It’s no secret that Marco and I have an obsession with this little beach town off the coast of Oaxaca called Puerto Escondido. We’ve visited 5 times in the span of two years and it’s become one of those places that is a home away from home for us. Anyone who visits Puerto Escondido knows it has a certain energy that sucks you in and makes you never want to leave. In fact, many of those who visit end up staying long-term and making it their home base for working remote, temporary work, or just taking a long hiatus when in-between stages in life.
So what’s so special about this beach town most people have never heard of? For starters, it’s beaches resemble those in Hawaii but the water is about 80F year round. It’s the surf capital of Mexico and has what’s known as the Mexican Pipeline which is one of the best places in the world for big wave surfing. But for beginner surfers or those who just want to swim, there are beaches for you, too!
What makes the beaches so beautiful are their unique proximity to both lush jungle, mountains, and desert. It’s a unique mixture of landscapes that feels very wild and untouched. It’s much different than the beaches of the Yucatan that are flat and have no waves, the pacific coast of Mexico is known for its rocky cliffs, deeper blue water, and big waves. Being born and raised in Miami, I’ve always been a beach girl at heart and I love both aspects of Mexico’s beaches, but there is something special about Oaxaca’s beaches.
Puerto is more than just its nature, it’s about the people. Puerto and the surrounding beach towns such as Mazunte and Zipolite are hippie towns where you’ll meet a mixture of surf bums, DJ’s, yoga instructors, and expats. It’s the type of place you can go just about anywhere in a bathing suit, shoes are optional, and showers are well… less frequent. But that’s part of the vibe, and if you’re like me, the carefree lifestyle will get you hooked.
Best Beaches in Puerto Escondido
Being a beach town, the beaches are the main attraction in Puerto. It’s home to my favorite beaches on earth, and they all offer something unique. Here are a few of my favorites that I recommend to first time visitors:
Carizalillo may be one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Escondido, but for good reason! It’s pretty my favorite beach in the world. When you arrive, you’ll walk down a long and steep staircase and get the most iconic of this beach (pictured above). When you finally get to the bottom, you’ll walk past surf instructors offering you boards for $5 to rent, beach goers lounging under palapas, and food vendors selling fresh seafood and snacks.
This beach is a cove with sea cliffs on both side which makes you feel like you’re tucked away in a tropical jungle. But being a smaller beach, it does get more crowded so don’t expect to be the only person here and there will be more people as the day goes on.
This is the perfect beach for those who don’t surf and just want to swim, but it’s also one of the best for beginner surfers because it has a small break on the left side that is pretty easy but still fun! And if you’ve been wanting to take surf lessons, it’s MUCH cheaper to do it here than it is for us in the States.
Carizalillo is near the neighborhood Rinconada on the coast and only about 7 minutes from Centro. You can get here by taxi but if you want to come every day, I recommend staying at a hotel in Rinconada or overlooking the beach. Taxis are very cheap in Puerto Escondido so no matter where you stay, it is easy to get here 🙂
Zicatela is the location of the “Mexican Pipeline” and is where you will find the big wave surfing in the right season. It’s not a beach for swimming, and can actually be dangerous to swim here unless you’re a very strong swimmer. But it’s a great beach to watch the surfers in the mornings or come with friends to watch the sunset at night. It’s also where you’ll find a strip of boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars. If you’re looking for a laid-back area that is walkable, Zicatela might be the option for you.
Summer is big wave season so if you want to be able to see this in person, make sure to visit between May and August and even look into lining your trip up with a surf competition.
If you’re looking for a more hidden beach you can have to yourself, Playa Coral is for you! It’s just a few beaches down from Playa Carizalillo and you will usually only see a few other people there. It’s one of my favorite beaches to go for sunset and if you’re brave enough, you can jump in the water and play in the waves but beware – the waves can get big here! This is also one of the best places to snorkel in the mornings when the water is calmer. Just to note, the entrance to the beach is a little hidden so just look for the red dirt path and follow it down for 5 minutes and it will lead you to the beach.
Make sure to explore these fun rock formations on the right side of the beach and you’ll get to see the beach from a new angle 🙂
Bacocho is another must-visit spot for first-timers as it’s home to the Baby Sea Turtle Reserve where you can release baby sea turtles into the wild! You pay about $5 USD to participate and you get to name your baby sea turtle. it’ll be handed to you in a cut-out coconut, and you can release it and make sure it arrives safely to the ocean. Sea turtles hatch on this beach year-round and the organizations that work with these hatcheries play a role in one of the best sea turtle conservation efforts in the world! The sea turtle release takes place every night at 5pm so make sure to arrive on time to sign up and reserve your turtle.
Sea turtles are an endangered species due to habitat destruction, poaching, and bycatch from unsustainable fishing practices. The employees that work at Playa Bacocho are playing a major role in sea turtle conservation and it was such a special experience getting to support their efforts!
La Punta is another great area to stay on your trip to Puerto and has a more bohemian and jungly vibe than the other areas mentioned above. It has a bit of a Tulum vibe which may or not be your style, so just keep that in mind! The beach here is the most popular for sunset and you’ll see hundreds of travelers, locals, and ex-pats plopped on a blanket with friends here every night to admire God’s creation.
Another one of my favorite beaches in Puerto with beautiful palms, waves, but good water for swimming. I recommend going here on Fridays at sunset when they have live DJ’s every night at my favorite beach bar in Puerto called La Isla! It’s such a fun time getting to swim until the sun goes down and then dance under the palm trees with a mezcal in hand.
Mirador Las Tortugas
Not a beach for swimming but a lookout, Mirador Las Tortugas is a great local spot for catching the sunset with your friends. A short but steep walk will lead you to the most beautiful sea cliffs overlooking the rocky coastline. It has a similar vibe as Punta Cometa in Mazunte (mentioned next) but if you aren’t able to make it there, this is a great alternative!
Best Beaches Near Puerto Escondido:
Zipolite: Hippie beach town 1.5 hours from Puerto Escondido. Clothing is optional here so if you’ve ever wanted to go skinny dipping, Zipolite is your chance!
Mazunte: Another quiet hippie beach town with a beautiful beach and a great sunset hike called Punta Cometa. A great place to also spend a night if you are doing a longer trip and want to explore a new part of the coast.
Chacachua: An island off the coast of Puerto Escondido. This is a multi-day trip and is great for those who want to disconnect and spend all day under a palapa and takings breaks for fresh ceviche and beer. I personally have never been here but have heard nothing but amazing things!
Playa Estacahuite: A very local beach in the small fishing town of Puerto Angel, about 1.5 hrs outside of Puerto Escondido. The water is crystal clear and a fun day trip if you want to get out of town.
Playa La Mina: Also near Puerto Angel, this beach is typically only accessed by boat but we found a way to get here by just parking at the nearest spot and walking down a staircase to it.
Honestly, these aren’t even all of the beaches you can visit in the Puerto Escondido area but many of the more virgin beaches are sacred to the local surfers and I believe finding certain places on your own is part of the fun!
Even after 5 trips to Puerto I have never gotten sick of these beaches and plan to return as often as I can when I need to disconnect from life. The best part of traveling here is the people you meet along the way, so the most important thing is to be open to where your trip takes you and going with the flow 🙂
As always, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below and let me know if you found this guide helpful!