What’s it like to travel to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico during COVID
Thinking to travel to Puerto Escondido during COVID?
Well, if you are already inside Mexico, I am sure you are familiar with Mexico’s ways and means when it comes to COVID-19. It really varies from state to state. But anyway, today, I am only going to talk about traveling Puerto Escondido during this pandemic. What’s it like?
I live in Sayulita and we have the no-mask-no-rules COVID lifestyle. I arrived in Puerto Escondido on August 22, 2020 and was really surprised by how different it is. Puerto Escondido is a little more serious about it, but not really. In this guide, I will tell you about my experience. Every heading is in a question format because there are the most frequent questions I receive on Instagram regarding travel to Puerto Escondido during COVID.
IS PUERTO ESCONDIDO ON LOCKDOWN?
As of August 24, 2020, positive COVID cases in the state of Oaxaca (where Puerto Escondido is located) is at 12,994. I couldn’t pull out the exact numbers for Puerto Escondido but if you want to know more, you can visit Mexico’s COVID updates website. It’s updated daily.
Puerto Escondido opened two weeks ago which prompted this trip. During the ‘lockdown,’ my friends who live here told me it’s a bit lax because the police come and go. It is not monitored 24/7 by the authorities. For example, if the policia federal is around, then the people who live here will stay in their homes. If not, then they have the freedom to go out.
MY ARRIVAL IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO
My flight to Puerto Escondido commenced in Puerto Vallarta, the closest airport to where I live in Sayulita. After not traveling for 7 months, I forgot how things have changed during COVID so I stayed with my usual backpacker attitude by packing the last minute and leaving my house just 2 hours before the flight, and guess what? I missed the flight and had to buy a new one.
Though airports didn’t change their format and Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido airports are both relatively small, there are a lot of protocols like the never-ending hand sanitizer in every entrance plus “social distancing lines.” It’s a quote and quote because people aren’t really following it. There are no marks/signs on the floors of the airports although, in Mexico City International Airport, they already implemented these signs. Only those who are concerned or educated about COVID are being compliant, meaning, it’s really up to you to keep the distance. The airport personnel won’t even ask you to do it.
During my layover in Mexico City, they asked me to fill out a COVID-19 form. To help you understand better what this form is, it’s like those custom forms where they ask you if you have been arrested in another country, if you are carrying drugs, if you are bringing more than $15,000 USD in cash, etc. More often than not, frequent travelers just tick ‘no’ to all items. But this COVID form will ask you questions like “were you in contact with a person who has/had COVID-19? Do you have a cough? Do you have a flu? etc. Obviously, you will answer no to all these because you can. They don’t have a way of finding out. I would ask you to do the digital form instead of the paper because it’s really a waste. They won’t even get it from you. You’ll keep it for the rest of your stay.
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS FOR TRAVELERS ENTERING PUERTO ESCONDIDO DURING COVID?
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Not at all! Mexico has been open to tourists as of June 30, 2020. You will not be required to do a 14-day quarantine on arrival and they will not require you to show proof of your COVID-19 test(s). Neither will they ask you to test when you are here. All you need to do is fill out the health control form I told you above, which is obviously not a tedious task. I would tell you though, if you are experiencing symptoms before you travel to Puerto Escondido during COVID, please cancel your travel plans and stay at home, most especially if you are coming from the USA. If you are visibly ill upon arrival and have a high fever, you will be refused entry. Even if Mexico is lax when it comes to COVID, all establishments, airports, etc check temperatures. I couldn’t count how many times they checked mine!
DO I NEED A (COVID) TRAVEL INSURANCE TO ENTER PUERTO ESCONDIDO?
No, it is not required. Not even if you enter Mexico City International Airport from another country. I honestly don’t have any travel insurance that covers COVID because I can’t find a reliable one. But I always have travel insurance since I am always outdoors riding motorcycles and cars. If you know any travel insurance that includes COVID, please let me know!
ARE MASKS REQUIRED FOR TRAVELERS IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO?
Back home in Sayulita, it’s a pity that we don’t practice wearing masks in public. But here in Puerto Escondido, you need to wear masks when entering restaurants. Establishments will not let you in without masks. I even saw a lot of people being refused entry and buying masks in street stores. Again, it is not a practice in Mexico to wear masks. You will only see it with tourists.
But the weirdest thing is that establishments only require it upon entry. You can remove it as soon as you are inside. Meaning, it’s just your pass to be able to enter the restaurant. They did install portable faucets at every entrance which is awesome because you will be forced to wash your hands. Unfortunately, a lot of people are very unconscious about washing their hands frequently so I guess this tactic helps.
In any case that you forgot your mask at your hotel, there are lots of street vendors selling masks but I suggest you always keep it in your bag! I am sure as a tourist, you are mindful about carrying your mask all the time but you’d be surprised how in Mexico, it’s still something new. People always forget it because it’s not part of their practice.
ARE HOTELS OPEN IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO?
I own an Airbnb in Sayulita and at one point, we had a few restrictions about opening our calendars as hosts. But for Puerto Escondido, I have no idea if hotel booking platforms put any restrictions. I always book my accommodations last minute. Since this is a COVID period and it’s not that busy, it wasn’t hard for me to book accommodations in Puerto Escondido. In Mexico, there is a 30% capacity rule that most hotels seem to follow.
Airbnb is usually the best bet because you will have the place to yourself and less interaction. You can also use Booking.com where you pay at the property. This way, you can always cancel but make sure to read the cancellation policies first. Some accommodations will ask you to put your credit card details but most of them don’t. It’s COVID times and they have nothing to lose anyway.
Where I stayed in Puerto Escondido
I stayed at Casa Daikiri and since my travel to Puerto Escondido during COVID is a budget trip, I opted to stay in a shared dormitory. I am traveling with three other bloggers so it’s cheaper and convenient for us to book the dorms. Again, there is a 30% capacity rule in Mexico so we had the 8-dorm bed to ourselves. Casa Daikiri did not put other people we didn’t know in the dorms. We paid $180 MXN ($8.19 USD) per bed per night and stayed for three nights. The weather in Puerto Escondido was horrible so we decided to move forward to Mazunte. At this time of the year, it’s rainy season in Puerto Escondido (August and September).
Are hotels in Puerto Escondidio taking necessary precautions for COVID?
The most that they do is abide by the 30% capacity, mandatory wearing of masks, and antibacterial gel all the time. I am not a fan of the gel but they will make you do it in every place, every time you enter. As for the space, there weren’t a lot of people where I stayed and I barely came across other guests. But the hotels are not re-designed for COVID. At least not yet. It’s still a normal hotel setting.
ARE RESTAURANTS OPEN IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO?
Most restaurants are open and they require masks at the entrance only. When you’re in, you can remove it. Again, it’s only an entry pass. They didn’t lessen the number of tables nor did they arrange it in a way that tables/people are far apart from each other. Some restaurants re-designed the entry/exit points but not all. In Puerto Escondido, I only saw one. However, the beach restaurants are very spacious and the distance between the tables is very good. After all, they have more space than the restaurants.
Along with the mask, they also set up a handwashing station and it is required to wash your hands before entering the restaurant. I swear, I felt like I washed my hands in Puerto Escondido like 5 times every hour!
ARE PUERTO ESCONDIDO BEACHES OPEN?
Yes! And they are very crowded, unfortunately. It depends on the beach you are going to but when I went to a small beach like Playa Carrizalillo, there wasn’t enough space for everybody and it felt like they didn’t count the number of people coming in. This is a public beach so you don’t have to pay any entrance fees, but still, there weren’t any restrictions on how many people can enter. It was really crowded! Bigger beaches like Playa Bacocho is a different story. When I went there, there was enough space for everyone and it seemed pretty relaxing to stay there for hours without worrying. But yes, Puerto Escondido beaches are open.
WILL I BE ABLE TO RENT A CAR IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO DURING COVID?
I rented a car at Puerto Escondido International Airport. There is only one rental car office there and it’s very easy to locate. However, if you want to rent a car, you need to rent it upon arrival. All over the city, rental car offices within the city are closed because of COVID. Only the airport offices/stations are allowed to open.
The cost of the rental car is about $600 MXN ($27 USD) per day. This rental cost does not include the $15,000 MXN ($682 USD) credit card deposit which will only be charged when something happens to the car.
Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike. Puerto Escondido roads are very decent and flat so this is a cheaper option for the adventurer in you. This town has a motorbike culture so driving around is manageable. Motorbikes are at $300 MXN ($13.64 USD) per day but if you are renting it long-term and if you speak Spanish, you can haggle for a lower price.