If you’re trying to put together a Puerto Escondido itinerary, you’re in luck! Sun-filled days, pods of hundreds of dolphins, and beachside margaritas await.
After spending six months exploring Mexico’s charming beach towns and hidden gems, I’ve created the ultimate Puerto Escondido itinerary.
Before you read on, be sure to bookmark or pin my other Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca travel guides:
★ How to Swim With Wild Dolphins in Puerto Escondido
★ Travel Guide for Playa Carrizalillo, Puerto Escondido’s Most Beautiful Beach
★ The Ultimate Guide to the La Punta Neighborhood of Puerto Escondido
★ Travel Guide: Santiago Apoala, Oaxaca’s Hidden Gem for Hiking and Waterfalls
★ Guide to Jalatlaco, Oaxaca City’s Most Darling Neighborhood
★ 27+ Vegan Restaurants & Vegan-Friendly Spots in Oaxaca City
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Puerto Escondido Itinerary
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca is one of those places that no one wants to leave. With so many stunning beaches, flavor-packed food, incredible wildlife, and endless sunny days, you can easily spend months in this Mexican beach town without getting bored.
This carefully designed itinerary is customizable and can be adjusted if your trip is shorter or longer. So whether you have 3 days in Puerto Escondido, or ten, or more, you’re in for a treat!
Puerto Escondido Itinerary Overview:
Days 1-3: Beaches, delicious food, swimming with wild dolphins, and hiking La Punta.
Days 4-6: Baby sea turtle release, Oaxacan food tour, day trips to Mazunte and Zipolite, bioluminescence experience, and more beach time.
Days 7-10: Playa Principal coastal walk, Chacahua day trip, hot springs, waterfalls, canyoneering, and more beaches.
Visiting Puerto Escondido for less than ten days? Jump forward to my shorter itineraries:
★ Puerto Escondido Itinerary 3 Days
★ Puerto Escondido Itinerary 5 Days
★ Puerto Escondido Itinerary One Week
★ Oaxaca Coast Itinerary Ideas
★ Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido Itinerary Ideas
★ Puerto Escondido Honeymoon & Anniversary Trip Ideas
Enjoying brunch at an outdoor cafe in La Punta, a must-visit neighborhood on your Puerto Escondido itinerary
Get a taste of the Oaxacan coast during your first 1 to 3 days in Puerto Escondido.
Day 1: Brunch & Beach Day
Start off your first day in Puerto Escondido with something yummy! Some of the best brunch spots in town include:
★ Elephant Garden: Wholesome yet flavorful dishes served in a peaceful garden setting. Located in Zicatela.
★ Piyoli Punta Zicatela: One of the most popular restaurants in La Punta, Piyoli Punta Zicatela is a lively spot open from 8am-11pm everyday. During breakfast and brunch, you can fill up on veggie-forward foods and sip on fresh juices.
★ Tistal: Authentic Oaxacan cuisine with an ocean view. This family-run restaurant is located just off the main highway near Zicatela.
★ Barrio Cafe: A lowkey but gorgeous outdoor cafe attached to a La Punta hostel. Barrio Cafe’s menu features vibrant smoothie bowls and a variety of toasts, including plenty of vegan options.
A view of Playa Carrizalillo from above
With a full belly, head straight to the beach!
Puerto Escondido is home to so many gorgeous beaches, each with its own unique charm.
My personal favorite is Playa Carrizalillo, which is one of the more swimmer-friendly beaches, with turquoise blue water and golden sand.
If you only have a few days in Puerto Escondido, head to Playa Carrizalillo right away to make sure you get plenty of time in this piece of paradise.
At Playa Carrizalillo you’ll have the option to rent a lounge chair for the day for about $200 pesos, but many people bring a towel or blanket and sit on the sand.
You can also buy drinks and snacks from the beach bars, in case you get hungry or want to indulge in your first Puerto Escondido margarita.
Playa Carrizalillo is also the best place in town to learn to surf, and you can rent surfboards or hire an instructor right on the beach.
The beach bars and surf shacks close around 6pm each day, but you can stay on the beach as long as you wish.
Stay long enough to watch the sunset, or head into town for dinner and then watch the sunset at Zicatela or La Punta.
Day 2: Swimming with Hundreds of Wild Dolphins
Day two of this Puerto Escondido itinerary includes one of my all-time favorite travel experiences: swimming with wild dolphins.
The tour begins early in the morning and includes pickup from your hotel or Airbnb, so be sure to get plenty of rest the night before. Wear a bathing suit under your clothes, wear sandals, and pack a bag with a water bottle, snacks, travel towel (I recommend Nomadix), and a GoPro (my choice) or underwater phone case.
As you cruise through the Pacific Ocean, your guide will point out local wildlife. When I went on this tour, I saw a whale right by our boat, several sea turtles, tropical birds, fish, and of course, hundreds of dolphins!
Eventually, you’ll reach the dolphin pods. If you’re lucky (I was), you’ll find yourself surrounded by hundreds—possibly a thousand.
The local boat captain I interviewed for my Swimming With Wild Dolphins in Puerto Escondido Guide says that you can expect to see dolphins year round on the Oaxacan coast. At minimum, he told me you’ll see five or so dolphins, at most, a thousand.
As you approach the dolphin pod, spinner dolphins will playfully swim alongside your boat, jumping in the waves. Then have the chance to jump in the water with them!
After returning to Puerto Escondido, take a taxi (or walk) to a much deserved lunch. I recommend Cocofam, an incredible vegan restaurant serving wholesome plant-based spins on traditional Mexican cuisine in downtown Puerto Escondido.
After lunch, you can head back to Carrizalillo Beach, or check out Zicatela Beach, where you can watch pros surf barrel waves at one of Mexico’s most iconic surf breaks.
In the evening grab dinner, and try to make it back to the beach to peacefully watch the sunset. Regardless of the day, it seems like all of Puerto Escondido—locals and tourists alike—gather at the beach to watch the sun go down.
What else do you need to know about swimming with dolphins in Puerto Escondido? Read my full Puerto Escondido dolphin guide.
Day 3: Everything La Punta
On your third day in Puerto Escondido, head to the city’s hottest neighborhood and beach area, La Punta.
The dusty dirt roads of La Punta are lined with busy open-air restaurants, local boutiques, surf shops, and trendy hotels. You’ll find that many of Puerto Escondido’s backpackers, partiers, and surfers spend the majority of their time here.
As the Oaxacan coast becomes increasingly popular amongst digital nomads and backpackers, this area is changing rapidly. What once was a sleepy surf town is quickly turning into the next high-end beach vacation destination.
Exploring hidden beaches near La Punta
Whether you book a hotel in La Punta, or stay in another area of Puerto Escondido, I recommend exploring this area. Some highlights of a day in La Punta include:
★ Sunbathe on the golden sand and watch surfers
★ Hike along the rocky point “La Punta” and explore hidden beaches (read more about this in my La Punta guide)
★ Enjoy a creamy, refreshing smoothie bowl at Karma Bowls
★ Carefully wade in the water (please be careful, the surf is quite strong around La Punta!)
★ Take a surfing lesson
★ Shop for locally made gifts at boutiques
★ Try an aerial silk class
★ Watch the sunset from the beach
The next few days are packed full of adventure and once-in-a-lifetime experiences like releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean!
Day 4: Surfing lessons and baby sea turtle release
Puerto Escondido is one of the best places for surfing in Mexico.
The gentle waves at Playa Carrizalillo are perfect for beginners, La Punta‘s break is a favorite spot amongst intermediate surfers, and the roaring barrels of Zicatela Beach are a dream for advanced and pro surfers.
After a hearty breakfast, get ready to hit the waves at your surf spot of choice. You’ll find surf shacks with board rentals and lessons at most Puerto Escondido beaches, but for the best experience, book your surfing lessons ahead of time.
After a day of catching waves, head into town for a late lunch/early dinner. You’ll need to fuel up before releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean—an event that happens daily right around sunset.
Puerto Escondido sea turtle releasing is coordinated by local nonprofits at Playa Palmarito and Playa Bacocho, two beaches north of town.
You can either take a taxi directly to the beach, or book with a local guide who provides transportation, pays for your national park fees, and will give you insight into how local nonprofits are working to save the turtles.
Sea turtle experience with Puerto Escondido’s top rated ecotourism company: Eco Adventures sea turtle release (local guide + roundtrip transport).
Day 5: Mazunte and Zipolite day trip
For day five of this Oaxaca coast itinerary, take a day trip to the nearby beach towns of Mazunte and Zipolite.
These two seaside paradises each have their own quirks, and are located just over an hour south of Puerto Escondido. It’s worth visiting both because they are only 15 minutes apart.
Zipolite is famous for its nude beach (the only one in Mexico), and Mazunte is a laidback hippie beach town.
There isn’t a ton to do in either Mazunte or Zipolite besides exploring the area’s stunning beaches, wandering through the small dusty towns, and hiking to scenic viewpoints.
The slow pace of life is a good thing, though. These gorgeous towns are a great place to lose track of time and immerse in the beautiful natural surroundings.
It’s worth noting that swimming is not recommended at the beaches in Mazunte and Zipolite. Riptides are strong and many people have lost their lives here.
Mazunte, Oaxaca | Photo credit: Conor Murphy
Renting a car in Puerto Escondido will allow you to explore Mazunte and Zipolite at your own pace.
I’ve gotten used to renting a car for a day when I want to take a day trip abroad. If you have two or more people, you can end up saving hundreds of dollars that would have been spent on guided tours.
A guided day trip has its own perks, though. You get all the insider tips from a local, and your entire day is planned out for you—from transportation to food.
Mazunte, Zipolite, Ventanilla, and Punta Cometa Guided Day Trip: Robert’s Ecotours Day Trip from Puerto Escondido.
Day 6: Oaxacan food tour and bioluminescence experience
It is no secret that the food in Oaxaca is some of the best in the entire country. In fact, Oaxaca is considered Mexico’s food capital.
I personally haven’t been able to go on one of these tours as I’m vegan, and they are not vegan-friendly, but I’ve heard wonderful things about this tour company!
If you’re vegan like me, you can get a taste of local cuisine by going to vegan-friendly traditional restaurants like Tistal and spending more time at the beach. Alternatively, you can book a different tour for the day, like this mangrove kayaking experience.
And if you’re up for it, another popular Puerto Escondido activity for foodies is visiting the vibrant Mercado Benito Juarez.
Some delicious vegan Oaxacan food
After a day of tasting the flavors of Oaxaca, experience a natural phenomenon and swim in a bioluminescent lagoon!
Two different lagoons near Puerto Escondido are known for bioluminescence, Lagunas de Chachua and Laguna de Manialtepec.
Since it can be difficult to get to these lagoons at night without your own car, I recommend going with a local guide (this one).
Curious about my experiences traveling as a vegan in Mexico? Mexico Travel Guide for Vegans and Vegetarians
As we near the end of our Puerto Escondido Oaxaca coast itinerary, we’ll take a few more day trips and spend plenty of time soaking up the tropical sun at the beach.
Day 7: Chacahua day trip
Once considered an Oaxaca hidden gem, Chacahua National Park (Lagunas de Chacahua National Park) has now become one of the most popular day trips from Puerto Escondido.
Despite its increased popularity, the empty white-sand beaches and tropical jungles of Chacahua still feel incredibly remote. This is partly due to how difficult it is to get to Chacahua.
To get to Chacahua you’ll have to take a taxi or rental car to El Zapotalito. From there, you have two options: take a 45-minute boat ride on a lancha (small boat) directly to Chacahua, or the slightly quicker route which includes both a boat and a ride on the back of a truck.
Once you arrive at Chacahua, unplug and relax at the beach, or hike to the Lighthouse (El Faro) for gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, town, and lagoons.
If you want to go with a group and guide, check out the local ecotourism companies that host Chacahua day trips.
My husband and I strolling along Playa Zicatela on an anniversary trip to Puerto Escondido
Day 8: Watch surfers at Zicatela Beach, Playa Principal coastal walk, and Playa Manzanillo
One of my favorite things to do in Puerto Escondido is watch surfers catch waves!
The best place to do it is at the northern tip of Playa Zicatela, near Playa Marinero. The strong barrel waves here regularly break surf boards, and even human bones.
On my most recent visit to Puerto Escondido, I only spent an hour or so watching a handful of surfers ride the Zicatela Barrel waves, and sure enough, a surfer emerged from the foam with a snapped surfboard.
Depending on when you visit Puerto Escondido, you may even stumble upon a surfing competition here!
After watching your fair share of surfing, you can grab lunch at a nearby cafe or wander along the 3.5 kilometers of sandy shore that is Zicatela Beach.
If you’re up for more walking, I recommend the Playa Principal coastal walk, and ending your day at beautiful Playa Manzanillo, a gorgeous cove hidden amongst rocky cliffs and jungle foliage.
A beautiful Oaxacan waterfall
Day 9: Waterfalls and canyoneering near Huatulco
Two hours down the coast of Puerto Escondido you’ll find Bahías de Huatulco (Huatulco for short), a gorgeous Mexican resort town with pristine beaches, lush jungle, and cascading waterfalls.
As with other Puerto Escondido day trips, the best way to experience this one is by renting a car for the day so you can explore at your own pace.
Alternatively, you can book a guided day trip, but most of them leave directly from Huatulco, so you’ll still need to figure out transportation to Huatulco from Puerto Escondido.
Keep in mind that with a two-hour drive each way, this will be a very full day! Make sure you get plenty of rest the night before and pack some snacks for the road!
Day 10: Final Puerto Escondido beach day & Mirador Las Tortugas
On your last day in Puerto Escondido enjoy plenty of time soaking in the sun, walking along the sandy shore, snorkeling, and perhaps surfing.
Go back to your favorite Puerto Escondido, or check out a new one. Puerto Escondido’s main beaches include:
★ Playa Carrizalillo: Gorgeous cove with somewhat gentle waves (swimmer-friendly), a surf shack, and beachfront bars
★ Playa Manzanillo: Laidback beach with somewhat calm water (swimmer-friendly) and beachfront restaurants
★ Playa Zicatela: 3.5 kilometer long beach with powerful waves, including a world famous barrel surf break
★ La Punta: Popular surf spot at the southern tip of Zicatela (not swimmable)
★ Playa Bacocho: Gorgeous golden sand beach north of town, known as a turtle nesting site
★ Playa Coral: Small “hidden” beach that can be difficult to access since it is blocked by a hotel
★ Puerto Angelito: Busy beach frequented by locals and fishermen with beachfront restaurants
After another serene beach day, head to Mirador Las Tortugas to watch the Puerto Escondido sunset one last time.
How to spend 3 days in Puerto Escondido
If you only have three days in Puerto Escondido, you can still enjoy this charming Pacific Coast town!
One day needs to be a full beach day, and of course, I recommend Puerto Escondido’s most beautiful beach, Playa Carrizalillo. You can swim, snorkel, sunbathe, and surf at Carrizalillo, and with food and drinks served right on the beach, there is no reason to leave all day! In the evening, get some amazing local food and a mezcal margarita at one of the many incredible Puerto Escondido restaurants. If you have time, watch the sunset at Playa Zicatela.
On another day, go dolphin watching and/or whale watching. If you love marine wildlife like me, this will be an experience you never forget! Since dolphin watching ends in the early afternoon, you have time to pack one more unforgettable ecotourism experience into your day: swim in a bioluminescent lagoon or release baby sea turtles.
On your third day, choose between another serene beach day (it’s tempting!) or take a day trip to Chacahua where you can relax on unspoiled beaches and explore jungle lagoons. If you make it back to Puerto Escondido in time, catch the sunset at Mirador Las Tortugas.
How to spend 5 days in Puerto Escondido
With five full days, expand on my three day Puerto Escondido itinerary (above) and enjoy two more magical days of tropical paradise:
If you’re surfer-curious, sign up for a surfing lesson, or rent a board from a surf shack at Playa Carrizalillo or La Punta. No matter your experience level, surfing the Pacific Ocean will take it out of you, so be sure to fill up on some authentic Oaxacan food and spend some time relaxing by your hotel pool or the beach.
How to spend 7 days in Puerto Escondido
A week is a perfect amount of time to experience the best of Puerto Escondido. Expand on the five day Puerto Escondido itinerary (above) with two more days full of unforgettable Puerto Escondido activities:
After two day trips and an exhausting (but thrilling) surf lesson, you deserve to treat yourself with another beach day. Start the day slow with brunch at one of Puerto Escondido’s best cafes (check out Elephant Garden, Tistal, or Barrio Cafe). Then spend a day lounging at your favorite Puerto Escondido beach.
On your last day in Puerto Escondido, split your time between beach hikes (hidden beaches beyond La Punta and the Playa Principal coastal walk) and an authentic Oaxacan food experience with Puerto Food Tours. As I mentioned above in my 10-day Puerto Escondido itinerary, this food tour is sadly not vegan-friendly. If you’re vegan like me, you can try delicious vegan Oaxacan food at Tistal.
Oaxaca coast itinerary
Want to see more of the Oaxacan coast? Fly into Puerto Escondido or Huatulco, rent a car, then experience the ultimate Oaxaca coast road trip! Stops along the way can include:
★ Puerto Escondido: For dolphin watching, surfing, and overall good vibes
★ Chachaua: Secluded beachside town with biodiverse lagoons
★ Mazunte: A pueblo magico that has long attracted expat hippies
★ Zipolite: Famous for its nude beach
★ San Agustín: Tiny village with gorgeous beach
★ Puerto Angel: Small fishing village with local charm
★ Laguna Manialtepec: Bioluminescent lagoon just outside of Puerto Escondido
★ Parque Nacional Huatulco: Large national park with gorgeous beaches and jungle
Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido itinerary
Add the colorful colonial city of Oaxaca de Juáez onto your Oaxaca itinerary! Honestly, a two week trip that includes both Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca City is my top recommendation for a Mexico vacation that combines the best of Mexico’s coastline, cuisine, and culture.
I recommend starting your trip in Oaxaca City, then traveling to Puerto Escondido for the last part of your adventure. That way, you get to relax and refresh on the beach at the tail-end of your trip before going back home.
During your time in Oaxaca City, I recommend the following activities:
★ Day trip to the Zapotec ruins of Mitla and petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua
★ Trying the seven flavors of mole (I share my top recommendations for traditional and vegan-friendly mole tastings in my Oaxaca vegan guide)
★ Plenty of time spent wandering through Oaxaca’s colorful historical neighborhoods, including Centro Historico, Jalatlaco, and Xochimilco
★ Day trip to the stunning waterfalls of Santiago Apoala
★ Exploring Oaxaca’s many art museums, artisan collectives, historical churches, and vibrant markets
And so much more! Browse my Oaxaca travel guides
Puerto Escondido honeymoon and anniversary trip ideas
My husband and I first discovered Puerto Escondido on an anniversary trip. If you (and your honey) are semi-experienced travelers and have already spent some time in Mexico, I think Puerto Escondido makes a great honeymoon or anniversary trip destination!
Puerto Escondido is more popular amongst European backpackers than American tourists and doesn’t have the same all-inclusive resorts that you’ll find in popular Mexico honeymoon destinations like Cancun, Cabo, and Tulum.
So if you’re looking for a slightly rustic, but adventure-filled romantic getaway to an unspoiled beach destination that still maintains its Mexican charm, Puerto Escondido could be your spot!
Gorgeous sunset over Carrizalillo Beach
Puerto Escondido Itinerary FAQs
How many days do you need in Puerto Escondido?
You’ll need at least five days to get the perfect balance of unhurried beach time and unmissable Puerto Escondido experiences like dolphin watching and day trips to nearby lagoons and beach towns.
That being said, you can still enjoy Puerto Escondido if you have 2-4 days, though you’ll have to choose between spending a few relaxing days on the beach or packing your schedule full of activities.
What is Puerto Escondido known for?
Puerto Escondido is known around the world as one of Mexico’s top surf towns. The strong barrel waves of Zicatela Beach have been the site of endless surf competitors, and continue to attract surfers from around the globe.
Is Puerto Escondido expensive?
Compared to other popular beach destinations in Mexico like Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, and Cancun, Puerto Escondido is not expensive. You can expect to spend less than $5 USD for a meal at a restaurant, and anywhere from $20-150 USD for accommodations each night.
Is Puerto Escondido safe?
I have personally never felt unsafe in Puerto Escondido or anywhere else in the state of Oaxaca. To me, Puerto Escondido feels much safer than popular Mexico destinations like Tulum, Cancun, and Cabo. Locals in Oaxaca are friendly, warm, and welcoming.
However, you should still exercise the same caution you would in any other city. Be careful about leaving valuables unattended on the beach, and try to avoid walking alone late at night.
How big is Puerto Escondido?
Puerto Escondido is probably bigger than you’d expect. There are at least 45,000 people who live within the city’s 4.656 square miles. But don’t let the city’s size and population deter you from visiting this dreamy beach town! Plenty of Puerto Escondido’s breathtaking beaches feel like a remote paradise, but you get the best of both worlds with the convenience of a decently-sized town.
How do you get to Puerto Escondido?
There are three main ways to get to Puerto Escondido: by airplane, bus, or rental car.
Flight: The best way to get to Puerto Escondido is to fly into the city’s international airport. It’s a small airport, and the majority of flights include a layover in Mexico City. If you have time for an extended layover in Mexico, I highly recommend exploring the city. Check out my Mexico City travel guides here.
ADO Bus: A more budget-friendly option is to take an ADO bus from another city in Mexico. If you’re a backpacker or long-term traveler, this might be the perfect option for you. Many backpackers take the bus from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. I’ve heard great things about this route, and I’ve always had wonderful experiences traveling on ADO buses throughout Mexico.
Rental Car: Renting a car in Oaxaca City and driving to the coast is another popular option if you want to see the Oaxacan countryside and explore at your own pace. Rental cars typically start at about $20-25 USD a day.
What are the best places to stay in Puerto Escondido?
Ecoresorts, locally-owned hotels, and budget-friendly hostels are continually being built in Puerto Escondido. My current favorites include:
Villa Carrizalillo: Tranquil hotel with breathtaking view
★ 9.3/10 stars from 400+ reviews on Booking.com
Overlooking Carrizalillo Beach, Villa Carrizalillo is my favorite hotel in town. It features an onsite restaurant, outdoor pool, lush garden and rooms with ocean views.
Casa Kuaa: Highly-rated boutique hotel in the heart of La Punta
★ 9.0/10 stars from 270+ reviews on Booking.com
Snag one of the eight unique ocean-view suites at Casa Kuaa. You’ll be just steps away from Puerto Escondido’s most trendy restaurants and the sandy shores of La Punta.
Hotel Punta Zicatela: Beachfront hotel at Punta Zicatela
★ 9.2/10 stars from 500+ reviews on Booking.com
One of Puerto Escondido’s only beachfront hotels. Each room features a private balcony, and onsite amenities include the rooftop bar, pool, yoga classes, and in-room massages.
Casa Losodeli: The best hostel in Puerto Escondido
★ 9.1/10 stars from 600+ reviews on Booking.com
This social, yet chill adults-only hostel is perfect for backpackers and digital nomads (they have some of the strongest internet in town!) Enjoy the hostel’s swimming pool, rooftop, coworking space, daily events, and friendly atmosphere.
Essential Mexico Travel Resources
Have a Mexico trip coming up soon? There are a lot of travel companies out there, but some are better than others. After traveling to dozens of countries and living abroad on several continents, here are some of my favorite websites and resources for planning unforgettable trips.