Home to the tall waves, golden beaches, and lush jungle, Puerto Escondido is a coastal town with about 45,000 people. A decade ago, nobody heard about Puerto Escondido, but today it attracts travelers from all over the world who come here to enjoy its remarkable scenery.
Translated as “hidden port” from Spanish, Puerto Escondido is known for its world-class surfing, and yet, there’s a lot more to this charming pueblo than just big waves.
Until recently, Puerto Escondido was known mainly among American and Canadian ex-pats buying up real estate in Puerto Escondido. But things have changed: Puerto Escondido has become one of the most popular beach towns along the Oaxaca Coast thanks to its opportunities for active lifestyle and year-round mild climate.
Why visit Puerto Escondido
For many travelers, the main appeal of Puerto Escondido is its authenticity. Let’s admit it, some destinations around Mexico’s coastal areas feel way too touristy, to the point where you sometimes, don’t feel that you are in Mexico.
Puerto Escondido has a less “polished” feel, as it doesn’t have all-inclusive resorts and an abundance of expensive restaurants geared toward foreign tourists. Instead, Puerto Escondido boasts many cute cafes, local eateries, and small beachside hotels that give this place its atmosphere.
Where is Puerto Escondido located?
Puerto Escondido is located in San Pedro Mixtec Municipality along the southern coast of Oaxaca State. It takes about 12 hours to get here from Oaxaca De Juarez, the capital and the main tourist hub of the state.
How to get around Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido has a downtown area and three main beaches where you can get on foot. But it also many hidden coves that require a car ride, that’s why if you plan on exploring less touristy places around Oaxaca, you should rent a car for your trip.
Beaches in Puerto Escondido
The three main beaches in Oaxaca are Playa Zicatela, Playa Marinero, and Playa Principal. To the east of Playa Principal you will find the best beaches in Puerto Escondido: Puerto Angelito, Manzanillo and Carrizalillo. They are sheltered from the big waves and provide excellent opportunities for swimming, which is why they can get busy.
To the east of Playa Principal, you will find Playa Zicatela and Playa La Punta, some of the most famous places for surfing in Oaxaca that have the tallest waves in the area.
Since many travelers come to Puerto Escondido because of its beaches, let’s take a look at them.
Best beaches in Puerto Escondido
Where to stay: Posada Real Puerto Escondido
One of the best beaches in Oaxaca and my favorite beach in Puerto Escondido, Playa Carrizalillo is a small but cozy hangout with small waves which are great for beginner surfers. Framed by the lush hills, this beach has restaurants, sun loungers, and umbrellas – everything you need for a perfect beach day. You can also hire a surfing instructor who will go with you in the open water and give you a quick lesson.
If spending a day at Playa Carrizalillo sounds fun, bring enough, as credit cards are not accepted here.
To reach Playa Carrirzalillo, go down steep stone stairs, which is easy on the way to the beach but makes for quite the workout on the way back. Since Carrizalilo is one of the most popular beaches in Oaxaca, it’s better to come early morning and later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Playa de Zicatela
Where to stay: Selina Puerto Escondido
If you are an experienced surfer, grab your board and head to Playa de Zicatela, one of the best beaches in Puerto Escondido for surfing since waves can come as high as 15 feet during the peak season. There’s not much to do here aside from surfing, so many people come here to run, walk their dogs and just enjoy the sound of the crashing waves.
If you are a newbie surfer, you are better off heading to other beaches in Puerto Escondido such as Carrizalillo and La Punta to learn the ropes of this popular water sport. Consider taking a lesson at some of the best surf schools in Puerto Escondido
Many surfing events take place in Zicatela throughout the year, some of the most famous of them the World Surfing League’s Puerto Escondido Challenge.
The waves for surfing are said to be the best from July through October.
Along Playa Zicatela you will find beach bars and cafes, so you don’t have to go too far when you get hungry. Zicatela is generally not good for swimming due to big waves, so you will not see a lot of people here. If you want to spend a couple of hours here, bring an umbrella, a hat and some sunscreen because this beach has no shade.
La Punta Zicatela
Where to stay: Casa De Olas Boutique Hotel
La Punta Zicatela is an excellent place for newbie surfers thanks to more mild waves. It also has a younger and more international crowd than other beaches in Puerto Escondido, where you will find more Mexican tourists.
Visitors enjoy relaxed vibes and many restaurants with vegan food where you can get tacos, smoothies bowls – all while watching surfers ride the waves.
You can reach La Punta De Zicatela if you keep walking east from Playa Zicatela.
Where to stay: Shavanna Hotel Boutique
Turtle conservation is a big deal in Puerto Escondido with multiple volunteer organizations monitoring local beaches to prevent poaching, and theft of turtles’ eggs, as some people unfortunately still eat them.
Playa Bacocho isn’t known for its exceptional beauty or tall waves, but it’s known as the home of many migrating sea turtles who come here to lay their eggs. Playa Bacocho is also home to one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido, which is helping to release newly hatched baby turtles into the ocean.
It’s a truly wonderful experience and one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido!
Playa Puerto Angelito
Where to stay: Hotel Villas Xaiba
A popular local beach, Playa Puerto Angelito is a popular local hangout and looks more like half0bay with dozens of small boats anchored in the area. The beach sits in a small cove and also has excellent conditions for snorkeling thanks to a small reef not far from the shore. If you want to go on a whale watching tour, where you can also swim with turtles and dolphins, keep this place in mind because many boat tours depart from Playa Puerto Angelito.
Where to stay: Casa Losodeli
Right in the same bay, you will also find Playa Manzanillo (you can actually walk there from Puerto Angelito), another family-friendly beach that is sheltered from big waves and is slightly less crowded than Playa Puerto Angelito. Here you will find many small restaurants with plenty of tables sheltered from the sun by big palapas.
Many whale and dolphin watching tours also launch from here, so make sure to be careful, if you decide to go snorkeling.
Where to stay in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is a small unpretentious town with a low-key vibe, and yet, there are plenty of accommodations here for all types of travelers. Here’s a quick overview of different hotels in Puerto Escondido that will fit any budget and style of travel.
Luxury Hotels in Puerto Escondido
If you are a luxury traveler planning a trip to Puerto Escondido, check out Casa UMI, a gorgeous villa with cool minimalistic designs within walking distance to many hotels and restaurants. Another popular luxury hotel in Puerto Escondido is Hotel Escondido that has its own private beach, restaurant and spa.
Mid-budget hotels in Puerto Escondido
Eco Lodge Pueblo Del Sol is one of the best new hotels in Puerto Escondido that provides a perfect atmosphere to relax and disconnect. Located 5 minutes away from Playa Zicatela, offers close proximity to many restaurants and bars. Another mid-range hotel is Villas Carrizalillo perched above the gorgeous Carrizalillo Beach with numerous accommodations with a dining area and a seating area.
Budget-friendly hotels in Puerto Escondido
Rincon Del Pacifico is one of the best budget hotels in Puerto Escondido that offers central location and great value. Another hotel that gets great reviews for its combination of location, friendly staff and great prices is Hotel Blater near Zicatela Beach.
Hostels in Puerto Escondido
Tower Bridge Hostel is one of the most popular hostels in Puerto Escondido with a great atmosphere, social events and day trips to many places near Puerto Escondido. Nomad Beach House is the best hostel in Puerto Escondido that offers private and shared rooms, a beach club and movie nights on the beach. Guests love this property and if you are looking for an affordable place to stay in Puerto Escondido, you should check it out.
Best things to do in Puerto Escondido
1. Catch the wave
Home to the famous Mexican Pipeline – the killer wave that attracts surfers from all over the world, Playa Zicatela is the main surfing place in Puerto Escondido. Unless you don’t know it yet – Playa Zicetala is a place for pro-surfers with many world championships have been held here.
2. … Or learn to paddle board
If surfing is not your game, test your skills in paddleboarding. For example, you can rent a surfboard on Playa Carizalillio early morning when the waves are milder and try to paddleboard around the inlet. Another option is to go on a paddleboarding tour.
3. Relax on Playa Carrizalillo
Playa Carizalillo is a dream come true for those travelers who look for nothing more than lazy beach days. This small cozy beach has mild waves thanks to its location inside the inlet shattered from big waves, phenomenal views of the Pacific, and even a surfing school where you can hire a local instructor who will go with you in the open water.
4. Go on a dolphin watching tour
You can often see them circling in large groups and during the tour you get to snorkel right next to them! It’s a fantastic experience, and one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido if you love animals 🙂
You can also see some other creatures such as fish and turtles. I think this is one of those experiences that you absolutely can’t miss while in Puerto Escondido and I highly recommend it if you decide to come here!
You can often find local tour guides selling dolphin tours on Playa Angelito, and buy one of these tours on a port. Unlike whale watching tours where seeing a whale is not certain, you are likely to see at least a few dolphins during this trip.
5. Kayak on Manialtepec Lagoon
Puerto Escondido might be famous for surfing, but there are many other things to do here aside from surfing! For example, the Manialtepec lagoon is home to many species such as birds and even crocodiles! It’s a popular place for kayaking and kayaking tours from Puerto Escondido regularly take place here.
Kayaking Tours of Manialtepec lagoon depart daily depart Puerto Escondido at sunrise and last about 3 hours.
6. Release turtles into the ocean
Turtle conservation is a big thing on Oaxaca beaches, and Puerto Escondido particularly plays a big role in these efforts thanks to local volunteer groups who patrol beaches to prevent poaching and make sure turtles nest there safely.
During my trip to Playa Bacocho, I had a chance to participate in the event organized by Vive Mar, a local volunteer group, where dozens of newly hatched baby turtles are released into the ocean around the sunset. Local volunteers run egg hatcheries to help protect the eggs and make sure the newly born turtles are released in the water.
To release your own baby turtle into the ocean from a coconut bowl (you can’t touch them with your hands), participants are required to pay a fee of 300 pesos. This daily event starts at 5 p.m., so make sure to show up on time. When you arrive at Playa Bacocho, look for a small hut where you can sign up for the event and pay your fee.
Before the event, a volunteer gives a briefing to the group about local conservation efforts and provides detailed instructions on how to release baby turtles into the ocean properly without harming them. Since turtle conservation is taken very seriously here, you will have a chance to learn about the project and talk to many volunteers who watch the entire process.
PRO TIP: Additionally, you can also participate in a bigger tour that includes a visit to several turtle hatching sites and volunteer-patrolled beaches. This is an excellent way to support local turtle conservation efforts, as most of these organizations run on donations.
7. Take a tour of the bioluminescent lagoon
Many tour companies around Puerto Escondido offer boat tours to the nearby Laguna Manialtepec that light up with the bioluminescent type of plankton. This wonderful natural phenomenon can be seen every night although the degree of brightness can vary depending on the lack or presence of the moonlight.
Swimming with the bioluminescent plankton is a one-of-a-kind experience and every time you move, the plankton shows its sparkling colors, which is super cool!
The tour starts around 8 p.m., and while you can book it on the spot in Puerto Escondido, it’s a good idea to book it ahead of time to avoid paying the highest price, which often happens when you buy a tour on the spot.
8. Make friends with locals
Puerto Escondido has some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They are happy to talk to you and help you when you have questions.
To do that, I recommend learnings at least some basic Spanish, because it will make the entire communication process much easier. To help you plan your trip to Puerto Escondido and avoid mistakes, check my top Mexico travel tips.
9. Join a whale watching tour
From December through March, hundreds of migrating whales come to the waters of Oaxaca, which is the perfect opportunity to see these marine animals in their full glory.
To do that, book a guided tour that will take you in the open water. Remember that whales can be elusive, so booking a tour is not always a guarantee to see them.
Whale-watching group tours cost on average $50 USD and depart from Puerto Angelito Bay. For example, Roberts Eco Tours is one of the companies that offer whale watching tours in Oaxaca, however, you can also book them online.
10. Shop for some cute souvenirs
You can find many cool souvenirs made by local artisans along the main Malecon in Puerto Escondido. Whether you want to buy some colorful, bracelets or get a cool alebrije, your money will support local craftsmen, which is an excellent thing.
11. Watch the sunset
Sunsets in Puerto Escondido are unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Puerto Escondido boasts incredible colorful sunsets.
If you want to see one, head to one of the long open beaches in Puerto Escondido. For example, Playa Bacocho is a great place for sunset watching, as it’s wide and open, and you don’t have to look for a specific spot – just sit on the beach and enjoy the show!
You can combine this activity with turtle release if you are visiting in winter because the sun begins to set down right around 6 p.m. after most turtles have been released.
Many people also walk to Punta Zicatela for sunset.
12. Take a trip to Oaxaca Juarez
A visit to Oaxaca de Juarez (aka Oaxaca City) is a must for anybody who comes to Puerto Escondido. The city is the region’s capital of culture and history, and you will miss out if you don’t make your way to Oaxaca for at least a couple of days after (or before) spending time in Puerto Escondido.
In Oaxaca, you can take a free guided tour, taste Mezcal, shop at local artisan markets and try mole – a signature Oaxaca sauce. Adding a couple of extra days to your trip will help you learn Oaxaca and understand why it plays such an important role in Mexico’s culture.
13. Go snorkeling
Puerto Escondido boasts crystal clear waters which are perfect for snorkeling. If you want to see turtles, fish, and other marine animals off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, you can either a) rent snorkeling gear and go on your own b)join a snorkeling tour.
I recommend going on a snorkeling tour for a couple of reasons. If you are visiting Puerto Escondido for the first time, you might not know the specifics of the area, such as changing tides that affect swimming conditions. Playa Carrizalillo is one of the places where many people go snorkeling, but you should be careful because of the waves.
Booking a snorkeling tour with a guide is a great option, in my opinion, and you can do it in my places around Oaxaca Coast, including Huatulco Bay which is about 2 hours down the coast from Puerto Escondido.
14. Visit Lagunas De Chacahua National Park
Lagunas de Chacahua National Park is a beautiful area about one hour away from Puerto Escondido where you can see cool reptiles, surf, and just relax on the beach. While it’s possible to get there by car, you can also take a guided tour from Puerto Escondido, which is a better option as you will have an experienced guide with you on a tour.
If you decide to drive to Lagunas De Chacahua, first, you need to get to Zapotalito, a small town located about one hour away from Puerto Escondido that can be reached by taxi or collective. From there, you will need to hire a boat to Chachua, a small island on the Pacific Ocean where you can relax, chill in the hammock and take in scenic views.
15. Swim in La Reforma waterfalls
One of the best-kept secrets near Puerto Escondido is La Reforma (or Cascada La Reforma) in Spanish), a huge waterfall that is about 1,5 hours away from the city. You can visit La Reforma on your own if you have a rental car – and even swim in the gorgeous pool, or choose one of the guided tours.
16. Explore other beaches along Oaxaca Coast
Oaxaca Coast is home to some of the best beaches in Mexico, and Puerto Escondido is just one of them. Catch a bus down the coast to explore other Oaxaca beaches in places like Bahias de Huatulco, Mazunte, and Puerto Angel.
Check my complete guide to the best Oaxaca beaches that cover the best activities, places to stay, and tips on how to get around.
Best restaurants in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido has an amazing restaurant scene! From vegan cafes to traditional Mexican eaters and restaurants with typical western for, there are many places here where you can grab a bite.
Here’s a quick overview:
- Papa Totz – This vegan restaurant puts a plant-based spin on traditional Mexican food, as it most dishes here include potatoes. I loved their burritos, tacos, and delicious desserts and recommend you check it out during your trip to Puerto Escondido, even if you are not vegan.
- Xocoyo – One of the most popular restaurants in La Punta that serves chilaquiles, tofu scramble, hotcakes, and other brunch items. Also has a separate dinner menu that includes burrito bowls, tamales, salsa, and hummus.
- A La Lena – Italian restraint where you can find traditional staples from the Italian cuisine as well as vegan pizza and calzones.
Puerto Escondido vs Huatulco
Many visitors who come to Puerto Escondido also visit Bahias De Huatulco, another costal Oaxaca town located about 2 hours down Oaxaca Cast.
Although these two towns are located relatively close to each other, they are very different. Huatulco has many high-end resorts and hotels catering to wealthier travelers, while Puerto Escondido is known as a low-key destination with a hippie vibe. And unlike Puerto Escondido, which has only domestic flights from Mexico, Bahias de Huatulco also has international flights from North America.
Still, I recommend you visit both destinations because Puerto Escondido and Bahias De Huatulco are home to some of the best beaches in Oaxaca.
Best time to visit Puerto Escondido
When planning your trip to Puerto Escondido, pay close attention to the seasons. The rainy season in Puerto Escondido begins in May and continues through November.
This is a slow time for tourism in Puerto Escondido, but waves can be especially high, which is great for surfers. If you are a budget traveler, you should know that prices tend to be on the lower end during this time, which is a great opportunity to save on tours and hotels in Puerto Escondido.
One thing to know about the rainy season in Puerto Escondido is that the rai is mostly sporadic and is in the afternoon for an hour or two.
The dry season lasts from December through April and is the busiest time in Puerto Escondido. The waters are calmer, which is great for swimming, and there are plenty of tours, however, prices also tend to be the highest during this time.
What’s the weather like along Oaxaca Coast?
The Oaxaca Coast has a tropical arid climate with little rain and plenty of sunshine. The hurricane season lasts from June through September and brings rainfall and cloudy days.
Winter is the dry season when most days are sunny and clear with temperatures ranging from the high 80’s to mid-’90s. However, it is also the busiest time along Oaxaca Coast when most travelers come here.
Visit Oaxaca beaches during the shoulder season which lasts from late October through early December when it’s not too busy yet, and prices on accommodations are reasonable.
Is Puerto Escondido safe to visit?
Yes, Puerto Escondido is safe. I have walked all over Puerto Escondido, and never felt unsafe. However, make sure to stay away from beaches during the night, as unfortunately there have been reports of robberies. It’s also a good idea to get travel insurance ahead of your trip to Puerto Escondido.
PRO TIP: To stay safe while visiting Puerto Escondido, read my tips for Mexico travel.
How to get to Puerto Escondido?
There are several ways to make it to Puerto Escondido, depending on your travel plans and budget. Whether you are traveling around Mexico, or just taking a quick getaway, you can arrive in Puerto Escondido by plane or by bus from several destinations in Mexico.
Getting to Puerto Escondido by plane
Although there are no international flights to Oaxaca Coast, there are daily flights from Mexico City, Oaxaca de Juarez (Aka Oaxaca City), and Guadalajara to Puerto Escondido.
What airport do I use to visit Puerto Escondido?
To visit Puerto Escondido, you can catch a flight to one of the airports along the coast (if you are traveling from a destination within Mexico), or fly into Oaxaca International Airport that has flights from the United States. When you arrive at the Puerto Escondido Airport, you can optionally rent a car.
Puerto Escondido Airport
If you want to stay in Puerto Escondido, you should fly to Puerto Escondido Airport (Code PXM). The airport has no direct flights from the United States, so you will have to catch a connecting flight from Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Guadalajara.
Getting to Puerto Escondido by bus
There are several buses per day to Puerto Escondido from the main bus station in Oaxaca de Juarez. They typically depart late in the evening and arrive early morning, so you can sleep on a bus, and still have the entire next day to explore and have fun.
Final thoughts on visiting Puerto Escondido
If you are still wondering whether Puerto Escondido is worth a visit, my answer is YES!
This coastal town offers a glimpse of more authentic Mexico and relaxed beach vibes, which is perfect for a beach getaway! There are also tons of things to do in Puerto Escondido, so you are unlikely to get bored here. From watching dolphins to learning how to surf and taking adventures in the nearby jungle, Puerto Escondido is an awesome adventure getaway.
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