Almost upon arrival, Puerto Escondido became my new favorite beach town in Mexico (sorry Tulum). There’s so much to love about Puerto Escondido that it’s hard to know where to begin.
From secret beaches, great cafes, bars, and restaurants (hello Oaxacan food) and not to mention a thriving nightlife scene, there’s so much to see and do in Puerto Escondido.
While Puerto Escondido is most known for its amazing surf scene, there’s so much more to offer curious travelers. Anyone who visits Puerto Escondido is quickly captivated by its secluded and scenic beaches, amazing wildlife experiences, and just an overall easy-going way of life.
Given all of this, it’s no surprise that Puerto Escondido has become a popular spot for digital nomads (despite the spotty WiFi) over the past few years.
Here’s an ultimate guide on what to do in Puerto Escondido for travelers and expats alike. Fall in love with this beautiful beach town by the Pacific coast and you’ll be planning your trip back in no time!
Puerto Escondido Safety
Puerto Escondido has grown very quickly as a tourist destination.
During much of 2020 and 2021, it became an escape for many since Mexico never shut its borders or required any sort of testing.
This has meant that many people have moved into the area to take advantage of its popularity and to make a quick buck.
There are sometimes cases of theft. This can happen on the beach at night or while out along the main street in Zicatela as well as in the downtown area.
This is a very rare situation and is far more likely to happen in bigger cities like Mexico City, Los Cabos, or Tijuana. But it’s best to be street smart after dark and stick to taking taxis or walking with a group rather than on your own.
In general, however, Puerto Escondido is a very safe place in Mexico and you will be far more likely to suffer problems like sunburn or stomach aches than any real danger.
Check out my post about drinking water in Mexico to avoid any tummy issues on your trip!
Is Puerto Escondido Cheap?
Puerto Escondido is in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico so while it may seem cheap to visitors who are traveling here with US Dollars, it’s important to remember that things are much more expensive for locals.
Prices have gone up quite a lot in the last few years, but it is still quite easy to find a bargain, especially when you compare it to vacationing at the beach in the USA or Canada.
You can find budget hostels, cute Airbnbs, or entire hotel rooms for far less than you will spend in those other places, and food and drink also cost quite a bit less than in other places in Mexico.
You can expect to pay as little as $10 USD per night for a dorm or get your own room in an Airbnb for about $20 USD. If you want your own hotel room or apartment, you can pay as little as $24-30 USD per night depending on the time of year and how far in advance you book.
I would budget about $30USD per day if you want three full meals each day. This includes a few drinks as well. If you are on a really tight budget and plan to stick to fruit from the local market and street tacos for your meals you could probably get by on about $10 USD per day for food and drink.
If you’re on a backpacker budget, be sure to read my guide to backpacking Mexico so you know all the tricks and tips for saving as you travel around Mexico.
Hotels in Puerto Escondido
There are plenty of places to stay in Puerto Escondido, it just depends on where you want to be. Puerto Escondido can easily be broken down into three different areas. You’ve got the famous surf beach Zicatela where you’ll find the budget hotels and hostels as well as tons of great beach bars.
Then there’s Rinconada, which is close to beaches like Carrizalillo and Puerto Angelito and is also home to surf and language schools, good cafes, and of course, the best swimming beaches. In the middle is the town of Puerto Escondido which is a good place to base yourself if you’re on a budget or want to be in the middle of all of the cheap, local eats.
Airbnb Options in Puerto Escondido
We stayed in Rinconada at the Mango Surf House. I found it on Airbnb and while I wasn’t at all interested in learning to surf, I was interested in their amazing apartments which are a five-minute walk to the beach and only slightly more to great cafes in the morning.
It was absolutely perfect for what we needed. We booked this room specifically and we spent many a morning drinking coffee in the outdoor lounge area with a book. There’s also this smaller room with two twin beds if you’re traveling with a friend.
If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up with this link to receive up to $35 off your first booking (that’s one night basically free!).
For those that are interested in staying in the town center of Puerto Escondido, I recommend checking out Airbnb for the best deals. You can easily zoom into the map and find the exact area that you want to stay.
A lot of motels put their rooms on Airbnb and I found that most were cheaper on Airbnb than if you went to that hotel’s website. I almost booked a night at this place, but they were booked out for one of our stays.
This Airbnb spot has an outdoor pool that is literally perfect for sunbathing beside. The reviews are great and since it’s in the town it’s right in the middle of everything there is to love about Puerto Escondido.
Hostels in Puerto Escondido Mexico
If you are coming to Puerto Escondido for the big waves, you’re backpacking through the area, or you want to be close to the party scene, you’ll probably want to stay around Zicatela. There are tons of great little hotels that aren’t too expensive. One that had great reviews that I considered booking was Bungalows Zicatela. There’s a resident dog, clean rooms, and it’s right across the street from the beach.
For a great hostel, One Love Hostal gets great reviews. It is located right near Zicatela Beach and has a huge courtyard area with hammocks and a little pool where you can chill in the shade on those steaming hot days. There’s also a restaurant and bar onsite as well as dorms and private rooms available.
Best Restaurants in Puerto Escondido
There are so many amazing restaurants in Puerto Escondido.
From streetside burgers and tlayudas to restaurants that serve whole grilled fish while you wriggle your toes in the sand under the table. There are cool international restaurants and wonderful local cafes and just about everything in between. I recommend sampling a little bit of each.
Boulevard Benito Juárez 1, Rinconada OR El Morro S/N, Playa Zicatela
If you’re looking for a place for a filling and delicious breakfast or brunch, look no further than Cafecito. Cafecito is definitely one of the best restaurants in Puerto Escondido and has stood the test of time as trendy spots have come and gone.
They make their own bread which you can enjoy while you wait for your meal. Their chilaquiles are absolutely delicious and their fresh juices were refreshing.
We ended up coming here almost every morning because it was just such good value for money and it was a short walk from our Airbnb. They also serve up super strong coffee which I recommend ordering at the end of your breakfast.
Avenida Hidalgo, Centro
If this is your first trip to Oaxaca state or you simply want to enjoy some really great Oaxacan-style food, I highly recommend Las Cazuelas. They are one of the best restaurants in Puerto Escondido for local Oaxacan cuisine.
They have really tasty pozole (a rich soup with different meat options), but I really loved their tlayudas, which for lack of a better description, are really big and tasty quesadillas.
Calle del Morro, Playa Zicatela
I’m going to put this here because it’s right next to El Coste and is the perfect place to head before you go for dinner for a drink.
They have a really nice selection of craft beers which you can drink on an Adirondack chair looking out over the ocean. It was my favorite place to go for the sunset before heading next door to El Coste for a whole fish. Jardin also does fish tacos that looked really nice.
It’s a great spot to start if you are interested in Puerto Escondido Nightlife. The bars along this area of the beach are absolutely fantastic and after sunset really get going.
Puerto Angelito 2011, Rinconada
This place served up the best-smoked fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. It’s definitely the best restaurant in Puerto Escondido for fish tacos.
It’s a tiny little restaurant with no more than four tables, so if it’s busy you might have to wait, but you should definitely wait. We tried a regular fish taco and a smoked fish taco and both were exceptional.
They serve it with salsas and parsley oil which go perfectly with the fish. We also tried their ceviche which I really enjoyed, too. It’s one of the best budget restaurants in Puerto Escondido.
El Coste Cevicheria
Calle del Morro, Playa Zicatela
They may call themselves a cevicheria, but the reason I came back to this restaurant a second time in six days was for the whole grilled fish. It’s an absolute steal at around 700 Pesos and is more than enough food for two people.
It’s served with potatoes and a big green salad. They also make a really tasty margarita which goes perfectly with the buttery fish.
Avenida Oaxaca 103, Centro
This place had a line out the door every single night. You have to just be ready to pounce on a few chairs when they become available because there didn’t seem to be any organized line or waiting list.
There are two options, tacos or pozole. Both are offered with pork or chicken and you can also opt for the tacos filled with beef. We went for the pozole with pork and it was so, so, so delicious. The tacos also looked great and if I was still hungry (which I wasn’t), I would have ordered a pork taco because that meat was so tender and rich.
Best Beaches in Puerto Escondido
Before coming to Puerto Escondido, I naively thought there was just one beach there when in fact there are seemingly endless beaches in Puerto Escondido.
Puerto Escondido beaches might just be some of my favorite in Mexico (certainly some of the best in Oaxaca!).
These were the different beaches in Puerto Escondido that we visited during our trip to Puerto Escondido and a few that I’ll definitely be checking out on my next trip (there will definitely be a next trip).
This is one of the main beaches in Puerto Escondido. In my experience, this is where you find tons of bars, restaurants, and cafes.
Pretty much every great restaurant and bar that is in town also has a branch in Zicatela. This is where the surf competitions take place and where you’ll get plenty of space on the sand to lay your towel.
It’s also where tons of vendors are selling snacks, sunglasses, and massages – so if you’re looking for a quiet place to read and relax, head to one of the other beaches.
Playa Zicatela is where the budget backpacker spots are as well as the more upscale restaurants. It’s a real mix of visitors and each year, it’s home to one of the world’s most popular surf competitions.
If you are a beginner surfer, this is not the beach to come to. However, if you are an experienced surfer looking to catch a big wave, the break at Puerto Escondido is one of the best in Mexico.
Right next to Zicatela, this is less of a beach to lay your towel, and more of a beach to grab a table and umbrella and eat. If you want to enjoy a true Mexico beach experience, then this is the best beach in Puerto Escondido.
The water was pretty rough here when I visited in early April, so we didn’t really do any swimming here.
I pretty much only came here because it was quicker and safer to walk along Playa Principal to get to Zicatela than it was to walk along the main road (you can also take a taxi or colectivo). If you want to be around tons of people selling fruit, coconut water, and shrimp cocktail, this is the beach for you.
Playa Manzanillo and Puerto Angelito
This is a great little cove with two Puerto Escondido beaches, Playa Manzanillo to the left and Puerto Angelito to the right (as you’re looking at the ocean).
I liked this beach because it had tons of restaurants along the sand where you could sit in the shade, drink beers, and eat grilled seafood.
We came to this beach on our first day and it was incredibly busy, but if you came early in the morning, I imagine it would be a great place to spend a few hours.
This was my favorite beach in Puerto Escondido. We came here almost every day to swim, lay in the sand, and read our books.
It was really quiet in the mornings, getting busy around 4pm when the sun lost some of its strength.
The water is really calm, making it one of the most popular places to swim. I really loved Carrizalillo and that view as you climb the steps down to the beach is seriously breathtaking.
I didn’t get a chance to go to Bacocho, mostly because I was too busy being in love with Carrizalillo and because the best way to get there from the rest of Puerto Escondido is to take a taxi.
It’s at the opposite end of Puerto Escondido from Zicatela and the vibe is meant to be very different there, too. Because it’s slightly more difficult to get to than the other beaches, it’s much quieter.
There are several upscale boutique hotels around Bacocho, so if you want to find a place to sit on a sunbed with a cocktail in hand, this is the beach for you.
It’s often voted the best beach in Puerto Escondido, so be sure you don’t miss out on it as I did!
Things to Do in Puerto Escondido
Besides the great beaches in Puerto Escondido, there are quite a lot of fun things to do around the town as well.
The turtle release is without a doubt one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Escondido.
The name of the turtle release camp is Boca Barra and it is run almost entirely by volunteers. You can simply check their Facebook page to learn more about the timings or you can do it with a local tour guide.
Doing it with a tour ensures that you get the chance to see the release (only a certain number of people can be that close per night).
It also means you’re supporting a local tour guide and you have a translator to help you understand exactly what’s going on with the turtles. Book a tour before your trip here or organize it once you arrive.
Sunset at Playa Carizalillo
This beach in particular is one of the best places in Puerto Escondido to watch the sunset. In fact, don’t head down to the beach, make your way to the left of the stairs to find the cute little bar that sits at the top of the cliff edge.
The restaurant is called Espadín and it has an outdoor balcony where you can sit with a cold beer, a cocktail, or enjoy an entire meal. Whatever you choose, be sure to time it with the sunset and perhaps arrive a bit earlier so you get a good seat.
Spend the Day at Club de Playa Villasol
Located at Playa Bacocho, you can pay for a day pass which gives you access to the restaurant, pool, and beach for the entire day.
In the low season, it is about 200 pesos per person ($10USD) but you can use that money towards food at the cafe. So if you buy a few drinks and a snack for 180 Pesos, you don’t pay anything other than the 200 Pesos. Of course, if you spend over 200 Pesos, you will add more to your bill.
They have strong WiFi, great beach chairs, and a nice pool to swim in if you don’t want to get salty in the sea. It’s one of the few proper beach clubs in Puerto Escondido.
Wander the main street in Rinconada (best cafes in town!)
The street right behind Carizalillo Beach is where you’ll find some of the best cafes, bars and restaurants in all of Puerto Escondido (in my humble opinion). You can see the exact location on Google here.
A few of my personal favorites, one of which I mentioned above, are Cafecito, Almoraduz, El Cafe de Tita, and Dulce Tierra.
Party in La Punta
La Punta is at the far end of Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido which is a popular spot for surfing, but it is far more popular after dark.
This is where you’ll find the bars that stay open until nearly sunrise (depending on the day and time of year).
If you are looking for a great place to party, get yourself and some friends over to La Punta. All you have to do is get yourself to Playa Zicatela and then walk left (so that the ocean is on your right side). Keep going until the beach starts to curve and you see even more beach bars than you did along Zicatela.
In addition to the beachfront bars on La Punta, you’ll find that the first two blocks just off of the beach from La Punta are also packed with hostels, bars, and cool restaurants.
This is sort of the “hippie” spot of Puerto Escondido and where you’ll find young (and old!) backpackers and those that are in town for a good time.
Nodo Brewhaus is my personal favorite as a beer lover, but there are bars for every taste and budget in this part of town.
Open Mic Every Thursday at Punta Origen
Punta Origen is a food park in Puerto Escondido that offers up great food and even better bars in an outdoor setting with picnic tables. All of the restaurants are little wooden stalls that offer up tacos, empanadas, sushi, burgers, and more.
Every Thursday they have an open mic night where you can sing, do standup comedy, read your poetry, or anything else you feel like saying into a microphone in front of strangers.
Surf at Zicatela Beach
It’s what brings most people to the beaches of Puerto Escondido.
Surf Travel Friends is one of the longest-running surf shops in Puerto Escondido and they offer lessons, rooms, and surfboards to rent. I highly recommend getting in touch with them if you want to surf in Puerto Escondido.
Go on a Whale Watching Tour
The best time to go whale watching in this part of Mexico is between late December and mid-February. You may be able to see them a bit earlier or a bit later, but for the best chances of seeing whales, January is really the time to visit.
At this time of year you can see humpback whales in the waters around Puerto Escondido. I highly recommend booking a tour in advance because not only will you save money, you’ll ensure that you don’t miss out on a tour.
A lot of people come to the beaches around the west coast of Mexico at this time of year specifically to see whales so tours get booked up pretty quickly.
This is a fantastic tour option that includes pick up and drop off from your hotel, a bilingual tour guide, and promises of both whales and dolphins. It costs $50 USD per person and can be booked here.
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