Playa Zicatela - Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Gay-Friendly Puerto Escondido – Mexico's New Hotspot?

Written by Traivor Morrison
Published on
Is Puerto Escondido the new beach hotspot in Mexico? We’ve heard so much about this laid back surfing town, we had to check it out for ourselves. Join us as we highlight the best of gay-friendly Puerto Escondido, including the best things to see and do, the best hotels, the best beaches, and of course, the best restaurants and bars.

DESTINATION HIGHLIGHT


The liberación de tortugas or turtle release at Playa Bacocho is by far the most exciting and best adventure in Puerto Escondido. Every day at 5pm during sea turtle nesting season, you can meet, name, and release your very own baby sea turtle! Volunteers at VIVEMAR, the pro sustainability non-governmental organization protecting 4 of the 7 sea turtle species in the world, host this incredible experience for a small donation of 100 MXP or around $5 USD. For current information, including volunteer and donation opportunities, head over to their Facebook page. If you'd rather not hassle with transportation, check out the Turtle Release and Bioluminescent Plankton Tour. This experience is a MUST!

Playa Carrizalillo - Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Playa Carrizalillo - Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Overview
– Located on the southern Pacific Coast of Mexico, Puerto Escondido is best know as a laid-back surfer’s paradise. It is home to the Mexican Pipeline at Playa Zicatela given the huge swells on this beach.

Not all of the beaches in Puerto Escondido are for surfers though. There is actually a beach for every day of the week here with many of the bays protected from the ocean swells and thus perfect for swimming and relaxing.

For a little history, Puerto Escondido means hidden port in English, and there’s actually a super cute story behind the name. Legend has it a young, beautiful local girl was held captive in one of these hidden bays by a captain of an English pirate ship hiding out from the Spanish navy. She outsmarted her captors and lost them by hiding in the jungle after swimming ashore. The area was originally called La Escondida or the hidden one before later becoming Puerto Escondido.

Popular areas to stay and play include Playa Zicatela followed by La Punta. On the stunning Oaxaca coast just outside of town, you will find luxury design hotels such as Hotel Escondido, Casona Sforza, or the Samora Luxury Resort. In town, however, Puerto Escondido caters largely to surfers, backpackers, and digital nomads.

Colorful Sign - Playa Zicatela
Colorful Sign - Playa Zicatela
Sunset - Playa Zicatela
Sunset - Playa Zicatela
Surfers - Playa Zicatela
Surfers - Playa Zicatela
Espadín - Playa Carrizalillo
Espadín - Playa Carrizalillo
Mass Turtle Arrival - Playa Escobilla
Mass Turtle Arrival - Playa Escobilla
Playa del Amor - Zipolite, Oaxaca
Playa del Amor - Zipolite, Oaxaca
Turtle Release - Playa Bacocho
Turtle Release - Playa Bacocho
Info For Turtle Release - Playa Bacocho
Info For Turtle Release - Playa Bacocho
Baby Sea Turtle - Playa Bacocho
Baby Sea Turtle - Playa Bacocho
Beach Bar - La Punta
Beach Bar - La Punta

Things to See and Do in and Around Puerto Escondido


  • Relax on the beach -
    Hire loungers and an umbrella from one of the many beach clubs on Zicatela with fantastic food, drinks, and views of the ocean.Take a surf lesson
  • Explore La Punta -
    Walk down to La Punta for dinner and drinks. There is great energy here as well as many delicious and gorgeous spots. It's also the perfect place to bar hop!
  • Lunch at Espadín -
    Make a reservation for lunch or sunset to enjoy the best view of the best beach in town, Playa Carrizalillo. Then take the 157 steps down for a refreshing swim.
  • Take a day trip to Zipolite -
    If uber gay Zipolite is not on your itinerary, it should be! Sunset at Playa del Amor in your birthday suit is a must on the Oaxaca coast! You'll thank us later 😉
  • Witness a sea turtle invasion -
    Head to miles of protected beach at Playa Escobilla to see thousands and thousands of see turtles come ashore to nest. It's truly spectacular.
  • Release a baby turtle -
    Take a taxi to Playa Bacocho and release your own baby turtle! It's for sure the highlight of any trip to Puerto Escondido!

Beach Club - Playa Zicatela
Beach Club - Playa Zicatela

When to go
– The weather is near perfect from December to April with day time temps in the 80’s and lower humidity.

Getting here – The easiest option is to fly to the small airport in Puerto Escondido (PXM). Most flights connect through Mexico City (MEX), however there is an option on a prop plane from Oaxaca (OAX) with Aerotucán. We know at least a handful or friends and neighbors who have made this trip.

In addition, you can rent a car like we did to take the super scenic Hwy. 175 to/from Oaxaca. It takes between 6-8 hours depending on stops.

Finally, the ADO bus and minivan company Lineas Unidas offer service between cities as well although with much longer schedules. We must have passed dozens and dozens of Lineas Unidas minivans on our road trip, so they are an extremely popular option.

Pro tip – For the best taxi fares, walk outside the airport to the main road where you will find a handful of taxis waiting to take you to your hotel or rental accomodations.

Villas Carrizalillo - Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Villas Carrizalillo - Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Where to stay
– In addition to the luxury design hotels of Hotel Escondido, Casona Sforza, and the Samora Luxury Resort, we recommend Villas Carrizalillo. The villas and restaurant are surrounded by lush grounds and incredible views. The staff are also super accomodating and helpful.

Selina Suite - Playa Zicatela
Selina Suite - Playa Zicatela
Selina Suite View - Playa Zicatela
Selina Suite View - Playa Zicatela
Selina Pool - Playa Zicatela
Selina Pool - Playa Zicatela
Selina Bar - Playa Zicatela
Selina Bar - Playa Zicatela

If you are looking for an excellent budget option, look no further than Selina. This popular poshtel chain is located on Playa Zicatela and offers something for everyone. In terms of room choice, they have luxury suites with amazing views on down to shared budget room with bunk beds. At this location, they also have super cool teepees. For amenities, Selina really takes it to the next level. There are two pools, a surf club, cinema, shared kitchen, yoga pavilion, coffee shop, and happening restaurant and bar. This was our first time trying the Selina brand and we will be back. Selina also designates themselves as LGBTQ+ friendly on Google Maps, and we can confirm.

Elephant Garden - Playa Zicatela
Elephant Garden - Playa Zicatela
Elephant Garden
Elephant Garden
Banana Bowl, Elephant Garden
Banana Bowl, Elephant Garden
Lunch, Cañabrava - Playa Zicatela
Lunch, Cañabrava - Playa Zicatela
Veggie Tacos, Espadín
Veggie Tacos, Espadín
Spring Rolls, Lychee - La Punta
Spring Rolls, Lychee - La Punta
Mundaka - Playa Zicatela
Mundaka - Playa Zicatela
Mundaka Pizza - La Punta
Mundaka Pizza - La Punta

Where to eat and drink
– Let’s start with our ‘go to’ breakfast spot, the pet-friendly Elephant Garden in Zicatela. We love this place and had breakfast here nearly every morning. You can’t beat birds chirping in the garden, a delicious and healthy breakfast, and super friendly service.

For lunch, don’t miss Espadín at Villas Carrizalillo. It’s also super popular for sunset and reservations are required. Espadín offers the best view or the best beach in Puerto Escondido.

On Zicatela, our ‘go to’ lunch spot is Cañabrava. Somehow, we managed the best table every time overlooking the palms and big waves. We also noted a considerable number of gay clientele here.

For dinner, two of our favorites are Lychee for Thai or Mundaka for pizza. Both are in La Punta and across the street from each other actually! We love that both restaurants have bar space in front of the open kitchen to check out all of the deliciousness. La Punta is definitely the happening place to be!

Mar & Wana - Playa Zicatela
Mar & Wana - Playa Zicatela

Where to find gay nightlife – Although we didn’t find anywhere exclusively gay, we did find our LGBT+ family members at the bar at Selina and funky bar Mar & Wana. The music, good vibes, and unique cocktails (try the Local Blood!) definitely won us over. There’s also a cool treehouse to explore.

Other Services



ATM, Sunrise Beach Club - Playa Zicatela
ATM, Sunrise Beach Club - Playa Zicatela
Emergency Numbers - Playa Zicatela
Emergency Numbers - Playa Zicatela
Paradise Gym - Playa Zicatela
Paradise Gym - Playa Zicatela
Tourist Police - Playa Zicatela
Tourist Police - Playa Zicatela

Banking
– Most of the banks are in Centro, but there are a few ATMs on Playa Zicatela. The most convenient are at Bungalows Zicatela and directly across the street on the beach at Sunrise Beach Club (neither are currently listed on Google Maps).

Emergency numbers – Always good to have just in case!

Fitness/Gym – There are tons of free options with body-weight machines located in small parks all along the beach on Playa Zicatela. In addition, there is an open air gym called Paradise Gym directly across from Selina.

Safety – As we found in the tourist areas of Mexico City like Polanco, you will find Tourist Police along popular Playa Zicatela. Although we never recommend walking late at night directly along the beach (anywhere for that matter!), most roads and sidewalks along the main stretch are well lit. There are also well priced and plentiful taxis all over town. As always, trust your instincts.

During the day, we walked everywhere from Playa Zicatela to La Punta and even all the way back from Playa Carrizalillo to see all of the beaches!

*** To see more of our adventures in this gay-friendly beach town, check out our Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca YouTube video also linked above and be sure to smash that like button and subscribe! And, of course, follow us on social media @twogayexpats for more gay travel inspiration!

For even more incredible experiences around Puerto Escondido, check out some awesome guided tours powered by Get Your Guide. We love booking with them when organizing transportation among ‘must see’ destinations becomes a hassle. Get Your Guide is easy to use and book with, and we’ve had some of our best adventures with them. In Puerto Escondido, why not let a knowledgeable local drive you to the turtle release at sunset?

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Hola amigos and welcome to our gay travel blog! We are Andy and Trai, a gay couple traveling the world with PRIDE 🌈  …and our rescue dog, Pattie!

After meeting in San Francisco in 2018 and later moving to Chicago, we decided to quit our jobs in 2021, sell everything, and become Two Gay Expats!

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