Puerto Escondido Oaxaca has some of the best beaches in Mexico.
Whether you want to learn how to surf or are just looking to kick back with a cerveza, this Puerto Escondido guide has everything you need to know about this idyllic beach town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico!
What is Puerto Escondido known for?
Located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido (Ess-cone-dee-doe) is situated on the Pacific Coast.
In English, Puerto Escondido means “hidden port.” According to legend, Andrés Drake (brother of Sir Francis Drake) anchored his ship in the bay sometime after kidnapping a Mixtec woman from neighboring Huatulco. Somehow, the woman managed to escape the pirates and fled into the jungle. After an unsuccessful search, Drake and the crew referred to the area as Bahía de la Escondida (Bay of the Hidden Woman).
>> Planning a trip to Mexico? You don’t need a big budget to enjoy Oaxaca. Get all the details in this backpacking Oaxaca guide! <<
Today, Puerto Escondido is known for its beautiful beaches.
It’s especially popular among backpackers and surfers. With its towering waves, Playa Zicatela is
Not a surfer? Other Puerto Escondido beaches have gentle waves for a more relaxing experience.
Keep reading to see why Lonely Planet calls this beach town “a water-lover’s paradise.”
How to get to Puerto Escondido
The Mexican state of Oaxaca is very big. Some travelers (myself included) think they’ll head over to the coast after spending a few days in Oaxaca City. But, it’s not quite so easy.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, pesos (MXN) are converted into dollars (USD). At the time of this post, the conversion rate is 1 Mexican Peso = .052 United States Dollar. Backpacking Brunette uses the Google Currency Calculator.
To travel from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido, you have several options.
- OCC first class bus
- Time: 12-13 hours
- Cost: Approximately $17 USD (one-way)
- Tip: Take the overnight bus to save on accommodation. The road twists and turns through the mountains, so don’t count on a good night’s sleep. But, hey, you’ll save a buck!
- Shared van
- Time: 7-8 hours
- Cost: Approximately $10 USD (one-way)
- Tip: This journey isn’t for the faint of heart. Passengers are packed into a large van/minibus, and the driver drives FAST.
- Flight from Oaxaca City
- Time: 35 minutes
- Cost: Approximately $114 USD (one-way)
- Tip: According to Lonely Planet, Aerotucán offers daily flights to/from Oaxaca City in a 13-seat Cessna.
airlines fly to Puerto Escondido?
At this time, no international flights fly directly into Puerto Escondido. The airport is positively tiny.
>> Need a beach destination with an international airport? Fly into Cancun! Just like Oaxaca, the Yucatan has a lot to offer, including the backpacker haven Tulum! Find out more in this guide for backpacking the Yucatan. <<
The second time I visited Puerto Escondido (February 2019), I took a flight from Mexico City. The airlines that fly to Puerto Escondido from Mexico City are AeroMar, Interjet and VivaAerobus. The flight time is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
In February 2019, a round-trip flight from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido cost $126 USD on VivaAerobus. That price included a checked bag.
How to get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 in the Mexico City airport
If you’re arriving
To get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, exit baggage claim and take an escalator upstairs to international departures. Walk with the check-in counters on your right-hand side to the end of the hall. You’ll see a small security checkpoint, which you’re required to pass through before taking the train from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1. In order to pass through the checkpoint, you will need to present your boarding pass for your domestic flight.
VivaAerobus has an app for easy check-in online
Is it safe in Puerto Escondido?
Both times I visited Puerto Escondido, I had a travel companion. However, I would most definitely feel comfortable traveling there as a solo female traveler. While in Puerto Escondido, I took multiple cab rides every day and walked at night without ever feeling unsafe.
In the majority of places in Puerto Escondido, foreigners hardly stand out. During the high season (November-March), the city receives many travelers from all over the world. Some love it so much, they decide to winter there.
Of course, regardless of your destination, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings.
Keep an eye on your personal belongings, and if any situation feels unsafe, don’t feel embarrassed to extract yourself using whatever means necessary.
Getting around Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is spread out along the city’s seven beaches. Although you could walk everywhere, it would be pretty ambitious. I regularly utilized taxis, and most rides cost $2 USD or 40-50 pesos (that’s with the tip). There are A LOT of taxis in Puerto Escondido, so it never took me more than a few minutes to flag one down.
Other transportation options for getting around Puerto Escondido include bike, scooter or ATV rental. The ATVs are permitted both on the roads and on the beach. Just make sure your travel insurance has you covered!
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous (or particularly cheap), you can always catch a lift in a shared taxi. These
Where to stay in Puerto Escondido
Because the city is pretty much dedicated to tourism, there’s no shortage of hostels, Airbnbs and hotels in Puerto Escondido. If it’s your first time visiting Puerto Escondido, I recommend staying near Play Zicatela. The main drag, Avenida del Moro (sometimes called Calle del Moro), is the center of the action with lots of restaurants, shops
But, you don’t need to stay right on the beach in order to enjoy ocean views. In February, I stayed at Hotel Ananda for eight nights and thought it an absolute steal!
- Hotel Ananda
- Address: Calle Jacarandas 18
- Price: $32 USD per night
- Details: My room had two twin beds and a queen plus its own bathroom. It shared a long balcony with the adjacent room but had its own hammock and bench. The hotel is located on the top of a hill several streets back from the main drag (10-minute walk). I loved this place for its
unobsructedview of the ocean from the balcony! Oh, and really good WiFi!
The next time I visit Puerto Escondido (because there WILL be a next time), I plan on checking out Hostal Mondola. Even though I liked Hotel Ananda, I feel comfortable moving a little ways away from Playa Zicatala and would prefer to be closer to Playa Carrizalillo.
- Check out this post for even more places to stay in Puerto Escondido!
The first time I visited Puerto Escondido, I stayed in an Airbnb near La Punta. This area is a favorite of backpackers and surfers, so if you’re looking for somewhere with a younger crowd, you might want to check it out.
Where to eat in Puerto Escondido
To date, my most recent trip to Puerto Escondido was my best collective eating experience in Mexico! Not once in eight days did I have a bad meal. The seafood is as cheap as it is fresh (very), and overall, the service was very professional which greatly contributed to the dining experiences.
Here are some of the best Puerto Escondido restaurants:
- El Coste Cevichería
- Address: Calle del Moro s/n
- What to eat: I ate here THREE TIMES on my last trip to Puerto Escondido. The grilled
huachinango(red northern snapper) is AMAZING. It comes with salad and potatoes, which is more than enough food to share with your travel buddy.
- Address: Alejandro Cárdenas Peralta s/n
- Thai food in Mexico?! Make the trip over to La Punta to watch the sunset then make your way to Lychee for some seriously delish spring rolls.
- Las Olas
- Address: Calle del Moro s/n
- What to eat: The shrimp tacos were gooey and cheesy and everything Taco Bell WISHES they could be.
- El Cafecito
- Address: Calle del Moro s/n
- Best breakfast in Puerto Escondido: Eat here once and you may never want to leave Puerto Escondido. The tasajo con nopales (steak with cactus) will change your life. There is more than one location, but the one on Zicatela is, hands down, the best.
- Espadín Restaurante
- Address: Camino Carrizalillo 125
- Tip: Like Fresh, you’re going to want to make a dinner reservation. Time it with the sunset, and use your Spanish to ask for one of the tables overlooking Playa Carrizalillo. To get back to your hotel, ask the hostess to call a cab for you.
Worried about getting sick in Mexico? Check out these essential Mexico travel tips for how to avoid getting food poisoning (plus lots more).
Puerto Escondido Beaches
You should know: I’m an absolute beach snob. Having grown up on Lake Michigan (the greatest of the Great Lakes), beaches usually disappoint me when I travel.
I’m picky! But, the Puerto Escondido beaches BLEW MY MIND.
Playa La Punta
When I visited Puerto Escondido for the first time in November 2018, I spent every day at La Punta since it was the beach closest to my Airbnb.
Like La Punta, the waves at Zicatela make swimming a bit dangerous. However, this is a fantastic beach for walking or running. Get your vacation sweat on!
In my opinion, this is the best beach in Puerto Escondido. However, you need to walk down some 200 steps to access it (plus climb back up them at the end of the day). The cove is great for swimming. The restaurants lining the cove rent lounges and umbrellas either for a flat fee or consumption minimum.
Tip: You’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal than $8 USD for a plate of 12 oysters! To find the
Playa Manzanillo and Puerto Angelito
Like Carrizalillo, this beach/port is great for swimming. I spent a day here and enjoyed attentive service from one of the restaurants. I don’t think my hand was ever without a cold beer in it!
Other Puerto Escondido beaches include Playa Bacocho (beach clubs), Playa Marinero (good for body-boarding) and Playa Principal (popular with families).
Where to surf in Puerto Escondido
So, full disclosure: I am not a surfer. However, I might need to give it a try next time I’m in Puerto Escondido because it seems like a fabulous place to learn. With it’s multiple beaches, Puerto Escondido has waves for every level of surfer.
If you’re a pro (or, like, pretty freaking good), your top surf beaches in Puerto Escondido are Playa Zicatela and La Punta. The waves are the real deal! If you’re a beginner or just starting out, you’ll want to check out Playa Carrizalillo.
Every day, I saw beginner surf lessons at Playa Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido. Because it’s a cove, the waves are super gentle. After just 10 minutes of on-the-sand instruction, people were out on the water catching their first waves. Everyone I saw managed to stand up and quickly!
Want to learn to surf in Puerto Escondido? A two-hour lesson costs $26 USD, which includes the board and rashguard (surf shirt). There’s no real need to book in advance or even find someone giving lessons. If you just show up at Playa Carrizalillo, they WILL find you.
Puerto Escondido nightlife
The Puerto Escondido nightlife I enjoyed was pretty low-key, but based on the techno I heard blaring from somewhere along Zicatela on Thursday night, the city offers a variety.
For relaxed pre or post-dinner drinks, I recommend Jardin Escondido (Av. del Moro), Palapita Bar (Av. del Moro) and Holy Moly (Calle Jacarandas).
When I stayed by La Punta, the nightlife consisted of a lot of young people buying beer at the corner store and standing around in the streets to drink them. It might not sound that cool just reading it, but in reality, it’s a chill, budget-friendly way to socialize.
Fun things to do in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
While the main attraction is definitely the beaches, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other things to do in Puerto Escondido. In addition to learning how to surf and working on your tan, here are some of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca:
Whale watching tour in Puerto
This is the BEST TOUR I’ve ever done! Ulises approached me at Playa Carrizalillo my second or third day in Puerto Escondido. After explaining the tour, he promised I wouldn’t have to pay
We saw A LOT of dolphins, and I gladly paid the $26 USD. I kid you not, the water was bubbling with dolphins. Hundreds of them spinning and jumping! Baby dolphins too! I even got to snorkel with them.
In addition to the world’s most joyful dolphins, I also saw giant sea turtles and A POD OF FIVE ORCA WHALES. Even the guides, Ulises and Luis (our English-speaking guide), took out their phones to take a video because seeing orca whales in the wild is super rare. According to them, they generally see humpback whales.
When you visit Puerto Escondido, you MUST take this tour. It was one of the best experiences of my life and
- Captain Ulises Aragon
- Email: ulisesaragon360 [at] gmail [dot] com
- What’s App: 954 131 0616
- Website: Puerto Escondido Tour LAURA
Ulises and Luis are both super nice and super professional. My last day in Puerto Escondido, Ulises even arranged for a reliable taxi to pick me up for my early flight. What a guy!
Swim with bioluminescent plankton
In November, I took an organized tour to Manialtepec Lagoon. Located just outside Oaxaca (past the airport), it’s one of the few places in the world with bioluminescent plankton. When I heard that, I pictured a radioactive-looking lake. In reality, you have to splash around quite a bit to see the white glow. But, for $21 USD, it’s fun to ride around on the boat at night.
Turtle release in Puerto Escondido
The baby sea turtle release is one of the most popular activities in Puerto Escondido. But, after hearing from another traveler who did it, I decided it was most definitely not for me.
She said each person had a recently-hatched baby sea turtle to let go on the shore and watch crawl into the waves. But, before the turtles could make it to the water, a flock of seagulls swooped in to eat them. A traumatic end to what was supposed to be a beautiful experience.
If you decide to do the turtle release in Puerto Escondido, make sure you’re doing so with a reputable company. Take the time to do your homework and look for a tour company smarter than the seagulls.
Budget travel tips for Puerto Escondido
Like most of Mexico, Puerto Escondido is a fantastic destination for backpackers and other travelers on a budget. Here are my top tips for cheap travel in Puerto Escondido:
- Share taxis
- When we arrived at the Puerto Escondido airport, taxi drivers were charging $15 USD to take people to the city center. For a 10-minute ride, that’s WAY too much. So, I asked a pair of travelers if they wanted to share the cab with me and my mom.
- The majority of people stay around Zicatela, so if you can get dropped off on Av. del Moro, it should be easy to walk to your hotel.
- Overnight bus to/from Oaxaca City
- Save on a night of accommodation and catch the 9:30 p.m. bus. You’ll be in Puerto Escondido before 8 a.m.
- Learn to live without A/C
- Puerto Escondido is great for backpackers and budget travelers because there are lots of cheap accommodation options. However, prices dramatically go up when the hotel, hostel or Airbnb has air conditioning.
- Bring a cooler to the beach
- The beach restaurants at Carrizalillo, Manzanillo and La Punta are all very affordable. For example, a beer costs less than $2 USD. But, if you’re on a tight budget bring or buy a cooler to pack your drinks and for the beach.
- Don’t forget to bring your koozie! Total game changer.
Final Thoughts on Puerto Escondido Oaxaca
Hands down, Puerto Escondido is my favorite beach in Mexico— maybe even the world! For now, it’s still holding onto its hidden gem status, but there’s no telling for how long. Use this Puerto Escondido guide to visit this little piece paradise before word gets out.
What’s your favorite beach in Mexico? Tell me in the comments!
Puerto Escondido looks GORGEOUS. I just keep adding more places to my Mexico bucket list when I read your blog. 🙂
Alex | Backpacking Brunette says
Thanks for reading, Courtney! Yes, you must come to Mexico. There’s seriously so much to see and do here. I think, to date, Puerto Escondido is my fave place!
Alex Wittman recently posted…Backpacking Europe: How To Plan A Euro Trip On A Budget
been there twice with friends….going for trip 3 in a couple weeks—love it, it’s a great place
Alex | Backpacking Brunette says
I couldn’t agree more, Steve! I was just there for my third time in December. Seriously, paradise!
daniel macnall says
Heading there in December 2020. Thank you for all the information.
Alex | Backpacking Brunette says
How exciting! Puerto Escondido is one of my absolute fave places in Mexico. Thanks for reading & enjoy your time there!
I love puerto! I was there in 2009. There is a ton of beauty to see but what a lot of tourists don’t see is the deviation all around. I was there for a month building an orphanage. There are kids all over that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. So if you go, don’t neglect the locals.
Alex | Backpacking Brunette says
Thanks for reading & taking the time to leave a comment! You bring up a good point, and it’s a great reminder to support local businesses & spend your vacation dollars in places where the people of Puerto Escondido will benefit. I know I’m personally always trying to become a more conscious and sustainable traveler.