Planning a trip to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca Mexico? You’ve come to the right place. Our Puerto Escondido travel blog has all of our Puerto Escondido travel posts, travel tips, advice and recommendations for hotels, safety, restaurants, resorts and day trips in one handy place.

Carrizalillo Beach Puerto Escondido
It ties all our blog posts on Puerto Escondido together, making it easier for you to find the information you need to plan the best vacation possible. This Puerto Escondido Travel Guide is updated regularly and comes with a Table of Contents so you can quickly jump to the section you need without wasting time.

by Michele Peterson

Contents

Introduction

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 condo apartments, stayed with friends and stayed in every neighbourhood.

A former investment executive turned travel writer, I author the Fodor’s Guide to Oaxaca’s Coast, Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, the Puerto Escondido Travel Essentials  iPhone app (currently under redevelopment), the Puerto Escondido Travel Essentials Facebook  page and have written about Oaxaca for magazines and publications such as enRoute, WestJet and TravelAgeWest. I want you to enjoy exploring Puerto Escondido as much as we have and have written this Puerto Escondido Guide to help you do just that.

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 under the radar.  In the late 1960s, it was actually identified by the Mexican government and the Inter-American Development Bank as one of six beautiful beach areas  — along with Cancun, Huatulco, Loreto, Los Cabos and Zihuatanejo — that could be developed into tourist destinations.

After much deliberation on climate, beaches and other factors, Puerto Escondido, Cancun and Ixtapa (Zihuatanejo) were chosen to be the next, big resort destinations in Mexico, joining Acapulco on the world stage of glamorous sun-kissed resorts popular with Hollywood A-listers.

The newly-formed Fonatur then set about expropriating land and developing the infrastructure of roads, airports, sewage treatment systems and electricity needed to support their vision for these new resort destinations.

However, due to legal problems securing all of the necessary beachfront land in Puerto Escondido, Fonatur eventually abandoned its plans for Puerto Escondido and set its sights on the Bahias de Huatulco.

So that explains why today, its Huatulco, rather than Puerto Escondido, that’s the largest resort destination on Mexico’s southern 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.

What Puerto Escondido is Famous For

Chef Tony aka The Mexykan shopping at Benito Juarez Market in Puerto Escondido Credit Brian Overcast

Chef Tony The Mexykan at Benito Juarez Market Puerto Escondido Credit Brian Overcast

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.

Authentic Mexico

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 an authentic Mexican experience that will appeal to travellers interested in speaking Spanish, shopping in traditional markets and meeting locals.

Surfing in Puerto Escondido

Many visitors are drawn to Puerto Escondido on the Oaxacan Coast 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 55,000 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.

Food Scene

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.

Fresh fruit and veggies at Zicatela Market in Puerto Escondido

Fresh fruit and veggies at Zicatela Market in Puerto Escondido

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 authentic Oaxacan atmosphere.

mercado zicatela in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido’s modern Zicatela Market even features ocean views

For cascades of flowers, tropical produce, fresh-ground Oaxacan coffee and more, you 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 several restaurants including many specializing in serving 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.

Read more:

Take a Cooking Class with The Mexykan  

Pluma Hidalgo Coffee Could Be the Best Coffee You’ll Ever Taste 

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.

Read more: 

9 Tips for a Romantic Getaway in Puerto Escondido 

Massage Therapy in Puerto Escondido 

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.

Choosing a Hotel, Condo Apartment or Resort in Puerto Escondido

View from the rooftop of Aqua Luna Hotel Puerto Escondido Mexico

Work or live in Puerto Escondido!

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.

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.

Read more: 

Ultimate Guide to Finding a Vacation Rental in Puerto Escondido  

Weather in Puerto Escondido

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. Puerto Escondido weather is sunny and warm (but not  too hot) and prices are often at low-season rates.

Best Time to Visit Puerto Escondido Oaxaca

Swimming pool at Hotel Escondido Puerto Escondido

Dreamy swimming pool at Hotel Escondido

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

Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido

Day of the Dead sugar candy skeletons 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.

Although you won’t see Day of the Dead recognized to the same extent as in other places in Mexico, you will still be able to notice many Day of the Dead elements around town such as enormous bunches of marigolds, altars, candles and marzipan candies in the shapes of skulls. You can also shop for pan de muerto (special sweet bread) in stands set up in and around Mercado Benito Juárez and Parque Idilio.
Read our Top 10 Amazing Traditions in Mexico on Day of the Dead to learn more about food to eat, how to decorate a home altar, Day of the Dead costumes and other  traditions.

Fiestas de Noviembre

Folkloric dancers at Playa Manzanillo, Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Folkloric dancers at Playa Manzanillo, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca Mexico

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 2018 event 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

How to celebrate Australia Day in Puerto Escondido

How to celebrate 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 five main beaches, each with its own 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 five main beaches which also include the idyllic beach at Puerto Angelito Beach and Playa Principal.

Carrizalillo Beach

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. Loungers are available to rent or come free with a minimum drink or food purchase per person. Access to the walkway to the Playa Carizalillo’s stairs is through an orange archway on the Rinconada near  El Cafecito.

Beautiful Carrizalillo Beach in Puerto Escondido

Beautiful Carrizalillo Beach in Puerto Escondido

Bacocho Beach and Villa Sol Beach Club

Beach Club Villa Sol at Bacocho Beach

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.

Read More:

Beginner’s Guide to Puerto Escondido Beaches 

Roca Blanca Beach: Day Trip to Untouched Mexico 

10 Best Mariachi Songs For A Day At The Beach

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.

AeroTucan Airlines

This tiny airline operates small Cessnas that fly from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido and Huatulco regularly. The Puerto Escondido route is piloted by Don Vega who has flown the route thousands of times which offers some comfort to those with a fear of flying. 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.

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:

4:00 am

5:00 am

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

951 226-7419  

 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) 

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. See below for information on getting from Huatulco Airport to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.

Read:  3 Best Mexico City Airport Hotels.  

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.

Read our Guide on Getting from Huatulco Airport to Puerto Escondido  for a full analysis and step-by step instructions; and out guide to Huatulco’s Best Beaches for some travel inspiration!

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 one of the small stores 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

Puerto Escondido Crime and Safety

Is Puerto Escondido safe? Both Huatulco and Puerto Escondido enjoy reputations as a safe destinations for tourists. But it pays to use common sense when visiting. Here are some travel safety tips:

  1. Lifeguards rescue 800 people from drowning each year. Heed red flag warnings and don’t enter the water on dangerous beaches (La Punta, Bacocho & Zicatela in the Santa Maria Colotepec municipality).
  2. 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 long sleeved shirts and pants. Read 12 Ways to Protect Yourself from Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya virus
  3. Walking alone at night on the beach isn’t a good idea anywhere so don’t make a habit of it here.
  4. Keep hydrated and avoid the midday sun.
  5. Robberies have been reported on the Andedor Escenico  and the stretch of beach between La Punta and Brisas de Zicatela so carry little cash with you when you go.
  6. 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 vehicle.
  7. 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.
  8. Businesses can vary their hours without notice, construction or strikes can cause detours and some restaurants even change location each season. It’s always worth asking around before heading out.
  9. Many businesses have no street numbers and are shown as s/n. This app has tried to accurately pinpoint location and provide landmarks for reference but it’s always worth carrying a business card from your hotel so you can easily return back should you become lost or disoriented.

Read more about staying safe:

12 Ways to Protect Yourself from Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya virus

Best Restaurants in Puerto Escondido

Almoraduz Restaurant

Almoraduz Restaurant Puerto Escondido

Almoraduz Restaurant Puerto Escondido

At Almoraduz Restaurant on the Rinconada, chef/owners Shalxali and Quetzalcoatl Zurita are the creative forces behind dishes and cocktails that are a spin on traditional Oaxacan cuisine. Sample local ingredients such as Istmeño cheese, tepiche (a flavourful herb) and beef tongue in chapuline (toasted chile grasshopper) sauce.  This might be your only chance to sample a hibiscus margarita featuring local mezcal, so if it’s available, be sure to order it.

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.

Brad’s Split Coconut

Live music, home-style BBQ  and Brad’s winning personality are the ingredients behind why Brad’s Split Coconut has been going strong for decades and its location under a set of shady palm trees on Marinero Beach is its best. Grab a plastic chair, dig your toes into the sand and dive into a rib dinner, burger or fish from his “bone suckin’ good’ barbecue.  

Despite experiencing a serious accident during Hurricane Carlotta in 2012, Owner Brad Lopez Benning, who hails from Atlanta via Mexico City, returned with a new lease on life and inspiration for “The Split.” Located directly on the beach, this bar is a fun place to hang out, listen to the waves, watch a sports game on the big screen TV or play a game of horseshoes.  It’s located across from Hotel Santa Fe through the walkway directly on Marinero Beach. 

Cayuco

From the chocolate in mole negro to chapulines (toasted grasshoppers) to “string” cheese, Oaxaca’s classic cuisine is known for its complexity and diversity. At Cayuco, Chefs Roberto Cruz Vasquez and José Miguel Cruz Arana have created a menu that takes traditional ingredients and reworks them in fresh and exciting ways. For a twist on Catch of the Day, dorado comes lightly cooked with its freshness highlighted by fragrant spices from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Sauces burst with flavour, punched with chile-fuelled power and locally-sourced herbs such as pungent epazote. A fine artisanal mezcal from the nicely-curated selection–arroqueño, tepextate, barril, mexicano, madre cuixe, bicuixe, sierrudo, and papalometl–makes a fitting conclusion to this fine dining experience. This beachfront restaurant is located almost directly across from the Santa Fe Hotel on the beach side  of Calle del Morro on Zicatela Beach.

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, 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. 

 Espadin Restaurant

If you have time for just one restaurant, Espadin should be top of your list. Located within the picturesque boutique hotel Villas Carrizalillo on a cliff overlooking the beach of the same name, it offers a memorable dining experience.

Fish dishes are stand-outs (even the fish sandwich with its latticework of Baja style chipotle sauce is a winner) but Chef Patricio Sandoval, founder of the well-known Mercadito restaurants in Chicago, New York and Miami, has many other popular dishes on the menu such as the roasted beet salad, chicken in mole negro and shrimp tacos.  Espadin is a type of agave so it’s not surprising that the restaurant-bar also carries a wide selection of high-quality mezcal.

Las Margaritas

Feeling weary from a morning at the Benito Juárez market? This restaurant is truly an oasis from the bustling street scene along 8a Norte. Dishes such as grilled beef arranchera come with creamy guacamole, green and red salsas, an order of handmade tortillas, black beans and grilled nopal cactus. Portions of brochettes of fish are so generous you can take some home for your next meal.

 The pleasant shaded courtyard, breezy fans, friendly service and immaculate washrooms make it a place you’ll want to return to again and again. Daily specials are exceptional value. Look for Las Margaritas awning at the corner of Avenida Oaxaca and 8a Norte across from Benito Juárez Market. 

Los Caracoles

Tucked in a low building on the street leading to Marinero Beach, Los Caracoles is a small, peaceful restaurant with an open kitchen and inspired, affordable dishes. Many consider it one of Puerto’s top dining destinations.

The eclectic menu, posted on a blackboard daily, might feature crema de elote (corn) soup, or albondigas (spiced meatballs), or moist fish with pineapple. Seasonal ingredients get up-to-date treatment. The complimentary dessert (delectable coconut mouse is a standout) always gets top marks.

Chef Francisco Garcia studied at the Culinary Institute in Puebla and is surely one of Oaxaca’s top young chefs. Low lighting and traditional Oaxaca table linens make this restaurant fine for a romantic evening out. Located directly across the street from Flor de Maria Hotel and open for dinner ( check for hours). Be sure to make a reservation

Paris Le Bistro

French cuisine in Puerto? Mais oui! Since opening its doors in November 2011, Paris Le Bistro located on the Rinconada has built a loyal following thanks to a magical combination of fine cuisine and good prices. The ultra-romantic garden patio with its twinkling blue lights and Eiffel Tower motif adds to its charm.

Order a la carte with starters such as goat cheese salad or a Pâté and charcuterie plate followed by quiche or fish of the day. Or, follow the lead of those in the know and go for La formule “ARDOISE GOURMANDE” a set menu of your choice of main, dessert and a glass of house wine. Don’t miss the Tarte Tatin, a caramelized apple confection served with creamy artisanal ice cream that showcases the owner’s background as a skilled  pastry chef.

Pascale

Don’t be surprised if you spot chef Ludo Tisseur talking with local fishermen on Playa Principal. One of his culinary specialties is fish and he’s passionate about freshness and quality of the catch of the day. Born in France and trained in Spain, he presides over one of Puerto’s most romantic restaurants. Situated directly on the beach beneath graceful palm trees, this is an elegant dining experience with linens, candles and fresh flowers. Top dishes include fish en papillotes or a worthy splurge, fresh lobster ( must be ordered in advance.). Desserts are suitably decadent. Reservations recommended.

Read more about restaurants, bars and food:

7 Epic Breakfasts in Puerto Escondido 

It’s Easy to Fall in Love with One Love Restaurant: A Review of One Love Restaurant Vegan Food 

Weird and Wonderful Foods to Try in Puerto Escondido

Cooking Class with The Mexycan ( and a recipe for salsa verde) 

Chowing down on huauzontle at Jardin de Rafaela Restaurant 

Day Trips from Puerto Escondido including Mazunte, San Agustinillo, Roca Blanca

Pacific Coast of Mexico in Mazunte, Oaxaca

View of Pacific Coast in Mazunte, Oaxaca

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:

7 Reasons to Love Mazunte 

Day Pass to Dreams Huatulco ( Bring the Kids)

Roca Blanca Beach: Day Trip to Untouched Mexico 

Escape to sea-turtle country at Gecko Rock Resort 

Take a Boat Ride through Lagunas de Chacahua National Park

Top Things to Do in Puerto Escondido

Dolphins seen on a tour with Deep Blue Dive in Puerto Escondido

Dolphins seen on a tour with Deep Blue Dive Photo Credit: Deep Blue Dive

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.

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 where 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:

Swimming with the Stars in Puerto Escondido’s Bioluminescent Lagoon 

Horseback riding to Atotonilco Waterfall and Hot Springs 

Alligators, Iguanas and more in Barra de Navidad 

7 Awesome Natural Wonders in Puerto Escondido  

Harvesting the Purpura Sacred Sea Snail with Mixteco Weavers  

Celebrating Day of the Dead in Puerto Escondido 

Celebrating Australia Day in Puerto Escondido 

Massage Therapy in Puerto Escondido

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).

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

Luxury villa at Vivo Resorts

You may be tempted to move to Puerto Escondido

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
3. Translation
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 lucysonido@hotmail.com for cost estimates. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday-Friday

Surf Lessons and Surf Camp in Puerto Escondido

Barrel Surfing at Puerto Escondido Credit Zicazteca

Barrel Surfing at Puerto Escondido Credit Zicazteca

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. Fortunately, there are plenty of surf schools in Puerto Escondido to choose from.

When planning your trip, note there are two surfing seasons. 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.

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.

Save it to Pinterest for later! 

Count on this insiders travel guide to plan the best vacation in Puerto Escondido Mexico. Packed with travel tips and detailed information, you'll discover where to stay, the best beaches and restaurants, where to surf or study Spanish and more.#mexico