The town of Puerto Escondido was established in 1928 as a port for shipping coffee, although the area has been inhabited by indigenous populations for centuries. In the 1960's it was connected to other coastal towns by Highway 200. Tourists began to discover the town and surfers found its beaches. Its importance as a port diminished as coffee shipments began going by truck instead of boat. The port does continue to support commercial fishing activity.
Today, Puerto Escondido is a home for fishermen, surfers, vacationers, and an ecletic expatriot community. The large waves of Zicatela beach put it into the top ten surfing destinations. It does not cater to the high end tourist as much as Huatulco to the east. Its sprawling beaches host numerous small to mid-size hotels and restaurants.
There are three main beaches, Playa Principal, Playa Marinero, and Zicatela, close to the main part of town, as well as several other smaller beaches. Avenida Perez Gasga is a pedestrian only street known as the Adoquín that parallels Playa Principal, where you will find the Information Goddess. The Andador Escénico Sea Walk begins at Playa Principal and winds along rocky oceanside cliffs. Up the hill from the Adoquín is the coastal highway 200 and on the other side of that is the downtown business district where you can find banks, the mercado, etc. Playa Zicatela is a long straight beach on the east side of the bay and can be seen from Playa Principal. Zicatela is where the strong waves are that make Puerto Escondido a world class surfing destination.
A Tale of Two Cities An interesting aspect of the area known as Puerto Escondido is that it actually is divided between two counties or municipios so that it is politically two separate cities. This division puts the Zicatela side of town into el Municipio de Santa Maria Colotepec, Pochutla, and the eastern portion of the city into el Municipio de San Pedro Mixtepec, Juquila. To make matters worse, there is disagreement as to the boundaries and legalities of this division that leaves many businesses caught in the middle with the burden of paying taxes to both. For years, there has been talk of making Puerto Escondido a city. The proposed limits of the new city would extend from Punta Zicatela on the east to just beyond the Puerto Escondido airport on the west. The president elect of San Pedro Mixtepec, Abraham Ramírez Silva, ran on a platform pledged to achieve the goal of making Puerto Escondido independent of both counties which currently control the area. Let's see if he can do it. (11/07)
Another manifestation occurs during the annual Fiestas de Noviembre, a complex stream of events that extends through the month of November and into December. Fiesta events are held in both halves of the community with little or no coordination between the two political entities. It all turns into a bit of competition but for festival attendees it just means there are more choices.