Ahhhh, Puerto Escondido. Mi amor. All up we spent about 8 months in this paradise/developing town. Everyday for me it was a harsh contrast between poverty and stunning tropical beaches. For my partner Zac it was great living on the beach so close to "Mexican Pipe" Playa Zicatela.
Each sunset in Puerto Escondido is beautiful, it was my favourite part of the day, laying in my hammock under the palapa watching the sky change colours. Lets see, I can tell you my favourite places to eat, how we found long term accommodation, where to party, best forms of transport and what activities are worth doing.
Lets start with food and drink, because obviously it's the most important.
My favourite spots in Puerto Escondido
A terrace restaurant overlooking Playa Zicatela, serving dishes from around the world. They have great veggie options and fresh fish dishes as well as a great happy hour from 4-7 pm every day if I am remembering properly. Best time to go is happy hour, if your are not surfing you can watch the last of the days surfers from the balcony and also catch the glorious sunset too.
Best tacos in town, HANDS DOWN. Just thinking of these guys tacos makes me want to make the trip down to Puerto. They only do tacos here alongside a fews beers and house made mezcal. You can order two or three of your choice of fish, veggie, and a few other options. I am telling you that three will be heaps, as they are full to the brim with the freshest ingredients in town. I can't wait to eat here again.
Delicious smoothies/juices and heaps of options for vegetable eaters like myself. The food can take a bit of time coming out but you have time, you are in Mexico right? They always show UFC here too, heaps of locals and travellers come to watch the fights and grab a burger. They have accommodation out the back too and a yoga studio above the restaurant that comes under the name Casa Corzo.
Now, I have no idea what this place is called but, it is right across the road from Spirulina. Next to a hotel called "Casa Piedra Parada".
They have great veggie burritos for $30 pesos, and they are big. They have two veggie options for the burrito, one is Vegetarian and is not good and one is called Vegetable and is delicious. So pick the right one. All I know is that if you a looking for a cheap, yummy lunch, grab a vegetable burrito from this place.
Hummus lovers rejoice. You can find tasty falafel and hummus at two locations in Puerto. There is one shop along Calle El Morro on the Zicatela strip and another up in Rinconada. Cheap and tasty food, but their hours vary.
Located up in town on 1ra Calle Norte. You will find delicious fried balls of potato goodness with flavours like dill and lime, garlic and rosemary and cheese. They have a good variety of snacks like samosas and little burritos with tots inside too... PERFECT for those comfort food days and the prices are incredibe. Oh and the also make tasty aqua fresca too, grab a glass with your order.
Located up near Playa Carrizalillo, in Rinconada on the main strip. Some say the pizza here is the best in town. It is not the best I have ever had but, yeah it is the best in town. And so is the fresh handmade pasta. They have a big menu of pizza and pasta options and when you are craving a big tasty bowl of pasta, this is where you go.
Transportation around Puerto Escondido
Transport around Puerto is easy peasy. Collectivos, which are like little trucks with a blue canopy on the back, carry people up and down the main highway all day. Jump on one from any point along the highway and at the end of your trip just ring the buzzer, get off and give the driver $8 - $10 pesos per person. Taxis are very cheap too, from the airport into town should cost you no more than $100 pesos and a short trip around town should be between $30 - $50 pesos. Always agree on a price before getting in the taxi to avoid any issues at the end. Or just hand over the $30 pesos and get out, no discussion.
Where to Drink in Puerto Escondido
There are many more food options all around Puerto Escondido, but the above are a great starting point. Now, lets check out where to grab a beverage or three after a hot day in the Mexican sun.
This is my favourite bar in Puerto. Right on Playa Zicatela and $20 peso Piña Colada refills during happy hour (4-8pm). The piñas come in a hollowed out pineapple which in my opinion just adds to the tropical as hell vibes. A great spot to watch the surf and sunsets too.
Wednesday night is the night to head to Congo Bar. Located in "old Puerto" where the night markets are. On Wednesdays it's Salsa Night, and it doesn't matter if you don't know how to dance. Just grab a cocktail (2x1 mojitos before 10pm I believe), find a seat and watch the crowd go crazy to the live band. You'll build up the courage eventually to have a boogie up the back or be a salsa champ and take the main floor. It's a pretty small venue and occasionally the crowd spills onto the street a bit, but thats not a problem, no one stops dancing.
Amar y Mar
I know this place because we used to live a few doors down from it right on the beach. I used to hate Monday nights because thats when they had their Manic Monday Parties. But aside from me being a grumpy neighbour, when we visited this place it drew a fair crowd. It is a beach club with a shipping container as the DJ platform, normally its gets going around 10 and finishes up about 3am. There is a food truck that comes to feed the partiers but the beers a pretty expensive for the area. It is also located in a pretty local neighbourhood called Los Tamarindos and may prove a bit tricky to find a cab home. Just walk up to the main highway and get home from there, walk in a group. It's dark as hell in Los Tamarindos.
Puerto Escondido Accomodations
Onto accommodation, when we first arrived in Puerto Escondido we stayed at a few places for the first few months before we traveled to Central America. After that we found our long term accommodation through one of our prior AirBnb hosts who had a few properties.
To secure a good price, we paid 6 months up front for our beach house, which included daily breakfast at the owners cafe, cleaning two times a week and services (wifi, gas, water etc.). When you pay a few months up front, the price should lower per month significantly. My suggestion is to explore Puerto for the right location for you and look for "Se Renta" signs on buildings and houses you like. Negotiate with the owners and try to get the best deal for you. Talk to shop owners, knock on the doors of buildings you like, generally hunt for a house/apartment that suits your budget and needs.
Here are the places I recommend on staying if you are just coming for a shorter trip:
We have stayed here twice and both times were great. This place is great for surfers, heaps of them stay here as it is super close to Playa Zicatela. The room prices a really reasonable too. There are rooms for budget travellers and also self contained private apartments for the traveller that wan't a bit of luxury. The on site cafe/bar has tasty food and drinks for great value also. The staff here are lovely and the owners ensure your stay is awesome. They have a great pool to escape the midday heat and a top floor terrace with a jacuzzi where you can take your own beers. Make a booking via email or also on AirBnb. (A link to one of the self contained apartments) Also, when booking via email, they will notify you of any room discounts they are running.
Located just a short walk to La Punta, the point break in Puerto Escondido. These cabañas a equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay. We stayed for a month before our Central America trip, and it flew by. There a three cabañas on the property, the home of the owners, a pool and also a little massage studio too. They have gorgeous green rain forests like gardens with frogs, ponds and turtles that
were always nice to come home to. The owners also have a surf shop on the point and run surf trips down the coast.
Other than the places above we relied on AirBnb to find our accommodation. If you are staying for a short time I recommend booking close to Playa Zicatela, as thats were all the action is. If you have time to spilt locations during your stay, mix it up with Zictatela and La Punta for a bit or variety. There are plenty of Hostels and Hotels around Puerto, just do your research as some are much better than others.
Puerto Escondido Activities
Well surfing is a no brainer. If you are new to surfing, check out Oasis Surf School, friends have given great reviews about their professionalism and quality of equipment. You can also hire boards along the main strip of Zicatela and La Punta, the prices can vary with the winds but shouldn't be more than $100 - $150 pesos a day.
-Playa Carizalillo is a stunning cove type of beach. You can surf there but it is great for swimming, snorkelling around the rocks and paddle boarding. There is a pretty steep stair case to access the beach that could prove difficult for some people. I personally took a minute to catch my breath every time I walked back up them. Once you reach the bottom of the steps, walk towards the water, if you are not keen on the main beach or if it is too crowded, head to your right and follow a little make shift path over to a little secluded cove. You can swim out to the main bay from here and there are no people most of the time. (Hidden cove only suggested for confident swimmers as there are rocks, currents and waves. Snorkel, paddle board and surf gear are available from the beach at various costs. Don't go above $150 pesos for a board and $80 pesos for snorkel gear)
-Playa San Agustin, and the bays of Huatulco are about 2-3 hours out of Puerto too, if you have the time and want to check them out you will see stunning crystal clear beaches with little reefs to explore.
I am not into it personally, but the town is built on it. Head to Playa Marineo and find your self a captain and a boat. Or, you can book tours through TripAdvisor.
I volunteered with Esteriliza Y Educa during my time here. They focus on education on animal welfare, de-sexing stray and pet dogs/cats in the area and also providing medical attention to animals in need. They run a Sunday clinic each week where locals bring their pets for surgery ($250 pesos) and general check ups. Also, about twice year they run FREE campaigns for people to bring their cats and dogs for de-sexing. The team at Esteriliza Y Educa are made up of Veterinarians, Vet nurses and helping hands. They can always use a spare hand and it is a great way to help the animals of Puerto Escondido.
There will most likely be plenty of "tour guides" trying to take you to either release turtles or this place. There is phosphorescence in this lagoon and it looks pretty magical at night, also its good for bird watchers, and crocodile enthusiasts. If you don't have your own transportation, dodge the dudes on the street and book through a good tour service such as Mike Mallone to ensure you get a quality experience.
I spent a fair chunk of my time in Puerto saluting the sun, and I tried many yoga places in town. Here are my favourite studios, all hold great classes for different types of yogis.
If JuJu is still teaching here, get to her class. It is a fantastic fast paced vinyasa flow that will raise your heart rate and give you a good sweat. The other instructors here have great classes too, each different and dynamic. The best part is that downstairs is Spirulina, so you can grab a post yoga smoothie. Check their black board out the front for up to date class times. ($80 pesos a class or you can buy class packs for a discount)
Great restorative classes using blocks, bands and rolls. If you are sore from surfing or exploring, pop in and sort out those achey bits. Located right next to AquaLuna Hotel, check their black board out the front for up to date class times. ($100 pesos a class or you can buy class packs for a discount)
-One Love Hostal
Located closer to La Punta, inside One Love Hostal. The top level palapa studio has a stunning view of the beach and every class I have attended there has been either hatha or vinyasa yoga. Each time, I have walked away sweaty and challenged in my practise. Check their website for up to date class times. (Discounts for hostel guests apply, but for drop ins it is $100 pesos a class)
Let's wrap this huge blog up. In summary, Puerto Escondido is a vibrant surf town full of personality, tasty food, palm trees and cocktails.
The paradise vibes here are mixed in with local neighbourhoods and stray animals. The longer the amount of time you spend here, the more little gems you will uncover. In saying that, the biggest thing I struggled with living in Puerto were the conditions and treatment of the animals (stray and pets). I regularly fed some stray dogs and brought them into Esteriliza Y Educa to be de-sexed for a better quality of life. I am not faint hearted, I am very well aware there are stray dogs everywhere around the world, but I also believe in helping where you can and not turning a blind eye to an animal or person in need.
Handy bits of of info:
Language spoken: Spanish
Travel costs: Cheap $
Best beach for surf: Playa Zicatela
Best beach for swimming: La Punta or Playa Carizilillo
Favorite bar: Palapita Bar
Best way to get around town: Collectivos