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Beach Hopping in Mexico: Top Picks

by Michele Peterson

Some people go bar hopping, others go beach hopping. In Puerto Escondido, located north of Huatulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast, you can do both. With more than seven beaches and 400 unique restaurant and bars to choose from, this fishing village turned surfing mecca has something for every day of the week and every mood. Here’s a primer on Puerto Escondido’s top spots to lay your beach blanket, ride a wave or just chill out.

Carrizalillo Beach: Chill Out

The name of this beach (Car-eet-sa-lee-o) might be difficult to pronounce, but scramble 167 stone steps down a cliff and you’ll be rewarded with Puerto’s prettiest (and most swimmable) beach. Gentle waves, turquoise waters and sheltered shores make these waters popular with couples and families with kids.

Perched on a cliff overlooking the beach is Villas Carrizalillo, Puerto’s most secluded and romantic stay. Cocktail hour at its Sunset Bar is a classic. Or, buy a dozen fresh-from-the-sea oysters for just $1.00 and you’ve got the perfect beach snack.

Manzanillo: Viva Mexico!

This crescent-shaped beach located near the heart of town shares the bay with the tiny fishing port of Puerto Angelito and is a favourite with local Mexican families who flock to picnic at the edge of the calm waters or snorkel among swarms of bright-hued fish. Roving mariachis singing romantic ballads and traditional ranchero songs add to the lively vibe.

Your drink of choice at Manzanillo is a Michelada, a spicy concoction of beer and tomato juice. Lounge chairs come topped with pillows, rainbow-coloured serapes and big-shade umbrellas so plan to spend a full day.

La Punta: Barefoot chic  

Full moon parties, sandy streets and tattooed surfers toting custom surfboards create a laid-back vibe at La Punta, a remote stretch of beach named for the rocky point that lures sunset lovers, fishermen and photographers. It’s also a popular spot to go boogie boarding and surfing.

At nightfall, with its soaring bamboo décor, sexy lighting and Asian-inspired menu, eco-chic Guadua beach-resto offers a happening nightlife scene with live reggae to techno music. Or hop on the party shuttle and get a lift to Osa Mariposa, a beach-bungalow hostel with veggie fare and a hip mescal bar featuring the potent artisanal liquor made of agave.

Bacocho Beach: Wet and wild 

Play castaway on this windswept beach at the edge of town. Interesting rock formations and an almost endless stretch of sand make this beach appealing to strolling couples and fitness buffs. Pack water or food if you plan to make a dent in the 25-kilometre long expanse of golden sand.

Or choose resort living for a day at Villa Sol Beach Club. With two pools (one a large freeform and the other for kids), a swim-up pool bar, sprawling landscaped gardens and towering palm trees you’ll feel as though you’re at swanky resort. The cost? Admission is less than $5. Happy Hour cocktails are served between 12 noon and 1:00 p.m.

Principal and Marinero: Body surfing and barbecue  

Sun worshippers are drawn to Principal and Marinero beaches in the heart of town. This is also where pilgrims head for purification after visiting the shrine to the Virgin of Juquila, one of the world’s top Catholic shrines, and where the annual “Blessing of the Fishes” boat procession takes place each December.

These beaches also score high marks from body surfers. Rent boogie boards from vendors right on the beach and wind up your afternoon by browsing El Adoquin, a lively pedestrian zone of souvenir shops, beach bars and restaurants.

At Brad’s Split Coconut, under a set of shady palm trees on Marinero Beach, grab a plastic chair, dig your toes into the sand and dive into a rib dinner from his “bone suckin’ good” barbecue menu. Wash it all down with a frozen margarita.

Zicatela Beach: The Scene

If the Kardashians came to Puerto Escondido this is where they’d hang out. Home to the epic Mexican Pipeline, an unforgiving wavebreak that draws surfing aficionados from around the world, it’s also the place to see and be seen. But even if you’re not a celeb, you’ll find plenty to do. Downward dog it at a yoga class, relax in a temazcal (traditional sweat lodge) or lounge in a breezy Bali bed and watch the tanned and toned crowd.

Gnarly waves and a strong undertow make this beach dangerous for non-surfers, but depending on the tides, you can flaunt your new bikini in one of the shallow tidal pools without too much risk.

The main strip, Calle del Morro, is packed with restaurants and you can party until dawn at nightclubs such as Barfly and Playa Kabbalah.

Beach hopping never tasted so good.