Daily life in Puerto Escondido is for the most part tranquil, relaxed, and easy. This article will cover the practicalities of daily life in P.E., including the major conveniences (and inconveniences) you can expect to encounter while living there. Feel free to reference the visual map we created for this series, which shows important places mentioned in this article and others:
This article is part of our Puerto Escondido series. For more information, check out our other related articles:
- Puerto Escondido, Mexico: What to Know Before You Go
- Best Places to Eat in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
- The Beaches of Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Once you’ve arrived, getting around is easy. Puerto Escondido is a very small town and you can generally walk anywhere you’d want to go. As a bonus, you can even walk along the beach a lot of the time! One exception is if you decide to stay in La Punta; because it is about 3 km south of the city center, you’ll want to take a taxi at least one way if you need to get to/from there.
Taxis are plentiful and cheap, but you’ll want to make sure they are charging you the usual in-town rate (30-40 pesos) before you get in because they are not metered. If you know you’ll be out late or going somewhere off the beaten path, be sure to have the number of the taxi company you can call so they can send a driver over to pick you up.
Unfortunately, Uber and rideshare apps are not available in P.E. as of the last time we were there (Spring 2017).
Internet in P.E. is decent considering its size. It is spotty, so if a strong WiFi connection is as important to you as it is to us, then it pays off to do some research before committing to a rental. Either that or be OK with working at a café. We prefer to either ask hosts to do a speed test or perform one ourselves in person before committing to renting from them.
We found the fastest, most stable connections to be near the Telcel office on Bahía Principal and the worst connections down at La Punta. Download speed averaged about 10 Mbps near the Telcel office. We don’t remember any particular café or restaurant having great internet, but some were abysmal. It is possible that overall speeds have improved in the 2+ years since we were there.
For mobile data, locals told us that Telcel offered the best speed and coverage. We were able to buy a SIM card with about 6 GBs of data for about $17 USD per month.
Supermarkets & Groceries
You won’t be able to survive daily life in Puerto Escondido without food. In terms of the essentials, you can find pretty much anything at the one and only supermarket in town, Chedraui. This large grocery store carries many imported food items and is air conditioned. Their in-store ceviche is also an excellent value if you want to grab lunch before shopping! Be sure to check your bags/backpack at the counter before shopping if you don’t want to get yelled at.
If you want to grab something quick, there are many OXXO and SIX convenience stores littered throughout town. Mercado Benito Juárez is your place to go for fresh produce if you want to save a little money or if you want a Chedraui alternative.
Water & Garbage
Tap water is not drinkable in P.E. The most economical way to acquire potable water is in 20-liter jugs called garafónes. Many local vendors including OXXO sell these and do refills – it’s just a staple of daily life in Puerto Escondido. While very cheap, the most annoying part of dealing with garafónes is carrying them back to your place (they are heavy!). If you can get refills delivered directly to you, it’s worth it. Make sure you have either a stand or a pump to make getting water out of them easy.
Like most of Mexico, you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet and have to toss it in the garbage instead. Garbage itself (including that soiled toilet paper) is most often just placed on the ground at “known” drop spots, which is somewhat unsavory and takes a while to figure out. Several times we’ve placed our garbage on the street only to come back and see stray dogs or birds have gotten into it and scattered it all around the street.
On-site laundry is rare in P.E., so you’ll probably have to bring your clothes to a lavandería for washing and drying. These are small laundry facilities, usually run by women, who will take your dirty clothes, clean them, and package them up nicely for pick-up later that same day (assuming you get there early enough).
It initially seems quite annoying and nerve-wracking to leave your clothes with a stranger. But lavanderías are something you can get used to, and we’ve never had a problem getting our laundry back intact. The high heat of the dryers they use tends to stress and shrink clothes a bit, reducing their lifespan. So if you have a particularly important item, you might consider hand-washing it yourself instead (if feasible).
Heating & Cooling
Puerto Escondido is a small Mexican beach town, so please don’t be under any illusions about having all your Western comforts here. The most noticeable annoyance is the lack of air conditioning considering how hot it is. It’s rare to find A.C. in either accommodation or cafés/restaurants. If you are lucky enough to find it at your place of lodging, it’s worth paying extra for. Daily life in Puerto Escondido is much more tolerable with cooling.
At the very least, make sure your host provides a fan. One comfort trick we employed while living in P.E. is utilizing some simple evaporative cooling! Wet a towel or rag with cool water, dab it on your exposed skin, then sit/stand in front of a fan. You’d be amazed how this little trick can provide a glorious bit of cooling and respite from the heat. It doesn’t last long though, so rinse and repeat often.
Hot water for showers is hit-or-miss (two out of three places we stayed lacked this). However, this is not as awful as it sounds at first, since most of the time we found that we wanted a cool shower to escape the heat. It’s just another thing you end up getting used to. And it almost goes without saying that space heating is nonexistent (and totally unnecessary) in P.E.
Money (tipping, credit cards, etc)
Be prepared to pay for nearly all expenses with cash while living in Puerto Escondido. The only place we remember consistently using a credit card is the supermarket, Chedraui.
We never had problems finding ATMs, but be aware that some ATMs dispense the largest bills possible (up to 500 peso notes). Many vendors will not accept 500 peso bills, so if you ever have an expense over 200 pesos, try to pay with your 500s so you can get smaller change to use elsewhere. It’s also handy to have a nice stash of 10 peso coins and 20 peso notes to use for tipping at restaurants.
Yes, tipping is common practice in P.E. – but mainly for restaurant staff and taxi drivers when they help with luggage. Here is a more detailed guide for other potential situations. Generally speaking, workers get paid very little and really appreciate anything extra to help make ends meet. Ten percent is pretty standard in our experience.
Places to Exercise
The best way by far to exercise in Puerto Escondido (if you’re up for it) is surfing or body-boarding. There aren’t really any traditional public parks to speak of, but there are miles and miles of beach. The most open and “unspoiled” one nearby is Playa Bacocho.
I’m a runner, and I was able to run along Playa Zicatela decently well. At first I ran the length of the beach barefoot, right on the water’s edge. Eventually, though, this started hurting the arches of my feet. So I transitioned to running with shoes along Avenida Del Morro, parallel to Playa Zicatela, just set back a bit. Both were very memorable routes due to the beauty of the setting!
We looked into gym memberships while we were there, but it seemed that none of the gyms had air conditioning. So gyms do exist, but we’d imagine working out inside to be overly hot and stinky. Not really our cup of tea.
Cost of Living
Puerto Escondido has been one of the best deals we’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. In fact, only Guanajuato has beaten it in terms of average cost of living per day. This is even considering it is a known “tourist town!”
Our average combined cost per day was just $35.46 USD for two people. If you’re by yourself, we’d estimate that to drop to about $24 USD (two-thirds of the previous figure). This average includes basic expenditures for daily life in Puerto Escondido such as rent, groceries, eating out, transportation around town, and basic entertainment. As always, your cost of living may vary depending on the amount of comfort and luxury you want. In this case, the average counts both of our extended stay trips.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of our expenses (for two people) while living in Puerto Escondido:
|Rent (1st stay)||$490 USD/month for a bungalow studio (hotel) on Zicatela Beach|
|Rent (2nd stay)||$270 USD/month for a regular 1-bedroom apartment in Bahía Principal|
|Transportation||$10 USD/month (only a few taxi rides)|
You can save a lot on rent in P.E. by doing what we did and looking for a place in person. All it takes is a little patience, diligence, and Spanish-speaking ability! Check out our article on finding a place for more strategies on how to successfully pull this off.