8 UNMISSABLE Things to Do in Puerto Escondido, Mexico!

0 Things to Do in Puerto Escondido

Located in the Oaxaca Region on the Mexican Pacific coast, Puerto Escondido is a charming and magical beach town where I was lucky enough to spend one month while living in this amazing country!

Offering pristine beaches, a crazy nightlife, marine life to explore, wild surf, and countless shops and restaurants, the things to do in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca are so many that you won’t know where to start! 

That’s why I decided to write this guide with the TOP things to do in Puerto Escondido for any interest, including cool tours, useful information about how to get around, the best places to eat and stay in Puerto Escondido, and when is the best time to visit this popular town!

Whether you’re a party enthusiast, a surfer, or a nature lover, you will love Puerto Escondido, Mexico! So, are you ready to start exploring it with me?

Let’s start!

1. Enjoy the beach life on all the amazing playas

Stretching along the Mexican Pacific Coast, Puerto Escondido covers many beautiful beaches to explore, each one offering different attractions and things to do. 

The most popular one is Punta Zicatela Beach, for its wild surf, but there are many other nearby beaches that are worth a visit. All of these beaches are accessible either on foot or within a 20 min ride by car, scooter, or taxi.

If you’re specifically looking for the best surf beaches, I will talk about them in section 2, but now let’s jump to the best beaches in Puerto Escondido to have a relaxing time!

1.1 Playa Puerto Angelito

A view of rocks, ocean, and a Playa Puerto Angelito beach full of people. One of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido

If you’re looking for relaxing beach time, check out Playa Angelito, nestled in a bay lined with palm trees, just a 20-minute walk from Puerto Escondido city center!

This lovely, small beach in Puerto Escondido is home to delicious seafood restaurants, and many fishing boats, and is the starting point of some amazing boat tours like dolphin watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and kayaking, etc. 

Even if there are a lot of boats anchored here, in Puerto Angel there is a sectioned-off area only for swimmers, where you can snorkel or have a splash undisturbed!

If you plan to spend the day here, you absolutely have to try some yummy fresh fish in one of the restaurants on the beach with very good prices, like Los Buzos, offering a delicious fresh grilled fish. You will pay around 150 pesos ($7) for a whole fish! 

PRO TIP: In the same bay of Playa Angelito, separated by some rocks, you’ll find Playa Manzanillo, another calm beach where you can lay down on golden sands and soak up some sun or just do some fishermen-watching (I personally love that).

NOTE: Even if less crowded than Carrizalillo, the two beaches just mentioned are quite popular in Puerto Escondido. So if you want to have a relaxing time far from tourists, I suggest you go to Playa Principal, a quiet beach most popular with locals, located between Playa Puerto Angelito and Playa Zicatela.

1.2 Playa Bacocho 

1.2 favorite beach in Puerto Escondido

Bacocho beach is my favorite beach in Puerto Escondido: a super long and idyllic golden-sand beach with basically no people (that’s why I love it!).

This is the perfect spot to spend a relaxing beach day far from the Puerto Escondido crowds, have long walks, or just swim in the ocean.

NOTE: The currents can be quite strong in some spots, so ask the lifeguard tips on where the safest places to dip in when you arrive!

Even if most of Playa Bacocho is a free beach, there are also some beach clubs along the shoreline which welcome outside guests. 

The best one is Villa Sol Beach Club, offering outdoor swimming pools, beach umbrellas and chairs, a restaurant, and a bar…to access it you will just need to spend a minimum of 200 MXN ($10). If you want to spend the whole day on Bacocho Beach, I suggest you consider it, as the beach has no restaurants or places to hide from the sun! 

One of the top activities you can do here (and in Puerto Escondido in general) is the turtle release, during which you will help release cute baby turtles into the ocean, just out of tiny turtle eggs. 

You can do it daily between 4:00 pm and 6:00 with the Baby Turtle Release Centre in Bacocho Beach, asking for a minimum donation of 200 pesos ($10).

1.3 Playa Coral

1.3 untouched beach Playa Coral

If from Playa Bacocho you keep walking around 15 minutes south, you will reach Playa Coral, an untouched beach nestled on a secluded bay with shallow waters, sugary white sands, and green surroundings, a real slice of paradise in Puerto Escondido! 

Thanks to the many palm trees surrounding the beach and to an abandoned hotel, you don’t even have to bring your umbrella here: you’ll find many fresh shadows where you can retreat from the hot sun and spend a whole day in complete relaxation and quietness!

Here the best things to do are just swimming, snorkeling, or enjoying the stunning views of the ocean… if you’re lucky you could even spot the turtles appearing on the surface of the water to breathe!

PRO TIP: The access to Playa Coral is privatized so you will have to pay 80 MXN to pass through the Hotel that has the entry concession. If you don’t wanna pay, just reach Playa Bacocho (above) and walk about 15 minutes south… both the ways are totally worth it, trust me!

2. Surf the waves!

2 top surf destinations in the whole world

If you’re a surfer, or you want to become one, you probably already know that Puerto Escondido is one of the top surf destinations in the whole world, so surfing is definitely a must if you come here!

The time of the year also makes the difference: from May to August is when the big swell comes in Puerto Escondido, resulting in heavy sets in Zicatela, good for experienced surfers, while November to April is good for all levels, alternating between small and big days!

There are 3 main beaches in Puerto Escondido where you can practice your skills, depending on your level: Zicatela, Carrizalillo, and La Punta, all offering surf lessons and board rentals. 

You can either book a lesson with the local surf stores right on these beaches (which I will talk about below), or rely on the bigger surf schools nearby. They are more expensive (around $50 for a 2-hour lesson) but they will bring you to specific surf beaches based on your level and waves conditions.

Carrizalillo – for beginner surfers

2.1 Carrizalillo for beginner surfers

Located north of the famous Zicatela Beach (about 20 minutes drive) there is the beautiful Playa Carrizalillo, perfect to swim, relax or learn how to surf!

This dreamy and tranquil beach is nestled in a small bay of Puerto Escondido, so to reach it you will have to go down some steep stairs, but it is totally worth the effort… plus the view from the staircase is just stunning (and perfect for a good pic!).

The beach itself, with its turquoise waters and white sand, offers some restaurants and beach bars if you need to take a break from the sun, lounge chairs and umbrella rentals cost 250 MXN / $12 a day)!

Carrizalillo offers the perfect conditions if you have just started surfing (or you want to start), offering mellow and slow waves. For this reason, it became the home of many surf schools, surf classes or longboarders sessions.

NOTE: Not all the surf schools and rentals in Playa Carrizalillo are online, so if you want to check out different lessons (or rentals) specifically on this beach, you should just go to the beach itself and ask the local surf rental shops.

PRICES: There are many local surf schools on the beach, which usually cost around 250 MXN ($12) for a 1-hour board rental, while a lesson with one of the locals is around 500 MXN ($25) for 2-hours including rentals. 

La punta – for beginner/intermediate surfers

2.2 La punta for beginnerintermediate surfers

If you walk all the way south from Zicatela, you will find La Punta, the most popular surf beach in town (a point break), offering good conditions for both beginners and intermediate surfers, a bohemian vibe, and many beach bars!

The beach itself is also a very popular spot in Puerto Escondido if you want to learn how to surf, but for this reason, the sea is always super crowded, hosting all the surf lessons at the same time.

In fact, the difficulty varies depending on the swell size and orientation resulting in small mellow waves from 0m to 2m(0ft to 7ft), or 1m to 3m(3 to 9ft) barrels on big days.

If you happen to have your surf session in the evening, the best thing you can do right after is to watch the sunset, either from the water or the beach. In fact, at this time this area gets super full with people lying on the sand with a beer and speakers, people dancing with the fire and playing music… all watching this breathtaking natural show!

PRICES: In La Punta’s main road (where all the bars and restaurants are), you will find countless surf rentals and schools, costing around 600 MXN ($30) for one lesson or 300 MXN ($15) for 1-hour board rental!

Zicatela – for advanced & pro surfers

2.3 Zicatela for advanced pro surfers

Zicatela surf is legendary for offering one of the biggest and heaviest waves on the planet during the summer months (May to August), and the most popular beach in Puerto Escondido, where most of the hotels, shops, beach bars, and restaurants are located!

In fact, Zicatela beach is known as one of the top 10 surf spots in the whole world because it hosts the famous “Mexican Pipeline”, a very challenging wave reaching 6-15 feet during peak season, from the end of April until September. 

If you happen to be in Puerto Escondido during this time, it’s an incredible spectacle to watch (or an adrenaline challenge for pro surfers!). 

And even during smaller days, waves close out very fast and near the shore, so it goes without saying that is NOT a place for beginners. In fact, the currents in Playa Zicatela are always quite strong, so I also don’t recommend swimming (I did, and it is more fighting with the waves than swimming!). 

PRICES: You can rent surfboards in one of the many shops costing 300 MXN ($15) for a 1-hour board rental or 500 MXN ($27) for 1 day!

3. Visit La Reforma Waterfall

3 Visit La Reforma Waterfall

In the middle of the jungle, only two hours away from Puerto Escondido (in the direction of Oaxaca city), you will find the massive and beautiful La Reforma waterfall, the perfect spot if you want to take a break from the beach and enjoy some nature!

Here you can hike up to the top of the 150-foot waterfall, and even jump down to the warm waters below, or simply enjoy a pleasant swim.

NOTE: I don’t recommend driving yourself here if you are not confident in your abilities as the road is not in good condition (check out the info below).

Getting there: 

By car – You can rent a car and get to La Reforma by yourself (it will cost you $40 a day), or a scooter for 400 MXN ($20) a day, but take into consideration that the road is quite rough. 

The drive takes about 2 hours: the first 45 minutes of driving until San Pedro Mixtepec are fine, but in the last hour you’ll have to pass through a very dirty and quite tough road to reach the falls.

By Tour – Join this amazing tour to the Reforma Waterfalls, including also a baby sea turtles release, so you have two experiences in one!

4. Go horseback riding to the Atotonilco Hot Springs 

4 horseback riding to the Atotonilco Hot Springs

Another unforgettable day trip in the Sierra Madre area is the one to the Atotonilco hot springs. The warm waters here are considered therapeutic

You can choose to reach the waterfalls either through a 2-mile (3 km) hike or on horseback… definitely a more charming experience!

With this private 5-hour tour, you will go horseback riding through Mexican nature and wildlife (get ready to spot colorful butterflies and lizards), along beautiful off-road trails, some of them through shallow water. 

You will also have the luck of visiting the traditional houses of some hidden villages, like San José Manialetepec, where families have farmers and cattle activities.

This peaceful trip will end up in a hot springs area, where you can swim and relax in its hot waters… are you in?

Price: $48 per person.

5. Swim in the Bioluminescent Manialtepec Lagoon

5 Bioluminescent Manialtepec Lagoon

Have you ever swam in the stars? Well, neither have I, but I did swim in the bioluminescent and I can assure you it will give you this feeling!

This is one of the most unique experiences you can do in your life, so it has to be on your bucket list (and especially on this list of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido)!

But first of all, what is bioluminescent? In simple terms, it’s a natural phenomenon happening thanks to the plankton present in some of Puerto Escondido waters, which makes it glow at night in a bluish-green color. 

And if you enter in the sea, the more you move the more the light glows, creating an incredible effect for which you’ll feel like you’re swimming surrounded by the stars (and if you look up in the sky, you’ll see the same thing)!

I am sure you’re already dreaming about it… if so, check out this amazing night tour from Puerto Escondido to the Manialtepec Lagoon, which will take you on a boat to one of the best spots to swim in the glittery plankton for 3 hours. 

PRO TIP: Make sure you DON’T go when it’s a full moon. If there is too much light, you won’t be able to see the Bioluminescence!

PRICE: $54 per person.

6. Join one of the super cool tours

Join one of the super cool tours

Among the many things you can do in Puerto Escondido there are so many interesting and exciting tours you can join during your holiday: from eco-tours to boat tours to explore marine wildlife, and food tours to taste the Oaxacan flavors, you have plenty of choices! 

Let’s check out the best ones:

  • Made in Oaxaca Food Tour: If you’re a Foodie, you have to join this small-group food tour of Puerto Escondido, where you’ll get to try authentic Oaxacan food and drink. It is a walking tour through the city’s restaurants and market, lasting around 3 hours and costing $75.00.
  • Dolphin Watching Tour: Hop-on this 3-hour boat tour in search of five dolphin species, under the knowledge of a local guide! You will also get the chance to spot other marine life (seabirds, sea turtles, manta rays, and even humpback whales) and view Puerto Escondido’s best beaches from the water, for $65.
  • Mezcal distillery guided tour: Join this guided tour to a Mezcal distillery! You will learn more about Mezcal, the most famous alcoholic Mexican beverage, coming right from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and have a guided tasting. The tour lasts about 3 hours and costs $54.
  • Sea Turtle Release: Experience the magic of releasing baby sea turtles in the waters of Palmarito Beach. In this tour, you’ll receive an introduction to the behavior and habits of sea turtles before helping them to make their way into the sea. This 2-hour tour costs $40 and offers hotel pick-up!
  • Whale watching tour: Explore the Pacific Ocean on a sunrise dolphin and whale watching excursion, starting at 6:00 AM. On this 3-hour cruise, you’ll spot the amazing marine life inhabiting Puerto Escondido waters, like whales, dolphins, and sea turtles… starting from $50 per person.

7. Enjoy Puerto Escondido’s crazy nightlife!

7. Puerto Escondidos crazy nightlife

One of the main things to do in Puerto Escondido is, no surprise… enjoying its wild nightlife (which is on par with what you could find in big towns like Mexico City)! 

La Punta is perfect to have a happy hour, dinner, or to start your night… hosting long dirt roads with countless bars and beachfront restaurants, and even more barefoot people going from one place to the other.

But keep in mind that all the places in La Punta close around 11.30 p.m… So if you want to keep the party going, then you should move to Zicatela, where all the main clubs of Puerto Escondido are open until late night!

There are some other places that are not in these areas that I personally love, let’s check them out:

  • Cactus beach club: Located in Zicatela Beach, this beach club is THE place if you love electronic music/tech-house/techno and you want to dance the night away! Its parties usually start after midnight, and it often hosts artists recognized nationally and internationally, so you usually need to pay for the entrance (the price depends on the night).

  • Xcaanda: Xcaanda is one of the best-known nightclubs in Puerto Escondido, offering different music genres and parties for a great night out, from commercial to house, pop hits, reggaeton, etc! It is always full of people and is located on the beach, so you will dance barefoot on the sand.

  • Fauno Bar: This is definitely my favorite place ever to dance because it offers many salsa nights (on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with live music) and even salsa/ bachata classes. The place’s kind of small, so get ready to sweat on the dance floor, but it has a great location facing the ocean, just a 20-minute walk from the city center.

  • Shalom: If you are looking for a laid-back place where you can sit, have a beer, and dance just if you feel like it, this is the place for you. Shalom is actually a hostel with a bar and dancefloor open at night, hosting different types of music. I love it because you can find the perfect mix of local people and tourists (is located close to Carrizalillo Beach).

8. Help release baby turtles into the ocean 

8 release baby turtles into the ocean

If you are in Puerto Escondido and you want to participate in an experience with wildlife, you should join a turtle release program, one of the biggest projects in Oaxaca! In fact, in this part of Mexico volunteers monitor about 15 miles of beaches to preserve turtle eggs. 

As we saw in section 1, in Playa Bacocho there is a Baby Turtle Release Centre where every day from 4 to 6 p.m. you can help release baby turtles back into the ocean. Being available to anyone who goes on that beach, it attracts many people so sometimes it gets quite crowded.

If you want a more intimate experience, check out this small group tour, that will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to another secluded beach (Playa Palmarito) to do the turtle release. 

Before the release, you will also receive an introduction to the sea turtles’ behavior and breeding habits, and after the turtles make their way into the ocean you’ll enjoy a magical sunset!

PRICE: $34

🤩 Range of activities:Large
👪 Family-friendly score:Medium
🏖️ Best beach:Bacocho
🇲🇽 Best tour:Manialtepec Lagoon Tour
🚶🏽‍♂️ Best free activity:La Reforma waterfall 
👧 Best attraction for kids:Whale watching
🕺 Nightlife:Zicatela
🥟 Must try food:Tlayuda
🍽️ Dinner for 2:$20
✈️ Cost of traveling:Low
📅 How many days:3-4
🚕 Average taxi PRICE:$4 for 10 mins

Where to stay in Puerto Escondido 

In Puerto Escondido, there are 2 main areas where you can stay, depending on your interests and budget. One is Puerto Escondido city center, which offers a more local feel and is close to some cool beaches like Carrizzalillo, Puerto Angel, Manzanillo, Bacocho, etc.

The other area, which is the most touristic, is the one close to the most popular beaches: Playa Zicatela and La Punta, where you’ll find a more international vibe. Here below I included some good hotels in both areas, for different price ranges, from budget to luxury:

Where to stay in Puerto Escondido

Luxury (US$120 and up)

  • Hotel Blater – located within walking distance from Zicatela Beach, this luxurious hotel offers spacious and modern rooms with amazing sea views, two outdoor swimming pools where you can relax, and a beachfront Mexican restaurant and bar on-site!

Mid Range (US$50- US$80)

  • Casa Losodeli & Coworking – this amazing hotel is located in Puerto Escondido’s town, within walking distance of Carrizalillo beach. Here you’ll have access to a big swimming pool, a fully equipped kitchen, and even a coworking space… the perfect place to meet people!

Budget (up to US$30)

  • Paziflora Hostel – if you want to save money without renouncing quality, check out this cool hostel, within walking distance of both Puerto Escondido town and Playa Angelito. Here you can stay in affordable single rooms or in shared dorms, with access to a big terrace!

Practical Information 

Now that you’ve got your activities and hotels sorted, I will give you some practical information to help you save (or spend in the best way) time and money during your holiday in Puerto Escondido. 

How to get around

How to get around Puerto Escondido

Public Transport

The public transport in Puerto Escondido is definitely not the typical one you’re used to, in fact, Puerto Escondido doesn’t have public transport services provided by the state. 

Still, there’s actually one way of transport that is considered “public transport”, which is super cheap and covers different routes around the city and is called colectivos: small vans that make a specific route (like Puerto Escondido center – Zicatela), costing about 20 MXN a ride ($1).

You might not notice that it is a public form of transportation if it wasn’t for the sign on the front of the vehicle which tells you where it is directed.

Apart from the starting and ending point, there are no “bus stops” or exact places to catch them: when you see them, you can stop them where it is best for you within that route, and when you want to get off you just ring the bell located in the passenger seats. It Might sound crazy, but it works!

As you could imagine, there are no specific times for colectivos and they generally only work during day time (more or less from 8 a.m to 7 p.m), after that if you want to move you should consider taking a taxi.

This is also a good option if you want to have an authentic experience of Puerto Escondido since they are chosen mostly by local inhabitants (you have to take at least one!). 

Traditional taxis Puerto Escondido

Taxis

Traditional taxis are one of the most popular and convenient ways to get anywhere you want within Puerto Escondido, and they are actually quite cheap, especially if shared. 

Unfortunately, ride-sharing like Uber or Bolt doesn’t exist here, but the taxis are cheap: a 10-minute ride usually costs around 50 MXN ($3), but rates change depending on the time, the day and… the driver.

PRO TIP: I recommend you ask your hotel staff about the usual cost to go to the place you choose and negotiate the price with the driver before you get in if he/she wants to make you pay too much!

To take a taxi you usually go on the street and wait… you won’t have to wait long: there are SO many! If for some specific reason you want to reserve one (for example you want to be sure to get to the airport on time), just ask the staff in your hotel, they will provide you with one.

Taxis run at any time of the day and night but at late hours it’s harder to find them on the streets that are not close to the most popular areas like Zicatela or La Punta. So, also in this case, I suggest you contact the taxi in time and book it in advance!

Rentals

If you want to have the freedom of going wherever you want at any time of the day, you should definitely rent a scooter (you will see thousands here) or a car.

Renting a scooter

Scooters: 

Renting a scooter is definitely cheaper than renting a car (around 400 MXN / $20 per day), and is the easiest way to get around the different beaches in Puerto Escondido (and to find parking)!

NOTE: You technically need a motorbike license to drive a scooter in Mexico however many of the rental places do not care and will rent you one anyway. So while a lot of people do it, remember that it is at your own risk that travel insurance won’t cover you either. 

Rental Cars:

Renting a car in Puerto Escondido costs around 800 MXN ($40) per day. It goes without saying that if you come to Puerto Escondido with a group of friends, renting a car is definitely the best option!

If you’re American, you don’t need an international license to drive in Mexico, you can simply use your regular US driving license to rent a car. 

Where to eat in Puerto Escondido

Where to eat in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido has soo many places to eat: beachfront restaurants, local street food stands, and cafes where you can have a delicious Mexican breakfast/brunch.

Eating some great food is certainly one of the top things to do in Puerto Escondido in itself. But, you need to know which are the good ones in order to avoid the typical tourist traps!

Here are my absolute favorite places:

  • Fish Shack: If you want to try the best fish tacos of your life (I totally mean it) you HAVE to go here. Don’t expect anything fancy, this is a small restaurant in La Punta, with few (and small) tables, it feels almost like a street food stand… but the food is just delicious, and the tacos are quite big. Try the coco-fried shrimp tacos, you will love them!
  • The Boneyard: The Boneyard is a bar/restaurant with a skate bowl in the Zicatela Beach area, attracting many surfers, riders, and tourists from all over the world. This is a cool and innovative place to have breakfast, a beer, or a dinner, offering different types of food, from burgers to international snacks.
  • Cafecito: If you want to start your day with a big and delicious breakfast, el Cafecito is the place to be, located both in Zicatela and close to Playa Carrizalillo. They have many options, from Mexican-style breakfast (try the enchiladas!) to vegetarian and international food. It gets quite busy in the morning, so expect to queue if you go there from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Tlayuda Street Stand: Being in Mexico, I could not skip a street food stand! This one is located in Zicatela and it opens at night (perfect for a late snack after dancing the night away). Here you need to try the Tlayuda, typical of the Oaxaca region, which is basically a huge quesadilla, filled with veggies or meat. The stand lies between the OXXO store and Calle de Las Brisas, in the alley off of Calle del Morro

Frequently asked questions about Puerto Escondido Mexico

Frequently asked questions about Puerto Escondido

🇲🇽 What are the best things to do in Puerto Escondido Mexico?

The best things to do in Puerto Escondido Mexico are visiting Puerto Escondido beaches, like Zicatela Beach or La Punta, or seeing the bioluminescence in the Manialtepec Lagoon.

🚗 What are the best day trips to do in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca?

The best day trips you can do if you visit Puerto Escondido are to La Reforma waterfall and the Atotonilco Hot Springs.

👪 What are the best things to do in Puerto Escondido Mexico for families?

The best things to do in Mexico Puerto Escondido for families are seeing the bioluminescence at the Manialtepec Lagoon and joining a whale watching tour

🎉 Is Puerto Escondido a party town?

Yes, partying is definitely one of the main things to do in Puerto Escondido. Puerto Escondido offers many clubs and beach bars (like Cactus beach club) and most of them are concentrated in Zicatela and La Punta.

Conclusion

Where to stay with the family in Puerto Escondido

We finally came to the end of this extensive guide about the best things to do in Puerto Escondido, on Oaxaca’s coast. I had the luck to do most of them when I visited Puerto Escondido, and I want you to have the same great experience!

We saw all the beaches, nightlife options, and best tours in Puerto Escondido, plus some useful tips about where to stay, where to eat, and how to get around in Puerto Escondido.

By now, you should have all the information you need to choose the best things to do in Puerto Escondido for your perfect holiday, but if you have any questions or doubts, please leave it in the comments… I will be super happy to answer you and help you more!

Have the best holiday!

Elena 

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