Puerto Escondido is easily one of my favorite places in Mexico, those that follow me know I’m always raving about this gorgeous Oaxaca destination! Puerto, as everyone calls it for short, has been well-known to surfers around the world for years. The beach town also remains a long time central hub for backpackers traveling through Mexico. If you’re backpacking Mexico, Puerto Escondido is a great place to relax and meet some new friends before the long bus ride to Chiapas then onward to Central America.
Is it Safe to Travel to Puerto Escondido?
I’m a solo-traveler and I would rate Puerto Escondido as a very safe place to travel both alone or with friends. I never once felt unsafe in the city, I felt fine walking on my own, staying on my own, and getting around. I use common sense, situational awareness, and never walk late at night alone; all things that I would do anywhere. If I’m being honest I feel much safer in Puerto Escondido than any large city in the United States.
How to get to Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido does have an airport but it’s not International. This means you’ll need to fly to Mexico City or Guadalajara first if you’re coming from outside Mexico. If you’re already in Mexico it’s usually very affordable to fly from CDMX or take the bus from Oaxaca City.
Where is Puerto Escondido?
Puerto Escondido is located in the state of Oaxaca on the South Pacific side of Mexico. My first visit to Puerto was when I did a road trip up the coastline of Oaxaca starting in the resort town of Huatulco. Read about how to plan the ultimate Oaxaca road trip here.
It’s a common misconception that Puerto Escondido is a small beach pueblo, that’s not the case at all. I was expecting Puerto to be similar in size to the beach town where I’m based, Sayulita, but it’s way bigger than Sayulita. The population of this “small beach town” is around 45,000. The town is fairly spread out into different neighborhoods, so I’ll go over them below.
The Neighborhoods of Puerto Escondido
Zicatela is the most popular neighborhood for tourists to stay in the city, for good reason. Playa Zicatela is where the main surf break is located and competitions are held. The surf season is late April through September, during that time you’ll witness insanely huge waves. I was shocked to see the comparison in January, it was almost completely flat! The beach in Zicatela is lined with a ton of beach bars and restaurants serving tacos, mezcal, and seafood, unsurprisingly. To walk the whole stretch of beach one-way takes well over an hour. I walked from Zicatela to La Punta, it was a great walk but it was much further than I expected.
La Punta is Puerto’s trendy neighborhood and quickly becoming the most popular. The dirt roads of La Punta are lined with boho-chic styled shops and restaurants. Restaurants in La Punta vary in International cuisine making it the best neighborhood to grab dinner with tons of options to choose from. My favorite restaurant in Puerto Escondido is The Fish Shack. FYI there will be a wait, it’s always busy and very small… but so worth the wait.
La Punta is definitely where to stay if you’re a twenty or thirty something wanting to meet other travelers. My favorite thing about Puerto Escondido is that the travelers are from literally all over the world. The travelers are not just Americans and Canadians like many other expat cities in Mexico. My favorite hostel is located in La Punta neighborhood: Bonita Escondida. Don’t miss trivia night on Tuesdays at 9pm, one of the best ways to meet new people.
Some drawbacks about staying in La Punta
Although I love La Punta there’s a lot packed into a very small area, so the infrastructure isn’t really keeping up with what’s happening.
- La Punta has power and data outages much more than other parts of the city.
- There are only a couple of ATMs and they’re frequently out of cash (everything is cash only).
- It’s over-priced. For many people on vacation it will seem reasonable, but for someone that has lived in Mexico for three years I can tell you it’s “gringo prices.”
With that being said it is also the absolute worst part of the city for wifi. If you need to work online while in Puerto Escondido I would discourage staying in La Punta. If you’re in Puerto Escondido to disconnect, then it’s perfect. More on Puerto Escondido’s digital nomad situation below (it’s doable but not easy).
Centro/ Bahia Principal
This is the most convenient area to stay in, you’re close to everything you need and the prices are very affordable, but don’t expect anything luxurious. The panga boats are docked in Bahia Principal so this area of the city feels more authentic to a Mexican fishing town. Since you’re right in the Centro there’s plenty of banks to grab cash with lower fees, markets with cheaper souvenirs and beach clothes, places to do laundry, better wifi, easy access to taxis. A taxi from here to anywhere is around 50 pesos (100 to the airport).
Tip about banks: Citbank/banamex has no fees with my American bank and seems to have good rates with many others. On the opposite spectrum, BBVA has the highest fees for me, and Santander bank falls in the middle.
I found that staying in Centro made me explore much more of the city. When staying in La Punta it’s easy to only see La Punta, but there are other beautiful beaches you’re missing! I look at it this way: the hotels in Centro are a little more “vintage” but it’s just a place to sleep. My hotel was still super clean which is what really matters. I think staying in a modest room pushes you to get out and do more instead of sitting in a hotel room. However, if that’s what you’re looking for then yes, by all means stay at a resort or villa, there’s nothing wrong with that. Where you stay is all dependent on this question: are you traveling or vacationing? There’s a difference.
Rinconada neighborhood is mostly residential, you won’t find any nightlife here. There’s one strip of cafes and restaurants which I found to be a great place to work on my laptop during the afternoon. It’s quiet, relaxing and walking distance to some incredible beaches: Playa Carizalillo and Playa Manzanilla. This would be the perfect neighborhood to stay in if you’re planning to rent a villa to spend your vacation in with friends/family.
Where Do I Recommend Staying in Puerto Escondido?
Again, it all depends on what you’re looking to get out of your vacation or travel, but overall I recommend La Punta. If you’re not on a budget and looking to meet people, this is where you want to be. But, if you’re traveling on a budget everything is so much cheaper & convenient the closer to Centro you are.
On my most recent stay in Puerto Escondido I was trying to keep my costs low and traveling solo so I found the best place for me was on the Bahia Principal (beachfront) in the Centro. I cut my accommodation cost in half, plus its walkable on the beach to Zicatela. The cab ride to La Punta is only 50 pesos and I felt central to everything I needed. *Also it should be noted I was there during New Year’s, which is the busiest time, thus the highest rates. Other times of the year are going to differ greatly, summer is going to be really hot weather but cheap to stay anywhere in the city.
Getting Around the City
How to get from the Airport in Puerto Escondido?
When you arrive at the Puerto Escondido airport there is a taxi stand near the entrance. The taxi stand offers two options: private taxi or collectivo. The private ride is around 200-300 pesos. The collevtivo is a shared van that will drop you off wherever you’re staying, it’s 50 pesos. Have the address of your accommodation ready.
The cost of a taxi should be around 50-60 pesos to get most places around the city. I recommend getting in the taxi and telling them that’s what you’ll pay, not asking. Otherwise they will arrive at your location and charge you pretty much whatever they feel like. The later it is in the night the more common it is that the taxi driver will just make up their own rate based upon what you look like. If you’re in a group of drunk white girls it’s probably going to be more than 50 pesos, that’s just the honest truth and part of travel. I had better luck when I spoke to them in Spanish.
Didi is an app similar to Uber. This is available in Puerto Escondido but I didn’t need to use it because I always found a taxi. The price will be a bit more than a taxi and I’m not sure how many people actually use this app in Puerto; I would assume there are issues between the DiDi drivers and the taxis like in many other cities.
This is a truck that you can hop on and off the back of and pay a minimal amount– have change. The front of the truck will have a sign that says what part of the city it is going to. You’d probably want to be a bit familiar with the city and where you’re going before hopping on one of these.
What to do in Puerto Escondido?
Obviously, go to the beach
HERE is my blog about the beaches in Puerto Escondido. Check that out for more information about the many beaches in the area.
Check out the Market in Centro
During the busy season, Av. Alfonso Perez Gasga in Centro closes to traffic every evening and becomes a small market. The market consists of handmade crafts, souvenirs, and a variety of other items that are pretty typical to markets in Mexico. I didn’t find it to be anything special in comparison to markets I’ve been to elsewhere but it’s worth checking out and grabbing some street food, you never know what you’ll find.
Puerto Escondido is with out a doubt a huge fiesta town. I think Puerto Escondido is a place you should travel to when you can really check-out from the rest of the world and enjoy yourself. It’s not really a digital nomad destination, but people keep trying to make it one.
Where are the Puerto parties at?
I’ve got you covered, here’s the weekly schedule:
Monday: Monday is thee night to go out in Puerto. Start at The Boneyard, usually live music until 10pm. Then go dance at Cactus in Zicatela until 2am-ish, great house music. The party continues until sunrise at an after-hours spot just across the street, Piedra de la Iguana.
Tuesday: Trivia Night at Bonita Escondida. Then head to Xcaanda’s Zicatela location on the beach, expect the same Reggaeton songs you’ve heard everywhere in Mexico. There is a cover charge of 100 pesos and it’s usually pretty crowded.
Wednesday: Salsa Night at Congo in Centro.
Thursday: Cana Brava Zicatela, ladies night and DJ.
Friday and Saturday: Everywhere and anywhere, if you’re in La Punta check out Punta Vida.
Where to Eat in Puerto Escondido
The options are endless for food in Puerto Escondido, there’s so much variety! The easiest way to try multiple things is by heading to one of the many food courts in La Punta which is a concept I absolutely love. The food court option is amazing when you’re traveling with friends: everyone can get what they want, pay on their own, makes a seamless going-out process for groups.
My Favorite Food Spots in Puerto Escondido
What to Wear in Puerto Escondido?
If you wear anything that could be considered above casual you’re going to look a little silly. I’m serious, skip the cocktail dresses even for nice dinners. All you need is a bikini and a wrap-skirt or swim cover up, and there a plenty of them to buy when you get there. Matching crop-top and skirt combos are very popular here.
Guys just wear board shorts, shoes and shirts not necessary. You won’t need a jacket or sweater, it’s hot all the time, even at night. La Punta has dirt roads and restaurants don’t have floors, it’s sand, so don’t wear anything that can’t get a little dirty. I’m hoping this saves you save space in your luggage because all I wore were bikini tops and jean shorts, didn’t touch anything else.
Working as a Digital Nomad in Puerto Escondido
As per most places in Mexico right now this seems to be the number one question. Where can you work in Puerto Escondido? While I discourage Puerto as a digital nomad destination, it is doable. Honestly I chose to go to Puerto over the holidays so I wouldn’t have to worry about this. I did need to work a few days after the holidays and I survived. I worked from my hotel in the centro one day, Selina, and a cafe in Rinconada: Taco Dog.
The best place to work in Puerto Escondido is the upstairs co-working space at Selina in Zicatela. You need to buy a weekly pass. It’s quiet, air conditioned and has call rooms. The cost is 900 pesos for one week, meeting rooms are 250/ hour and must be booked in advance. All the info is here.
You can also work from Selina’s bar/restaurant but it may be noisy, if you need to take video calls I wouldn’t recommend it. Keep in mind since so many people are trying to work remotely it might be tricky on some days to find a spot. Selina is the most reliable place for wifi, it was my lifesaver when the data was out in the entire town (yes this happens regularly).
Other places to work as a Digital Nomad in Puerto Escondido:
If you’re staying at Bonita Escondida, the wifi works fairly well on the rooftop/yoga terrace.
Final Thoughts on Travel to Puerto Escondido
If you made it all the way to the end of this you’re probably planning your trip to Puerto, congrats! Puerto Escondido is my favorite place that I’ve been in Mexico! Puerto is easily my number one recommendation for twenty and thirty somethings. This Mexico destination has everything you could want on a beach vacation and then some. As always message me with any questions here!
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