5 Things to do in Puerto Escondido—Mexico’s Surf Capital

Imagine listening to waves while chilling in a hammock, beer in hand, under a thatched-roof palapa. There is no swanky feel like Cabo San Lucas or Tulum. But what this beachfront town lacks in high-end development, it makes up for with laid-back vibes. So whether you’re a surfer, beach bum, or backpacker, here are five things to do in Puerto Escondido to inspire your trip to the beaches of Oaxaca.

Swim in Puerto Escondido’s bioluminescent lagoon

bioluminescence in the ocean

What to do in Puerto Escondido? is a legit question given that the port town has no shortage of exciting activities. Typically known for surf beaches and exuberant nightlife, there’s more to it than painting this town on the Pacific coast red.

Witnessing the earth’s rare natural miracle of bioluminescence is a must on any Mexico itinerary.

Jumping in the neon blue glow of warm water, you’ll enjoy the ocean waves washing bioluminescent plankton into the Manialtepec Lagoon. This unbelievable phenomenon of bioluminescence in Puerto Escondido looks particularly nice under inky black skies when the young moon is waxing.

Learn about baby turtles at Playa Bacocho

baby turtle in the sand

Check out Mexico’s turtle release programs at Playa Bacocho’s endless stretch of beach, where waves crash ashore. It’s a deserted piece of heaven—ideal conditions for baby turtles.

The release of Golfo and Green baby turtles takes place daily. As the guides usually speak Spanish, you’ll have to know a smattering of this beautiful language. If you’ve got a family in tow, your kids will love letting baby turtles go in the sand, lined up one by one, and watching them enter the ocean.

You can contact Vive Mar, the turtle conservation organization on Bacocho Beach, to participate in the release. 

Visit sleepy fisher villages

palapas on the beach in Puerto Escondido

While Puerto Escondido is a small village, even smaller beach communities down the coast make for fabulous day trips. Mazunte, Puerto Angelito, and Zipolite are sleepy settlements offering rustic boltholes and plenty of sunshine. 

Take Puerto Angelito—a sandy, palm-fringed cove where fishing boats hide from the force of the Pacific Ocean. There are a couple of tour boats, and shacks serve fresh seafood on this crescent-shaped beach.

A few beach bars in the other villages are perfect for working on your tan and can be great day trips from Puerto Escondido, too. Or, if you prefer the shade, take a seat in a coconut-leaf roofed hut, sip on a margarita, and watch fishers glide past.

Cool down in the Reform Waterfall

La Reforma Waterfall, Puerto Escondido

Cascada La Reforma, or Reform Waterfall, is a set of falls buried deep in the mountainous jungle about two hours from the city. Whether you venture out or take a tour, this is one of those things to do in Puerto Escondido that you shouldn’t miss. Its main fall rushes down an impressive 45 meters (147 feet), feeding a dark green plunge basin that’s lovely for a dip. The slate rocks and lush greenery surrounding the pool provide a genuine sense of escape.

Hit Puerto Escondido’s numerous beaches

surfer in turquoise water

This round-up wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the beaches. After all, surfing in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, is legendary. It’s ranked in the top 10 on CNN Travel’s World’s 50 Best Surf Spots.

Surfing here is nothing new. In fact, surfers have come to this port city for decades. Palm trees and thatch-roofed bars border the town’s central Principal Beach. 

But the Mexican Pipeline surf break is Zicatela Beach, well-known for its Pacific five-meter rollers and deafening surf. It’s been nicknamed the Mexican Pipeline due to the comparable shape and force of the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Puerto Escondido, just wander down Zicatela Beach at night and walk into a candle-lit restaurant. Well worth your pesos, these simple huts with wood slab tables and flowing curtains defy the best restaurants in the area.

Carrizalillo Beach in Puerto Escondido

Don’t want waves to barrel in? Carrizalillo Beach is one of the best beaches in Puerto Escondido. Hiding in a cove surrounded by cliffs, Carrizalillo is excellent for swimming or a surf lesson. And, of course, it’s a great spot to grab a beach umbrella, get some fresh fish tacos and relax with an ice-cold margarita in hand.

How to get to Puerto Escondido

Beach view of Puerto Escondido

You’re in luck because there is an international airport in Puerto Escondido with the code PMX.

Or, if you’re into buses, you can take a mountainous ten-hour ride from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido


What’s the best way to get around Puerto Escondido?

Walking is the simplest, cheapest, and most convenient way to get around. 

Is it possible to ride a bicycle or scooter around the town?

Yes, it is. You can rent a bicycle for about 50 pesos per hour ($2.50) or a scooter for 400 pesos ($20) a day.

How else can you get around Puerto Escondido?

Taxis cost as little as 30 to 40 pesos ($1.50 – $2) for a ten-minute ride across the town, and you can also use shared taxi vans. The collectivos zip around Puerto Escondido from dusk till dawn for seven pesos ($0.35).

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