I think that I’m a pretty weather-savvy person. After all, I took a meteorology course in university and I can easily explain orographic lift. What I seem to have forgotten is that temperatures drop at altitude, and I also seem to have forgotten that San Cristobal de las Casas sits at nearly 7,000 feet.
This means that during the winter months it gets cold. One shouldn’t need a meteorology course to know that.
When Will announced that he was taking the first week of February off work I craftily hatched a plan. It’s only a 12 hour bus ride to Puerto Escondido on the southern shore of Oaxaca state, so why not take a trip to the beach.
He needed very little convincing and off we went.
About Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is a funky little beach town frequented by backpackers and retirees, and is the perfect place for a beach adventure. There’s not much to do there unless you’re a surfer, and you’d better be a damn good one at that. The famous summer swell at Playa Zicatela here can reach heights of 30 feet or more, but during the winter it’s more calm.
Given the fact that much of Mexico was plagued with a nasty and unusual cold front I expected the town to be teeming with those eager to escape the frigid temperatures, but it was relatively quiet, just the way I like it.
Where We Stayed
We’re Airbnb fans through and through but for some reason the dates available, the prices, and the locations weren’t exactly what we were looking for so we decided on a hotel. We chose the Hotel Rockaway mainly due to its location right in the middle of the Playa Zicatela action, but the price was right too.
The rooms were bright and comfortable (a little too bright at night as they don’t offer blackout curtains and the pool lights are left on) and the included breakfast was fantastic. Available from 8am until 12pm, the breakfast consists of fresh fruit, Mexican faves like chilaquiles, and the best pancakes I’ve ever had. Seriously, I swear there was crack in said pancakes.
If you decide to stay at the Hotel Rockaway ask for a room nearer to the reception side of the property. There was a rooster on the other side of the fence from our room and, as is always the case, roosters have no respect for quiet hours. However, he could have been made into soup by now, which is the only reason to keep a rooster in my opinion.
What We Did
Since the purpose of this trip was to escape the cold and give my poor, overworked husband some downtime we didn’t do a whole lot. We lazed on the beach and watched the surfers, napped in the afternoon, always staked out prime beach chairs for sunset, and were talked into a whale watching trip by a smooth salesman named Antonio.
The whale watching trip was fantastic, as I’ll always take any excuse to be on the water, but I frankly wasn’t expecting much. However, we did see a few humpbacks surface from quite a distance away, but we also had some up close and personal dolphin sightings.
Zicatela is not the only beach in the area. We took an afternoon and visited Playa Carrizalillo. It’s much smaller and due to its protected bay it’s a much better alternative for swimming. Servers dodged left and right with platters of freshly shucked oysters and frosty beers and the sunset was equally spectacular.
What We Ate
As is the case with Mexico you can find any type of cuisine you want. However, when you’re at the beach you should really eat the fish. I don’t eat a lot of fish for various reasons, but I do eat crustaceans and shrimp tacos always top my list.
We also stopped in for sushi one night at Samuray. One of the town’s more upscale joints, I was extremely pleased with the crab and shrimp rolls. They offered seating on the beach and the service was excellent. We liked it so much we returned for our last dinner in town.
Puerto Escondido does offer an airport, but in our case it would have required a flight to Mexico City first, then a connecting flight. In my opinion, the bus is the best option. Bus travel is rarely something to write home about, but ADO –the local Mexican bus company– does a good job and the prices are right. You can reach Puerto Escondido by bus from just about anywhere in the country.
If you’re looking for a beach getaway in Mexico you could do a lot worse than Puerto Escondido. Lacking the crowds of areas like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido is hip, laid back, and the perfect place to enjoy Mexico at its best.
And stay at the Rockaway, if only for the pancakes.