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Puerto Escondido solo travel: how do I do this? I know Mexico gets a lot of bad press but here’s my personal story about feeling safe in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico!
📬 Reader Mail: Awesome blog, Trish! And thank you for all the Mexico updates. It’s really hard to see the current situation in Mexico and yours provide great insight!
I am an Australian currently in the United States since my country is closed and I cannot go back. I am thinking to go to Mexico, particularly in the Oaxaca state.
Do you have a Puerto Escondido travel guide for solo travelers? I will really appreciate it if you can tell me what the COVID precautions are. Do you think Mexico will allow me to enter? Thanks a lot for your help!
– Mikayla Yelverton, Australia
I’ve been living in Mexico for the past 2 years and Puerto Escondido is one of my favorite destinations. Honestly, if Internet was not a problem here, I will choose Puerto Escondido.
It has a very great culture and vibe that blended well with the type of ex-pat/traveler that I am but it doesn’t match my remote work needs.
When I came there in September 2020, there was a hurricane (Laura) so my days were limited to staying in. I was able to hang out with locals and get to know the local life but still, the hurricane was so bad that made me cancel all my travel plans there.
As a long-term traveler, I spent a few weeks in Puerto Escondido just to understand the layout of the place and to get to know it through my local friends.
As someone who lives here, most places in Mexico do not scare me anymore. I feel very confident when traveling around the country.
I understand that as a visitor, you will have many questions regarding safety in Puerto Escondido, especially since Mexico is a country that gets a lot of bad publicity when it comes to safety.
In this blog post, I will try my best to share my personal experiences with you and I hope you’ll see that Puerto Escondido is safe!
First, let’s answer all your burning questions about my favorite beach town in Oaxaca.
🇲🇽 Understanding Puerto Escondido solo travel
Is Puerto Escondido a party town?
Yes, but I personally think it’s not as wild as the Sayulita nightlife. Experienced travelers in Mexico always visit these two places right after the other because of the same vibe.
Party-wise, Puerto Escondido is more of the ‘secret parties’ kind of culture. Words go out fast for jungle parties announced last minute but only if you are a social person.
You won’t really get this info on your own. The Puerto Escondido nightlife is more chill than Sayulita which, for me, was good because I am not obligated to stay up til 5:00 AM when I am here. In Sayulita, that was a little challenging….
Is Puerto Escondido safe?
Personally, I felt very safe when I was traveling in Puerto Escondido alone. It was during COVID time so I think the level of friendliness of people has toned down a little but the owner of the hostel I stayed in is super nice!
There was even one night that he invited me over to hang out with his friends who were visiting from Mexico City.
But of course, let’s look at the facts: things that are not tangible when you are traveling in Puerto Escondido solo. According to research, the level of crime in Puerto Escondido is 59.33 and is labeled moderate.
In the last 3 years, the crime rate in Puerto Escondido has increased to 84.38% which, we could say is very high.
Some petty crimes include worries of a home break-in (moderate), being mugged or robbed (moderate), and cars stolen (moderate). As an Asian, I also check if there will be discrimination because of my skin color but Mexicans are very friendly.
They don’t really care about this! I do, however, speak fluent Spanish so if you are traveling solo in Puerto Escondido, this is really important.
Everyone speaks English in most touristic beach towns in Mexico but still, if you really want to feel safe, I find that speaking Spanish fluently always gives me that confidence and security.
You just need to be comfortable being in the country and speaking Spanish really helps bring that level of comfort.
On my blog, I always make sure I speak from experience although I do believe safety is subjective. Again, I am already comfortable being in Mexico so I am sharing with you my personal experience traveling Puerto Escondido solo.
It might look like everything’s very perfect but for me, if you do not know how to move or travel solo, then you will always have that fear in most places.
But fear is great. Fear makes you think. Fear makes you stronger. Can you imagine if you are not afraid anymore? You’ll cross the roads without looking.
You’ll probably hop on cars with strangers (although in my experiences, this has been always fun!). Go with your fear but please don’t ruin your Puerto Escondido vacation just because you are scared to travel alone.
Is Puerto Escondido worth visiting?
ABSOLUTELY! I go to Puerto Escondido once a year and mix it with my trip to one of my favorite Mexican cities, Oaxaca. If it wasn’t for the bad Internet, I’d definitely live in Puerto Escondido!
Puerto Escondido is one of the best places to visit in Mexico because it still has a very Mexican feel. If you’re not a fan of tourist places, PE is definitely way local (and cheaper) than Tulum or Cancun.
Try to visit Puerto Escondido and you won’t leave, I swear! This place can cater to all ages including families traveling with kids but most of the people who go here are young expats, backpackers, and digital nomads.
You might also like:
- The digital nomad guide to Puerto Escondido, Mexico
- Puerto Escondido travel tips from a Oaxaca regular
✈️ Planning your trip to Puerto Escondido
Best time to visit Puerto Escondido
My first trip to Puerto Escondido was in August – September 2020 (for one month) and it was really a bad idea. Since I just moved to Mexico at the time, I wasn’t aware of the rainy season and it was during these months! I was on a Oaxaca road trip and had already rented a car to go from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City for 10 days but it rained the entire time!
The best time to visit Puerto Escondido is from November to May but take note that this is also the high season. Many people escaping the winter in Canada and USA come to Puerto Escondido but surfers prefer the rainy season.
What to pack for Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido has tropical weather so pack all your swimming attire. Even if you visit during the rainy season, it won’t be cold – it is actually very humid so you won’t need a jacket. There is also a culture of walking around barefoot so you don’t have to bring shoes – flip-flops are fine! Some tourists are comfortable with hiking with flip-flops but if you are not, you can always bring shoes (for the flight and for the outdoor activities).
How to get to Puerto Escondido
The airport that serves Puerto Escondido is Puerto Escondido International Airport (PXM). To get to Puerto Escondido, you will have to stop in Mexico City (3h layover approx). When you arrive at the airport, there will be shared taxis, airport taxis, and many shuttle services that will go to the center. The airport is about less than 30 minutes, depending on where you are staying.
Please note that Uber is not allowed inside the airport so you will have to take airport-accredited transportation. Below are some quick details:
- Shared taxi: a van service that you’ll share with 10 people but it will take you door-to-door to your accommodation, not to a drop-off point. The per person rate is US$10.
- Private taxi: the airport taxis are lined up outside the airport and fares start at US$25
Getting around Puerto Escondido
The best way to get around Puerto Escondido is by renting a car at the airport. I always do this since parking is not hard in PE and the roads are friendly to foreign drivers. A rental car only costs US$17 – US$25 per day plus a security deposit of US$100 per day.
You can also rent a motorbike for the same price but this is only advisable if you don’t plan to do a road trip to nearby towns like Mazunte, Zipolite, and Huatulco. Since Uber does not operate in Puerto Escondido, you have a choice to take a normal taxi (from US$5).
I only took a taxi once since I rented a car and a motorbike on my different visits. Most of them look like normal cars but don’t be scared to hop on since these are the normal types of taxis in Puerto Escondido.
🏄♀️ Things to do in Puerto Escondido
Visit Puerto Escondido beaches on a motorbike
Puerto Escondido has lots of beaches (within a 20-30 minutes drive) and you can definitely visit them all. Locals flock to Playa Zicatela for sunset and watch surfers ride the waves. Surfers like Playa Carizalillo it is also a great spot for non-surfers. I personally just stay in Zicatela Beach but having visited them all, I will give you a background on the beaches of Puerto Escondido:
- Playa Manzanillo: a great spot for swimming and snorkeling. There are also many restaurants on this beach.
- Bacocho Beach: beach club lounging and luxury accommodations. Visit Coconuts Beach Club and Club de Playa Villasol
- Playa Marinero: best sunset spot next to the main beach
- Playa Coral: the most secluded beach next to Bacocho and is popular with locals (who know it)
👉🏽 See all things to do in Puerto Escondido
Take surfing lessons
Surfers from all over the world flock to Puerto Escondido for its waves. Even my friends from Sayulita spend half the year here as the best time to surf in Sayulita and Puerto Escondido are in different seasons.
It’s a win-win for every avid surfer! I do feel like PE’s waves are bigger than Sayulita’s and I see a lot of pro surfers go to Mexico just to do this trip. Puerto Escondido is a surfer’s dream place!
Many of you have asked me on Instagram what’s the best surfing school in Puerto Escondido but I am really sorry – I am not into surfing and I don’t just recommend anyone I didn’t have an experience with. Hopefully, I can try to do lessons on my next trip and update you about the most reliable surf schools.
Oaxaca food tour: a must!
Oaxaca prides itself as the best culinary destination in Mexico and they really are! Oaxacan food is very iconic to this country and you should get to know it. I am still doing a lot of research and participating in food tours all over the state because this cuisine is really interesting.
Alex and Ricardo have been doing Oaxacan food tours in Puerto Escondido for years and I really love their routes! I don’t think I will be able to find these food places in PE if I am doing it by myself (even if I am fluent in Spanish).
Bioluminescence Night Spectacle in Manialtepec Lagoon
I’ve seen a lot of bioluminescence tours in my life (most recently in Costa Rica) and I did not know that Mexico is also big on this. I know that we have it in my area on the Pacific coast but I have not unfortunately seen it myself. This is a must-do when you visit – don’t skip it!
Participate in a turtle release
Job, a Puerto Escondido local is one of the people who first started this turtle release activity. He founded the Manglar Tourist Cooperative, an organization working with native people in the area where this tour takes place.
Many of the locals that Job’s tours support are fishermen who are very knowledgeable about Puerto Escondido’s waters. Job has years of experience living in PE – he’s been swimming the famous waters of Manialtepec Lagoon ever since he was a child!
Job trained himself how to be a boat captain in order to do his own tours in Puerto Escondido. He will also provide pick-up and drop-off at your hotel when you book this tour. This turtle release activity with Job also includes a bioluminescence tour in the Manialtepec Lagoon for only US$35. I hope you enjoy this day with Job. He really is a great guide!
Try all the International cuisines at La Punta Zicatela
La Punta Zicatela is such an amazing spot, especially for young people. But what’s super interesting about this area is the selection of food. There is a newly opened food park that has a coffee shop, sushi place, and vegan food.
What’s also very interesting is that they have all the International cuisines in the world! Thai, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Argentine, Chinese – I don’t remember seeing a lot of Mexican restaurants in La Punta. This is definitely the place for International cuisine in Puerto Escondido. Try them all!
Go on Jungle parties
There are lots of secret Jungle parties in Puerto Escondido that are announced last minute. If you are a very social person and are always hanging out with locals in Puerto Escondido, news about secret parties always spreads so fast.
They usually happen from Thursday to Sunday. The map of the exact location of the secret parties will be sent to you via Whatsapp. Locals and long-term expats just send it to everybody so technically, it is not a secret party anymore. What makes it super secret is that you’ll get to know there’s a party only a few hours before!
🛏️ Puerto Escondido hotels
There are many neighborhoods in Puerto Escondido depending on the purpose of your travel. La Punta is the most famous (and is my favorite) as there are many restaurants in this area and the beach is within walking distance. This is usually flocked by young travelers but a more mature audience, not Spring Breakers.
Rinconada is favored by surfers as the best surf beach (Playa Carrizalillo) is located here. It is sleepy, quiet, and always active early. This is the best area to stay if you want peace and quiet, even if you are not a surfer. Families and non-party-goers also prefer this area.
Zicatela is the nightlife central, where you will find bars bustling til 5:00 AM on weekends. This is where everyone goes after La Punta calms down by midnight. Centro is a digital nomad’s favorite since Internet works better here than in any other neighborhood of Puerto Escondido.
Below are the best hotel recommendations in Puerto Escondido which I’ve tried, visited, or have experienced:
- The party nook: Bonita Escondida (from US$25)
- Best in value: Vivo Escondido Hostel (from US$10)
- Best local hostel: Puerto Dreams (from US$12)
- Best for digital nomads: Casa Losodeli (from US$71)
- Most tranquil: Tower Bridge Hostel (from US$22)
- Best in design: Selina Puerto Escondido (from US$37)
- Best in location: Bikini Beach House (from US$45)
- Best hotel near the airport: Shavanna Hotel Boutique (from US$55)
- Best beachfront hotel: Hotel Santa Fe (from US$55)
- Best for surfers: Hotel Surf Altas Olas (from US$60)
🍲 Puerto Escondido restaurants
Seafood cravings: El Coste Cevicheria
Just to give you an idea: all the Mexican restaurants are in Zicatela. If you’re craving seafood, just walk on the beach and you will see hundreds of restaurants that are beachfront.
However, expect that they have higher prices than the other side of the beach. Still, seafood in PE is guaranteed fresh and it’s worth the money! My favorite is El Coste. It’s great for lunch because they’re right in front of the beach!
You can even stay here until sunset – just make sure to order if you are going to stay for hours. I usually do US$25 orders for food and drinks if I am staying here long.
For Thai food: Lychee
I know you’d like to try as many Mexican dishes as possible but who doesn’t love Thai food??? Lychee is surprisingly affordable and has many good dishes.
I come here when I am sick of the street tacos because it’s also a good place for big group hangouts. All my hostel groups went here at one point so I’ve been here a couple of times.
For Peruvian food: Chicama
As you know, I all so spent a lot of time in Peru and I was really surprised to see a Peruvian restaurant in Mexico. Perhaps this is the only Peruvian I know in the country.
Did you know Peruvian food is awarded the best cuisine in the World’s 50 Best Awards? Not many people will look for Peruvian food but if you have something as legitimate as this, might as well give it a try!
For pizza/Italian: Mundaka
Mundaka is a small place and every time I go here, I always have to fall in line – but it’s worth the wait! They use dim lights for a good restaurant ambiance.
This is the go-to place when it comes to pizza in La Punta Zicatela. I even do takeaways here to bring the pizza box to the beach in case they are full house.
For legitimate fish tacos: The Fish Shack
The Fish Shack’s restaurant set-up is very unique as it is in an alley (pathway to the beach). It wouldn’t be hard to spot because of the hanging lights the cute shack design will draw you in.
This is the best place for fish tacos and socialization. There is also a small liquor/beverage stall in front of it where you can order drinks. This is a must when you are in La Punta!
🍸 Puerto Escondido bars
For socializing: The Boneyard
The Boneyard is a skatepark slash bar – everyone comes here every night. It’s usually best to come from 10:00 pm. You don’t necessarily have to know how to skate.
Non-skaters hang out here for drinks. This is a great spot for solo travelers in Puerto Escondido who wish to meet and chat with people. It can get really packed and they usually close late.
For day drinking: Palapita Bar
This is the best spot in Zicatela beach! They have 2 for 1 Pina coladas until 5 PM so this is perfect for day drinking with friends! The beach chairs are bean bags so whenever I go here, I usually end up having an afternoon siesta.
For evening cocktails: Bikini Bar
For small groups are cocktail days, Bikini Beach bar is a quiet and at the same time busy spot. I love the wooden structure above the Barre end the servers are really social.
There are many cocktail options in this small bar but I recommend trying the ones with Mezcal as is a product of the Oaxaca state.
💃🏽 Tip: You can start your evening and La Punta but if you still find yourself looking for parties after midnight, the action is in Zicatela.
🌟 Puerto Escondido travel tips
Again, safety is very subjective but I always have lots of ‘juju’ that I practice whenever I am traveling, not just in Mexico but all over the world. After all, it’s really hard to measure which is the safest country. I feel like everything’s just the same.
Remember that crimes happen everywhere whether you are a woman or a man. It can happen to anyone, especially if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Well, that is also not that easy to measure but here are my safety tips when traveling to Puerto Escondido.
Walking alone in Puerto Escondido at night: is it an issue?
I stayed in the Zicatela area (actually the best area to stay in Puerto Escondido) and I really loved the neighborhood. Zicatela’s layout is so easy to memorize. The streets are well-lit – take note that this is sometimes an issue in Mexico as there are lots of small towns here that are really dark at night! So I give this as a plus for Puerto Escondido.
I remember one night I went to a bar alone. I made friends with the server there and left a bag with her full of my camera gear while I was drinking by their beach bar. It was a rainy season when I came so I did not want my bag to be wet, especially it has 2 cameras in it!
As soon as it started raining, I panicked and ran to my hostel only to find out that I forgot the bag with her! It was already past midnight and the bar was closing but when I went back the next day, the server, Barbara had all my stuff intact!
I was really worried and couldn’t sleep at night because I did not have contact with them. But I know that most servers in Mexico are very honest people and they will always take care of your stuff if you ask nicely.
I also went to a secret party by the river. At 10:00 pm, I received a text from my friend whom I have not seen for years (she used to live in Sayulita but moved to Puerto Escondido). She said there’s a “secret party” somewhere and she sent me the location.
Without completely knowing the Puerto Escondido layout, I just followed the maps (it was kind of hard since it was a secret location) and arrived at the party where all the locals were. I remember heading out of my hostel at midnight and I walked alone without knowing where to go.
Do not leave your stuff unattended
From living in Sayulita where people don’t care about material things, I always forget that when I am in another area in Mexico, it’s a different story. You already know my story about Barbara where I left my camera bag at the bar (overnight) but I guess I was just lucky because I was chatty with the locals.
I also have an anti-theft backpack because if I lose my gadgets, I am going to go nuts. My livelihood is very dependent on it. I don’t think you can go have a dip on the beach while leaving your stuff unattended in Puerto Escondido. I still did not get that confidence so I always make sure that I pay attention to my stuff.
But believe me when I say that there are some areas in Mexico where you can leave your belongings unattended and nothing will happen!
Speak Spanish with the locals
I am really lucky that the owner of my hostel is super-friendly. I got to know his friends and family. He also took me to a bar he owns where I was able to hang out with most of his local friends.
Your Spanish-speaking skills will come in handy when traveling to Puerto Escondido not because no one speaks English but because I feel like you will have more genuine connections if you are able to speak Spanish.
Some locals can’t express themselves 100% in English but if you are looking for deep connections and long-lasting friendships, I really encourage you to learn Spanish before coming to Mexico! You will see how many friends you will make here and it won’t be a shallow friendship.
Consider your source
My family is still freaked that I lived in Mexico, most especially they have not been here! I understand that your friends will always tell you not to go to Mexico because it is dangerous but please, always consider your source.
Have they been to Puerto Escondido? How long did they stay in the area? Did they meet locals? Did they even try to speak Spanish?
If the answer is no to all these, then do not listen to these people. What I always do is connect via CouchSurfing and ask the locals that are currently there. I always get valuable insights from this community and I am happy to be part of it for more than 10 years!
Call the consulate of your country
If you are Canadian/American, almost all the cities in Mexico have a US or Canadian consulate. They will always respond with tips and the current situation (especially COVID) so this is really the best resource you can have while traveling Mexico.
Plus, if something happens to you (I really hope not), it’s easier for your consulate to locate you while you are in Mexico.
Hang out or stay at Bonita Escondida Hostel
Bonita Escondida l is a great accommodation in Puerto Escondido but it’s also an amazing place to socialize! Everyone’s at the bar/pool area all day and you’ll never be alone if you stay here. If you don’t want to stay here, you can always come to their events. They have Karaoke nights every Thursday!
Join Puerto Escondido Facebook groups
Facebook groups in Mexico are super active and this is where you’ll get information. I am not a Facebook fan but I always use it to find events and updates on a new place I am traveling to.
Below are some good groups in Puerto Escondido:
- Puerto Escondido People: publishes in English. Most members are expats and locals but they will also answer travel questions!
- Eventos Zicatela Puerto Escondido: Zicatela Events in English, this group publishes in Spanish but just Google translate and you’ll get local info!
- Locals and Foreigners in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca: for digital nomads and long-term travelers. You can find apartment rental deals here
Go to secret jungle parties (after midnight)
This is not a regular thing but every weekend, there’s a last-minute party announcement in Puerto Escondido. News will spread fast about the location and you will definitely receive the location pin on your Whatsapp if you’re a social person.
These parties are set up in the jungles and secret locations in Puerto Escondido so you might need a ride. People usually organize ride-sharing to go there but the problem is if you leave the party at 5:00 AM, you might need to hitchhike or ride with people with cars.
Bumble or Tinder in Puerto Escondido
Bumble and Tinder are two dating apps widely used in Mexico but I used this a lot in Puerto Escondido just to meet people. Don’t worry, it’s totally safe! Just make sure you meet in a public and busy area like La Punta.
Use Couchsurfing hangouts
I only recommend Couchsurfing hangouts for big cities but I also tried using this in Puerto Escondido. Most people you will find here are solo travelers and backpackers.
The hangouts are real-time and you will get notified via the app when a hangout is happening. You can even set one yourself!
Stay in a hostel, not in an Airbnb
Well, hello, honey! You are traveling alone. You can’t possibly rent an Airbnb and stay there by yourself the whole trip?! Stay in a hostel!
If you are not comfortable with dorm beds (yeah, I get it. COVID), hostels have private rooms, too! In fact, hostels in Puerto Escondido are super boutique-ish and not sketchy so don’t worry about it!
People who stay in hostels are probably traveling by themselves so you’ll have more opportunities to mingle. Hostel guests also do things together like cooking dinners, drinking, and going out so you’ll never walk alone!
Extra tip for long-term stays or backpacking
I understand why you might want to stay longer in Puerto Escondido. It’s not hard to fall in love with this place.
For those who have 2 weeks to a month, you can search for house-sitting gigs and live for free in a local’s home! They mostly like couples!
Most of the people who are looking for house-sitters have pets so if you love animals, then this is good for you! My dogs and I always do this whenever we want to be more local in a place.
If you are alone and want to be more social, there are also many volunteering gigs here (in whatever category you want) where you can meet other people that have the same interest as you do.
I also did volunteering all over Latin America and Asia – it was the best experience!
✈️ Ready for your trip to Puerto Escondido? This blog thrives on reader questions so feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions! This post is updated constantly so make sure to bookmark it!
Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She’d like to believe she’s not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.