We lived in Puerto Escondido on the Pacific Coast for 6 weeks back in February/March. Man, I’ve been a long time about writing this post! When we left Puerto Escondido, we did three days in the hippie coastal town of Zipolite, 12 days in wonderful Oaxaca city, 2 weeks in disappointing Mérida (I’ll get back to that on in a different post), 1 week on Isla Holbox and have now decided to make Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean coast our home for the next couple of months (Say whaaat?! Such a commercial, touristy town? Well, yes here we are and I’ll get back to that in another post as well).
Travelling with a toddler full time is limiting our ability to work more than expected, hence the quiteness here on the blog. But now, he is in a wonderful daycare just aruound the corner from our apartment and we’re ”back to work” again, which is AWESOME!
Anyway, let’s get into the real deal here: Puerto Escondido.
Why Puerto Escondido?
Back in january we walked the beautiful, but chilly streets of Roma Norte, Mexico City. We had planned to go to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Guadalajara from there and then thought about continuing to Baja California (my dream!). But as we walked those chilly streets of CDMX and looked at the temperatures in Baja, which were around 22 degrees celcius, we decided that we wanted to go somewhere warmer. We craved sun and really high temperatures!
So we asked locals we met at cafes and in parks of where to go. Puerto Escondido kept coming up as the favourite destination of almost everyone and on top of that we could fly there directly from Guadalajara at a low fare. So on a fresh morning, enjoying a warm cup of coffee and a banana toast at our favourite Dosis café we booked the flight.
The different neighbourhoods
Puerto Escondido is a funny town distribution wise. You can either stay around the original town and the Rinconada/Bacocho/Hidalgo areas, which are half residencial half rentals/touristy. Here is grocery shopping (the one big supermarked in town is here), small shops, restaurants etc. A bit of everything, but not very pretty honestly (so sorry, but it is not a beautiful town, it’s the beaches that do the trick here). This area is close to the bays Carrizalillo and Playa Puerto Angel. It primarily caters to the older generation I would say.
Then you have the area around the Bahía Principal, which is where the fishermen come in every morning. There is a little main street with tourist stuff and restaurants.
Then there is the stretch of Zicatela. Zicatela is the primary beach of Puerto Escondido, aprox. 3 km long and with wild waves (many surfers have got their boards broken over the years here). It is a new area build to cater for the tourists. Stunning beach bars, bikini shops and restaurants. It’s indeed a nice area if you enjoy going out at night and chilling in a sunbed during the day.
Lastly, at the far end of Zicatela is La Punta. La Punta is like a little laid back surfer town with dusty streets and plenty of food options for the vegan and vegetarian audience. This is the only part of Zicatela beach where you can actually go into the sea, but at your own risk as it is quite adventurous. There is also surfing for newbies here, so if that’s what you’re into it might be a good choice. There are beach bars and a very nice environment around sunset. In La Punta the dress code seems to be swimwear. Surfers stroll with their tanned and trained bodies and board under the arm. I don’t think I have ever seen so many fit people in one place before!
FYI: Taxis drive between the different parts of the city all day and it’s only around 50 pesos / 2,30 € to get from A to B, so it’s easy getting around.
After a miserable experience in Guanajuato (old, smelly room), we decided to splurge in Puerto, so we booked 10 days in this house. It is located close to La Punta, but in a secluted area of Zicatala. The house was brilliant with a little private pool and direct access to the beach where we would go every morning around 8 a.m. and enjoy the sunrise and magnificent view of the waves, the birds, the people walking their dogs etc. Bonus was the neighbours; an American couple living there fulltime. We spend a lot of time with them and their dog Jacks and now call them ”Julian’s Mexican grandparents”.
We quickly decided that we would stay longer than those 10 days in Puerto Escondido. We would make it a base for another month and find daycare to Julian. The daycare we found was in the Rinconada neighbourhood, so we decided to find a home there too. We had a budget which was significantly lower than what we had spend on the house above and it turned out to be quite difficult to find something decent at that price (decent = a livingroom with daylight and a fully equipped kitchen). We checked Airbnb and other rental sites with no luck and then simply started walking around looking for ”FOR RENT” signs. Luckily we found one in walking distance to the daycare, with pool and at within our budget. So for the next months we stayed in La Rinconada, where we paid around 16.000 pesos / 755 € for a month.
My Recommendations for accomodation
If you are going on holiday in Puerto Escondido I would recommend a hotel/apartment in La Punta. It’s a nice area even with kids. Only downside is that the beach is not swimmable for children, so if you really want your kids to get into the water and you also enjoy swimming yourself then maybe stay around La Rinconada (where you can swim in the bays of Carizalillo and Playa Puerto Angel). If you have money to splurge then definitely stay at Villas Carrizalillo where the food is amazing and the view is too!
Things to do
Most people (young people at least) come to Puerto Escondido to surf. And we also decided that this should be the place to learn it. We took lessons twice a week for a month. We would have liked to take more classes, but we also had to work, so… next time!
We attended classes at Oasis, where we would meet at 11 am. and then the instructors would decide whether we should just walk down to the Carrizalillo bay or take their minibus to La Punta. Depended on the waves. A 5-classes card is 2500 pesos / 118 euro.
Yoga is big in Puerto and many hotels offer daily classes. I went to One Love Hostal every second day when we stayed by the beach. Each class was 100 pesos // 4,80 €. Super affordable! They have different teachers teaching different kind of yoga and pilates, so two days are never the same.
I also attended classes with Sophie Yoga some times. She is a brilliant teacher and offer classes in her home studio or private on the beach or at your home. Home studio classes were 100 pesos.
Lasse went fishing one day with some friends. I don’t know anything about fishing, but they did trolling/deep sea fishing, so there was not much fishing about. The captain and his assistant did most of the work. But still, it was a nice day on the sea and they caught a sailfish.
Liberation of sea turtles
We heard about a NGO on Bacocho beach who worked to safe the sea turtle eggs from being caught by humans, who sell them. We decided to go and have a look one afternoon. I had seen many ”picture perfect” moments on Instagram of people holding little baby sea turtles in their hands and I was quite sceptic when arriving, because; is it really good for those little animals to be in human hands?
Nice was the surprise, when we were strictly forbidden to touch them. We had a thorough intruduction to the organisation and their work, which includes searching for the eggs (on a 27 km stretch of beach) and nesting them until they break and are ready to hit the sea.
We were handed out a coconut shell in which we should transport the little baby turtle down to the sea and from there tip it out of the shell and onto the sand, so that it could take the final steps into the sea alone. A very nice experience for the whole family.
They invite tourists to join for 100 pesos / 4,80 € per person and these contributions are what makes the organisation run. The organisation is named Vive Mar and liberates turtles every afternoon around 5 p.m.
There are plenty of options for tours from Puerto Escondido. We didn’t go as we mainly just went to the beach to play with Julian on weekends as he was in daycare on weekdays.
Puerto Escondido is quite cheap for living. Taxis are cheap. Daycare is cheap (Julian went to a local mexican daycare for 3000 pesos / 141 € for a month incl. breakfast and lunch).
Food and drinks are fairly cheap (see prices on the individual restaurant descriptions above). If you go local and eat at the local market you can obviously eat even cheaper than we did.
The most expensive part is accommodation. There are very cheap options, but they mostly consist of very simple cabanas with a bed and a bathroom, which is fine for a couple of days, but not for a long term stay and definitely not with kids.
Overall impression of Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido was a nice choice for us at that time and we enjoyed it. We met some nice people who also made it all 100 times better (because being social and having friends to hang out with is just everything when travelling for such a long time).
Julian’s daycare was a wonderful experience which he really enjoyed and it gave us time to surf and work. Lasse enjoyed the gym and I enjoyed some yoga classes.
But, I’m not sure I would chose it again for such a long time. Mainly because it was extremely hot and humid and always sunny (there were literally never clouds!)… and how can this be a problem you may ask? It turns out as a problem when travelling with a very blonde 1-year old. It was simply too hot and the sun was too strong to be outside between 11.30 – 16. And there are not really anywhere to go with shade in the town. Even the playgrounds are not in shade (very foolish I would say!). So during weekends we were mostly just inside our tiny and hot house and that was a bit limiting.
Also we missed more options for coffee shops to work from. So I would not really recommend Puerto Escondido for a place to settle down for a Digital Nomad, but I can totally recommend it for a holiday, especially for people without kids as the nightlife and bars seemed very nice!
Recommendations for food & drinks will come in Puerto Escondido Part 2
We quit our jobs by the end of 2018 to travel in Latin America. Read about the decision here