Stay In Oaxaca’s “Hidden Port” On The Pacific For $25 a Night
Beaches, sand, and surf are probably not the first things that come to mind when most people picture Oaxaca. But those are the main attractions in Puerto Escondido (i.e., Hidden Port), a town on the state’s Pacific coast that attracts dedicated surfers and beach bums from around the world. I spent this past weekend exploring the natural beauty of this charming city, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for amazing beaches and exposure to small-town Mexican culture.
This was my very first excursion based out of Mexico City, and I’m glad to say I had no safety issue here (unlike my last trip). As you might guess, Puerto Escondido is most famous for its gorgeous beaches, but the local cuisine was also a major highlight of my 48-hour adventure here. I’ll start with the culinary experience, move to the four different beaches in town, and finally explain how easy it is to make a weekend getaway out of this resort town from Mexico City.
Your Taste Buds Will Die and Go to Heaven
The City of Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s major food capitals (so I will definitely be visiting soon), but visitors to Puerto Escondido will also find a huge selection of delicious options, both local and international. I had some typical meals, like shrimp tacos for dinner or eggs and bacon for breakfast, but my favorite restaurant was a place called Cayuco Cocina y Mezcal. Not only did I try straight mezcal for the first time here, but I also tried teritas de pescado (pictured below), which reminded me of ceviche. It was an amazingly fresh and filling dish consisting of raw fish, peppers, and onions.
I also really loved the brunch I had at El Cafecito on Benito Juárez Boulevard in the Rinconada neighborhood. This was clearly a street packed with restaurants, but El Cafecito was one of the only ones open on Sunday around noon. The steak I had there was only 98 pesos (or about 5 USD).
For my last dinner here, I ended up at a Thai restaurant called Wok-xaca; obviously, that great pun name was what eventually won me over. I just ordered a plate of beef fried rice, but it came with three sauces that gave it a truly authentic Thai flavor. Don’t forget to save room for dessert: a refreshing scoop of mango ice cream with fresh pomegranate served in a fancy glass!
If you’re looking for a margarita or something small to eat, all the beaches in town have a bunch of bars with oceanfront seating, lawn chairs, and umbrellas. So let’s talk about the best places to sip that margarita…
Life's a Beach (Or Four)
Puerto Escondido has four main beaches, and each one has its own unique flair. I recommend trying to find a hotel near the first one we’ll discuss, which is…
1. Playa Zicatela
This is the longest beach in town and also the most touristy. The street that runs adjacent to it, El Morro, is lined with eateries and bars where you’re equally likely to overhear conversations in Spanish and English. With so many sit-down restaurants nearby, this is the best place to stop and eat if you’re looking for a full-service meal.
2. Playa Principal
If you head west on Zicatela, you’ll eventually end up on Playa Principal, which has a much more local feel to it.
3. Playa Puerto Angelito & Playa Manzanillo
To get here from Principal, you have three options: you can take a short cab ride, go on foot through the neighborhood of Hidalgo, or you can walk along a decaying oceanfront pathway carved into the rocky shore (guess which one I chose). The beginning of that pathway looks like this and is located at the far end of Playa Principal:
There were quite a few fishermen near the beginning of the path, and you should be aware that at one point the ocean (or a storm, or something) has completely washed away the stairs, so you need to climb up onto the surrounding rock in order to keep going. It’s not impassable, but you should proceed with caution.
At the end of the path, you’ll climb a staircase and end up back on street level next to what looks like a fancy resort (pictured below).
Proceed forward and turn left (west) onto Calle Quinta Sur, which has a another staircase leading down to the beach. If you make it this far, you’ll finally find yourself at Playa Manzanillo!
The beach itself is nice, but since this one is arguably the hardest to get to, I’d say you can skip it if you’re short on time. It’s similar to the fourth beach, which is honestly the best one…
4. Playa Carrizalillo
In this case, I saved the best for last. Playa Carrizalillo is accessible from Benito Juárez Boulevard (the beach access point is a block away from El Cafecito). You’ll find yourself at the top of a very long stone staircase leading down to the beach. Prepare for an amazing view as you make your descent!
Once you make it down, go for a swim, have a drink, or lay in the sun for a bit. That climb back up is going to be a workout!
Getting here is easy and cheap from Mexico City. I flew in on a Friday night after work and left the following Sunday night with direct flights both ways. Aeromar offered round-trip tickets for about $170, and the flight each way takes about an hour and a half.
Once you arrive, you can either take a taxi van (rideshare) which will drop you off at your hotel for 50 pesos, or you can take a normal cab for 100 pesos. Uber and Lyft don’t operate here, so unless you arrange a private driver with your hotel, these are basically your only options.
And don’t forget about that $25-per-night hotel! I stayed at the Hotel Aqua Luna, which has some listings on Airbnb. It was a beautiful place with its own pool, restaurant and bar, and a lookout deck offering some amazing panoramic views of Zicatela Beach.
My only complaint is that they didn’t have AC, but as I become a more seasoned traveler I’m learning to get by without it. Whether you stay here or somewhere else, you should be able to find similarly enticing deals throughout town.
Although I didn’t encounter any dangerous situations here, travelers should remain vigilant. The beaches and main streets of town were pretty populated throughout the day, but I returned to the hotel after dinner and ended up crashing early so I wasn’t wandering around after dark (spending all day under the sun can be pretty exhausting, after all). Use common sense and don’t carry anything you don’t need and you should be fine, too!
Looking back, Puerto Escondido was relaxing, fun, and budget-friendly. You don’t have to be a surfer to have a great time here, but if I come back I’d love to take a beginner’s surfing lesson! I’m hoping to explore another town in a different part of Mexico this upcoming weekend, so stay tuned and have an amazing week!