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The Essential Puerto Escondido Guide: Eat, Stay, Swim

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Everyone knows about the amazing beaches of Puerto Escondido, Mexico, but with it comes a string of questions: Can I get food poisoning? How can I get around? Where can I go if I get bored? With this guide, you can not only answer all of these questions, but also have fun while doing it.

Puerto Escondido is one of Mexico’s most popular beach towns. With upscale hotels, unbelievable ocean views, and a laid-back atmosphere, Puerto Escondido is a great place to spend your vacation.

A destination with an incredible atmosphere that is known for its charms and charm. Puerto Escondido is known as one of the most beautiful places in San Diego. It has a great climate, amazing food and drink, and an even better nightlife.

I went on a quick midweek excursion to Puerto Escondido, a coastal hamlet surrounded by sandy beaches and huge waves. My skin was relieved to get some relief from Oaxaca’s dry desert heat, and the seafood was a pleasant break from tacos and tlayudas. This is a quick tour to Puerto Escondido, including where I ate, slept, and the finest beaches for surfing and swimming.

While I thought the term “the hidden port” originated from the town’s well-hidden bays, there’s more to the tale. Marc of Mexican Corrido claims that

A pirate called Andrés Drake is said to have abducted a young Mixtec lady from the hamlet of Santa Mara Huatulco. She fled and hid from her wicked captors when the pirates were camped out on the bay of what is now Puerto Escondido. The pirates dubbed her “La Escondida” and searched for her whenever they returned to the harbor. After then, the bay was dubbed Baha de la Escondida.

The port was built in the early 1900s to transport coffee, but the town (and potable water) did not emerge until the 1930s. In 1939, the first airport was built on what is now Zicatela Beach. Highway 200 (the Coastal Highway) was constructed in the 1960s to link Acapulco with the villages along the Oaxacan coast. Today, Puerto Escondido is divided between two municipalities: Santa Mara Colotepec and San Pedro Mixtepec, who disagree over who should administer the town.

Puerto Escondido is still very quiet and low key compared to neighboring Huatulco, which is full with high-end resorts – but the New York Times did put it on its 2017 “where to go” list. It is popular with tourists from Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico, although charter flights from North America are also available. During my four days in Zicatela, I encountered more French Canadians than I did in my many months in Oaxaca de Juarez.

Puerto Escondido was a wonderful few days away from Oaxaca City for my needs, with some excellent cuisine along the route.

NOTE: To control the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, Mexico is employing a traffic light “semiforo” system. Please check this government website before going to determine the degree of warning in the area. Oaxaca state is at a “green” status as of May 20, 2022, which means schools are open and activities have resumed. Please return to this page before traveling to confirm the current status of affairs.

If you plan on visiting during the epidemic, keep in mind that many people in Mexico lack access to medical treatment or are separated from it. Nowadays, ethical tourism entails avoiding infecting people whose livelihoods are reliant on your tourist money.

puerto escondido guideIn addition, there’s a SHARK HOTEL.

Where to Go Swimming, Eating, and Staying in Puerto Escondido

When to Visit Puerto Escondido and an Overview of the City

Puerto Escondido, OaxacaExplorando Mexico 2017 (c)

When is the Best Time to Visit Puerto Escondido?

As you can see from the map above, Puerto Escondido is located directly on the coast, not far from Huatulco, a famous tourist destination. For directions to the area, see the “Getting there” section below. It is not as simple as it seems from Oaxaca.

If you don’t mind crowds, go between January and May or October and December – those are the drier months, when you won’t be stung by a swarm of furious, hungry mosquitos. At the very least, a few less mosquitos!

If you want to escape the crowds, skip the weeks of spring break in Mexico (April 6-17, 2022) and the Christmas holidays, when the beaches are swarming with visitors from all over the world.

Puerto Escondido’s layout

Playa Marinero, Playa Principal, and Zicatela are the three major beaches of Puerto Escondido town. You may also explore the smaller coves listed below, which are excellent for swimming. Playa Principal is the most central, as its name suggests. Avenida Perez Gasga, often known as the Adoqun in the area, runs parallel to the beach. The Andador, a long beautiful boardwalk that starts at Playa Principal and swings west along the rocky cliffs, is also a great place to visit.

West of Playa Principal are the tiny beaches of Puerto Angelito, Manzanillo, and Carrizalillo, which are ideal for swimming. Playa Marinero lies east of Playa Principal, followed by Playa Zicatela, where I stayed, and finally La Punta. Zicatela has the best waves, which is why surfers knew about it long before the snowbirds and tourists arrived.

Note: Several friends have been robbed in Puerto Escondido, some off Playa Principal and others near La Punta, at gunpoint and with knives. I advise you to avoid going to the beach late at night or extremely early in the morning. I had no problems of my own, but I only went out when there were a lot of people around.

flying to puerto escondidoOn the way down to Puerto Escondido.

In the vicinity of Puerto Escondido, there are many places to swim and surf.

If you want to spend some time at the beach, you have a few options.

Puerto Angelito and Playa Manzanillo:

These two beaches, separated by rocks, are located in the same harbor. Without the powerful undertow of Zicatela, both beaches are quiet. However, because to the small size of the bay, they may become very congested. There are plenty of palapas to sit beneath, drinks to drink, and spots to set up a comfy mat or towel. Snorkeling is possible here. A lounge chair with plastic cushions and the shade of a large umbrella may be rented. During peak season, however, boats will come straight up to the beach to pick up and drop off visitors for a boat tour of the region.

Zicatela Beach:

For the surfers, Zicatela, with much too powerful an undertow for safe swimming. The beach is known for its massive Pacific waves crashing on the coast. Puerto hosts surfing competitions such as the World Surf League’s Puerto Escondido Challenge, with waves ranging from 6 to 15 feet during peak season.

It’s better described in the Encyclopedia of Surfing than I can:

“[A] ferocious Mexican beachbreak tube situated on the northern point of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, in the state of Oaxaca; often referred to as the “Mexican Pipeline,” and widely regarded as the world’s gnarliest sand-bottom wave. In 2011, local ace Coco Nogales remarked about Puerto, “Some people adore it.” “Some individuals get beaten up, turn around, and go home, never to return.”

There’s also plenty of food, beachfront bars, fish tacos, and beer places in Zicatela, as well as weekend late-night celebrations.

The Point of Zicatela:

Walking east along the water’s edge beyond Playa Zicatela will lead you to La Punta, the major backpacker area with a much younger population on any given day than Zicatela. There are also much fewer Mexican visitors and many more hostels. For a brief moment, I forgot I wasn’t in the Perhentian Islands, with their thatched houses and unpaved roads.

With prices in Zicatela increasing, La Punta remains more affordable in terms of both lodging and cuisine. You can swim there, but it’s also renowned for surfing, with both larger and smaller waves, making it perfect for learning if you’re interested in taking a lesson or two.

While I’ve concentrated on swimming, I’d also suggest a visit to the Laguna de Manialtepec, a bioluminescent lagoon not far from Puerto Escondido. Many tour companies offer this as an evening excursion, and it’s a beautiful sight to behold if you’ve visited elsewhere in the area. If you have your own transportation, you may make the journey without taking a tour by driving west on the Carretera Puerto Escondido — Acapulco 200 for approximately 20 kilometers. It should take approximately 20-25 minutes to travel without traffic. Take the La Puesta del Sol exit and arrange a 1.5-2 hour bioluminescence trip for about 250-300 pesos ($11-13.50 USD in 2022).

Some tour companies will let you swim in the bioluminescence, which is as strange as it sounds, but beware: the lagoon is home to crocodiles. So, before you go swimming, be sure you truly want to.

Carrizalillo Beach:

You’ll need to struggle to get to and from this small beach, which is reached by 167 steps from the cliff to the water – but the effort is well worth it. Carrizalillo is approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from Zicatela. I should have filmed a supercut of the taxi driver forcing me to say Carrizalillo over and over until I got it correctly (it took 6 times). Soft waves, a lovely inlet, palapas with margaritas, and more can be found here. If you like, you may have a drink while watching the sunset over the water.

If you purchase a drink or food from one of the merchants who handle the umbrellas and beach chairs, they are free, but visitors have claimed a ‘minimum spend’ during peak season.

puerto escondido guideCarrizalillo Beach

In addition to the beaches of Puerto, Mazunte, Agua Blanca, Tierra Blanca, Zipolite, La Ventanilla, Puerto Angel, and San Agustinillo all provide excellent swimming and exploring opportunities. I didn’t have time since I just had four days, but I intend to return and do some more exploring!

1626655755_738_The-Essential-Puerto-Escondido-Guide-Eat-Stay-Swim

Where I Ate in Puerto Escondido Restaurants

To make a seafood medley, combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Fresh Restaurant and Lounge’s seafood cazuela appetizer was so delicious that I went back a second time. Although the audience was entirely made up of expats and tourists, their other options are equally excellent. There were plenty of wine choices, and the main dishes were plentiful. Their guacamole is really delicious.

where to eat puerto escondidoI WANT YOU TO GET IN MY BELLY.

Grilled Fish Recipes

While the name implies ceviche, it was the fish at newcomer Costeito Cevichera that I enjoyed the most. The restaurant had some tasty ceviches, but the 400 peso grilled fish with potatoes, salad, and other sides was one of the finest meals I’ve ever had in town. We were just two individuals, but the lunch could easily feed four.

Oregano with butter, or parsley, garlic, and lime are two options. Alternatively, do what we did and go half and half.

This was a nighttime photo taken with my phone, but it demonstrates the size of the fish. Fish is whatever the day’s catch was, and it’s very fresh.

puerto escondido guideGrilled butterflied fish in two ways over an open fire.

Breakfast or Brunch for a Filling, Low-Cost Meal

El Cafecito was my favorite place to have my first meal of the day, both for the people watching and the cuisine. The huevos Oaxaqueos, eggs fried in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with quesillo, were my favorite of all the choices since the half servings were so substantial. They’re served with refried beans, totopo chips, and tortillas on the side. Friends say that the restaurant’s on-site bakery is worth the journey for those who like bread. The café has two sites, one in town and one on the beach at Zicatela, but both are very popular — and rightly so.

To Make a Seafood Fry

A little farther down the beach, my buddy Ian suggested the spicy octopus and shrimp at Coco Fish Zicatela. The dish is served with rice, salad, and fruit and is cooked in a spicy ‘diablo’ sauce. It was more expensive than a typical lunch in Oaxaca or on Playa Principal at 200 pesos, but it was very delicious.

best restaurants puerto escondidoAt Coco Fish, spicy fish and octopus stir-fry with rice.

Margaritas with Guacamole at Sunset

After your swim, stop by Espadin Restaurant on Playa Carrizalillo for a sunset cocktail. Fantastic views, delectable guacamole, and a really lovely setting. If you’re still hungry and want to indulge, get the grilled octopus.

carrizalillo beach puerto escondidoCarrizalillo beach at sunset

Paella de Mariscos

The paella at Bungalows Zicatela was delicious, with a large amount of rice, octopus, fish, mussels, and other seafood. And there’s chicken, plenty of chicken.

Between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., there are daily $1 margaritas.

where to eat puerto escondidoPaella de mariscos con pollo (chicken paella). It was much better than I had hoped!

Salad with Seared Tuna

Stop down to Lychee Thai Restaurant for a seared tuna salad if you’re going to La Punta for the sunset, which you should. In the nights, there is often live music. You may take a cab from Zicatela to get there. You can walk back down the beach if you come during the day, but I would not suggest it. later in the evening

Food from the Middle East

El Sultan is located adjacent to the Minisuper 69 on Benito Juarez Boulevard. The restaurant is inexpensive and serves falafel, hummus, and salads, as well as plenty of pan arabe (pita) for those who can eat bread. Great meal at a reasonable price.

In Puerto Escondido, there are a variety of places to stay.

I stayed at Bungalows Zicatela, which I found online and rented. They can be found on quite a number of them. The hotel boasts two pools, a restaurant, and a wonderful staff that includes a dog called Pancho. The price was extremely cheap, with a double room with a fan costing $40 USD each night.

puerto escondido bungalow zicatelaBungalows Zicatela’s lovable mascot, Pancho

If you are sensitive to noise, avoid booking the sea view rooms on weekends since the pubs play music till late.

Casa Dakiri (dormitories and 2 or 3-bed suites) and Casa Losodeli (3 distinct room choices) are two additional possibilities for private rooms or dorms near Zicatela beach. Readers suggested Hostal Frutas y Verduras for a laid-back barefoot feel.

How to Get to Puerto Escondido from Mexico and Other Countries

While it seems to be a short travel from Oaxaca City, the journey involves a modest bus ride (6-8 hours) through the highlands. It’s not going to be easy.

Another alternative is to fly with Aerotucán for a short trip.

The continental divide runs across the hilly length from the city to the coast, allowing rivers to flow both into the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific. The route has a lot of nauseating bends, despite the fact that it is a short trip. Flying is a good option if you feel car sick.

For that reason, I opened for the flight. The morning flights provide a magnificent panoramic view of Oaxaca State’s undulating mountains, as well as that smile-inducing moment when the aircraft swings back over the ocean to gather height for the return trip. A 26-minute scenic flight is equivalent to a 6- to 8-hour drive.

aerotucan puerto escondido flightsThis is your chariot.

The cost of returning from Oaxaca was $180 USD.

From Mexico City: Aeromar and VivaAerobus, a low-cost airline, travel regularly to and from Mexico City.

Flying to Huatulco, 1.5 hours from Puerto Escondido, is possible from anywhere in North America. Aeromexico, WestJet, Air Canada, and United all fly from Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, and Montreal in Canada, as well as Houston, LA, San Francisco, New York, and Boston in the United States, to Huatulco.

This ends my quick guide to Puerto Escondido! I’m still working on the Oaxaca City guide, but it’ll take a little longer.

Guides to Puerto Escondido by Specialty

  • If surfing is your thing, Surfer Today’s Puerto Escondido guide has all the gear you’ll need, as well as information on where to find the most advanced waves and where to find others. (2019)
  • Here’s a link to Curbed’s guide to Puerto Escondido, which focuses on architecture and design. (2019)
  • Here’s a map of the Vive Mar sea turtle conservation initiative (2019)

More information about Oaxaca and Mexico

Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal. Oliver Sacks’ fern interest led him to Oaxaca and Southern Mexico, accompanied by other ethnobotanists. This book is his travel diary, including the cultures he encounters, as well as chocolate, history, and Zapotec ruins. He blends innate curiosity with intriguing inquiry in his trademark engaging manner. This was a fantastic book.

Dianne Kennedy’s book The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. Dianne’s Oaxaca cookbook is one of my favorites, but it’s also very heavy (at ten pounds!) and tough to transport! Start with her Essential Cuisines, which covers the many cuisines of this culinarily diverse nation, as well as recipes and history, in one volume.

The People’s Guide to Mexico: by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens (Author). Instead of a classic guidebook, opt for this thorough cultural guide to Mexico, now in its 14th edition. From planning trips, bargaining, cultural fiestas and taboos, and a lot more, this book is a thorough resource for even the more experiences wanderers.

-Jodi

Puerto Escondido is a small, colourful town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, just 30 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta. A few hours south of popular beach destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, Puerto Escondido is a stunning destination which offers a slower pace of life with a diverse culinary culture, myriad local attractions and the friendliest locals.. Read more about puerto escondido hostel and let us know what you think.

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