How to get there: There are no suitable accommodations in Nopala. Use Puerto Escondido as a base for mountain day-trips. The trip to Nopala from Puerto Escondido by cab took four hours and cost $45. Dry season is October to May; the road may be impassable during the rainy season.
Mexicana Airlines offers service from Mexico City for $105 round trip. Oaxacan Airlines, from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, is $85 round trip.
Coast Highway No. 200 links Puerto Escondido with Acapulco 200 miles to the north. An overland route to Oaxaca is not recommended. Rental cars are available.
Where to stay: Hotel Santa Fe, Calle de Morro, Apdo. Postal 96, telephone (958) 2-01-70. A first-class hotel. Has a pool, restaurant, bar, boutique. Summer rates: $35 to $40 double.
Bungalows Jardin Escondido, Calle de Morro, Apdo. Postal 97, (958) 2-03-48 or 2-01-37. Palm huts, showers, tile floors, overhead fans and hammocks. Price: $20 double.
Hotel Paraiso Escondido, Calle Union 10, (958) 2-04-44. Away from the beach on a bluff overlooking the bay. Small, rustic, colonial touches. Pool, open-air bar and restaurant. Price: $30 double.
Posada Real, Boulevard Benito Juarez, Fracc. Bacocho, (958) 2-01-92. North of the village. Provides satellite TV, beach club, more than 100 rooms. Cost: $70 double.
Where to eat: Dining at Hotel Santa Fe is worth the whole trip. Oaxacan dinners run $8 to $16 per person.
The meal served nightly at Jardin Escondido is limited to seating available. Hotel guests get first priority. Reservations necessary. Dinner runs $8 to $12 per person with wine.
Posada Real's Coco's beach club is inviting, with its poolside view of the surf. Native dishes with continental flair. Price: $8 and $15 per person.
Side trips: Puerto Escondido beaches, including little Puerto Angelito, accessible only by small boat from main beach in town. And Zicatela, with its undertow. Surfers arrive for tournaments in November.
Guided tours to Chacagua Lagoon and Manialtepec. Contact Maria Elena of Costa Esmeralda Tours at 2-01-37, or inquire at the desks at the Hotel Santa Fe, Arco Iris, Rincon del Pacifico, Las Palmas or Paraiso Escondido. Tours range from $25 to $30 per person and include lunch.
Reading: Recommended is "The Days of the Dead, a Mexican Tradition," published by the National Museum of Anthropology.
For more information: Contact the Mexican Government Tourism Office, 10100 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 224, Los Angeles 90067, (213) 203-8191 or (800) 262-8900.