10 Things To Do In Puerto Escondido Besides Surf
Our visit to one of Mexico's top surf towns turned out better than we had expected. Even though we don't surf, Puerto Escondido had great beaches and a laid-back feel that had us staying longer than we had originally planned. So, what to do in a surf town when you're not a surfer? We've rounded up 10 fun and affordable things to do in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
1. Watch the Surfers
Even if you're not planning to surf in Puerto Escondido, you can't miss watching the surfers ride the waves. Head to Zicatela beach and you'll see them out there as soon as the sun rises! It's thrilling, entertaining and definitely worth waking up early to watch a free surf show. And Puerto Escondido is a great place to take surfing lessons if that's on your bucket list. There are many choices all throughout town but Oasis Spanish & Surf School comes highly recommended.
2. Enjoy Spectacular Sunsets
There is just something about the sunsets in Puerto Escondido. The colours are so vibrant and each one is like a different painting. Be sure to head to one of the many beaches in the city and enjoy a different view of the sunset at each one. You can even arrange a sunset horseback ride for a really romantic evening.
3. Explore the Many Beaches
Several tourist destinations in Mexico revolve around one beach but that's not the case in Puerto Escondido because you've got plenty of options when it comes to fun in the sun. Zicatela Beach may be the biggest and longest stretch of beach in the city but there are a handful of others worth exploring. Manzanillo Beach is great if you want to enjoy calmer waters and there are restaurants all along the water with hammocks and great views. This is also where you'll find plenty of boats available to take you out to great snorkeling spots and tours of the nearby beaches. Bacocho Beach is a lot quieter since there's not much around which makes it ideal for a calm and peaceful walk along the shore. Carrizalillo Beach is smaller and there is little shade (if any) here on hot days. There are restaurants with chairs and umbrellas but the many stairs make this beach less accessible for some. If you've got time to explore the area, Mazunte, Zipolite and Puerto Angel are among the many beaches in the area worth venturing off to.
4. Shop Day and Night
Puerto Escondido may not be a shopper's paradise but there is an affordable market in the town called Mercado Benito Juarez for authentic Mexican trinkets and cheap lunches. At night on the main street at Playa Principal several vendors set up booths selling everything from artisan crafts to ice cream. This street, nicknamed 'El Adoquin', is a great area for tourist-oriented restaurants and bars as well.
5. Catch a Movie on the Beach
One of my favourite things to do in Puerto Escondido was the Wednesday movie nights at Bacocho beach. The nearby Hotel Suites Villasol does a great job of organizing these free movies on the beach between November and April each year. Weekly films are posted on their Facebook page and snacks and drinks are available for sale. The hotel also offers affordable day passes to enjoy their pool and beachfront facilities.
6. Tour the Manialtepec Lagoon
About 30 minutes from Puerto Escondido (and a world away) is a birder's paradise: Manialtepec Lagoon. During the day you're able to take affordable boat or kayak tours to explore the diverse lagoon and learn about the wildlife from local experts. If you're in town during a new moon, the lagoon will be especially dark at night and many tour companies advertise the bio-luminescent nighttime swim. We booked through our hostel for $250 pesos and were a bit disappointed with the visibility of the plankton. It wasn't nearly as bright as advertised and left us wishing we had explored the lagoon during the day instead!
7. Try Oaxacan Food
Tlayudas, tamales, Oaxacan cheese and delicious mole. If your trip includes a stop in Oaxaca City, your options for these (and more) yummy dishes are endless. But many staples of traditional Oaxacan cuisine can also be found at local restaurants in Puerto Escondido. We usually ask hostel workers or taxi drivers for recommendations and have yet to be disappointed with their affordable suggestions on where to eat.
8. Let Loose at a Beach Bar
Where there's a beach, there's usually a bar and in Puerto Escondido there are PLENTY. Zicatela beach is the most popular when it comes to nightlife and it seems like each beach bar has it's own 'night' of the week. Ask the locals and they'll recommend the best place of the night for drinks, dancing and sometimes even live music right on the beach.
9. Experience a Turtle Release
Prior to arriving in Puerto Escondido, we had the opportunity to release baby turtles on our visit to the Coyuca Lagoon near Acapulco. It was one of the most memorable experiences of our time in Mexico and would highly recommend a baby turtle release along the coast of Mexico. Depending on the time of year, Puerto Escondido also has baby turtle releases at sunset along Playa Bacocho. We've learned so much about the life cycle of turtles in Mexico and especially enjoyed the National Mexican Turtle Centre in nearby Mazunte.
10. Relax and Unwind
When you're in a surf town, you can't help but settle into the laid-back feel of things. And among all the things to do in Puerto Escondido, there are also plenty of options to relax and simply do nothing. You'll find hammocks at the beach that are perfect for that afternoon siesta. Yoga classes are available at various schools throughout the city and coffee shops are open very early for those looking to settle into a good book over a cup of coffee.
Where To Stay in Puerto Escondido
We stayed at a hostel in town and really enjoyed the facilities at Casa Losodeli. Their dorm rooms are very affordable and they had a pool, hammocks and a really great hostel atmosphere. Though it wasn't right on the beach, the convenience of staying in town meant that we were close to restaurants, a gym, banks and the bus stations. The staff is quick to help with recommendations and they always have fun events planned throughout the week like movie nights, themed dinners and group outings.
We hope our list of things to do in Puerto Escondido inspires you to explore this coastal gem in Mexico!