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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Zicatela - Puerto Escondido

Zicatela - Puerto Escondido

Oaxaca - Pacific Coast, Mexico

Surf, Bodyboard

The state of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico is home to what is considered the best beach break in the world. Zicatela Beach in Puerto Escondido is where you’ll find the Mexican Pipeline. Nowadays, thanks to the modernisation, it’s within easier reach of most who once dreamed of going there. Before the seventies, some Americans went there but they didn’t have the adequate equipment with them and were more interested in looking for right point breaks. Little by little, with word of mouth, the potential of the place started to spread. It was also a place of insecurities, hot and wild with insects, snakes, scorpions, and nothing about it was appealing enough for people to stay.

All of this helped to keep it unspoilt but the truth is that little by little, people started to talk about what Puerto was hiding. Casey Higdon and Tim Hinkle were pioneers in the seventies and are both still living icons of the Puerto waves. In the eighties, a respectful community made up of locals was being established and some of those that stood out were Celestino Díaz, Lupe Ramirez, Chuy Silva, Juan Ramirez, Rogelio Ramírez, Miguel Ramirez, Fidencio Aquino Silva, Alejandro Salinas, Omar Díaz, Carlos Nogales Escalante, Roberto Salinas, David Rutherford and Oscar Moncada among others. All of them are the reference for the massive A-Frames that are rarely seen outside of Zicatela. This was how what was a small village that depended on its agriculture and fishing, has now become a dream place as far as world surfing is concerned. 


Today when Zicatela Beach works with around 6 feet, many surfers will be in the water until the ocean decides that the time has come to make a natural selection. The crowds reduce and only a few privileged get the call to throw themselves into one of the best beach breaks in the world. This beach has some of the best, well-trained lifeguards in the world, it couldn’t be any other way, and it’s no coincidence that board repairs are also big business there. The enormous waves at Puerto Escondido don’t arrive by chance. They are favoured by many conditions that don’t occur elsewhere. The swell is generated by storm winds that reach 45 to 55 knots and are formed around 7000 to 9000 kilometres away in the Southern Hemisphere in front of the Chilean coast. The sets take 30 to 40 hours to travel along an uninterrupted path in the deep ocean waters that aim and explode all of its transported energy onto the Zicatela banks. With this we can resume that in Puerto Escondido, while some only see close outs, others just see open faced waves. Zicatela beach is one of the most radical spots in the world so it’s essential not to forget that safety is an important factor to enjoy the waves and progress faster.


Puerto Escondido has pumps, barrels and close outs so arming yourself with patience is the essence for selecting good waves. The main peaks are known as Carmelita’s right, a highly sensitive sandbank, Far Bar, a very tough left further south, and a fun point break with long, hollow lefts. The best swell comes from S and SW with any tide, although with full tide, you need to think about the backwash. It’s better to go early because from eleven o’clock the wind starts to break the lines. The best conditions come with light East and Northeast winds, the currents are very strong and you need to interpret them well. All of these peaks are very sensitive to light variations in swell, the rights normally work better with the shape of the banks and they are also longer than the lefts.

For many, spring is the best season because the rain ceases, the temperatures aren’t too high and some quality swells begin to arrive with the advantage that even though it’s not summer or the official holiday season, which is when it’s busiest and when the biggest swells arrive which are only suitable for the most experienced. For Puerto you can forget your small round boards. From 6 feet the waves should be respected, in season 8 feet is the norm and there are even some summer super swells. These can hold a lot of size, occasionally more than 15 feet, and sometimes you’ll even see tow ins with more than 20 feet.

Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
  • Wind
    NE - N
  • Tide
  • Swell
    S - SW
  • Bottom
  • Size
    3 to 18 ft
  • Time of year
    From May to October
Suggested Spots
  • 116 km from Zicatela - Puerto Escondido Oaxaca - Pacific Coast Mexico, Mexico
  • 806 km from Zicatela - Puerto Escondido Colima - Pacific Coast Mexico, Mexico
  • 1519 km from Zicatela - Puerto Escondido Costa del Pacífico - Puntareanas , Costa Rica
  • 2659 km from Zicatela - Puerto Escondido Montañita - Santa Elena, Ecuador