whew.

As you can see - you are pretty much sitting in a parking lot.  There is some seating indoors also thankfully under a fan.  This place is crazy busy and the staff work like frantic bees rushing around.  Just as many takeouts as eating in.

As you can see – you are pretty much sitting in a parking lot. There is some seating indoors also thankfully under a fan. This place is crazy busy and the staff work like frantic bees rushing around. Just as many takeouts as eating in.

Today’s activity was much like yesterday …. beaching it! We walked to La Ropa beach and sat ourselves on the lounge chairs, much like the other Canadian and American tourists and sunned ourselves, swam in the waves and read our books – this after a 10 hour sleep!! When we were exhausted form all that activity we dragged ourselves upstairs and enjoyed a massage with the sound of the waves crashing while we had a very therapeutic massage – those girls really knew what they were doing.

La Ropa Beach at Zihuatenajo

La Ropa Beach at Zihuatenajo

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Walking back we noticed an Italian getting his place ready to go, so ordered a Napolitano pizza (he is from Naples, and this is his specialty), tomato sauce, anchovies and capers. It was delicious, and we ate that as an appie beside the pool.

Tomorrow we are heading out – perhaps to Barra de Potosi, a very small beach town not far from here …. if it has adequate internet access you will no doubt hear from us there!