According to a local legend, Andrew Drake, brother of Francis Drake, anchored his boat in this bay (now known as the mexicane pipeline) when it was totally uninhabited. Basically, he wanted to rest, to be safe from the viceroyal authorities.
Just a few days earlier, Drake and his men kidnapped a Mixtec indigenous woman. Yet, she escaped from the boat, jumped into the sea, reached the shore, and jumped into the jungle. Drake and his pirates couldn’t find her even though they went looking for her. The buccaneers visited the site several times trying to track down the young Mixtec woman, but never found her, so they renamed it “La Escondida”.
A fishing community, Puerto Escondido was once called Punta Escondida, and its port exported coffee at the beginning of the 20th century. There were few basic services available to the inhabitants of the site at that time.
Zicatela beach, today
Puerto Escondido became a major tourist destination in the region over the decades, only being surpassed by Huatulco later on. Due to its wild charms and convenience for surfing beaches like Zicatela, have managed to attract thousands of visitors to the mexican pipeline frequently and faithfully.
Oaxaca’s coastal communities are connected by highway 200, which was built in the 1960s. It’s Zicatela, the mexican pipeline that’s famous for riding waves. Zicatela means “place of large thorns” and it’s 3 km long. As a result, it’s a meeting point and an international competition center, like the OaxacaPro by Corona, where international surfers come and discover the mexican pipeline.
The mexican pipeline – Zicatela Beach
Located in Mexico’s state of Oaxaca, Zicatela Beach is famous for surfing, since it hosts national and international tournaments every year. There are national and international surfing tournaments at the mexican pipeline in Oaxaca, east of Puerto Escondido.
Puerto Escondido, located in the state of Oaxaca, is one of the most popular surfing spots in Latin America. It has been called the Mexican Pipeline because of its wide gastronomic, artistic, and cultural offer.
Until today, it’s one of the world’s top surfing beaches. Waves measuring six meters high can be quite challenging for those who come to surf. It’s considered by many to be the most spectacular beach wave in the world on the Mexican Pacific coast. There is no such thing as perfection.
Waves are known to be present here all year long. Swells created by storms in the south create large walls of water that break on the beach during summer. A curtain of water forms when waves break in the morning from the wind that blows from the mountains towards the sea, called offshore wind. The wave forms a tube and is fast and strong, which, combined with its enormous size, makes it only suitable for experienced surfers or very risky surfers.
There is no doubt that it is an excellent place for experienced surfers to test their skills. The November tournament attracts 80 surfers from countries such as the United States, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, France, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Spain and Mexico, among others, who will challenge Zicatela’s violent waves.
The violent side of the mexican pipeline
There’s no denying the Mexican pipeline monster has a violent side that’s taken thousands of boards and, unfortunately, more than a live.
In May 2010, Noel Robinson caught his last wave in Puerto Escondido as a professional surfer and filmmaker. Despite being an expert on this spot, he drowned without anyone being able to help. There’s no doubt that his death shocked the entire surfing community and reminded us just how dangerous this wave can be.
When is the best time to surf in Puerto Escondido?
The mexican pipeline surf season in Puerto Escondido starts in May and lasts until November. It gets the biggest and most consistent waves in the summer because it’s mostly exposed to south swells. It’s true that you’ll get some surf during winter, maybe even good surf, but it won’t be the perfect monster you’ve heard about. Also, you better get up early when surfing Puerto Escondido, because the light offshore winds create some beautiful glassy barrels between 6-10 am.
The peak months are July and August. So, swells can be huge during those months, sometimes even 20-30 feet. The kind of swells that cause those types of swells require a different type of board, so bring the gun. We’d also suggest bringing an extra board, since they break here a lot.
Sun and water are both hot in the summer, so all you need are shorts and sun screen.
You may also be interested in reading The 5 best places to surf in 2022 in Puerto Escondido
Surf camps in Puerto Escondido
In Puerto Escondido, most surf camps are really affordable, and they include yoga classes, Spanish classes, and more. The perfect combination is yoga and surfing, and learning some Spanish will really help you make the most of your interactions with the friendly locals while traveling in Mexico. These are a few of our favorites:
- Experience Surf Camp
- Oasis Surf & Spanish School
- Pacific Surf Academy
- Selina Puerto Escondido
From the 1960s onward, the mexican pipeline was a secret surfing destination. These “hidden gems” have only been discovered in the past decade by North American tourist.
Surf lessons are available at many local beaches, like the break of La Punta, even if you’re just starting out. There’s plenty to do and see in Puerto Escondido, which has a population of more than 45,000.
Discover everything you need to know about Puerto Escondido in our blog.