Is Puerto Escondido Worth Visiting & Is It Right For You?

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Ashlea J. Russell

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Not sure if Puerto Escondido is worth visiting?

If you’ve had your ear to the Mexico travel ground lately you’ve probably started to hear the buzz around Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. But is Puerto Escondido actually worth visiting?

I chose it as a remote work destination and learned pretty quickly that while it’s worth visiting for some people, it’s not a fit for everyone.

In this article I’ll cover why Puerto Escondido is and isn’t worth visiting to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Is Puerto Escondido Worth Visiting?

Not everyone is going to love everywhere in the world, so before you book that month on the Oaxaca Coast you should take some time to figure out if Puerto Escondido suits you.

I didn’t do this before I went 🙋🏻‍♀️ (but I wish I had).

It’s easy to look at social media and get sucked into the hype. But realistically, there are pros and cons to this destination. There are a few key factors to consider when deciding if Puerto Escondido is worth visiting for you.

  • Puerto Escondido is not a luxury destination
  • Puerto Escondido is developing
  • Puerto Escondido is (fairly) remote

If this still sounds like your sort of place, let’s dig deeper into these and other reasons why Puerto Escondido is and isn’t worth visiting.

Why Puerto Escondido Is Worth Visiting

Puerto Escondido has been a backpacker and surfer’s haven for a long, long time and there’s got to be a reason for that – right? So here are the main reasons that make Puerto Escondido worth visiting for those who love it.

Natural Beauty & Wonderful Weather

Mexico is a gorgeous country and there’s an argument to be made that the Oaxaca Coast is one of its most beautiful regions.

The days of building resort destinations like Cancún and destroying the ecosystem in the process are in the rear view for Mexico.

Because Puerto Escondido is an up and coming destination there are no large luxury resorts. Puerto Escondido is still a developing part of the country. This means sweeping coastline, undisturbed mangroves, lush jungle, and plenty of wildlife.

The stunning unspoiled natural beauty of Puerto Escondido makes it worth visiting.

It’s easy to find quiet or even empty beaches, or a peaceful spot to catch the sunset. The most beautiful places in Puerto Escondido are not reserved for the wealthy and ocean views are easy to come by.

But the beauty isn’t the only thing that makes Puerto Escondido worth visiting. The almost perfect weather is also a major draw.

The weather in Puerto Escondido is pretty excellent year round unlike the Caribbean coast which sees more dramatic seasonal changes. The tropical climate keeps temperatures in the high 20s C/mid 80s F with minimal rainfall.

So, if natural beauty and wonderful weather are high on your list, Puerto Escondido could be a great spot for you.

Ecotourism & Plenty To Do

One thing Puerto Escondido is not short on is activities! For a pretty remote town there’s surprisingly a lot of day trips and things to do in and around Puerto Escondido. Most are available in English and are eco-friendly.

Oaxaca has had a focus on ecotourism for decades and Puerto Escondido is a great example of how to use nature for tourism without harming it.

In addition to horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, and more, this is one of the few places around the world where you can experience the magic of bioluminescence.

Experiencing the magical glow of bioluminescent plankton is one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido.
Bioluminescence is when plankton light up to create waves of glittering blue sparkles in the water.

Puerto Escondido also happens to be a nesting ground for four different species of sea turtles which are protected by the people who live here.

  • A highlight of any trip to Puerto Escondido is releasing baby hatchlings onto the beach and watching them run to the ocean.

But you don’t have to be out exploring nature to have a good time here. There’s also fantastic restaurants, beachfront bars, and my favourite activity, a mezcal tasting at an ancestral distillery.

Relaxed Vibe

Puerto Escondido has a great casual vibe. This is No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem territory. This is a walk around barefoot, spend all day on the beach, drink cervezas with breakfast sort of place that forces you to slow down.

Mexico is a traditional country and modesty is important but Puerto Escondido is somewhere it’s normal to walk around in swim trunks or a bikini top.

If you want a casual beachy vibe that forces you to go slow then Puerto Escondido is worth visiting for you.

La Punta, the Instagrammable neighbourhood in the bottom end of town has a sort of hippie commune vibe.

Yoga teachers are plentiful, the roads are unpaved and there are a lot of people on scooters who seem like they showed up a couple years ago and never left.

Zicatela, just next to La Punta is where the pro surfers gather and they’re easy to spot with wild beachy hair and a surfboard under their arm. Casual bars with the sand as their floor and fresh fish tacos mark a typical afternoon in Puerto Escondido.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you slow down.

Budget-Friendly Beach Life

Puerto Escondido is often referred to as “Tulum 20 years ago”. This is because Tulum used to be the hard to get to, cheap and cheerful beach town Puerto Escondido is today.

What makes Puerto Escondido so popular with the backpackers is that it’s possible to spend time in this beautiful place on the cheap.

While a few luxury boutique hotels have started popping up in recent years, most of the accommodation is affordable and a lot cheaper than other beach destinations.

Puerto Escondido is worth visiting if you're looking for an affordable beach destination.
This trio of nopal tacos were inexpensive and filling!

Rooms can be as low as $280MXN [$15USD/$20CAD] per night but you’ll need to pay more than that for amenities like air conditioning or being closer to the beach.

Taxis cost on average $50MXN [$2.50USD/$3.50CAD] and the collectivo is $8MXN [$0.40USD/$0.55CAD].

Between street food and local joints you can fill your belly for as little as $50MXN [$2.50USD/$3.50CAD]. Add a cold cerveza or Coca-Cola for $20MXN [$1USD/$1.40CAD].

And the best thing about Puerto Escondido’s budget-friendly way of life? The beaches are free! There’s no need to pay an expensive beach club fee or stay at a swanky hotel to spend time on the beach.

Almost all the beaches in Puerto Escondido are free and open to the public!

Why Puerto Escondido Isn’t Worth Visiting

We’ve talked about all the great things about Puerto Escondido but to every yin, there’s a yang! Let’s go over the important cons I wish I knew before I went.

Unreliable Internet

The number one thing I wish I knew before booking my trip to Puerto Escondido is that the WIFI is totally unreliable.

If you need to be connected to the internet in any sort of consistent manner then you need to take this point seriously.

Free WIFI is easy to come by in Puerto Escondido but that doesn’t mean it actually works. The WIFI in my hotel was so weak it took me a few hours to upload a single picture.

Puerto Escondido may not be worth visiting if you rely on regular internet access.

Rolling internet blackouts are common and can last for days. Some websites suggest hotspotting from your phone during these times but that’s not realistic. My reception on my Mexican SIM card wasn’t much better and was barely able to pull Google results.

The best internet provider in town is called StarLink. It’s common to see Airbnbs and such advertising this provider because it is the fastest internet in town but it’s still susceptible to sudden blackouts.

  • The most reliable internet is at Casa Losodeli coworking space. I had to move down the coast a few weeks early to Huatulco to find internet for work.

It’s also important to remember that when the WIFI goes down in town, so do all the card machines so it’s a good idea to keep emergency cash.

Lack of Modern Comforts

Puerto Escondido isn’t exactly primitive but people who are used to certain first world comforts will need to make some compromises here.

If you don’t mind shelling out several hundred bucks a night, there are a few luxury boutique hotels that have opened in recent years. These will give you all the modern comforts your heart desires.

If you’re not willing to pay the premium then you may need to make some concessions when it comes to what you look for in accommodation.

In addition to unreliable internet, air-conditioning is also uncommon. It gets very hot in Puerto Escondido and most accommodation will include a fan but believe me when I tell you, this is not enough. This is something I paid more for.

Puerto Escondido is a developing area and doesn't always offer the modern comforts you may be used to.

Hot water is also not a guarantee. If this is important to you make sure you check with your accommodation before booking.

Finding accommodation with a mini fridge or any English-speaking TV channels is very rare. Most hotel staff don’t speak English either so make sure you brush up on some useful phrases.

Finally, lizards and ants are everywhere! It’s very common to find geckos in your room, especially at night. They are not dangerous and they eat all the bugs so I’m not always mad at them.

  • Don’t bring food back into your accommodation unless you have airtight containers or a fridge. It won’t take long for an army of ants to find it!

If you can look past some of the most rustic details about Puerto Escondido then it might be a good choice for you.

Missing Mexican Magic

One of the reasons why I fell in love with Mexico is what I like to call Mexican Magic.

Small, colourful colonial towns tucked away in the mountains are my kryptonite. There’s an ethereal feeling that comes with wandering these historic towns that is missing from Puerto Escondido.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call it a tourist trap by any means. But the influence of long-term foreign travellers has diluted some of the magic that makes Mexico so special.

The area of Puerto Escondido has a long and interesting history that includes a 1590’s legend of a runaway woman kidnapped by pirates. But where other parts of Mexico highlight their history, Puerto Escondido just doesn’t.

Puerto Escondido might not be worth visiting if you are looking for historic charm.

Prior to the 1930’s there was no real town here. Puerto Escondido was just a small fishing port that occasionally shipped coffee. But by the 1960’s Highway 200 was built through town and the tourists started to arrive.

The fact that the town itself is so young and has had tourist influence since almost the beginning is a large part of why Puerto Escondido lacks the magic of other parts of Mexico.

So if you’re looking for historical charm and deep rooted culture, Puerto Escondido may not be worth visiting for you.

A Little off the Beaten Path

Puerto Escondido may not be the most remote place on Earth but it’s also not the easiest to get to. Getting here takes a little extra effort and that’s something to consider before going.

The off-the-beaten-path location of Puerto Escondido is part of what has prevented it from exploding as a tourist destination sooner.

The Puerto Escondido International Airport [IATA Code: PXM] is actually not an international airport. It only receives domestic flights, most of which come from Mexico City.

Puerto Escondido is a little off the beaten path but it's worth finding for the right people.

Buses are the other popular mode of transportation but heading to somewhere like Oaxaca City takes several hours over windy mountain roads.

A lot of people ask me about travel to Puerto Escondido when they’re considering adding it into another trip for a day or two.

Sure, this is possible, but it may not be a good use of time if you have to fly to Mexico City first or take an overnight bus to reach it.

This is somewhere you’ll want to dedicate at least four or five days to, to make the journey worth your while.

Puerto Escondido vs Huatulco

A lot of people look at the map and wonder how Puerto Escondido compares to its neighbour down the road, Huatulco. Although they are neighbours they are totally different animals.

I spent weeks in both Puerto Escondido and Huatulco and I understand the appeal of both, but for very different travellers.

After my plan to work remotely from Puerto Escondido was foiled by unreliable internet I moved to the more developed town of Huatulco to get some work done.

Huatulco is years ahead of Puerto Escondido when it comes to development and the town just feels like it has money.

The roads are excellently maintained, people drive newer vehicles here, there are large stores like Chedraui and Coppel selling everything you’d ever need, and luxury condos are popping up along the coastline.

Huatulco has internet strong enough for video calls, air-conditioning is offered in most places, beautiful beachfront resorts occupy the hotel zone and everything is built with the tourist in mind.

Puerto Escondido does have a Chedraui but that’s about where the comparison ends. The roads in Puerto Escondido aren’t maintained and many remain unpaved. Most of the shopping in town happens at the mercado and the condo business has yet to boom.

Puerto Escondido lacks the hustle and bustle of Huatulco and is a better fit for travellers looking for a relaxed beach town to explore without breaking the bank.

Huatulco is a better fit for travellers looking for all the comforts of home in a beachfront resort setting.

Is Puerto Escondido Safe?

Oaxaca is regarded as one of the safest states in all of Mexico. Puerto Escondido is considered to be a safe place to travel. I spent weeks here and never felt like I was in danger.

As with anywhere in the world, take the usual safety precautions. Avoid flashing cash and expensive items, and don’t drive around outside of town at night.

If you are drawn to the party crowd then it’s important to stay safe. Don’t overindulge, stay hydrated, and never purchase or seek to purchase drugs anywhere in Mexico. You can read more about how safe Puerto Escondido is here.

Puerto Escondido FAQs

Is Puerto Escondido a Party Town?

Puerto Escondido has been a popular spot for the surfing and backpacking crowd for a long time and along with that comes a reputation of being a party town.

The truth is, Puerto Escondido is only a party town if you want it to be!

The sort of nightlife you’re into is something to consider when deciding which area of Puerto Escondido is best for you. Zicatela is great for all night parties, whereas La Punta is better for cocktails and conversation.

Puerto Escondido nightlife can mean cocktails on the beach.
Nightlife in Puerto Escondido doesn’t have to be crazy.

Is Puerto Escondido cash only?

No, Puerto Escondido is not cash only. Credit cards are accepted in larger established businesses in Puerto Escondido like hotels, tour operators and nicer restaurants

Cash is needed for smaller purchasesmarketstaxis and street food.

Are there ATMs in Puerto Escondido?

The ATMs in Puerto Escondido can be difficult to find outside of Centro. The most reliable ATMs are at the major banks such as SantanderHSBC and BBVA

  • Only use ATMs that are located inside banks. Remember to keep emergency cash because when the internet goes down, card machines don’t work.

Can I use USD in Puerto Escondido?

No, the currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso so that’s what you should use. For some reason, some people think that they need to bring USD to Mexico but that’s not true.

USD is not accepted most places in Mexico and if it is accepted it will be at a very poor exchange rate. My advice is to purchase Mexican Pesos at home if you can find a good rate and then use credit cards and ATMs as needed.

Do they speak English in Puerto Escondido?

As a general rule people in Mexico don’t speak English. Because Puerto Escondido has a long-term traveller community there are businesses that are not run by Mexicans and the people there usually speak English. In areas like Zicatela and La Punta it is also more likely to encounter people with some basic English.

Many tour guides will speak English and some hotel staff, although no one spoke English where I stayed in Puerto Escondido.

When visiting Mexico it is important to learn at least some basic Spanish or you will have a very difficult time on your travels. You can get my Free Useful Mexican Words & Phrases Cheatsheet at the bottom of the page.

Are there taxis and Uber in Puerto Escondido?

Uber is not operational in Puerto Escondido and although DiDi is technically active it doesn’t work. Taxis however, are everywhere!

Taxis are an easy, reliable and inexpensive way to get around Puerto Escondido. Travel around one area of Puerto Escondido during the day generally costs around $35MXN [$1.70USD/$2.20CAD].

For more information on taxi rates, safety and how they work in Puerto Escondido check out this complete taxi guide.

Can you drink the water in Puerto Escondido?

No, you cannot drink the water in Puerto Escondido. Bottled water is readily available and is inexpensive.

Some restaurants and hotels will also have a large water jug known as a garrafón. This is the same as bottled water and is usually free.

Can you swim in Puerto Escondido?

Yes, you can swim in Puerto Escondido but not everywhere!

Puerto Escondido has so many gorgeous beaches but not all of them are suitable for swimming. This area is known as the Mexican Pipeline and it’s one of the world’s best surfing destinations which means waves!

Playa Bacocho, Playa Carrizalillo and Playa Coral are the best beaches for swimming in Puerto Escondido. Always watch the flags and avoid swimming when the red flags are up.

Avoid swimming in Zicatela and La Punta where surfing is prime. It’s possible to swim in other areas like Play Angelito and Playa Principal but these areas are more for boats.

Is There Cartel In Puerto Escondido?

Cartel is a scary word. What we see of Mexico on the news and in TV shows has us terrified that we’ll wander into a narco war one day and that’s just not reality.

Yes, there is cartel in Puerto Escondido. But unless you’re up to no good, that should not impact your trip in any way.

A drug cartel is a large organization that monopolizes the drug industry in certain areas. As a tourist, unless you are seeking out drugs or intentionally getting involved, it is highly unlikely that you will ever notice any cartel activity.

Summary: Is Puerto Escondido Right For You?

Only you will know if Puerto Escondido is the sort of place you’d enjoy and I hope this article has helped you answer that question.

If you’re looking for a relaxed, budget-friendly beach town with plenty to do and where shoes are optional then Puerto Escondido is worth visiting for you.

But if you’re looking for a developed destination with modern resorts that have all the comforts of home and reliable internet, then Puerto Escondido is probably not worth visiting for you.