Puerto Escondido was the first beach resort on the carretera costera (coastal highway), and it remains the most popular. Playa Zicatela is famous for its waves, drawing surfers from around the world. A few ritzier hotels have brought in more of the older set, but the steady presence of the surfing community means that even as the town continues to gentrify, it maintains a relaxed, hippie-ish vibe. La Punta, at Playa Zicatela’s easternmost point, offers the most laid-back atmosphere, with sandy streets, full-moon parties and barefoot beach bars.
Beyond Zicatela's beachfront bars and dreadlocked denizens there are marvelous swimming beaches to the west that are popular with Mexican families. Several nearby nature preserves, coffee farms, and waterfalls provide the best day-tripping opportunities, as there isn't much else in these parts besides beaches, beaches, and more beaches.
El Adoquín, the part of Avenida Pérez Gasga that's reserved for pedestrians nightly, runs right through the center of the town. This area is most popular with Mexican families. You'll find plenty of inexpensive shops, restaurants, and hotels along the four blocks.
Northwest of El Adoquín, overlooking the sea from atop adobe-color cliffs, are the Carrizalillo, La Rinconada, and Bacocho neighborhoods. These are the most up-and-coming areas of Puerto Escondido, but for now they're still quiet, and the people who stay here like it that way. The hotels, most of them upscale, cater to families and couples.
Along Boulevard Benito Juárez are some of the town's best restaurants. Oh, and if you were wondering why this street is as wide as a runway, it used to be the airport.