Decorated by intimate coves and sandy beaches, and washed by jade-tinted surf, Puerto Escondido enjoys its well-deserved popularity. Despite construction of a jet airport in the 1980s, Puerto Escondido remains a place where most everything is within walking distance, no high-rise blocks anyone’s sunset view, and moderately priced accommodations and good food remain the rule.
Puerto Escondido (pop. 55,000) seems like two towns separated by Highway 200, which runs along the bluff above the beach. The upper town is where most of the local folks live and go about their business, while in the town below the highway most of the restaurants, hotels, and shops spread along a single, touristy, beachfront street mall, Avenida Pérez Gasga, (known locally as the adoquín, ah-doh-KEEN), where motor traffic is allowed only before noon. In the afternoon chains go up, blocking cars at either end.
Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port) got its name from the rocky Punta Escondida that shelters its intimate half-moon cove, which perhaps would have remained hidden if local farmers had not discovered that coffee thrives beneath the cool forest canopy of the lush seaward slopes of the Sierra Madre del Sur. They began bringing their precious beans for shipment when the port of Escondido was established in 1928.
When the coast highway was pushed through during the 1970s, Puerto Escondido’s then-dwindling coffee trade was replaced by a growing trickle of vacationers, attracted by the splendid isolation, low prices, and high waves. With some of the best surfing breaks in North America, a permanent surfing colony soon was established. This led to more nonsurfing visitors, who, by the 1990s, were arriving in droves to enjoy the comfort and food of a string of small hotels and restaurants lining Puerto Escondido’s still-beautiful but no longer hidden cove.
Most Puerto Escondido sights can be visited on foot. For longer excursions, such as to Laguna Manialtepec  and Río Grande  (near National Park Lagunas de Chacahua ), and as far as Pochutla  (near Puerto Ángel ), ride one of the very frequent urbano buses that stop at the crucero, or rent a car from Budget (tel./fax 954/582-0312 or 954/582-0315, budget33 [at] hotmail [dot] com) or Economica Rent-a-Car (tel. 954/582-2557).
Occasional knifepoint robberies and muggings have marred the once-peaceful Puerto Escondido nighttime beach scene. Walk alone and you invite trouble, especially along Playa Bachoco  and the unlit stretch of Playa Principal  between the east end of Pérez Gasga and the Hotel Santa Fe. If you have dinner alone at the Hotel Santa Fe, avoid the beach by returning by taxi or walking along the highway to Pérez Gasga back to your hotel.
Fortunately, such problems seem to be confined to the beach. Visitors are quite safe on the Puerto Escondido streets, often more so than on their own city streets back home.
By Air: The small jetport, officially the Aeropuerto Puerto Escondido (code-designated PXM), is just off the highway a mile west of town. The terminal, only a plain waiting room with check-in desks, has no services save a small snack bar. A few regularly scheduled flights connect Puerto Escondido with other Mexican destinations.
Mexicana Airlines affiliate carrier Click Airlines (tel. 954/582-2023, 954/582-2024, or toll-free Mex. tel. 800/112-5425 or 800/282-6262); Aerovega (tel./fax 954/582-0151, cell tel. 044-954/588-0062, in Oaxaca City tel. 951/515-4982, aerovegaoax [at] hotmail [dot] com, www.oaxaca-mio.com/aerovega.htm; and Aerotucan (tel./fax 954/582-3461, in Oaxaca City tel. 951/501-0530 or 951/501-0532, or toll-free Mex. tel. 800/640-4148, info [at] aerotucan [dot] com [dot] mx, www.aerotucan.com.mx ).
Puerto Escondido is also accessible via the Puerto Ángel–Huatulco airport, one hour east by road.
By Bus: Several long-distance bus lines serve Puerto Escondido from the new bus station on Highway 131 uphill, a mile beyond the north edge of town. Some offer first-class service. Estrella Blanca and subsidiary lines (tel. 954/582-3878 or 951/582-0086); cooperating lines Autobúses Estrella del Valle and Autotransportes Oaxaca Pacífico (tel. 954/582-0050); and Autobúses Estrella Roja del Sureste (tel. 954/582-0603).
Operating from their own separate station, on Hwy 200, half a block west of the Crucero signal, Cristóbal Colón (OCC) and Autobuses del Oriente (ADO) (tel. 954/582-1073) also offers several routes.
By Car or RV: National Highway 200, although sometimes winding, is generally smooth and uncongested between Puerto Escondido and Pinotepa Nacional  (89 miles/143 km, 2.5 hours) to the west. And traffic sails between Puerto Escondido and Puerto Ángel , 44 miles (71 km) apart, in an easy hour.
To or from Oaxaca City , all paved but sometimes roughly potholed National Highway 131 connects directly north, along main street Avenida Oaxaca, via its winding but spectacular 158-mile (254-km) route over the pine-clad Sierra Madre del Sur. The route, which rises 9,000 feet through Chatino foothill and mountain country, can be chilly in the winter and has few services along the lonely 100-mile middle stretch between San Gabriel Mixtepec and Sola de Vega .
Take water and blankets, and be prepared for emergencies. Allow about nine hours at the wheel from Puerto Escondido, eight hours the other way, from Oaxaca City . Fill up with gasoline at the airport Pemex stations on either end before heading out. Unleaded gasoline is consistently available only at the Sola de Vega  Pemex gasolinera en route.