Puerto Escondido, Mexico: Our Hotel, Beach & Food Guide

Puerto Escondido, Mexico: Our Hotel, Beach & Food Guide

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We’re six weeks now in Puerto Escondido, Mexico and loving it. Our plan was to just come and check it out for a week or so and then get back to Oaxaca City. As is always the case when living a nomadic lifestyle; plans change.

There are so many great beaches and restaurants here we just felt we needed to extend our trip. If a visit to Puerto Escondido, Mexico is on your agenda we’ve put together a handy guide here about the what beaches to hang out on, where to eat, and some of the places we’ve stayed.

Sunset in Playa Escondido
Sunset in Playa Escondido

Firstly, Is Puerto Escondido, Mexico Safe?

Mexico gets such a bad rap for not being safe. We’ve been in Mexico a few years now and we have never had a problem. The same goes for Puerto Escondido. We’ve walked the streets in the early morning, throughout the day, and also in the evenings. We have never once felt unsafe.

If you’re looking for trouble though, which you obviously shouldn’t be, there are ways to find it:

  • Getting Shit-Faced in Public – There are all sorts of stories about tourists getting robbed in Mexico. They usually start like this, “so, I was leaving the bar shit-faced at 3am, and…”. Just don’t do that. No matter what country you’re in, stumbling through the streets a 3am drunk is a great way to invite trouble.
  • Walking the Beaches at Night – Again, no matter what country you’re in this should be avoided. Thieves and prostitutes, usually working together, love leading unsuspecting tourists onto the dark beaches at night. Stick to the streets and you should be fine.
  • Buying Drugs in Public – Another no-no for many different reasons. As is the case in any tourist town you may be offered drugs on the beach. Buying them is a great way to either get robbed or arrested.

Again, we have never had a problem with safety in Puerto Escondido. We drink in local bars and we walk the streets at every hour of the day and night. Just use some common sense and you shouldn’t have any problems.

is it safe in Mexico
It’s just as safe in Mexico as it is in the States.

How to Get to Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Puerto Escondido, Mexico is what we would call, “off the beaten path”. It’s not nearly as easy to get to as Cancun or Playa del Carmen. This is what we like about it though. It’s a tourist beach town that has retained its small-town charm.

Getting to Puerto Escondido can be a bit of a chore. We think it’s worth it though once you’re here.

Getting from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

There are a few different ways to get to Puerto Escondido, Mexico from Oaxaca City. We took the ADO (pronounced ah-day-oh) and we only recommend it if you’re cool with being on a bus for a really, really long time (see our video below then imagine that for 11 hours).

ADO First Class Bus From Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido

Normally a drive from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido can be done in 6-7 hours. The ADO bus takes every bit of 11 hours. The seats are comfortable and there are bathrooms. That was just too long on a bus for us though. The prices for the ADO bus range from $13usd-$25usd depending on the day and time you travel.

ADO bus from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

Private Shuttles from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

There are many small shuttle services located in both Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido that make the trip between the two cities. They’re all small businesses with no internet presence. You’re going to have to ask at a hotel or tourist center where to find them.

These shuttles seat around 16 and take 6-7 hours to make the trip. From what I hear it’s a miserable trip for some; up and down through winding mountain roads. The cost varies but shouldn’t be more than $15usd.

Shuttle from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido
Shuttle from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

Fly from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido 

This is the easiest, and most expensive, method of getting from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. You have a couple of choices when flying:

  • Fly Commercial – There are no direct commercial flights from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. You will need to layover in Mexico City for a couple of hours. Flights from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, through Mexico City, will take around five hours. We found these flights on Kiwi.com and they’re less than $100usd one-way.
  • Fly Direct – There are two small passenger airlines that go between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido. The first is Aerotucan which costs around $130usd one-way. The second is AeroVega (no phone number or email address was answered when contacting AeroVega). If anyone has used AeroVega recently we’d love to hear about it.

Fly from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

Getting from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido

There is an ADO bus from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido. We don’t recommend it though. It takes almost 20 hours and can cost up to $50usd. You can find numerous flights from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido on Kiwi.com for around the same price that only take an hour or so.

fly from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido Hotels & Airbnbs

So, now you know how to get to Puerto Escondido. Now you need to figure out where to stay. Luckily for you, unless you really want to lay down some cash, lodging in Puerto Escondido is pretty affordable. Especially for a beach town.

Cheap Places to Stay in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Since we’re cheap-asses we opted to stay in some of the more affordable Airbnb’s for our first couple of weeks. The first place we booked was Casa Solteca. At $15 a night, it was a steal.

Nomad Tip
If you’ve never used Airbnb before here’s a link for you to save $40 on your first stay of $75 or more.

$40 off your first stay of $75 or more

Casa Solteca is located about a 3-4 minute walk from the ADO bus station, 10 minutes from Playa Principal, and 15 minutes to Playa Zicatela. There are also many great restaurants within a 2-3 minute walk.

Casa Solteca Puerto Escondido Mexico
Casa Solteca – Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

We tried to extend our stay in Casa Solteca, but all rooms were booked. We ended up finding a really cute studio on Airbnb nearly right on Playa Zicatela. The place was super clean and ridiculously affordable at $11 a night.

While we liked this place for a few days we had by this time decided we wanted to stay in Puerto Escondido long term. A week or so in a studio apartment for two people is plenty of time. It was time to upgrade.

Mid-Range Places to Stay in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

We had a really nice day at Casa Sofia’s. A couple we met invited us back to their Airbnb to have some beers by the pool. The apartment was huge with a nice kitchen, and best yet a pool to hang out at. Casa Sofia’s is within walking distance to a number of nice restaurants, as well as Playa Carrizalillo.

Casa Sofia - Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Casa Sofia – Puerto Escondido, Mexico

High-End Places to Stay in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Looking for something a little more high-end? Then you’ve got to check out Vivo Resorts. The property manager of the apartment we live in also happens to be the bartender at Vivo Resorts (say hi to Andreas if you see him there). He hooked us up with a couple of day passes and we couldn’t have been more impressed.

Rooms here start at $150 a night and go up from there. Amenities include:

  • On-site restaurant
  • On-site bar
  • Infinity pool
  • Swim-up bar
  • Spa
  • 12 miles of nearly un-touched coastline

Vivo Resorts is quite a ways out of town, but there are numerous shuttles a day between the resort and town. We had a great time here on our day-pass. I can only imagine how nice a week here would be.

Vivo Resorts - Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Vivo Resorts – Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Our Favorite Puerto Escondido Restaurants

When you’re researching restaurants in Playa Escondido, Mexico the same 5-6 restaurants always show up in the “Top 10” lists. I’m not going to bother listing them here because, quite frankly, they’re just not that great.

If you’re looking for mediocre and over-priced food, check out any other blog or TripAdvisor for their recommendation. If you’re like us and want authentic food at a reasonable price, check out some of our favorites below.

Las Cazuelas

Las Cazuelas was the first restaurant we visited in Puerto Escondido. We were hooked. We’re not even within walking distance to this restaurant anymore and we still find ourselves there once a week…at least.

The menu offers fairly typical Oaxacan fair; tacos, tlayudas, sopes, & tostados. All come with a huge choice of fillings (chorizo, beef, pork, etc), and all are delicious.

Aside from the delicious Oaxacan food they also serve up amazing pozole. If you’re not familiar with pozole it’s a delicious soup made with shredded chicken or pork and hominy. It’s served with about 10 different toppings to add to the soup. So good.

Tostados and Pozole at Las Cazuelas
Tostados and Pozole at Las Cazuelas

Flori-Tao

On the far south-eastern end of Playa Zicatela, you’ll find our favorite beach restaurant; Flori-Tao. While most of the restaurants on Playa Zicatela are slightly pretentious and over-priced, Flori-Tao is the exact opposite.

Here you’ll find great seafood dishes on the menu, alongside hamburgers and hotdogs, all at a reasonable price. The service can be a little slow sometimes, but everything we’ve had has been worth the wait. Also, their made-to-order margaritas and micheladas are the best you’ll find in Playa Escondido.

Paul at Flori-Tao sipping a Michelada
Paul at Flori-Tao sipping a Michelada

La Juquilena

Here’s my rule of thumb in Mexico; if I see a lot of Mexicans standing out in the hot-ass sun waiting for a seat in a restaurantI must eat in that restaurant. This rule has not failed me yet. Especially when it comes to La Juquilena.

This massive restaurant seats over 250 people. On the weekends there are maybe 50 or more people outside waiting to get in. That’s how good the food is here. And it’s ridiculously inexpensive.

The menu is composed of typical Oaxacan food. So lots of tlayudas, sopes, & grilled meats. They also have a list of 20 or so daily specials such as roasted chicken, barbacoa de res, and seafood dishes.

If you’re looking for delicious and authentic food at a great price, I highly recommend La Juquilena’s. We eat here at least twice a week and never get tired of it.

A Typical Day at La Juquilena
A Typical Day at La Juquilena

El Pollo Gigante

As I said before; look for the line. The line outside of this popular chicken shack is always at least 5 deep. And for good reason. The chicken here is really, really good. Some of the best I’ve had in Mexico, and that’s saying a lot.

El Pollo Gigante is carry-out only. It’s one of our go-to restaurants if we want an easy meal at home or a picnic at the beach. They sell chicken three different ways; fried, grilled (asado), or rotisserie. All of it is delicious.

A whole chicken here, with sides and homemade salsas, will set you back $6-$7usd. You can also order halves or quarters of chicken. Eat this chicken. You will not regret it.

el pollo gigante

Tacos Paco

I’m a firm believer that the small, family-run restaurants put out the best food. Tacos Paco is no exception. This little family-run restaurant puts out some of the best tacos in Puerto Escondido.

You have exactly two choices when eating at Tacos Paco; fried fish tacos or fried shrimp tacos. Both are delicious. They’re also huge tacos so be prepared for that before ordering.

Each taco is served on a couple of corn tortillas and topped with a creamy red cabbage, cucumber, carrot slaw. They’re so tasty. While your tacos are being prepared you’ll be served a little bowl of spicy shrimp soup which is also very good.

Soup and Shrimp Tacos at Tacos Paco
Soup and Shrimp Tacos at Tacos Paco

Mercado Benito Juarez

We are huge fans of Mexican markets. Fresh flowers, seafood, and veggies as far as the eye can see. These Mexican markets are also filled with some of the best restaurants in Mexico. This is the case with Mercado Benito Juarez in Puerto Escondido.

I have no idea how many restaurants are in this market; 20? 30? Who knows? The market is so large and crazy I’m not even sure I’ve seen all of it yet. And I’ve been there numerous times. 

There isn’t one particular restaurant in Mercado Benito Juarez I would recommend. The few we’ve been to have been delicious and all of them are packed with happy looking Mexicans. If you’ve haven’t eaten in a Mexican market yet, you’re really missing out.

Natasha Shopping in Mercado Benito Juarez
Natasha Shopping in Mercado Benito Juarez

The Beaches of Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Puerto Escondido has a beach for nearly every activity. Whether you’re looking to swim, surf, chill out, or party down, Playa Escondido has a beach for that.

Playa Principal

Playa Principal is smack-dab in the middle of town and a favorite of the locals. There are not a lot of waves on this beach, which makes it a great beach for swimming with the family. We hang out at this beach quite often as the restaurants seem to be more authentic and less expensive than on Playa Zicatela.

This is also the beach you are going to leave from if you’re going on boat tours or fishing expeditions.

Playa Principal Puerto Escondido Mexico.jpg
Playa Principal Puerto Escondido Mexico

Playa Marinero

I’ve walked this stretch of beach numerous times and had no idea it had its own name. Playa Marinero is just a short walk up the beach from Playa Principal, just before you get to Playa Zicatela. The waves here start to pick up a little which makes it a great beach for body-surfing and stronger swimmers. 

Playa Zicatela

Playa Zicatela is a huge beach with huge waves (sometimes reaching up to 30 feet in height). The beach is about 2.5 miles long and can be up to 300 feet wide. While this is a very popular beach for surfers, we don’t recommend swimming here. The undertow is just too powerful, even for the best of swimmers.

There isn’t much shade on Playa Zicatela, so our recommendation is to grab a couple of beach chairs with umbrellas at one of the numerous restaurants that line the beach. You can sit here all day sipping $2 beers and watching the surfers get pummeled.

Playa Punta Zicatela (La Punta)

Continue walking from Playa Zicatela toward the south-east and you’ll find yourself on Playa Punta Zicatela (AKA la punta). The waves on La Punta are far less intense than on Playa Zicatela. They’re still surfable though so you’ll find a lot of beginners and surf classes here. This is also a much safer beach to swim on than Zicatela.

If you’re looking for laid-back, this is the beach. While Playa Zicatela mainly caters to wealthy tourist, this stretch of beach is where the broke backpackers hang out. As a result, the crowd is younger, the prices are lower and the restaurants are more “westernized”. It’s a great spot to chill for the day.

Natasha Chillin' with a Coco on La Punta
Natasha Chillin’ with a Coco on La Punta

Playa Carrizalillo

Playa Carrizalillo is one of our favorite beaches to go to in Puerto Escondido. It’s a fairly small beach, but the water is perfect for both swimming and surfing. There are 4-5 small restaurants on the beach serving up beers and pretty decent food. These restaurants charge a $10 service fee to use their tables, but they deduct that cost from your tab.

The beach does have a couple of drawbacks we should mention. Firstly, the bathrooms…there really aren’t any. There are three porta-potties near the beach that will cost you 5 pesos to use. Make sure you have exact change or you may be using the bushes.

The second problem is there are 186 steps down to the beach. That may not sound too bad but after a day of sun, swimming, and beers those 186 steps up in the blazing hot sun really suck. Be prepared.

Playa Puerto Angelito & Playa Manzanillo

We’re just going to put mention these two beaches together. They are in the same bay and they’re connected to each other (aside from some rocks), so I’m not really sure why they have two different names. These beaches sit in a little cove which means there are very few waves, so it’s a pretty popular beach for swimmers.

There are numerous restaurants on and near the beach. They’re all pretty similar and serve up your typical Mexican beach fare along with ice-cold beers and mixed drinks. 

Playa Angelito
Chilling at Playa Angelito

Playa Bacocho

Playa Bacocho is a massive beach stretching off 12 miles into the distance. And there’s almost nothing on it. If you’re looking for a quiet beach all to yourself, this is it. The only problem is, there’s no shade and there’s no reason at all to get into the water. The waves are huge, but not surfable, and the undertow is so dangerous it’s just not worth the risk to get in.

It is a beautiful beach to look at though which is why on the eastern tip of the beach a few high-end resorts have popped up. Each of these resorts has a pool and offers day passes to anyone not staying at the resort. The day passes range in price between $10-$15 which is applied to your food and drink tab.

Also on the eastern end of Playa, quite near the resorts, is the Vive Mar turtle egg sanctuary. Eggs that are laid on this beach are relocated to the sanctuary to protect them from predators. For a small fee of $5, you can help the baby turtles once they hatch by carrying them from the sanctuary to the water’s edge.

Playa Bacocho and Turtle Sanctuary
Playa Bacocho and Turtle Sanctuary

Getting Around Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Like in all of Mexico, taxis are plentiful and cheap in Playa Escondido. A ride pretty much anywhere in town is going to cost around 35 pesos ($1.50 usd). We’ve been charged less for shorter rides but we’ve yet to be charged more than that. I imagine though a trip from the airport to some of the hostels on la Punta may be a bit more expensive.

Taxis in Playa Escondido are easy to hail; just step to the curb look for one of the brightly colored taxis, and wave him down. If he’s empty, and not heading out on a call, he’ll pull over. Easy.

We never really negotiate a price up front like we do in other tourist towns. In places like Playa del Carmen or Tulum overcharging gringos is fairly common, so negotiating a price up front is necessary. Being overcharged for a taxi has never happened to us in Playa Escondido. And we’re in at least one taxi a day.

Typical Taxi in Puerto Escondido
Typical Taxi in Puerto Escondido

Planning our Next Trip to Playa Escondido, Mexico

Our time here in Playa Escondido is quickly running out. Our 180-day tourist visa expires in a few weeks, and we have to leave Mexico for a few days. Playa Escondido has us hooked though. The plan was to head to Europe when our visa expires. The longer we’re here in Playa Escondido though, the more we want to stay.

That’s one of the many benefits of living nomadically. If we find a place we love we can live here as long as we like. If we decide we’d rather live cheaply in Mexico, as opposed to not-so-cheaply in Europe, we’ll just hop a bus to the border, chill in Guatemala for a few days, and come back. We’re still deciding…

Playa Escondido Sunset
Us contemplating our next move.

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