8 Incredible Outdoor Adventures in Puerto Escondido

One of the top things to do in Puerto Escondido is experience the awe-inspiring power of nature.  Although the state of Oaxaca has less than 5% of Mexico’s total land area, it’s  home to 50% of Mexico’s plant species, 60% of its bird species and 50% of its mammal species.

Here are our favourite things to do when it comes to outdoor adventure, sports and wildlife watching if you’re visiting Puerto Escondido, Mazunte or Huatulco.

1. Explore Manialtepec Lagoon near Puerto Escondido

If you’re interested in wildlife, one of the top things to do in Puerto Escondido is explore Manialtepec Lagoon, a convergence of three ecosystems, each hosting unique flora and fauna. There are 285 species of birds found in the region and it’s possible to see up to 70 species of birds on a trip to this protected lagoon near the pueblo of Bajos de Chila, just 10 minutes outside Puerto Escondido. In 2017, ornithologist Mike Malone retired his popular  Hidden Voyages Ecotours, so now your best guide options include Dimar Agency, Javier Santos and Lalo Ecotours, who offer several tours including the unique Bioluminescent Tour of the Lagoon, a rare opportunity to witness the magical bioluminescence of phosphorescent plankton. It’s best experienced on a moonless night. See Travel Planner Below for tour operator contact details.

Kayaking Manialtepec Lagoon Credit: Hidden Voyages Eco-tours

Kayaking Manialtepec Lagoon Credit: Hidden Voyages Eco-tours

2. Swim with Dolphins in the Wild

Another one of the top things to do in Puerto Escondido is to do some wildlife watching on the ocean.  From November onward, it’s possible to enjoy whale watching as migrating humpback whales pass through local waters. Year-round you can see sea turtles, manta rays and many types of dolphins.  Tour operator and dive instructor Deep Blue Dive (located in Beach Hotel Ines) offers a morning excursion with a great track record of sightings. During my most recent trip, hundreds of dolphins were racing alongside the boat, jumping and spinning much like in this incredible Video of Spinner Dolphins in Puerto Escondido.

Dolphins seen on a tour with Deep Blue Dive in Puerto Escondido

Amazing view of dolphins seen on a tour with Deep Blue Dive Credit: Deep Blue Dive

3. Sea Turtle Hatching and Turtle Release

Watching sea turtle eggs hatch and seeing the baby sea turtles emerge and run to the ocean is both exhilarating and feel-good inspiring. Puerto Escondido and the coast of Oaxaca is one of the world’s top destinations for nesting olive ridley sea turtles, so your likelihood of seeing a nesting or participating in a turtle release is quite high during the months of July-December. Check with Gina Machorro at the Tourist Information Booth for times and locations of turtle nestings and releases near Puerto Escondido. To learn more, read about my experience with turtles in Escape to Gecko Rock Resort.

Sea Turtle Photo by Randall Ruiz on Unsplash

Witness a sea turtle nesting or hatching

4. Experience an Unforgettable Pacific Coast Sunset

Pacific Coast sunsets are incredible. Be humbled by the majesty of a brilliant sunset from vantage points in La Punta, Zicatela and Villas Carrizalillo. Watch for the  “green flash” a rare phenomenon sometimes seen as the sun drops below the horizon. Or go surfing at sunset to get up close and personal with the magical merger of sky and surf.

An incredible sunset in Puerto Escondido

An incredible sunset in Puerto Escondido

5. Go Horseback-riding and Soak in Hot Springs

Journey into the Sierra Madre Sur mountains by Riding Horseback to Atotonilco Falls where  you can soak in steaming thermal hot springs or take a dip under the refreshing La Reforma waterfall. You can contact local trail-riding expert Javier Santos  (044 954 1350188 or via email at javierdepuertosuelo@gmail.com) who has a stable of  horses and offers tours by horseback as well as lagoon and waterfall tours.

Horseback riding to Atotonilco waterfall

Ride by horseback to a sacred spring Credit: J. Campbell

6. Grab a Fishing Rod and Lunch on a Secluded Beach

Both Agua Blanca and Roca Blanca are still-wild beaches where you’ll see few crowds and can spend the day lazing in a hammock enjoying fresh oysters and grilled fish.

Almond tree at Roca Blnca beach near Puerto Escondido Mexico

Almond tree at Roca Blanca beach near Puerto Escondido Mexico

7.  Go Swamp Trekking at Barra de Navidad

Hike the jungle and tour  a crocodile-infested lagoon at Barra de Navidad (Oaxaca), just a five minute ride out of town past La Punta. When it comes to adventurous things to do in Puerto Escondido,  getting scared silly is a good sign you’ve ventured far off the beaten path. Learn about hiring a local guide to explore this incredible wild lagoon. From bird-watching to dining on fresh-grilled fish at the water’s edge you’ll feel as though you’re far from civilization.

Mangrove lagoon at Barra de Navidad

Don’t fall in


8. Go Surfing in Puerto Esondido

Barrel Surfing at Puerto Escondido Credit Zicazteca

Go Barrel Surfing with lessons in Puerto Escondido Credit Zicazteca

Surfing is definitely the top outdoor adventure in Puerto Escondido and while Zicatela Beach is famous for the Mexican Pipeline, a challenging break reserved for the most skilled surfers, there are many other beaches in Puerto Escondido available for beginners.

We suggest contacting  Zicazteca Surf School ( located at the Hotel Rockaway on Zicatela beach) or Oasis Surf and Language School (on the Rinconada ) for skilled instructors, surf lessons and surf tours for all levels.

More Amazing Things to Do in Puerto Escondido

And that’s not the end of things to do in Puerto Escondido! Read our Essential Puerto Escondido Travel Guide for more information on taking surfing lessons, finding hotels and vacation rentals, exploring the food scene, taking day trips and more. Or go directly to these posts:

9 Tips for a Perfect Romantic Getaway in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Ultimate Guide to Vacation Rentals in Puerto Escondido, Mexico 

A Guide to Snorkeling in Huatulco 

Day Trip to Untouched Mexico

Beginner’s Guide to Puerto Escondido Beaches 

8 Weird Foods to Try in Puerto Escondido 

How to Visit Pluma Hidalgo Coffee Country

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Do you love food, drink and outdoor adventure? Want to be the first to receive news, giveaways, recipes and more about things to do in Puerto Escondido? You can subscribe to the free A Taste for Travel mailing list here

Travel Planner

Gina Machorro:
Email: GinainPuerto@yahoo.com
Tel: 011 52 954 582-0276
Web: ginainpuertoescondido.wordpress.com

Deep Blue Dive Puerto Escondido
You can book online or stop at their office located within Hotel Ines on Calle del Morro, Zicatela Beach
E-mail: lorenzo_bini@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.deepbluedivemexico.com/

Lalo EcoTours
Tel: 01 (954) 1189037
Web: lalo-ecotours.com
Email: laloecotours@hotmail.com

Javier Santos Tours – Hotsprings by Horseback; Waterfalls Hike: Manialatepec Lagoon
Tel: 9541350188
Web: http://www.guiapuertoescondido.com/javiersantos/
Email: javierdepuertosuelo@gmail.com

Dimar Travel Agency – Tours to Manialtepec & Chacahua Lagoons; Huatulco & Mazunte Tours
Tel: 954-58-22305
Web: http://mexonline.com/dimar.htm
email: operadoradimar@hotmail.com

Updated June 2018

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Insider's guide to the top things to do in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Mexico! Enjoy surfing, horseback riding, sea turtle releases, floating in bioluminescent lagoons and more. #Mexico #adventure #travel Photo Credit Zicazteca Surfing

Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
Dividing her time between Toronto, Mexico and Guatemala (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is an award-winning writer, blogger, editor and publisher who specializes in travel, cuisine and luxury lifestyles.
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Showing 19 comments
  • noel

    There is a lot of wonderful nature inspired ideas and how fantastic is that…that walk through the crocodile water – hopefully that’s not a real bridge there!

  • santafetraveler

    I’d come for the dolphins and sunsets! What a piece of paradise you live in!

  • Donna Janke

    What a wonderful collection of ways to experience nature. It’s always interesting when you can find several ecosystems in close proximity.

  • Juergen | dare2go

    It looks like you forgot one experience in your list: get real close to blood sucking mosquitoes. LOL! It certainly looks like several of these inspiring excursions require a fair bit of mozzie protection.

    • Michele Peterson

      Oh, I did do the blood sucking insect tour as well. It’ll be featured in an upcoming post 🙂

      • Patrice

        Great article Michele! It makes me appreciate Puerto even more!

  • Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    Sounds like you’ve got some great reasons to inspire and motivate you to stick to your New Year’s resolution. Every one of these experiences are things I’d love to do!

  • Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru

    I think your resolution is perfect! Super collection of ideas to ensure it remains prominent as the year unfolds. I’d love to release the turtles. 🙂

  • The GypsyNesters

    Just might be the best New Year’s resolution ever!

  • Wandering Carol

    Unbelievable. Such lovely eco-friendly adventures.

  • Sand In My Suitcase

    We’d love to do the swamp trekking and swim with dolphins in the wild. (We swam with wild dolphins off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii – we really had to swim fast, and even then it was virtually impossible to keep up with them!) We have friends heading to Puerto Escondido in February – we’re sending them the link to this post :-).

  • esperanza

    Spinning dolphins, baby turtles, crocodile -infested swamps, fantastic sunsets and much more! What a wonderful adventure tour!

  • Culture Tripper

    Love the photos! It’s so great that the animals thrive there and that tours are available to get the less athletic of us out to see them! Oaxaca is a such a beautiful part of Mexico.

  • Michael Malone

    Michelle – well written and great info, all happening now in 2015. On yesterday’s ecotour on Manialtepec Lagoon we observed 11 species of herons, Roseate Spoonbill and Bat Falcon – a rarity, among many other species. In addition to the 7 wonders you mention a trip to the nearby coffee plantations at 3,000′ and mountain villages there is a highlight for many.
    Saludos – Michael Malone

    • Michele Peterson

      Thanks for the update Mike…I’d love to see those Roseate Spoonbills!

  • Carole Terwilliger Meyers

    What great adventures in Puerto Escondido! I’d most like to take part in the turtle release.

  • Irene S Levine

    What great photos and creative ideas! I’m not at all sure that you need to boost your creativity any more than it is:-)

  • Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it

    Swimming with the dolphins is something I hope to do someday. Your photos of the sunsets are amazing and seeing the green flash would be thrilling.

  • Marilyn Jones

    It look so lovely there! A definite destination for bird watchers and animal lovers. Your photos are excellent!!

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