Ever dream about being on a deserted beach? One that’s completely empty – not a soul in sight. The only sounds are of waves hitting the shoreline and birds chirping in the palm trees. The sand is soft and warm as the sun rises high into the sky. The single manmade structure is a small palapa tucked away from the shoreline, filled with wonderful food, drinks, and conversation.
You can wake up now. And go make plans to visit Puerto Suelo in Oaxaca, Mexico. Trust me on this one.
Located just 20 minutes north of Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca, Mexico, this beach paradise is so amazing you will think you’re dreaming. Go ahead and pinch yourself if you so desire, but why ruin the moment with anything other than pure bliss?
Traveling Can Be Tough
Imagine waking up early in the morning next to a beautiful lagoon. Memories flood your mind about the adventure from the previous night: catching an amazing sunset from an empty dock, cruising seamlessly on a boat in the darkness of night, and most vividly, hearing the love of your life giddy with laughter and excitement as you both swim in the bioluminescent Manialtepec Lagoon waters. Not a bad way to start the day, right?
Take a quick shower then walk 50 feet to the dock next door to the boat awaiting your arrival. The plans were set last night. $700 pesos (approx. $35 USD) for a 4-hour private tour. First, bird-watching along the mangrove-filled coastline of the lagoon, followed up with a couple hours to spend on a beach paradise – in a section that is only reachable by boat – where you’ll be able to have a nice meal.
Luckily for us, this was no dream. We are grateful for the time spent there and posts like this is why we created Off Path Travels: in hope that at least one of you can follow suit, fill your heart to the brim with as much happiness as you possibly can, then top it off to a level you’ve never imagined.
Like I said, traveling can be tough…
Bird-Watching Tour on Manialtepec Lagoon
As we strolled up to Edmundo’s tour outlet – the same place we used the night before to swim in the bioluminescence of Manialtepec Lagoon – we were met with two wonderful smiles. Edmundo was happy to see we had made it out of bed, and his son, Edwin, was eager to meet us and take us around for the good part of a day.
The bird-watching tours of Laguna de Manialtepec are high on the list of things to do in Puerto Escondido. Usually leaving around 5 am or so, they cost around $400 pesos per person and will show you a glimpse of the hundreds of bird species inhabiting the area. If you want to stop in Puerto Suelo, make sure to verify with the tour provider (and ask how long the beach visit will be).
Edwin pointed out the various bird species on the way out, stopping numerous times for us to take photographs or just to enjoy the scenery. There were ospreys, pelicans, kingfishers, hummingbirds, herons, storks, hawks, and vultures. We passed by mangrove after mangrove, which led to grassy beaches, and eventually, palm trees on the coast.
Stunning Beach at Puerto Suelo
After a good hour and a half on the boat, we arrived at a wonderful little area on the shoreline of Puerto Suelo just next to Manialtepec Lagoon: La Palapa de Doña Juanita. They ushered us to a perfect table right along the coast, we quickly ordered our food, and then I looked up.
The beach was full of fine sand, like the beaches in Puerto Escondido. But was different. Magnificently different. It stretched on as far as the eye could see without a soul or any other manmade structures in sight.
Kristina immediately ran off into the water. I put on a bit more sunscreen, grabbed a bit of gear (Sony camera, DJI drone, & travel towel), and set off to join her for a walk while our meal was prepared.
We splashed around in the water, watching and listening to the waves gently crash down. The palm trees were a little bit further back, but the birds were chirping and flying about. We braved walking across the hot sand to get a glimpse of the lagoon, visible from the crest of the beach. And behind it were the glorious Oaxaca mountains, covered in dense green vegetation.
Eventually we wandered back to the palapa for our food. I had an incredible fish, still whole, salted and fried to perfection. Served with three sopes (corn-based thin cakes with beans, cabbage, and cheese on top) and fresh pico de gallo. Kristina stuck with the vegetarian sopes and salsa. Proof that even in the most remote areas of Mexico, chefs can cater to a vegetarian diet.
We sat in near silence, listening only to the sound of waves breaking and birds chirping. The food was excellent and the scenery was beyond anything we could have wished for.
This was it. Paradise. A dream come true. One of those moments that you can always remember; that your mind wonders back to on the most challenging days; that makes the trials and tribulations of travel worthwhile.
How to Get to the BEST Beach Near Puerto Escondido
If you’ve read our Ultimate Guide to Puerto Escondido, you’ll know there are no shortages of options in the area. Unfortunately, however, the immediate area around Playa Zicatela is no longer a true off-path destination. Worldwide surfing fame comes with some downsides: crowds and development. While it is still extremely underdeveloped compared to Cancún or Los Cabos, tourism is in full swing.
If you want to escape to Puerto Suelo, there are a few options. First, a simple tour from one of the operators on the Adoquin can get you to an early-morning bird watching tour with a quick stop on the beach. These leave around 5 am and cost approximately $400 pesos per person ($20 USD).
Second, you can drive or take a taxi to Edmund and Edwin’s company located on the shoreline of Manialtepec Lagoo. Book a private trip with them by emailing email@example.com, calling +52-954-165-1260 (Mexican cell phone number), or showing up in person – no guarantees about availability, but they had multiple boats and were able to get us in to two tours without a problem. They are located on the right side of the Best Night Hotel de Laguna Manialtepec. We received incredibly generous prices due to it being low season, but their prices and experience seemed to blow the local competition away.
Finally, if you really want to experience Puerto Suelo in all of its glory, we recommend taking a car or taxi up to the small parking area closest to La Palapa Doña Juanita (lat/long: 15.934432, -97.240352. Just plug those two numbers into Google and it will show you the precise location). She has beach-front cabanas with two full-sized beds which only cost $100 pesos per person (about $5 USD). The floor is sand and don’t expect wifi or a place to plug in your phone – but you’ll be situated on an incredible beach and have a selection of fresh seafood to fill your belly.
Call Doña Juanita prior to your arrival, and she’ll send a boat over to help you cross the one small section of Manialtepec Lagoon which separates the beach from the mainland. For contact information, the listing is on Google and Facebook.
Summary of Puerto Suelo Near Manialtepec Lagoon
This is no dream. Thankfully we stumbled into an incredible paradise – and now you have discovered it too! Take advantage before the crowds find out! (Yes, we realize the irony in posting that here.)
Book a trip to Oaxaca. Start off in Oaxaca de Juarez for some incredible waterfalls, drinks, and ruins in the mountains. Then make your way down to take part in the many things to do in Puerto Escondido. But you cannot forget to leave time to visit Puerto Suelo near Manialtepec Lagoon (and swim in the bioluminescent water)!
Do you have any recommendations for hidden beaches or off the beaten path paradises? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to our bucket list!