When we tell people we spent Spring Break in Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca, we are almost universally met with a blank stare, followed by "Where's that?" Most people haven't heard of these spots in Mexico, which is part of why we chose to go there. Off the Gringo Trail, there are beautiful places to be found!
Puerto Escondido isn't fully off the Gringo Trail. It is a premier surf spot, perhaps one of the premier surf spots on the Pacific Ocean. The waves are killer (perhaps literally) and it is recommended you be an expert to even attempt them. The main city part of Puerto Escondido felt a lot like a surf hang-out, with lots of touristy schtuff and plenty of bars on the beach...but we didn't see that much. We stayed on the edge of town in a residential area way off the beaten path and in walking distance to two more sheltered beaches, much better for families. It was quiet and sleepy and perfect. There was a street nearby lined with little restaurants and cafes, a couple of laundry spots and a mini-supermarket. The restaurants were amazingly delicious, clean and very friendly. We ate lunch every day at tiny Turtle Bay Restaurant, where they were so good to us and served up what might be the best fish tacos and shrimp burritos on the planet. I would say meals typically cost what we would pay at home (not as cheap as I expected), but the quality was outstanding and we didn't have to worry about ice in drinks or other tummy issues. I do miss the laundry spot, though. We did four people's and three days' worth of laundry, washed, pressed and folded for about $2. I need that at home, please. Being on the edge of town was no problem because taxis are always circling around and will take you wherever you want to go for about $2. Easy and relaxing, not having to fuss with a rental car or car seats.
We stayed at the Villa Lili, found through TripAdvisor, and I highly recommend it. The villa is run by Luis. He lives in one of the rooms with his family and the other rooms are let B&B style. There are 2 small pools and an honour bar with cold drinks always available. Our room was the Exotica Suite with a very unique layout. We liked it because it was high up in the villa and very open, giving us almost constant cross-breeze and fresh sea air. The villa included breakfast with our room, but all other meals must be found off-site. Our girls are such early risers that we even ate breakfast out at the nearby cafe (delicious granola and breads fresh-baked at the on-site bakery each morning). Everyone at the villa was very friendly and were happy to provide (excellent) recommendations for us. They even arranged a small internal flight for us to get to Oaxaca so we wouldn't have to take a bigger airline to Mexico City and then connect through, saving us hours of travel.
You want to go now, don't you?