The road from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido just got smoother. But locals fear bumps in the road if measures aren’t taken to prevent tourism from overwhelming the area.

The highly anticipated Barranca Larga-Ventanilla highway was inaugurated in February this year. But the cracks in the community are already beginning to show as the threat of rising demands, rising costs and rising gentrification looms over our bucolic coastline.

How Long Does It Take To Get From Oaxaca To Puerto Escondido?

The highway has cut the 6-hour journey from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido to an impressive 2.5 hours. That’s right, you can now get to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca in under 3 hours!

And if you jumped for joy upon learning that you no longer need to endure the stunning-yet-stomach-churning journey to Puerto Escondido from the region’s capital, we can’t say we blame you. 

In fact, thousands – locals and tourists alike – are thrilled to see the road’s completion. Building of it began back in 2009, but social conflict in surrounding neighborhoods, and complications in its construction stalled the process. 

The shortened travel time will make the coastal area more accessible to Mexican and foreign tourists alike. This brings with it huge benefits for trade, business and – of course – tourism. Take, for example, the journey from Puebla to Puerto Escondido: previously a twelve-hour slog, passengers can now make the journey in a zippy 4 and a half hours.

The highway will also benefit more than 100,000 residents of eleven nearby municipalities, improving their access both to the coast and to one another. 

Is Puerto Escondido Ready For A New Surge In Tourism?

It’s no secret that the last twenty years have seen Puerto Escondido transform from a humble coastal town – known only to a smattering of North American snowbirds and avid European surfers – into a hotspot for bar hoppers, digital nomads and sun seekers from around the globe.

Not only this, but while the pandemic put the tourist destinations of most other countries to sleep, Puerto Escondido came to life, swelling with people from all over the world as they fled the harsh lockdowns in their home countries in favor of Mexico’s lax regulations. 

And the highway’s inauguration promises yet another swell.

But let’s be realistic about Puerto Escondido, and our popular neighbors, Puerto Ángel, Mazunte and las Bahías de Huatulco: are we really able to withstand yet another dramatic increase in visitors?

Let’s remember that this vast increase in accessibility is likely to bring rapid economic development to Puerto Escondido through increased trade, investment, and tourism revenue. There will, of course, be local businesses who benefit from more customers and the increased potential for expansion.

Some, however, protest that we lag behind in the local infrastructure and facilities needed to welcome stronger waves of tourism. Puerto Escondido’s most famous beach, Zicatela, already faces its own pollution problems due to the lack of a drainage system to treat wastewater from the urban area. 

It’s also hard to deny that the rapid and exponential growth along the Oaxacan coast has highlighted the need for a Governmental development plan. And, in some ways, it feels like the highway’s completion is nothing but another move towards attracting investors into the area, with little thought as to how it could impact the daily lives of the towns’ inhabitants. 

Already, there are signs of smaller local businesses being left by the wayside. Just last March 12th, almost a dozen small transport companies blocked the highway in protest against ADO, one of Mexico’s largest bus companies. 

Local operators accused ADO of “commandeering the highway,” stating that – despite the existence of an agreement – ADO had been surpassing the agreed allowance of trips on the new stretch of road. Thereby leaving local Oaxacan companies without work.

Don’t forget that if you want to travel responsibly in Puerto Escondido, Eco Adventures runs colectivos and private transfers from and to Oaxaca City, Huatulco and San José del Pacífico.

Book with us here to travel comfortably and support our local drivers.

The Environmental Impact of Oaxaca’s New Highway

If we don’t tread carefully, the construction of the road and subsequent increase in human activity could take its toll on our delicate ecosystem.

We could see habitats destroyed to make way for new buildings; we may see yet more deforestation, pollution from increased vehicle emissions and waste, disturbance to wildlife, and the erosion of coastal ecosystems. 

Such an impact can threaten biodiversity, disrupt ecological balance, and degrade natural resources essential for our local livelihoods. Not only that, if tourism itself is to continue to thrive in Puerto Escondido, the maintenance of our ecosystem is vital. After all, the natural beauty of Puerto Escondido is one of its biggest draws.

Our coast remains one of the few areas of tropical Pacific Mexico that hasn’t been so heavily affected by urbanization, coastal tourism development, pollution, and deforestation. Our undeveloped coastal ecosystems connect mangrove wetlands to watersheds and tropical forests. 

Visitors can enjoy these rare sights in a responsible manner by booking onto one of our many bespoke Puerto Escondido tours with local guides whose knowledge and passion for wildlife and their native, natural paradise is infectious.

All this is at risk, however, unless locals, tourists and the government can pull together to ensure we can continue to enjoy Puerto Escondido’s treasures for decades to come. 

How to Be A Responsible Tourist in Puerto Escondido

So, what does all this mean for you, someone who wants to come to Puerto Escondido and do so respectfully? How can you ensure you’re participating in sustainable travel to Puerto Escondido? Here are 5 tips to follow:


Support Local Businesses

Research local tour operators, especially eco-friendly tour operators such as Eco Adventures. This way, the revenue from your tourism goes directly into the hands of local workers. This also applies to choosing your accommodation, restaurants, and shops. 

Opting for local, independent businesses is not only more sustainable, but offers a more authentic experience of Puerto Escondido and the people who live here. 


Choose Sustainable Transportation

While taking the newly built road may be inevitable, you can opt for local drivers and transportation companies. You can also choose to travel more sustainably once you reach Puerto. Walk, cycle or use public transportation instead of relying solely on private vehicles.


Respect Local Culture and Customs

In Puerto Escondido we love visitors and we welcome people from every walk of life. We love learning about you and the stories you bring along with you. And the connection is even richer when those who visit come having learnt a few Spanish phrases, show cultural appreciation and ask permission before photographing people, artwork or sacred sites.

To truly gain an authentic experience of Puerto Escondido, book onto one of our many tours, delivered by locals who will show you the real treasures of Puerto Escondido. 


Minimize Environmental Impact

There are simple ways to reduce waste and conserve water during your stay. Try using reusable water bottles and less plastic. Take shorter showers and let your hotel know that you don’t need your towels and bed linens changed daily. 

Another great way to contribute during your stay here is to support eco-friendly initiatives such as beach clean-ups or wildlife conservation projects.


Be In The Know

Before and during your trip, get curious about Puerto Escondido’s history, culture, and environmental issues. Go on an eco-friendly tour and chat with our knowledgeable local guides. If you are searching for an authentic and memorable experience in Puerto Escondido, then nothing beats that!

We are grateful and excited for the opportunities made possible by this new super highway! Let’s work together to make sure Puerto Escondido can be enjoyed by many and for many years to come.

¡Hasta Pronto!