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.
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.
Things to see and do in and around Puerto Escondido
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?