Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Matt and I couldn’t have picked a better place to celebrate New Years Eve and our third anniversary than Puerto Escondido. Originally we were planning to travel with our parents, so we tried to choose a “parent-friendly” destination. To our surprise, this Pacific coast town turned out to be one of our top travel destinations in Mexico! We filled our days by hanging out with locals, taking surfing classes, beach hopping, whale watching, exploring the bioluminescence lagoon, and of course eating seafood and drinking margaritas.

Hanging Out With Locals: 

While sipping tequila and eating dinner at a local join one evening, we bumped into our condo manager, Juan. After a few more rounds, he asked us to join him the next day for a celebration in the mountains with some of his friends. One of our number one travel rules is, “As long as it feels safe, always say yes.” So, to his surprise, we said “Yes.” He later confessed how pleased he was that we came. He said that he always asks people to come to things and they always say no. He was trilled!

The next morning his nephew, Alejandro, picked us up before sunrise… and off we went on one of the best travel adventures of our life.

The drive alone was worth the journey into the mountains. The scenery was lush and the roads were windy. We stopped for quesadillas cooked on an open fire along the way. After a few hours, we drove into a small community. Alejandro parked the car and toured us through a small market and carnival. We ended up sitting in a square outside of a church, waiting to meet up with our new friend Juan. As we waited, we still didn’t know what kind of celebration we had been invited to. Eventually, we learned that it was Juan’s god son’s First Communion. We felt so honored to be invited, and embarrassed that we weren’t dressed nicer for the occasion!

While the women prepared the meal, we were taken to a local rodeo, paraded around on horses and treated like celebrities. People were constantly giving us beer (which I can’t drink… so Matt drank his plus mine), taking our pictures and talking to us about our experiences in Mexico and how cold Canada is. After the rodeo, we went back to the home and shared a celebratory meal with their entire family, friends, and neighbors. The meal ended with homemade Mezcal, Matt eating the goat’s balls, and a live turkey in a potato sack accompanying us for the car ride home.

This was the most authentic experience traveling in Mexico that we’ve ever had. We are so glad that we said “Yes” and I know we’ll never forget this day!


We had been talking about learning how to surf for ages. We signed up for 3 days of surfing lessons with a family-run company called Puerto Surf Lessons. Three days gave us a chance to give surfing a go, try out a few different locations, and burn off our calories from drinking margaritas! Our first lesson was at La Punta beach (the end of Zicatela), where the waves are much more manageable. On day two, we advanced to Zicatela (which was slightly terrifying). Surfing is a lot harder than it looks. 99% of the time I wiped out before standing up!

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Playa Zicatela: 

The perfect spot for people watching, sun tanning, and drinking. Zicatela is not great for swimming because the swells can be so big, but it’s an exciting place to hang out. We loved watching the surfers, hang gliders, and waves crashing. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset.

Playa Carrizalillo:

Playa Carrizalillo is a gorgeous bay with calm, relaxing waters. This beach is perfect for trying out paddle boarding or surfing, eating ceviche, and spending an afternoon lounging. The steps down to the beach are fairy steep and exhausting on the way up, but  it is well worth it. Playa Carrizalillo is not a very big beach, so I recommend getting there in the morning to make sure you have an umbrella and beach chair. If you stay all day, or are looking for the perfect place to watch the sunset, Villas Carrizalillo on top of the cliff serves perfect margaritas with the best view in town. We watched the sunset and rang in 2015 here, celebrating three years of traveling together, and a lifetime ahead of us!

Whale Watching: 

We had heard from a friend to book a tour with Omar’s Sportfishing for whale watching. We were a bit nervous since we had hear horrific things about tourists and whale watching in other parts of Mexico. We were hopeful that our experience with Omar’s wouldn’t be anything like some of the stories we had heard. Luckily, Omar’s didn’t disappoint. We were the only boat out, the captain gave the whale plenty of distance (I used a 85mm zoom lens for the whale shots below), and the experience felt peaceful and surreal.

Bio-Luminescent Phytoplankton:

Our friend Juan arranged for a friend of his to pick us up and take us to Laguna de Manialtepec one night. Again, we put complete trust in the random guys who picked us up. They were blasting rap music, driving way too fast, and drinking beer in the car… totally uncool. But, we made it there in one piece and lived to tell the story.

When we arrived (it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere), we paid someone at the dock, and piled into the boat with a group of other tourists. Cruising over the glass smooth water in the moonlight, pulling into an area covered by trees, jumping out of our boat in the dark, and watching the phytoplankton light up with each movement of our bodies was incredible. We loved it!

Eating and Drinking: 

Seafood, seafood and more seafood! At first it seemed that our condo between Playa Carrizalillo and Puerto Angelita was too far away from the action, but it turned out to be perfect. Within a 10-15 minute walk, we found some great restaurants along Boulevard Benito Juarez. Years later we still think about the sea food at Turtle Bay Cafe. It’s worth a trip to this incredible restaurant!

Overall, Puerto Escondido was a win. Matt’s parents just got back from spending a few weeks here and also raved about it. I can’t wait to go back!