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).

I've also discovered a new joy in life: bread with butter and salsa.

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…

(Or mojito.)

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:

If it's actually "prohibido" to enter, there's clearly not a lot stopping you...

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!

Playa Puerto Angelito, shown here, is only separated from Playa Manzanillo by this huge cluster of boulders in the foreground. In other words, they're basically the same beach.

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!

Logistical Information

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.

The view from the hotel's top deck.
Looking inland.

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!

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I’m ready to go here just for the food!! YUM!! But this looks like such a vibrant, fun place to visit, but still off the beaten path. Those beaches are gorgeous!

  2. This really looks like you could relax there well. In the pictures with the food, I get hungry and the beach just invites you to enjoy the sun. Beautiful!
    Susanne

  3. We are sold on Mexico. Right now we are in Mazatlan. Last year we were in Ensenada and Cozumel. Oaxaca seems to be another great Mexican beach town, especially with Puerto Escondido!

  4. I just have to say that mango ice cream with pomegranate looks heavenly! Zicatela is beautiful and I love the colorful I love Zicatela sign! I thought the same thing about the Prohibido sign-didn’t look too prohibido to me! I also love how that guy beside it is posing for your photo (or how it looks)! LOL!

  5. It is strange that i had not heard about Puerto Escondido, before. The views from your hotel, cozy bed, the yummy food and the colour of the water are enough to make me want to go there. Mexico, seriously has some serious hidden gems. Great article.

  6. I haven’t made it to Oaxaca yet, but I will definitely keep Zicatela in mind for an add on day trip or so. Such a beautiful region in Mexico. That food looks absolutely amazing!

  7. oh my! I just love Mexico!! We didn’t get to Puerto Escondido and that is a very good reason to go back! 🙂 I would love to try a beginners lesson of surfing again or just play around on a surf board. Great fun! Thanks for the great tips, the last beach does look like the best!

  8. Oaxaca is entirely a new place which I never heard off. It looks like a small place with a lot of natural beauty to enjoy and Mexican culture to experience. And when you say it’s a food capital, it enters my wish list. How is the vegetarian food scene there?

    1. Unfortunately I can’t say for sure, but Oaxaca does tend to attract a lot of younger, longer-term travelers. In general, Mexico has fewer vegetarian options than the US, but I think that if any place would have better accommodations, it would be Oaxaca. Sorry I don’t have a more definitive answer!

  9. $25 a night, close to beaches and good food…. I’m in! We haven’t explored much of Mexico and safety is always a concern so I’m glad to hear you had no issues.

  10. Puerto Escondido looks like a wonderful place to have a great time. The beaches look really gorgeous. The Mexican food here looks really authentic and indeed something to die for. A very nice and convenient getaway from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. At the price it is indeed value for money and a great experience too.

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