Puerto Escondido is a beach town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, one that I partially want to tell everyone about and partially want to keep as much of a secret as possible. Its name translates to Hidden Port, although it has become pretty popular amongst backpackers and Mexican vacationers. Despite this, it still boasts a laid-back vibe, budget-friendly prices, and some of the best beaches in Mexico.
Basically, forget Cancun and Cabo and Acapulco or wherever else you’re thinking of going. Puerto Escondido is that Mexican beach vacation you’ve been craving.
The Best Beach to Watch the Sunset: Playa Coral
For sunset chasers, Playa Coral is where you want to be. With a clear, unobstructed view of the setting sun, the often-empty Playa Coral becomes significantly more magical. The sky will swirl with colors. There is no better way to kick off the night than with a few sunset beers (or mezcal if you are feeling more aggressive).
You could spend hours here watching the sky change colors and basking in the setting sun. The beach itself is also stunning. The waves can get a little rough but it is not a bad place to have an epic sunset swim. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and have a few doggos as your sunset company.
The Best Beach for Nightlife: Playa Zicatela
This beach itself is nothing too special but at night, it transforms into the main hub for nightlife-goers. Dozens of bars and clubs line Avenida de los Morros, the street adjacent to Playa Zicatela. I was genuinely surprised at how nice the nightclubs were for such a small Mexican city. I’m talking like three-story open-air clubs with rooftop bars and patios stretching onto the beach. The DJs were always incredible, too.
Puerto Escondido is very popular among young backpackers so the bar and nightclub scene tends to be very gringo-centric but if you are looking for something more authentic, there are salsa bars and local hotspots to discover as well.
Towards the far end of Zicatela, almost all the way to La Punta, make sure you stop by Pepe’s house to have some of his increasingly famous fish and shrimp tacos. It isn’t a restaurant so lower your expectations of a beachside paradise dining experience. Pepe might come off a little rough-around-the-edges at first but you will warm up to him… eventually. This is especially true once you get the first bite of his tacos. It won’t matter whether you waited 30 minutes or 3 hours for them.
The Most Beautiful Beach in Puerto Escondido: Playa Carrizalillo
With lush, green cliffs flanking each side of this white sandy beach, Playa Carrizalillo is the most beautiful beach in Puerto Escondido. When you first get a glimpse of the beach as you descend down flight after flight of stairs, you feel like you’ve just entered paradise. I don’t mean to be cliched or cheesy but as someone who feels relatively indifferent to beaches, Playa Carrizalillo actually blew my mind. Although Playa Carrizalillo is small, it belongs to a very small club of beaches that I actually enjoyed.
Enjoy yourself down here because the climb back up the stairs will be brutal. Definitely do not let that deter you from enjoying the incredible waters here.
The Best Beaches For Swimming: Playa Puerto Angelito and Playa Manzanilla
While the waves of the other beaches are often rough and strong, the adjacent beaches of Puerto Angelito and Manzanilla are much more calm and relaxed. They are both beautiful with the pristine blue waters and white sand flanked by lush, green cliffs. A short stretch of rocks separate the two beaches and they might as well just be considered one beach.
Both of them are popular among the locals so you will mostly encounter local families lounging around as opposed to a dominant tourist scene. Restaurants and bars line the beach and they’re all willing to let you have a sun bed and umbrella if you buy something, which makes it a pretty great place to hang out for the entire day. Once you get over the beauty of Playa Carrizalillo, you’ll probably be content with walking the extra 5-10 minutes to Puerto Angelito and spending the day here instead.
I didn’t snorkel here but I was told by a local that it is the best beach for snorkeling. It is best to go early in the morning, she said. I have also been told that, while it is rare, you might encounter sea turtles and other creatures while snorkeling.
The Beach Where You Can Release Baby Turtles: Playa Bacocho
During sea turtle hatching season, Playa Bacocho is the place to be. Although the long strip of beach itself is nothing too stunning or jaw-dropping, it is home to the sea turtle release center where you can adopt a baby sea turtle and help release it into the ocean. This is an extremely special experience and one that costs only 100 pesos.
The organization, Vive Mar, is entirely volunteer-run and very dedicated to their mission. After a quick informational introduction, you’ll get a little jicara bowl to keep your sea turtle in. After the inevitable photoshoot, you will eventually release it onto the beach. Once it hops out of the bowl, it waddles towards the ocean, threatened only by small crabs that will try to snatch them. Usually, a newborn sea turtle’s chance of survival is only 2%. However, if they make it to the ocean, that drastically rises to 20%. In order to not interfere with the circle of life, your role in the sea turtle release is minimal. At the most, you are allowed to throw sand at the crabs to deter them from grabbing your sea turtle.
You can go just to watch the sea turtle release or you can adopt your own baby sea turtle. Whichever you choose to do, it is an exciting and adorable experience. You definitely cannot leave Puerto Escondido without this experience. The sea turtle release was easily one of my most memorable moments while traveling.
The best beaches in Puerto Escondido are stunning enough to hang with the best of them. The city of Puerto Escondido is still small but ever-developing. As it becomes more of a tourist hotspot, you should consider making this your next beach vacation. Puerto Escondido’s beautiful beaches and chill vibe make it a perfect place to relax, whether it’s just for a few days or a few years.