One of the best kept secrets of Mexico is the city of Puerto Escondido. The typical tourist to Mexico may think that cities like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta have the best beaches. But in my opinion, nothing beats the beauty and fun of Puerto Escondido beaches. From amazing surfs to white sands to gentl ocean waves, the beaches of Puerto Escondido have a little something to offer every member of your family.
We spent a month of sun and beach play in the coastal town of Puerto Escondido. It was so much fun playing on all the Puerto Escondido beaches. While we’ve always enjoyed visiting the towns of central Mexico, it’s always nice to head out to the coast and play in the ocean.
This post was updated on May 20, 2020.
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Basic facts about Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is a small town in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Compared to other Mexican cities we’ve visited, it’s a relatively young town. The city was established as a port around the 1930’s. Today, the population stands at around 45,000. Because of its small size, it makes it super easy to get around and explore the town.
Because there are only domestic flights that come into Puerto Escondido, and the highways leading into the city are not that well maintained, tourism to Puerto Escondido is somewhat limited. What this means for you and your family is that you won’t have to fight through crowds to enjoy the Puerto Escondido beaches!
There are many independently owned hotels available for families throughout the city. Take a look through some of the lodging options offered for Puerto Escondido in the Lonely Planet Mexico guide book. Additionally, families can find many options for Airbnbs.
Finding flights to Puerto Escondido
Unlike other Mexican beach towns like Puerto Vallarta or Cancun, Puerto Escondido is relatively unknown. This is partially because Puerto Escondido isn’t easily accessible. Traveling from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido by bus takes seven or eight hours, along winding roads. And as I mentioned already, the Puerto Escondido airport only serves domestic flights. So visiting Puerto Escondido beaches takes a bit of work.
With that said, it’s not impossible to find flights to Puerto Escondido. You can find non-stop flights from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido through Viva Aerobus, Interjet, and Aeromar. Volaris also has non-stop flights to Puerto Escondido from cities like Guadalajara. And there’s a small airline called Aerotucan that offers direct flights to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca City. You just have to be comfortable with taking a small prop plane.
If you’re coming from elsewhere around Mexico, you may have to fly to Mexico City and then catch flights from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido. Do a little research ahead of time to find the flights to Puerto Escondido that work for you and your travel schedule.
Things to do in Puerto Escondido
Once you arrive in town, you might be wondering what to do in Puerto Escondido. Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do in Puerto Escondido. Besides exploring the Puerto Escondido beaches, you can take your pick from snorkeling, fishing, dolphin watching, bird watching, bioluminescence tours, and even horseback riding. Dozens of tour companies exist to help you take advantage of all the things to do in Puerto Escondido.
One of our favorite activities that we did while in Puerto Escondido was doing the baby sea turtle release with Eco Adventures Puerto Escondido. Sea turtles are an endangered species. And of the thousands of baby sea turtles that are hatched on the Puerto Escondido beaches each year, only about 1% make it to adulthood.
Communities in Puerto Escondido have stepped up to create turtle sanctuaries, where the baby turtles can hatch safely. Visitors can come and release the baby sea turtles into the sand so they can find their way to the ocean. This type of conservation activity has become one of the popular things to do in Puerto Escondido. And I think it’s a great example of how tourism can be a force for good.
Discovering Puerto Escondido beaches
Of course, the reason for coming to Puerto Escondido is to experience the Puerto Escondido beaches. There are a total of eight, spreading out from the northwest to the southeast, along the Pacific coast. During our month stay, we were able to visit all eight of the beaches, and test out which ones were perfect for families.
Playa Bacocho is the furthest northwest of the Puerto Escondido beaches. It’s pretty secluded, so you’ll need access to transportation to get there. Unless you’re willing to walk. There are a couple of resorts that have direct access to the beach. Playa Bacocho is one of the locations where you can find turtle sanctuaries, so many people come to the beach for baby sea turtle releases rather than for swimming.
Nearby to Playa Bacocho is Playa Coral. It’s a secluded beach set in a slight bay. From the road, it’s about a five or ten minute walk down a sandy trail to get to the beach. The beach itself is gorgeous. And we loved that there weren’t a lot of beach goers when we were there. But we quickly found out why. The waves at Playa Coral can get pretty strong, and the water gets deep really quickly. So it’s not ideal for children or swimmers who are not that skilled. Plus, the beach itself has a lot of rocks once you get in the water, so it makes standing in the water quite uncomfortable.
We really enjoyed Playa Carrizalillo. Like Playa Coral, it’s a bit of a walk downhill to get down to the beach. There are steps with railings, so you won’t have to worry about falling. But if you have difficulty with stairs, you may want to consider a different beach. Unlike Playa Coral, the waves aren’t super powerful, so it was a nice beach for boogie boarding and body surfing. I hear it’s also a good beach for learning how to surf. Just a word of caution, the water does get deep pretty quickly, so make sure that young kids are supervised when they’re playing in the water.
Among the Puerto Escondido beaches, Playa Angelito is very popular among the locals and Mexican tourists. This is where many of the sea safari tour boats dock, so you’ll see a few boats going in and out of the beach. The water is very shallow, and because it’s set in a bay, you won’t find any strong waves. There are also a lot of restaurants located right on the beach, so you won’t have to search far for food after a long afternoon of beach play.
Directly across from Playa Angelito, on the other side of the bay, is Playa Manzanillo. Like Playa Angelito, the water in this beach is very shallow, so it’s ideal for families with young kids. The waves are gentle, but still fun for boogie boarding. It’s not as crowded as Playa Angelito, although it’s still popular among locals and Mexican tourists. There are a few large rocks in the water, so be aware when you’re swimming. The water is pretty clear on this beach, so you’ll be able to see where you’re stepping and swimming.
One of the original main beaches of Puerto Escondido is Playa Principal. This beach sits on the main bay of Puerto Escondido. Many fishing boats dock there. The water is fairly shallow, and the waves are gentle because of the bay, so young kids can swim in it just fine. We didn’t enjoy it much though, because the water wasn’t as clear as beaches like Playa Manzanillo. There’s also more of a party vibe around that area, as evidenced by the many restaurants nearby selling huge cups of michelada, beer mixed with lime juice, tomato juice, and chili spices. So it’s not super ideal for families.
Puerto Escondido is known for being a surfing town. And among the Puerto Escondido beaches, Playa Zicatella is famous for its surf. It’s one of the largest beaches in Puerto Escondido. And while the waves may be too strong for swimming (we saw some pretty big waves while we were there!), you can still wade in and play in the water. Playa Zicatela has a lot of high end restaurants lining the beach, and it’s a great place to catch the sunset. You can also find people doing other beach activities, like volleyball and yoga!
Another popular surfing beach is Playa Punta. This beach is the furthest southeast of the Puerto Escondido beaches. There’s a distinctly surfer vibe to this beach, and you can see it by the laid back atmosphere of the yoga studios and coffee shops that line the beach. Playa Punta is a popular place for surfing lessons, and although the waves can get strong, kids can enjoy wading in the water and playing in the sand. We visited this beach on our last day in Puerto Escondido, but we wished that we had come sooner. It was a pretty fun beach to explore.
Enjoying our time at the Puerto Escondido beaches
We had quite an enjoyable time in Puerto Escondido. Besides visiting Puerto Escondido beaches, we spent some time exploring other beaches nearby. We had some friends staying near Puerto Angel, so we spent a weekend visiting them. There are some fantastic beaches around Puerto Angel, including Playa Panteon and Playa Zipolite.
We felt like a month was a sufficient amount of time to experience all the things to do in Puerto Escondido. Between playing on the beach, checking out all the restaurants, and trying out the different activities, it was a full month of outdoor fun. For families who enjoy beaches and nature, Puerto Escondido is a great alternative to resort areas like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re planning to visit Puerto Escondido, you should check out these beaches for yourself. Let me know which of the Puerto Escondido beaches is your favorite in the comments.
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