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Ecotours & Other Adventurous Explorations

An excellent provider of ecologically oriented tour services is Rutas de Aventura, Hotel Santa Fe (tel. 954/582-0170; www.hotelsantafe.com.mx). Gustavo Boltjes speaks fluent English and offers kayak adventures, hiking excursions, and mountain-bike tours. He also leads waterfall hikes, camping trips, and overnight agritourism adventures to learn about local farming and organic coffee production, including trips to a local coffee plantation that has been built upon principles of environmental sustainability. For more, see www.fincalasnieves.com.mx.

Viajes Dimar Travel Agency, on the landward side just inside the Adoquín (tel. 954/582-2305; fax 954/582-1551; www.viajesdimar.com; daily 8am-9pm), is another excellent source of information and can arrange all types of tours and travel. Manager Gaudencio Díaz Martinez speaks English and can arrange individualized tours or more organized ones, such as Michael Malone's Hidden Voyages Ecotours (www.peleewings.ca/ecco.php). Malone, a Canadian ornithologist, leads dawn and sunset trips in high season (winter) to Manialtepec Lagoon, a bird-filled mangrove lagoon about 20km (12 miles) northwest of Puerto Escondido. The kayak tour (750 pesos) includes a stop on a secluded beach for a swim.

One of Dimar's most popular all-day tours offered by both companies is to Chacahua Lagoon National Park, about 65km (40 miles) west. It costs $45 with Dimar, $52 with Michael Malone. These are true ecotours -- small groups treading lightly. You visit a beautiful sandy spit of beach and the lagoon, which has incredible bird life and flowers, including black orchids. Crocodiles are sometimes spotted here, too. Locals provide fresh barbecued fish on the beach. If you know Spanish and get information from the tourism office, it's possible to stay overnight under a small palapa, but bring insect repellent.

An interesting and slightly out-of-the-ordinary excursion is Aventura Submarina, Av. Pérez Gasga 601A, in front of the tourism office (tel. 954/582-2353). Jorge, who speaks fluent English and is a certified scuba instructor, guides individuals and small groups of qualified divers along the Coco trench just offshore. The price is $60 for a two-tank dive. This outfit offers a refresher scuba course at no extra charge. Jorge also arranges deep-sea fishing, surfing, and trips to lesser-known nearby swimming beaches. Omar (tel. 954/559-4406) runs dolphin-watching tours in high season.

Fishermen keep their colorful pangas (small boats) on the beach beside the Adoquín. A fisherman's tour around the coastline in a panga costs about 400 pesos, but a ride to Puerto Angelito beaches is only 55 pesos. Most hotels offer or will gladly arrange tours to meet your needs. The waters here are filled with marlin, tuna, and swordfish.

Guided Walking Tours

For local information and guided walking tours, visit the Oaxaca Tourist Bureau booth (tel. 954/582-1186; ginainpuerto@yahoo.com). It's just west of the pedestrian street. Ask for Gina, who speaks excellent English and is incredibly helpful. She provides information with a smile, and many say she knows more about Puerto Escondido than any other person. On her days off, Gina offers walking tours to the market and to little-known nearby ruins. Filled with history and information on native vegetation, a day with Gina promises fun, adventure, and insight into local culture.

A Mixtec ceremonial center was discovered in early 2000, just east of Puerto Escondido, and is considered a major discovery. The site covers many acres with about 10 pyramids and a ball court, with the pyramids appearing as hills covered in vegetation. A number of large carved stones have been found. Situated on a hilltop, it commands a spectacular view of Puerto Escondido and the Pacific coast. The large archaeological site spans several privately owned plots of land and is not open to the public, although Gina has been known to offer a guided walking tour to it.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.