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Planning to travel to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico? You’ve come to the right place!
Our Puerto Escondido travel blog has all of our posts, travel tips for hotels, surfing lessons, safety, resorts and day trips in one handy place.
It’s your one-stop travel guide to the best vacation in Puerto Escondido.
It ties all our posts on our Puerto Escondido travel blog together, making it easier for you to find the information you need to plan the best vacation possible.
I first discovered Puerto Escondido Oaxaca in 2003 while studying Spanish in Oaxaca City. Along with my Guatemala-born husband we’ve owned a home there, rented apartments, stayed with friends and explored every neighbourhood.
I want you to enjoy exploring Puerto Escondido as much as we have. So, I’ve written this Puerto Escondido travel guide and created the Puerto Escondido Travel Essentials Facebook page to help you do just that.
In my career as a travel writer, I’ve also written about Puerto Escondido for Fodor’s Guide to Oaxaca and magazines such as Condé Nast, enRoute, WestJet Magazine, TravelAgeWest and many others.
But I had to leave out some of the best information about the city’s restaurants, attractions and hotels due to space considerations. All those insider tips are included here!
Tourism History of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Located south of Acapulco on the Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido or “Hidden Port” hasn’t always been hidden. In the late 1960s, the Mexican government and the Inter-American Development Bank identified it – along with Cancun, Huatulco, Loreto, Los Cabos and Zihuatanejo — as potential targets for major tourist destinations.
After much deliberation on climate, beaches and other factors of the six candidate beach towns, Puerto Escondido, Cancun and Ixtapa (Zihuatanejo) were chosen. The idea was that they would join Acapulco on the world stage of glamorous resorts popular with Hollywood A-listers.
In the 1970s, the newly-formed Fonatur began expropriating land and developing the infrastructure of roads, airports, sewage treatment systems and electricity. However, due to legal problems securing the necessary beachfront land in Puerto Escondido, by the 1980s Fonatur abandoned its plans for Puerto Escondido and set its sights on the Bahias de Huatulco.
So that explains why today, Huatulco, rather than Puerto Escondido, is the largest managed beach destination on Mexico’s Oaxaca coast.
For many visitors, Puerto Escondido’s small size is part of its appeal. While other Fonatur destinations have boomed — Cancun received 6.7 million international tourists in 2017 — Puerto Escondido receives a fraction of that. Its total population is just 45,000.
While Cancun and other Fonatur developments in Mexico are home to glossy, all-inclusive resorts and large international airports, Puerto Escondido offers a rustic charm that’s still under-the-radar.
COVID-19 Resources in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Note that this information is being provided for your convenience. It should NOT be considered legal or medical advice. We cannot guarantee its accuracy so do your own due diligence before making any decisions regarding your own travel safety and health.
In early 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19. They recommend you review the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
COVID-19 measures are in place in Huatulco, Puerto Escondido and throughout the state of Oaxaca. They change frequently so be sure to check with local authorities prior to booking travel.
Transportation can be disrupted, bus service cancelled, beaches may be closed and more. Conditions change frequently so may not be accurate.
Where to Get COVID-19 Updates on Oaxaca
Where to Get COVID-19 Updates on Puerto Escondido
In Puerto Escondido, there are two municipal authorities you can check for coronavirus updates:
Santa Maria Colotepec Facebook Page (Spanish only)
San Pedro Mixtepec Facebook Page ( Spanish only)
COVID-19 Puerto Escondido Group (English) – This group is private so you need to request admission. Updates are posted regularly.
Hotel Association of Huatulco Facebook Page ( Spanish only)
The Eye Huatulco Magazine ( English and Spanish)
Where to Get Tested for COVID in Puerto Escondido
The COVID-19 Facebook group published a list of laboratories in Puerto Escondido where people can be tested for COVID-19. You can download a List of Locations (costs, phone numbers, hours) here: COVID TESTING XCL File
It’s also possible to get a COVID-19 PCP test at Laboratorio Grupo. The cost is 1900 pesos and results are within 24-36 hours by email. Make an appointment at 951-233-3401 via WhatsApp
You can expect the following coronavirus measures (and more):
- Checkpoints on roads may be in effect to prevent entry of people with symptoms.
- In Huatulco all outside tourist buses and public transport must arrive at the central bus station.
- Enforcement of sanitary measures in commercial establishments such as hand washing and gel.
- Mandatory face masks and social distancing. You can be fined and/or jailed for not wearing a mask in public.
- Bars and restaurants may have restrictions on selling alcohol.
- Possible restrictions in store hours and entry.
- Restrictions on gatherings. No large gatherings or parties.
- Self-quarantine for foreigners is not mandatory but is recommended.
Contact Numbers if You Have COVID-19 Symptoms
- The EMERGENCY number for both police and medical is 911.
- Clínica Ángel Del Mar has the most number of medical specialists.
- Clínica Olvera 954 124 7182
- Medical attention is also available in Oaxaca City.
- Air Ambulance service is available between Canada/US and Puerto Escondido. Aeromedevac has been recommended by a few people who have used it. The cost is upwards of $45,000 USD.
Another emergency air option is www.airlinkambulance.com Phone: 52-333-629-8700 and 01-800-024-8600.
- Tourist Police: 954-582-3439
- Centro de Salud Puerto Escondido 954 168 69 42
- Unidad de Intelligencia para Emergencias en Salud 800 770 84 37
If you’re considering vacationing in Puerto Escondido it’s important to consider that it is a small city in one of Mexico’s poorest states.
Medical systems may become overwhelmed and you may not get the medical attention you need. Or you might be taking resources needed by the local people. Consider carefully whether you need to travel at this time.
Oaxaca Safety and Crime – Is it Safe to Travel to Puerto Escondido?
Whether you’re on a trip to Puerto Escondido for the winter season or a short family vacation, here are some travel safety tips and resources.
Prior to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of State’s Mexico Travel Advisory listed the entire state of Oaxaca as Level 2 for crime. That’s the same as popular vacation destinations such as the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.
Prior to the Covid-19 restrictions, there had typically been no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees to tourist areas in Oaxaca City, Monte Alban, Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.
The Government of Canada currently advises to Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice
Earlier the Government of Canada had NO travel warnings in effect for the state of Oaxaca
However, there are often restrictions for the Isthmus region of Oaxaca, defined by Highway 185D to the west, Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca/Chiapas border to the east. This includes the towns of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas Atempa. Highway 200 northwest of Pinotepa.
Top Puerto Escondido Travel Safety Tips
Crime levels increase prior to and during holiday periods so if you’re traveling during Semana Santa and Christmas, be extra vigilant. I’ve spent months solo in Puerto Escondido without any problems at all.
But it pays to use common sense when visiting any time of year. Here are some travel safety tips for Puerto Escondido:
- Lifeguards rescue 800 people from drowning each year. Many people actually drown. Heed red flag warnings and don’t enter the water on dangerous beaches. The most dangerous beaches in Puerto Escondido include Bacocho, Playa Coral and Zicatela while the safest beach for swimming is Playa Carrizalillo, set in a sheltered cove at the foot of a series of steep stairs in the Rinconada area.
- Some armed robberies involve the use of motorcycles by assailants. Walk on the sidewalk out of reach of motorcycles to avoid being targeted. And, contrary to the advice to wear a cross-body purse, I don’t recommend this. If your cross-body purse is grabbed, you can be dragged behind the motorcycle until the strap breaks and can seriously injured.
- Robberies have been reported on the Andedor Escenico (often closed for repairs or due to high wave action) and the often-empty stretch of beach between La Punta and Brisas de Zicatela. Carry NO valuables with you when you go.
- Wear a money belt or other method of secret pockets to carry small amounts of cash with you. Rather than wear one of the large pouches that screams tourist, try something discreet like the Bushkin Anti-Theft Travel Money Belt that looks like real belt. Or, a Tilley Hat with a secret pocket or an Infinity Travel Scarf with just enough money for the day.
- Only carry the amount of cash you need for a day and store the remainder in the hotel’s safety box. If you’re staying in an AirBnB or a vacation condo, it’s worth investing in a portable travel safe to store your valuable. The FlexSafe portable safe, voted gadget of the year for 2019, is lightweight, costs under $65 USD, is slash-proof and can even be strapped to your lounge chair at a swimming pool or beach.
- Walking alone at night on the beach isn’t a good idea anywhere. So don’t make a habit of it in Puerto Escondido.
- Businesses can vary their hours without notice, construction or strikes can cause detours and some restaurants even change locations each season. It’s always worth verifying the address of your destination before heading out so you don’t get disoriented or lost.
- When it comes to staying healthy, the rainy season (May-November) brings afternoon showers which can increase biting insects and associated risks such as dengue fever. Use insect repellent with DEET and wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Read 12 Ways to Protect Yourself from Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya virus.
- Keep hydrated and avoid the midday sun.
- Avoid driving at night, keep valuables hidden from view, keep a full tank of gas and carry a copy of your passport if you are travelling by personal vehicle. Avoid car rental insurance problems by reading our post on Pros & Cons of Renting a Car in Puerto Escondido.
- When it comes to Puerto Escondido, Mexico crime, avoid taking the overnight bus from Puerto Escondido to Mexico City. It passes through the state of Guerrero (listed by the U.S. State Department as one of Mexico’s most violent states) and a serious armed robberies have been reported. Airlines such as Viva Aerobus and Interjet are economical ways to get to Puerto Escondido.
- Strikes and public protests (often by teachers) are common in the State of Oaxaca and blockades can disrupt public access to roads and airports. Check with your hotel for advice on getting to/from the airport, avoid crowds and don’t participate in public demonstrations. In Puerto Escondido, protests are generally non-violent and of short duration.
- Watch where you’re walking especially at night. Sidewalks can crumble, collapse or be non-existent. Construction safety standards can be poorly enforced so it’s possible to accidentally walk into a hazard. A small inexpensive flashlight or headlamp can be helpful especially if you have issues with night vision.
- Stay away from drugs.
- Avoid getting drunk. Not only can being intoxicated affect your judgement in certain situations, it can seriously affect your safety if you’re swimming or pass out in the sun.
- Don’t open the door to your apartment, condo or hotel room to someone unless you know who it is.
- Store your valuables in a Secure your laptop with a steel cable to a fixed object such as a table within your hotel room or rental apartment. For under $20 you can protect your laptop computer from theft with a laptop security combination lock and steel cable.
- Don’t lose sight of your luggage, backpack or other valuables, especially in crowded places. Keep personal information on your luggage to a minimum to avoid extortion attempts. Protect your personal information on your baggage tags with Shacke Luggage Tags with Full Back Privacy Cover w/ Steel Loops.
- Obtain medical travel insurance and keep the information handy for your safety and security and in case you require any heath care during your time in Guatemala.
- Exchange currency only at banks and use ATMs within (not outside) a bank throughout Mexico. Check your statements online regularly for fraudulent ATM transactions on your debit or credit card.
- Use a licensed and authorized tour guide if one is available. Negotiate prices for tours and travel in advance.
- Check weather conditions, travel alerts and travel warnings. Resources include Australia’s smart traveler, or the United Kingdoms Travel Advisory service; and register your contact information at the U.S. Department of State and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and North America.
- There are crocodiles in the lagoons, rivers and estuaries around Puerto Escondido and the coast of Oaxaca. You might be attacked and seriously injured or killed if you swim in or near these waters.
Ultimately, Puerto Escondido is safe to visit, as long as you follow the advice for travellers as listed above, on government websites, and keep your common sense about you.
What Puerto Escondido is Famous For
In addition to its abundant sunshine, long beaches and dry climate, Puerto Escondido is best known for its surfing, laid-back lifestyle, fishing, regional Oaxacan cuisine and outdoor recreation opportunities.
1. A Traditional Mexican Atmosphere
Set against the backdrop of the Sierra Madre Sur Mountains, the coastline around Puerto Escondido Oaxaca has remained untouched by mega-development. Unlike the manicured all-inclusive luxury resorts of Cancun-Riviera Maya it offers a genuine Mexican experience that will appeal to travellers interested in speaking Spanish, shopping in traditional markets and meeting local residents.
2. Surfing in Puerto Escondido
Many visitors are drawn to Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido because of the Mexican Pipeline, an epic wave break with a reputation that attracts serious surfing aficionados from Australia to California.
But it’s not just about the surf. “Puerto’s” population of 45,000 is made up of expats, fishing families, wellness devotees and adventure lovers, co-existing in laid-back harmony in neighbourhoods tucked around the palm-tree fringed bays.
3. Food and Restaurant Scene
Beyond the outdoor activities, Puerto Escondido is also a prime destination for food lovers. The cuisine is drawn from a rich indigenous heritage and features lots of fresh seafood as well as an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Its 400 restaurants offer a diverse culinary mix with Italian, Middle Eastern, Thai and Oaxacan cuisine just a few of the unique tastes you’ll find.
The Benito Juárez Market (also known as Mercado Principal) is Puerto’s cultural and economic heart. The sprawling, but surprisingly orderly, market stretches an entire city block and spills out onto surrounding sidewalks on busy days. You can eat lunch, chat with vendors, meet up with friends or just soak up the atmosphere.
There’s also a new market in town. For fresh flowers, tropical produce, fresh-ground Oaxacan coffee and more, visitors can now also shop at the new Mercado Zicatela. Located on Highway 200 in the Zicatela area on the way to La Punta, it’s exceptionally clean and modern.
It’s also home to restaurants specializing in Oaxacan regional dishes such as tlayudas, moles and more. The expansive ocean views are a bonus feature of this market.
Breakfast is a great way to offer your support to the vendors and shop owners within the shiny new Zicatela Market, which opened officially for business on November 17, 2018.
Puerto Vallarta vs Puerto Escondido
If you’re trying to decide between Puerto Vallarta or Puerto Escondido for your next vacation, although both are located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast there are several differences between the two destinations.
Many people say Puerto Escondido is like Puerto Vallarta was 40 years ago.
Here are the main factors to consider if you’re trying to decide between Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido:
- With its population of 203,000, Puerto Vallarta is much larger than Puerto Escondido, which has around 45,000 residents.
- There are more foreigners (Americans and Canadians) in Puerto Vallarta than Puerto Escondido. The literacy rate of the population and workforce in Jalisco is much higher than in the state of Oaxaca. English is widely spoken in shops, restaurants and businesses in Puerto Vallarta.
- There is a very large selection of all-inclusive luxury hotels and hotels on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. In Puerto Escondido there’s only one all-inclusive hotel and it’s the 3-star Posada Real Puerto Escondido. Most of the condos, hostels and hotels in Puerto Escondido are either across the street from a beach, a short walk to a beach or on a cliff overlooking a beach.
- Puerto Escondido is much further south than Puerto Vallarta ( 1,009 km or 627 miles as the crow flies). This means Puerto Escondido is hotter than Puerto Vallarta. The average temperature in Puerto Vallarta in January is 27 C while in Puerto Escondido it’s 29 C.
- Puerto Escondido receives less rain and more sunshine than Puerto Vallarta. This means that outside the rainy season, the landscape features more dry, tropical forest, cactus and scrub brush rather than lush, humid vegetation.
- There are more cultural activities in Puerto Vallarta – choir and music concerts, art galleries, dance performances, high-end restaurants – but Puerto Escondido has a lot of live music such as rock, blues and jazz as well as nightclubs as well as a rich indigenous culture.
- The US Department of State Mexico Travel Advisory lists the state of Jalisco as a Level 3 for safety ( Reconsider Travel) while the State of Oaxaca is a Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution). This is important if you’re planning to leave either city on day trips. (scroll down for safety tips on Puerto Escondido)
- If you’re interested in going surfing, seeing sea turtle nestings or seeing dolphins in the wild, Puerto Escondido is superior to Puerto Vallarta.
- If you enjoy long beach walks, Puerto Escondido’s main beach (Zicatela Beach) is longer than either Los Muertos and Olas Altas beach in Puerto Vallarta and has few ( if any) beach vendors.
- When it comes to swimmable beaches, Carrizalillo Beach (
Playa Carrizalillo) is prettier, has gentle waves and better for swimming than any of the beaches near the centre of Puerto Vallarta. However, it can only be accessed by steep stairs (or boat) which makes it unsuitable for people with mobility issues. The best beach for swimming in Puerto Vallarta is Playas Gemelas, located south of the city on the way to Playa Mismaloya. You need to take a car or bus to reach it.
- With its poverty rate of 62% ( 2012), the state of Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s poorest states. Puerto Escondido is generally scruffier, has worse infrastructure and is rougher around the edges than Puerto Vallarta.
Is Puerto Escondido Cheaper than Other Beach Destinations in Mexico?
Many budget travellers, retirees and backpackers are drawn to Puerto Escondido due to its lower costs. If you’re looking cheap places in Mexico for a beach vacation, it’s worth considering Puerto Escondido.
The costs for food, restaurants and daily expenses are generally lower in the state of Oaxaca than other parts of Mexico.
However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to accommodation if you’re looking for a winter rental for just a few months. Demand for vacation apartments and homes is high and competition steep.
So prices are quite high compared to Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta where there are a large stock of rentals to choose from.
Read the next section on choosing a hotel, condo or vacation home for tips on finding budget accommodation or a luxury villa in Puerto Escondido.
Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido – Hotels, Condo Apartments and Resorts
If you want to rent a condo, villa or other vacation property in Puerto Escondido, here are a few resources to get you started. Before you begin, be sure to read the Beginner’s Guide to Puerto Escondido Beaches so you know which neighbourhood you are interested in. That will help determine where to stay in Puerto Escondido.
For the best choice and prices, begin your search early. Although Puerto Escondido Oaxaca is still under the radar for many travellers, its beautiful beaches, thriving food and drink scene and rich culture draw a loyal crowd who book their favourite rental property a year or more in advance.
Puerto Escondido Weather
April and May are very hot and humid (expect 35 C and up) while August, September and October are the rainiest months, with many of the local restaurants closed for business.
November and December (excluding Christmas) are great times to visit. The weather in Puerto Escondido is sunny and warm (but not too hot) and prices are often at low-season rates.
Best Time to Visit Puerto Escondido Oaxaca
January to March are the most popular months for visitors from Canada and the United States, which means demand for accommodation is at its peak as are prices.
Events and Celebrations in Puerto Escondido
Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido
Although Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos rituals in Guatemala and cities in Mexico such as Oaxaca City and Patzcuaro deservedly get lots of attention, it’s also possible to take part in authentic ceremonies for Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido as well.
Fiestas de Noviembre
Originally created to promote tourism during the low season, the Fiestas de Noviembre have grown to become one big celebration.
During the event, Puerto Escondido ramps up the party factor city-wide with fishing tournaments, folkloric dance extravaganzas, food festivals, freestyle motocross and surfing competitions.
Most events are free, except for the fishing competitions such as the International Sailfish Tournament, where there’s prize money at stake. For the complete Fiestas de Noviembre Puerto Escondido schedule, visit our post on What Everyone Should Know About the Fiestas de Noviembre.
November is also the start of the whale-watching season, just one of many awesome outdoor adventures you can experience in Puerto Escondido.
Australia Day in Puerto Escondido
Puerto’s ex-pat community is an incredible melting pot of Canadians, Americans, Europeans and Australians — and each of them celebrates their home country’s national holiday with their own unique enthusiasm and patriotic pride. You can party like an Aussie and celebrate Australia Day on January 26th.
This annual holiday commemorates the first landing in Australia by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 and Australians celebrate ‘Straya Day with plenty of national pride, flying the Australian flag and celebrating in true Aussie style with music, cold beer, grilled meat on the barbie and traditional Australian meat pies.
On Australia Day in Puerto Escondido, there are lots of places to join in the celebrations. Your best bet for authentic Aussie meat pies is el Lugar Hostel Restaurant and Bar in La Punta. Their ‘Straya Day Party begins at noon on January 26th and includes Aussie music, BBQ snags, the original Aussie Meat Pies, thong throwing and cricket.
Best Beaches in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido’s is home to seven beaches from the famous surfing mecca Zicatela to the hidden gem Playa Coral. Each has its own unique personality.
Your top choice if you’re in town for just one day should be Playa Carrizalillo as it’s the most swimmable, the prettiest and the cleanest.
Manzanillo Beach and Playa Zicatelas are good second options as they have fewer stairs and Playa Manzanillo has Blue Flag certification.
Read the Beginner’s Guide to Puerto Escondido Beaches for details on all the beaches which also include the idyllic beach at Puerto Angelito Beach, Playa Coral and Playa Principal.
Scramble 167 stone steps down a cliff and you’ll be rewarded by the calm, clear waters of Puerto’s prettiest (and best swimming) beach. The sheltered crescent-shaped bay is ideal for snorkelling and its upscale cliff-side villas are popular among couples looking for a romantic getaway. Be sure to bring your camera.
Beach loungers are available to rent with a minimum drink or food purchase per person. Or, you can bring your own umbrella and towel such as the sand-free, lightweight Tesalate Beach towel and stake out a spot on the sand for the day. All beaches are free in Puerto Escondido. The only cost is to use the public washroom.
Access to the walkway to the Playa Carizalillo’s stairs is through an orange archway on the Rinconada near El Cafecito restaurant.
Bacocho Beach and Villa Sol Beach Club
If you’ve rented a condo without a swimming pool, no need to worry. You can enjoy a resort-style getaway at Club de Playa Villa Sol at Bacocho Beach.
With two pools (one a large freeform and the other for kids), a swim-up pool bar, sprawling landscaped gardens and towering palm trees you’ll feel as though you’re at swanky resort.
The best part? Admission is less than $5. Lounge by the pool, order cocktails, play beach volleyball or take a stroll along wave-swept Bacocho Beach.
This is also a top spot for turtle nestings and releases. 2 X 1 cocktails during Happy Hour 12:00-1:00pm. The Beach Club is now home to the fine dining beachfront restaurant Pez Gallo.
To get there take a taxi to Bacocho Beach, just past the Posada Real Cocos Beach Club. Ask staff to call you a taxi when it’s time to leave. It’s a steep climb back up the hill.
Getting from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido
There are basically four ways ( six if you count bicycling or walking!) to get from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido on the coast of Oaxaca. The Sierra Madre Sur mountain range lies in between the two destinations which means you need to spend some time thinking about your options as none of the routes are particularly pleasant. But don’t let the journey turn you off the idea of combining city with sea. It’s totally worth the effort.
Your four main options are to take a shuttle van, a small Cessna, an ADO bus or fly to Huatulco and bus it. Each option has it’s advantages and disadvantages when it comes to comfort, speed and budget.
There are a few small airlines operating small Cessnas that fly from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido and Huatulco regularly. One is AeroTucan and the other AeroVega.
While the view of the mountains and cliff faces can be scenic when the weather is clear, the experience is quite scary when the weather is poor or the winds are strong. I don’t have a fear of flying but only took this option twice.
Book your ticket online at the AeroTucan website, with a travel agency in Mexico or at the any of the airports they service. Their flights sell out quickly so if this is your preferred option, book well in advance.
Aerovega is piloted by Don Vega who has flown the route thousands of times which offers some comfort to those with a fear of flying. You can reach him via the AeroVega Facebook Page or by cell at 9545880062.
Cost: Flying on AeroTucan is much more expensive than the other options. You can spend as much as 2500 MXN pesos or $125 USD for the 45 minute flight.
ADO Bus Lines
Taking the overnight ADO bus while theoretically a wise option, is actually my least preferred option. This bus departs Oaxaca City and travels along route 190 and then 200 to Puerto Escondido. It is stated to be a 9 hour ride but each time I took it clocked in at 12 hours. The winding roads just made it seem endless.
Cost: The cost is up to 400 MXN pesos ( depending on when you book and other factors. Check on the ADO website)
Shuttles Between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido
Although the prospect of seven hours of travel in a jam-packed “Suburban” on the tortuous, winding highway 175 between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido might seem daunting to those weak of stomach, don’t despair. You don’t need to take one of the aptly named “vomit comets “
Although the highway hasn’t changed, the comfort level of travel has. Villa Escondida ( as well as several other shuttler services) offer 7-hour service in a comfortable mini-bus between the two destinations. If you’re travelling solo, the departure may be delayed until a minimum of two passengers is reached.
Tip: DO NOT consider this option for night travel or during the rainy season
Reserve your seat in English by phone. They’ll also pick you up at your hotel upon request. Villa Escondida offers a helpful seating map so you can reserve your seat in advance. Unless you have a strong stomach and don’t get motion sickness, the preferred seats are closest to the front of the mini-van. Seats 2 and 3 (directly behind the driver) are in top demand.
Daily departures from Puerto Escondido are (subject to change):
6:30 am and every hour thereafter until 8:30 pm
Daily departures from Oaxaca City are:
4:30 am – 8:30 pm
Address in Oaxaca City is Galeana No. 420
Address in Puerto Escondido is Avenida Hidalgo across from Bananorte
954 120-4123 or 954 104-2469
$14 one-way or 300 pesos round-trip ( Subject to change)
Renting a Car in Puerto Escondido
Get handy tips on renting a car with details on costs, insurance in Mexico, safety and the best place to rent a car in our Guide to Car Rentals in Puerto Escondido.
Flights to Puerto Escondido (PXM)
The Puerto Escondido airport code is PXM. You can fly to Puerto Escondido (PXM) from Mexico City (MEX) on Viva Aerobus, Interjet, Volaris or Aeromar. There are several flights daily and the cost is very low ( between $50 and $100 USD from MEX to PXM) if you book in advance directly on each of the airline’s websites.
My personal preference is Interjet as it’s generally on-time, has assigned seating and is a reasonable cost.
Here is the official Viva Aerobus website – watch for extra charges when booking.
Here is the official Interjet website
Here is the official Volaris website
Here is the official Aeromar website
You can also fly directly to Puerto Escondido from Queretaro Mexico via TAR Airlines.
There are no direct flights to Puerto Escondido from Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary or any other international destination. You will need to either connect in Mexico City or fly directly to Huatulco ( 2.5 hours away from Puerto Escondido) and take a shuttle, taxi or bus.
Getting to Your Hotel in Puerto Escondido from Puerto Escondido Airport
There are several car rental companies within Puerto Escondido airport but most people, if they aren’t getting picked up by friends, family or their resort, will need to arrange transportation.
After leaving the baggage carousel proceed directly to the kiosk in front of the doors BEFORE you exit the terminal building. There is an ATM in the terminal building if you need to get pesos but it’s preferable to exchange money or withdraw money in Mexico City airport.
You can choose to charter a private taxi or go in a colectivo ( shared mini-van). There is quite a big difference in price and the cost varies by which neighbourhood you are headed to. So, know the address (and neighbourhood) of your hotel or vacation rental before approaching the desk.
Sample Cost of a Taxi vs Colectivo for the Rinconada area (February 2019):
50 MXN pesos colectivo per person
250 MXN pesos private taxi ( 4-5 people)
You will be given a ticket and as you depart the terminal building, one of the drivers will direct you to the appropriate vehicle. If you have chosen the colectivo option you’ll need to wait until the mini-van is full before departing.
Another option is to walk to Highway 200 and hail a taxi, which will cost you 35 MXN pesos and up depending on your destination.
Getting to Puerto Escondido via Huatulco Airport (HUX)
If you don’t fly to Puerto Escondido via Mexico City on Viva Aerobus, Interjet or TAR Airlines, you’ll most likely arrive at the Bahias de Huatulco (HUX) airport. From there you have many options on how to get to Puerto Escondido, which is more than two hours away.
The most expensive option is by pre-arranged taxi service and the cheapest is by SUR bus. The difference in cost is significant $90 USD vs $3 USD (basically two evenings of dinners and drinks) so it’s worth considering the pros and cons of all of the options. Much depends on how much luggage you have, the number of travellers in your group, your arrival time etc.
Taxis in Puerto Escondido
If you’re walking down the street in Puerto Escondido and a taxi honks, it’s likely not because you look especially fetching in your bikini.
It’s how they signal to you that they are available! Taxis are safe, plentiful and economical in Puerto Escondido.
Cost of Taxis in Puerto Escondido
There are no meters on the taxis in Puerto Escondido. Instead, there are set rates for travel between neighbourhoods. Generally the cost ranges between 35 MXN and 55 MXN pesos depending on whether you’re going for a short jaunt from the Rinconada to the Centro, or somewhere further like La Punta.
When taking a taxi in Puerto Escondido, it’s important to carry exact change or small 20 and 10 peso bills. If you have only a 200 peso bill and your fare is just 40 pesos then you’re going to have a problem at the conclusion of your ride as the driver will not have change or not want to change the bill.
In that case, you’ll need to go into a small store and make a purchase in order to get the exact change. Or, forgo getting any change back from your fare.
It isn’t customary to tip taxi drivers in Puerto Escondido — although I often do if they’ve helped me with groceries or are otherwise helpful.
How to Catch a Taxi
To catch a taxi, simply stand at the side of the road in a location where the driver can pull over and hail one. If he sees you, he’ll flash his lights signifying he’ll be pulling over.
When hailing a taxi, don’t hail one with a sign on it that says Mercado or Chila or any other sign. Those are actually shared taxis following predetermined routes. They are most often orange and white in colour rather than the usual green.
Taxi Phone Numbers
It’s also possible to phone a taxi to pick you up. This is most often done at restaurants or events. In that case the dispatcher will provide you (or whoever has called ) with the number of the taxi. Watch for the numbered vehicle as the driver will also have your name.
954 582 0990 and 954 582 0876
Top Restaurants and Bars to Try
Ben- Zaa Restaurant
Affectionately known as the “Ben-Zoo” among regulars and fans of the lively Friday night Happy Hour, this hotel and resto-bar is a Puerto institution.Popular among Canadians and Americans, the hotel offers 30 basic hotel rooms (some with balconies), a large lending library for guests and fabulous sunset views from the rooftop.
A set meal, of comfort food like lasagna, meatloaf or chicken, is served nightly for around 130 to 180 pesos depending what’s on the menu. Their Margaritas get top votes.
Dan’s Café Deluxe
This breezy corner cafe is a mecca for hungry surfers, local business folks and the ex-pat community. If the crowd isn’t at Dan’s Cafe Deluxe for the hearty breakfast and good, strong coffee then they’re there for the fish tacos, served Baja-style with a trio of authentic salsas, on Fridays and Saturdays. Football food keeps sports fans happy right through the playoff seasons. Ping Pong tournaments keep the action happening mid-week.
Located at #14 Jacarandas at the corner of Jacarandas and Jasmines up the steep hill off Las Brisas.
El Sultan now Habibi
From humble home kitchen to bustling Rinconada location to a new location at Habibi in the Zicatela area, Ruben of El Sultan has built a loyal fan base in record time. Low prices, quality food and super-friendly service make it deservedly popular for a lunch or early evening snack of Lebanese-style shawarma, hummus or falafel.
The original location on the Rinconada is still a popular place to enjoy a hummus platter or falafel wrap. They also package dishes to-go so this is a great option for a fast and healthy meal.
Read more about restaurants, bars and food in Puerto Escondido:
Weddings and Honeymoons in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is also growing in popularity among couples planning a romantic getaway, destination wedding or honeymoon. The predictable sunny weather, picturesque Pacific Coast backdrops and affordability as well as a growing crop of luxury hotels in Puerto Escondido and resorts makes it a good alternative to Cancun, Riviera Maya and Puerto Vallarta.
Day Trips from Puerto Escondido including Mazunte, San Agustinillo, Roca Blanca
Read more about day trips & sightseeing tours:
There are plenty of attractions near Puerto Escondido that are perfect for day trips, here are a few of our favourites:
Top Things to Do in Puerto Escondido
Have you ever dreamed of swimming with dolphins? Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or a vacation with the kids, according to marine mammal experts, if you love dolphins and whales, you really have only one choice – and that’s to swim with dolphins that are free and not held in captivity.
Puerto Escondido Oaxaca is an ideal place for interacting with dolphins, sea turtles and whales in their natural environment. You can be right in the middle of the marine action, watching hundreds of dolphins cavort in the water and if you’re keen, don a snorkel mask and jump in the water with them.
Puerto Escondido is on a major migratory path for whales so you’re also likely to see humpback whales and many species of dolphins such as spinners and white-bellies. I’ve even seen migrating whales while I floated in the swimming pool at Eglantina condominiums.
Other top things to do in Puerto Escondido include swimming in the bioluminescent Manialtepec Lagoon, a magical experience where you’ll be surrounded by blue, glowing, phosphorescent plankton.
Be aware that there are crocodiles in the lagoons, rivers and estuaries throughout the world, including Mexico. You might be attacked and seriously injured if you swim in Manialtepec or other lagoons near Puerto Escondido.
Puerto Escondido is also a hub for projects helping to preserve Mixtec traditions by supporting the Tixinda Weaving Cooperative and coordinating educational tours such as shell-dying trips and the sale of Dreamweaver textiles.
Another top activity is to take one of Gina’s Foodie Tours beginning at the Marina where you’ll chat with local fishermen and tuck into a typical breakfast of nopal cactus, tortillas and beans.
Then it’s off through the backstreets of Puerto visiting a traditional chocolate grinder, the homes of women making tamales and Benito Juarez Market.
There, you’ll explore the indigenous stalls, learning how to identify epazote, pimiento gorda and nance. Book in advance at Gina’s Tourist Information booth on the el adoquín.
Read more about the best things to do:
Puerto Escondido is an ideal jumping off point for travels to Chiapas and Guatemala (Check out the post Night Bus to Guatemala for the inside scoop on taking the bus to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala).
Night Market in Puerto Escondido – The Adoquin
Daytime temperatures in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca are sizzling hot, so evenings are a prime time to take a breezy stroll and do some shopping. A top destination is the night market on the Adoquin, a pedestrian zone near Playa Principal. This open air market features local vendors selling a range of goods from touristy trinkets to fine-quality crafts from Oaxaca.
Top things to buy at the Night Market on the Adoquin include the black pottery of Oaxaca, hand-carved salad bowl and wooden kitchen utensils made of parota wood, locally-produced mezcal, masks and textiles woven by the indigenous Mixtec people of Tixinda Cooperative in Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca.
While shopping the Adoquin, cool off with a cone of iced tuna helado (prickly pear sorbet) at Paletas Oaxacenas or one of the other local palaterias.
Costs and Money in Puerto Escondido
Unlike other parts of Mexico, US dollars are not widely accepted in Puerto Escondido.You will need to get a small supply of Mexican pesos either at home before you depart, at the airport in Mexico City or upon arrival.
How to use an ATM in Puerto Escondido
Save money and reduce hassles by choosing your ATM machine ( cajero automatico) wisely. Some tips:
- The debit card from US home banks will be accepted in most bank ATM machines in Puerto. Look for the Cirrus and Plus symbols. Some problems have been reported with Canadian chip cards and may require a call to your home bank to resolve.
- Cash advances from a VISA or Mastercard are also possible in ATM machines and will save you the hassle of showing your passport at the teller.
- Many ATMs have separate doorways from the bank’s main entrance. If there is someone inside using the bank machine, it is expected you will wait outside until they are finished and then enter the room.
- Check which currency you are requesting. 500 MXN pesos won’t buy you much if you were planning on $500 USD.
- Expect to pay between 25-50 pesos for an ATM fee in addition to what your own bank charges. It pays to shop around. Banamex’s fees are often the lowest. Scotia Bank in Huatulco charges one of the highest fees 99 pesos.
- Choose banks with funds to accommodate large withdrawals as charges will rack up quickly if you make multiple small withdrawals instead of one large one.
- If you receive a message from the ATM saying “Your card could not be accepted” it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with your card. The machine could have limited funds. Try a smaller withdrawal or come back later. If that fails, you may need to contact your home bank.
- Avoid ATMs located outside a bank (such as those on the Zicatela strip) as transaction problems have been reported and are difficult to resolve.
- Follow usual precautions when protecting your PIN number and if you have made a large withdrawal consider transportation directly to your beach hotel rather than wandering around with a large amount of cash.
- If your card gets “eaten” by the machine, wait 10 minutes to see if it will ejected and if it doesn’t materialize, you will need to speak with a teller inside the bank. This problem seems to happen more frequently after hours so try to do your banking during the daytime.
It is prudent to have more than one way to access funds. Carry a debit card and a credit card for cash advances as a back up. Unlike other parts of Mexico, US dollars are not widely accepted.
Puerto Escondido Real Estate and Immigration Services
Spend any time at all in Puerto Escondido and you’ll soon be dreaming about owning your own Puerto Escondido real estate on the beach or becoming a Permanent Resident. Instead of struggling with the ever-evolving (and growing) documentation requirements of Mexico’s tax and immigration laws, it’s best to count on an expert to guide you through the process.
After all, the less time you spend on paperwork the more time you’ll have to enjoy life in paradise. Born and raised in Canada, immigration whiz Helena of Immigration Services by Helena has lived in Mexico for 20 years and during that time has amassed a wealth of experience assisting clients with immigration and other documentation needs.
Assistance offered by Immigration Services by Helena include:
1. Documentation procurement, guidance and completion for Temporary and Permanent Residence Visas
2. Notifications to Immigration Authorities on changes of address, marital status, workplace or nationality
4. Tax Registration
5. Assistance at immigration offices in Puerto Escondido
6. Document procurement and legalization of documents issued in Mexico, including birth and marriage certificates
7. Assistance with Puerto Escondido Mexico real estate transactions
8. Exit and Entry Permits
9. Outbound visas
10. Other compliance requirements and cooperation with authorities within Mexico’s highly complex and rapidly changing regulatory framework
Contact her by email at email@example.com for cost estimates. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday-Friday
Surf Lessons and Surf Camp in Puerto Escondido
Thanks to the Mexican Pipeline, an epic wave break at Zicatela beach, Puerto Escondido is a mecca for serious surfers. If you’re tempted to get your board shorts on and carve a wave of your own, you’re wise to go with a pro. The waves are as ferocious as they are legendary. Reaching heights of 20 feet, they’re not for the timid or inexperienced.
In Puerto Escondido, surfing is more than just a sport – it’s a way of life. Check out these surfing quotes about travel, life and surfing for some inspiration.
When planning your trip, note there are two surfing seasons in Puerto Escondido. The rainy season sees the most wave action and international surfing tournaments while the dry season (November-April) has more manageable waves. Get Surf reports with swell heights, wind and tide info or watch the HD Surf Cam at Surfline.
Fortunately, there are plenty of surf schools in Puerto Escondido to choose from. Here are the top spots for surf lessons in Puerto Escondido:
Zicazteca Surf School
Located on Zicatela Beach and run by surf pro Julio Soto Novola, features a two-hour class with transportation, surf board, rash guard and board shorts for the ladies (so you needn’t worry about losing a bikini). Julio is also an accomplished surfboard artist and muralist.
Oasis Surf and Language School
Oasis Surf School is another top choice, combining Spanish and Surfing lessons all-in-one. Newbie surfers will be equipped with everything needed to start surfing: surfboards, rash-guards, transportation to the beach and the surf instructor. All instructors have Level 1 Surf Coaching Course and Red Cross First Aid Course training. The surf boards are made by Roger Ramirez who owns the Oasis Surf Factory and Surf School.
Oasis Surf also offers surf retreats and surf camps in exciting surf destinations such as Oaxaca, Hawaii and the Azores. Check their website for dates www.spanishandsurflessonsmexico.com
Study Spanish in Puerto Escondido
While taking Spanish language classes in Puerto Escondido is not as inexpensive as studying Spanish in Guatemala or Oaxaca City, there is the added bonus of being able to enjoy the beach! Here are three popular choices for well-established Spanish Language Schools in Puerto Escondido.
Oasis Surf Factory and Language School
Even your pre-schooler can take Spanish classes at this professional language school located in the Rinconada neighbourhood. The school offers Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced classes as well as specialized Medical Spanish for health care professionals.
A full slate of cultural activities is available, including a Learn-to-Surf program. The school can also arrange volunteer experiences if you’d like to give back to the community and practice your new lingo at the same time.
Classes at the Oasis Surf Factory and Language School are held indoors on the Rinconda just steps to beautiful Carrizalillo Beach.
Experiencia Puerto Escondido
Another well established school where you can take Spanish lessons and surf classes is located just off Highway 200 above Zicatela Beach. The breezy location of Experiencia Puerto Escondido on top of a hill makes it a pleasant place to study outdoors. Classes begin on Mondays year-round.
Calli Language School
You’ll get plenty of opportunity to practice the Spanish you learn at Calli Language School on the Rinconada. Classes start any day of the week and you can choose from private or group lessons in the air conditioned classrooms.
I hoped you enjoyed this Puerto Escondido Travel Guide! I’ve tried to make it as complete as possible, but if you think we are missing anything, please let us know in the comments below.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
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