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Puerto Escondido

(4/5 based on 3,000+ reviews for top 30 attractions)
Things to do: beaches, nature, adventure
Puerto Escondido is a small port and tourist center in the municipality of San Pedro Mixtepec Distrito 22 in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Prior to the 1930s, there was no town. The bay had been used as a port intermittently to ship coffee, but there was no permanent settlement due to the lack of potable water. The name "Puerto Escondido" had roots in the legend of a woman who escaped her captors and hid here. The Nahuatl word for this area was Zicatela, meaning “place of large thorns". Today, it refers to the area’s most famous beach.Puerto Escondido is one of the most important tourist attractions on the Oaxacan coast. It caters to a more downscale and eclectic clientele than neighboring Huatulco, mostly surfers, backpackers and Mexican families. The main attractions are the beaches: Zicatela Beach hosts major surfing competitions, while other beaches have gentle waves. West from the town is a large lagoon area popular for fishing and birdwatching.HistoryThe area around Puerto Escondido had been inhabited by indigenous peoples for centuries, but no towns of any size were established during the pre-Hispanic or colonial eras. The bay was known as Bahia de la Escondida (Bay of the Hidden Woman) due to a legend associated with this place. The story states that a fierce pirate, Andrés Drake, brother of Sir Francis Drake, anchored his ship in the bay when the area was completely uninhabited, to rest for a few days unmolested by authorities.Some weeks before, he and his crew kidnapped a young Mixtec woman from the village of Santa María Huatulco and took her prisoner. While in the bay, the woman escaped the cabin in which she was being held, and being a good swimmer, jumped overboard to get to shore and hide in the jungle just beyond the beach. Since then, the pirates referred to the woman as “La Escondida” (the hidden one) and every time the ship returned to these waters, the captain ordered his crew to search the area around the bay, however, they never found her. Hence, the area became known as the Bahía de la Escondida.
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