PUERTO ESCONDIDO BEACHES: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
In Spanish, Puerto Escondido means ‘hidden port’. Located on the Pacific Coast of southern Mexico, Puerto (as the locals call it) is exactly that. Its home to around 50,000 people and some of the best beaches in Mexico!
The tropical paradise has something for everyone, surfies, hippies, families and retirees. Everyone can enjoy its delights. And we were truly blessed to call this little piece of paradise home for the first eight months of our journey here.
The word is out on this Mexican jewel though, so you had better get in quick before the crowds arrive!
But before we get into telling you all about Puerto’s best asset – its beaches. Something to note is that the area explodes with Mexican tourists during Semana Santa (Easter) and Christmas, so if you want the tranquil version of Puerto, avoid these times.
When we put the wheels in motion for our dream lifestyle, we were looking for our little piece of paradise, our utopia, our happy place and we found it here in Puerto 😊😊
Puerto has an excellent selection of beaches; beaches for surfing, beaches for swimming and barren beaches perfect for long walks.
Often in Mexico, you need to pay to get to a beach, or there could be restricted access due to large resorts. I’m happy to tell you that this doesn’t happen in Puerto. All of the beaches here are easy to access and within a 10 minute cab ride of each other.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of what’s on offer…
Playa Carrizalillo is the number 1 beach in Puerto, in our opinion. We hands-down love this beach! During our 5 month stay in the Rinconada area of Puerto we swam here a lot. It became part of our daily exercise routine and an integral part of our life. With 168 steps down and 168 steps up, this beach makes you work for it! But the photo opportunities from the top are worth it – it is truly ‘Insta’ worthy.
Once at Carrizalillo beach, you will find about ½ dozen restaurants to enjoy food, refreshments and hire a deck chair from (this usually costs around 200 pesos for the day). We visited almost every day and generally opted to sit on the sand, head in for a swim or two and relax in the sun.
The waves along the break here can look pretty big. However, they tend to roll in and not dump you, except if you’re right on the waters-edge. That’s where we often saw people standing in the shallows knocked down by the waves and rolled up on the sand like skittles. It was a joy to watch them having the best time and exploding in fits of laughter as it happened.
Don’t get intimidated by the break though, once past this small section of waves you can float in bliss with no currents or rips to worry about at all. Carrizalillo provides a very safe place to swim.
We also had some great snorkelling experiences to the right-hand side of the beach (right as you look out at the ocean). On several occasions we lugged our gear down the 168 steps to enjoy the excellent snorkelling to be had watching multiple varieties of fish and other sea life such as turtles (we wished we had a GoPro to capture the underwater wonders).
Carrizalillo is also an excellent location for wanna-be surfers. The break here is nice and calm, unlike Zicatela or La Punta beach. You can arrange lessons right on the beach and test your skills on the long, smooth waves. Alternatively, if you are in Rinconada on the “restaurant strip”, you can visit Oasis Surf School for great prices and people.
Still in the area, and the next beach north of Carrizalillo, is Playa Coral. This beach is not well signed and it’s a bit of a hidden cove, so look for a dirt track at the end of Calle Dos Norte or ask the taxi driver to point it out (I’m not joking).
This beach may be hard to find but it’s well worth it!
Playa Coral has beautiful blue water and is a great spot for snorkelling. Don’t be surprised to arrive and find you have the beach to yourself or your one of just a handful of locals who know how to get down to it.
Once at the beach, you will find palm trees casting their shade on the sand, large trees to sit under and relax away from the sun and open areas to enjoy the sun’s rays.
There’s an option for all types of beach goers.
There is very little down there apart from a small café that we saw open rarely. The café is in the bottom of the abandoned resort that once sat on top of the hill. We heard stories that a section of the hotel slid down the hill to the sand many years ago after heavy rain.
The story and the isolation of this place makes it a must see.
A beach made for a long morning walk or a romantic evening stroll hand in hand.
At the beginning of Playa Bacocho are two beach clubs; Club de Playa Cocos and Club de Playa Villa Sol (Villa Sol). Villa Sol is excellent and offers a day pass for 200 pesos. This allows you to use their facilities all day, and at the end of the day the 200 pesos comes off your food and drink cuenta (bill/check). Food and drinks are very reasonably priced here with a cerveca (beer) setting you back around 35 pesos.
In the high season, Villa Sol has free movies, screened in English, on the beach at 7pm every Wednesday night. There is something great about watching a movie on the beach as the sun sets and the ocean roars in the background, uniquely relaxing.
Also, at 5pm every day on Playa Bacocho there is a release of newly hatched turtles. For 100 pesos you receive a 20-minute educational talk and then you get the opportunity to name, photograph and release your own turtle.
The volunteers who take care of the hatchlings will let you know about the challenges faced by these cute little guys in their first moments of life. Even just hatching and making it to the water is monumental.
Unfortunately, turtle eggs are still seen as a delicacy by many locals and often freshly laid batches are dug up to sell or eat. Volunteers run regular campaigns to try to educate the community in a hope to change their ways, but it’s a long road.
Tortuga hatcheries are very common throughout the Mexican coastlines; many attract sponsorship from businesses to help protect the turtles. The hatcheries play a key role in ensuring eggs are protected until they are hatched. Once hatched, the baby turtles make it to the ocean. Only 1 in 1000 turtles survive from eggs to adult, and the hope is that by providing the protection they do, hatcheries increase the odds in favour of the turtles.
This beach goes on forever, about 2.7 km we’ve been told. It’s a world-class surfing destination and is also known as the Mexpipe. Waves here reach staggering sizes with perfect tubes and a sandy bottom.
Playa Zicatela is home to two international surfing competitions; in July each year the Big Wave comp and Mexpipe Warrior comp a few months later. These competitions need to be seen to believed, they are jaw dropping!
Until we came here in 2018, I had never seen a surfer wearing crash helmets, inflatable vests and padded pants.
Once decked out, the rider needs to be towed out to the back of the break, just to catch the wave. These were some serious waves!
If you are into food, the northern end of Playa Zicatela provides a huge selection of restaurants on the beach.
We love visiting Playa Zicatela for a sunset drink. The Mexican sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean is nothing short of spectacular and we never tire of it and neither will you I’m sure.
La Punta is on the southern end of Playa Zicatela and is where dozens of surfies hang out ready to catch the perfect point break waves.
Life is a little bit more chilled and definitely ‘hippie-ish’ at this end of town – wearing shoes is optional.
You’ll also find a great range of reasonably priced alternative and Mexican restaurants at La Punta. Being Aussie Travellers, we often went to El Lugar, where Aussie Sue the Manager/Owner, regularly bakes amazing meat pies that provided us with a little taste of home!
Perched on top of the hill at La Punta there is a little lighthouse we liked to walk up to. This trek was only accessible at low tide. There is cave access through the rocks below the lighthouse which you need to navigate in order to get through to the next beach along. Once through the cave, you can climb the rocks to the lighthouse and look down along the whole of La Punta to Zicatela and beyond.
The same beach also has a turtle sanctuary about 20 minutes walk further south. This area feels very untouched, and you’ll regularly come across turtle nests and tracks on the sand from the night before. We loved the seclusion that this beach offered, most of the time we would be the only ones there. It felt like our own private beach to wander like new world explorers.
Similar to Playa Zicatela, care needs to be taken swimming at La Punta, watch for currents and large waves and don’t risk going out too far, or better still DO NOT SWIM HERE go to Carrizalillo instead.
Playa Manzanillo & Playa Angelito
We have grouped these two petite beaches together because they’re right next to each other and only separated by a short walk across the sand and some rocks.
Both are super popular with the locals and tourists. They offer safe swimming, great snorkelling and a selection of restaurants and deck chairs to hire.
The area is also a marina for many local fishing boats and tour boat operators. Go here if you’re keen for activities like dolphin watching or fishing tours. Just chat to one of the many hawkers on the beach.
Playa Manzanillo and Play Angelito are close to the centro of Puerto Escondido and a taxi ride down to these beaches is around 35 pesos.
They a well worth a visit.
Bahia (pronounced Ba-ia like bay) Principal is right in the heart of Puerto and one of the most popular beaches with local families. It’s a busy spot for swimming, eating, loud music and good old fashion fun.
There is no shortage of great Mexican restaurants, with tables and chairs right on the sand overlooking the water. Here you can kick off your shoes and feel the sand under your feet while sipping a cerveza and enjoying the view.
Bahia is another place to go to arrange tours for fishing and whale and dolphin watching. There are dozens of boats moored right offshore in the protected bay, tour operators walk the beach and will offer you prices and details on the spot.
Tours typically start at sunrise and run for around three hours to ensure you aren’t out in the heat of the day. On our trip, the skipper took us out searching for whales, and we were fortunate to find a mother and calf. After which, we spent a few minutes slowly gliding alongside them watching the two below the surface and enjoying a brief part of their journey north.
Next, we headed further offshore and found dozens of dolphins, along the way we stopped several times to enjoy swimming with the dolphins and turtles.
A great adventure and worth getting up early to enjoy.
Whichever beach you choose in Puerto, I’m sure you will be delighted.