Mini Guide with 11 Tips for Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is our favorite place in Mexico. Located at the end of the bay, you’ll find La Punta, a laid-back neighborhood on the outskirts of Puerto Escondido and right on the beach. Around sunset, many people flock to this lovely beach. Some play a game of volleyball, a group takes a yoga class, someone plays the guitar, and every now and then, someone stops by to sell homemade treats. Don’t be surprised if these include “happy brownies,” as La Punta is a place where anything goes. As soon as the sun sets, live music starts in almost every restaurant, and you can sip cocktails with your feet in the sand. Puerto Escondido is a Mexican piece of paradise. In this article, you’ll read all our tips for fun things to do, how to get there, and where to stay in Puerto Escondido.

How to get to Puerto Escondido?

Most people travel to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca, Chiapa de Corzo, or San Cristóbal de las Casas, but you can also fly there directly from places like Cancun or Mexico City. Below, you’ll find information on how to travel to Puerto Escondido from these destinations.

From Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

By rental car: It’s a 6-hour drive, mostly through the mountains. It’s a beautiful drive that you should start early to avoid getting stuck behind a line of trucks that are hard to pass. Take route 175 instead of 131 as it’s better maintained.

By plane: This is the easiest but also the most expensive option. A flight can cost around €150 with Aerotucan, and you’re only allowed to bring up to 15 kilos of luggage.

By bus: It takes about 11 hours on the (night) bus, which goes through the mountains, so bring some motion sickness medication. Fortunately, the buses are luxurious with on-board toilets and wifi. The bus runs both during the day and at night. You can check the departure times and book your tickets here.

From San Cristóbal to Puerto Escondido

By rental car: It’s a 9-hour drive. You can shorten the trip by staying one or more nights in Chiapa de Corzo and/or Mazunte. It’s definitely recommended to do so as these are very nice places to visit.
By bus: The trip takes 13 hours, so taking a night bus is recommended. You can check the departure times and prices here.

Transportation in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is larger than you might expect at first glance. It is divided into three parts: the downtown area, Zicatela, and La Punta. Read on to learn more about the differences between these areas. If you don’t have a rental car during your trip, you can choose to rent a scooter, take a taxi, or use the collectivos. Scooters are available for rent everywhere, and taxis and tuk-tuks can be found everywhere as well. The collectivos are small vans that you can flag down anywhere. They run from north to south and back. For a fixed small fee, you can ride to your destination.

Things to Do in Puerto Escondido

We recommend taking your time in Puerto Escondido because there is so much beauty to see and so many unique activities to experience. There is enough to do to keep you entertained for at least 5 days with a variety of activities, but staying a few days longer is also highly recommended. Unfortunately, tours in Puerto Escondido can be a bit expensive, but most of them are truly impressive. If you have to choose, we recommend going for dolphin watching and horse riding at sunset. Below you will find everything you need to know about tours and activities in Puerto Escondido.

Tip: For all tours in Puerto Escondido, we link to our friends at Eco Adventures Puerto Escondido. This is one of the best local tour operators that values sustainability. You can book your tours with them online, and with the discount code REISJUNK5, you get 5% off.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

The waters around Puerto Escondido are full of life. Go out to sea in the morning, and it won’t be long before you see whales, dolphins, rays, or turtles swimming by. The whale watching season runs from December to March, and this is the best time for this tour. However, when it comes to spotting wildlife, it’s always a bit of a gamble as to what you’ll see. We were lucky and saw four whales, many turtles, and then a group of about 150 long-beaked dolphins. They enthusiastically swam along with the boat and jumped left and right out of the water while doing a pirouette. An incredible experience! Here you can find more information and book the tour.

Chilling at beach clubs

An afternoon of enjoying the sun, tacos, and cocktails is a must. You can find beach clubs of all kinds in Puerto Escondido, with most of them located at Zicatela. Some recommendations are Agua Salá, Palapita Bar, and Sativa Puerto. A bit further away is Club de Playa Villasol, a luxurious beach club with a large swimming pool and comfortable lounge chairs, perfect for an afternoon of chilling. The entrance fee is around $30, which you can spend on food and drinks.

Horseback riding during sunset

Despite having little experience in horseback riding, we found this tour to be the most enjoyable activity. A green oasis hidden between a lagoon and the sea is just a half-hour drive from Puerto Escondido. After a brief explanation from a Mexican cowboy, you hop on your horse and start the adventure. You’ll cross rivers with your horse and traverse through the most beautiful landscapes. By the time the sun is about to set, you’ll reach the beach and gallop over it. It’s an incredible experience that should not be missed in Puerto Escondido. The horseback riding tour during sunset is not cheap, but worth every penny in our opinion.

Watching the sunset at Punta Zicatela

Sunsets are magical in Puerto Escondido. The golden beaches and blue waters become even more beautiful with the red-orange rays of the setting sun. Perhaps the most mesmerizing moment is a few minutes after the sunset, when the entire sky turns bright red, as if the whole world is on fire. During our stay, it was impressive every day. The best place to watch the sunset is at Punta Zicatela. Don’t follow the route on Google Maps, but walk to the end of the beach at La Punta. There you can climb up and follow the winding path along the cacti.

Tip: Most people stay on the rocks, but we recommend climbing down as well. If the water is low enough, you can follow the beach to the left. You will soon find many more beautiful and especially quieter spots. If you walk all the way to the point, you can also find the beautiful viewpoint in the photo below.

Discover the nightlife of Puerto Escondido

Apart from all the amazing tours and activities to do, Puerto Escondido is also a place with a vibrant nightlife. Especially on weekends, you can dance to house and techno tunes until the sun comes up. In La Punta, you’ll mostly hear live music, and everything stops at midnight. Juana Mezcala and Piyoli are two fun places where bands often play, and it’s great to have a drink there. At Zicatela Beach, it starts around 10:00 pm and goes on until the early hours. Popular places that regularly organize parties are Cactus Beach Club, Piedra de La Iguana, and Xcaanda. Check their Instagram when you’re in Puerto Escondido to see what’s happening that week.

Tip: Take as few valuables as possible and no more cash than necessary. Under the influence, you are most vulnerable and easy to rob. You won’t be the first to come back with empty pockets.

Swimming with Bioluminescent Plankton

This is one of those bucket list experiences that you must do at least once in your life. Swimming with bioluminescent plankton is a magical experience. These organisms, also known as sea sparkles or bioluminescent plankton, are almost invisible to the naked eye but have the unique property of glowing when in motion. Some places on earth have a high concentration of these organisms in the water, and this natural phenomenon is especially visible there. Luckily, a lagoon in Puerto Escondido is one of those places. The activity takes place at night, and the plankton is best seen when there is little moonlight. So don’t book the tour during a full moon. It may not be as visible as in the pictures, but it’s still a truly unique experience. You can book this tour here.

(Learning to) Surfing in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is the most popular surfing destination in Mexico. Here you will find waves suitable for surfers of all levels. Even if you have no experience, it’s a great place to take your first lessons. If you have little or no experience, Playa Carrizalillo is the perfect spot. Here you can rent a surfboard and find an instructor for surfing lessons. If you have more experience, La Punta is a good spot, although it can be very crowded in the water towards the end of the afternoon. If you are an experienced surfer, La Barra and Punta Colorada are the places to be.

Visit the Most Beautiful Beaches in Puerto Escondido

The beaches on the west coast of Mexico are completely different from the wide white-sand beaches on the east coast. In Puerto Escondido, you will find golden beaches with lots of rocks and perfect waves for surfing. It’s different, but definitely not less beautiful. You can also find quiet coves where you can swim and snorkel. Here are our favorite beaches around Puerto Escondido:
Playa Carrizalillo: This is without a doubt the most beautiful beach in Puerto Escondido. The bay is surrounded by rocks covered in tropical trees. You can swim and snorkel in the blue water, or take a surfing lesson. Be sure to go early in the morning because it can get very crowded, and it’s not very big.

Playa Manzanillo: This beach is especially popular among locals because of its calm water, making it perfect for swimming. However, we found it to be a bit crowded with many beach chairs and umbrellas.

Playa Zicatela: Here you will find many hotels, restaurants, and beach clubs. The sea can be a bit rough, but the nice beach clubs make up for it.

Playa La Punta: Although officially still part of Playa Zicatela, the atmosphere here is very different. La Punta is located in the southern corner of Playa Zicatela, and especially in the late afternoon, it is super cozy. You can play a game of beach volleyball and easily meet other travelers.


Playa Coral: This beach is also suitable for swimming. However, it is privately owned, and therefore you have to pay an entrance fee to the run-down hotel at this beach. It’s a bit of a strange place, but it is a beautiful beach where it is often quieter.

Playa Bacocho: This beach is especially large and extensive. It’s nice to go and take a look and then head east where there are many palm trees and you can swim among the rocks. From here, you can also walk over the rocks to Playa Coral.

Tip: The sea around Puerto Escondido can often be quite rough, and the currents can be stronger than you think. So, don’t just jump into the water anywhere, and make sure to check how strong the currents are first.

Releasing Baby Sea Turtles

For a long time, sea turtle eggs were considered a delicacy in this region. This is not good, of course, because sea turtles are a protected species. With the influx of tourists, people realized the importance of sea turtles in the ecosystem, and now several organizations are working to protect them. Those who used to search for eggs to sell are now protecting them until they hatch. On the same day they hatch, the baby turtles are released, and you can also participate in releasing them to help finance the cause. During the turtle tour, the guide will tell you all about sea turtles, and at sunset, you can release them into the sea.

Kayaking through the Mangrove Forests

If you’re in the mood for an active adventure and love nature, jump in a kayak and explore the mangrove forests of the lagoon at sunrise or sunset. You’ll paddle through narrow channels and experience the rich nature of Mexico in peace and quiet. Halfway through, you’ll come across a small restaurant where you can order a fresh coconut or a cold beer. The kayaking adventure lasts about 2.5 hours, and you can go at your own pace. Here you can find more information and book your kayaking tour.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent on this tour.

Day Trip to Chacahua National Park

Located just north of Puerto Escondido, Chacahua National Park is a green oasis full of wildlife. Here, you can spot crocodiles, many species of colorful tropical birds and fish. During the tour, you’ll explore the lagoon and mangrove forests by boat, visit the most beautiful beaches, climb a lighthouse during sunset, and go snorkeling with bioluminescent plankton. It’s a fantastic day full of highlights. Here you can find more information about this unique tour through the national park.

Best restaurants in Puerto Escondido

Going out to eat in Mexico is always a treat, but in Puerto Escondido, it’s even better. We’ve happily tested quite a few restaurants, and these places stood out.

In La Punta

  • Alaburger – A cozy spot with communal tables where you can enjoy delicious burgers and pizzas.
  • Fish Shack – Perfect for a quick and affordable bite in La Punta.
  • Smoke Shack – A BBQ joint that combines Mexican and Korean cuisine.
  • Cafe Olé – Offers tasty crepes and paninis on the menu.
  • Malagua café – For a healthy breakfast or lunch option, this is the best choice. Try their delicious smoothie bowls or avocado toast.
  • Mango Tree – This recommendation comes from one of our followers. Mango Tree serves delicious and healthy dishes that are beautifully presented.

In Zicatela

  • Spirulina – Our favorite spot for breakfast and lunch in Puerto Escondido. They offer delicious sandwiches, bowls, and smoothies.
  • La Olita – The grilled fish tacos at La Olita are the best we’ve had in Mexico.
  • Elephant Garden – A nice spot for breakfast and lunch in a beautiful garden setting.

In the city center

  • Papa Tots – Serves fried potato balls with various spices. A bit unusual, but a delicious greasy and vegetarian bite.
  • Almoraduz Cocina de Autor – Here you can enjoy delicious food and expect great service. It is more expensive than other restaurants in Puerto Escondido.

Where to stay in Puerto Escondido?

The three most popular areas to stay in Puerto Escondido are Zicatela, La Punta, and the city center. Zicatela is located on a long beach with many hotels and a lively nightlife. La Punta is a smaller area with a laid-back vibe that attracts more backpackers. You’ll hear live music everywhere in the evenings. Personally, we enjoyed La Punta the most, followed by Zicatela. We wouldn’t recommend staying in the city center because you won’t be near the beach, which is likely something you want on a beach destination. Below you’ll find our recommendations for the best hotels in La Punta and Zicatela.

Tip: Puerto Escondido has become a very popular travel destination in a short amount of time, so the best hotels tend to book up far in advance. We recommend booking your stay as early as possible so you have more options.

Our favorite places to stay in Puerto Escondido

Unfortunately, hotels are not cheap in Puerto Escondido. However, if you book in advance, you can usually find something nice. The following places are highly recommended, but they do tend to book up far in advance. Some of these hotels we have stayed at ourselves, and we’ve also included a few tips from our readers.

In La Punta

If you prefer staying in a hostel, then One Love Hostel is the best choice in La Punta. This ultra-relaxed hostel offers idyllic bungalows surrounded by plants, and you can join a yoga class every day. If you prefer more comfort and a super nice pool, then Casa de Olas is one of the best options in La Punta. There is a great bar, yoga classes, comfortable seating, and games. Everything has been thought of, and you’ll probably never want to leave. If Casa de Olas is fully booked, then Casa Beu is a good alternative. Here, you can also enjoy a lovely pool just a 2-minute walk from the beach, and everything looks top-notch.

In Zicatela

La Playita Beach House is our favorite in Zicatela. You’ll stay in a spacious beach house and of course, you’ll also enjoy a large pool with sun loungers and hammocks. You’re just far enough away from town to make it an oasis of peace, but you still have all the fun restaurants and beach clubs within walking distance. Valhalla is comparable but is only a few tens of meters further from the beach. However, you’ll have a direct view of the ocean from the rooms, and in the late afternoon, you’ll see the sun setting over the sea. Both places are great, so you can’t go wrong with either one.