Not surprisingly, all the best things to do in Puerto Escondido revolve around a simple 5 letter word: BEACH (or, if you prefer, PLAYA!). Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just love to relax and sunbathe, Puerto Escondido beaches offer something for everyone.
This article will go into detail about all the local beaches and their strengths and weaknesses. Which ones are worth spending time enjoying, and which are better to skip? Let’s explore each of the major ones going to north to south.
And don’t forget to check out our handy visual map showing you where all these beaches are located, as well as other important locations in town:
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
- Daily Life in Puerto Escondido, Mexico as an Expat or Nomad
- Best Places to Eat in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Playa Bacocho feels very unique and separate from the other Puerto Escondido beaches. The one time we went, it was almost devoid of people, despite being a gorgeous, sunny day. We can think of a few reasons why this might be. One, it’s hard to get to by walking from the town center. It’s literally at the edge of town and you have to walk uphill and through some unexciting local neighborhoods (or take a taxi) to get there. Two, it’s unsafe to surf and swim here due to the strong waves. And three, there isn’t much tourist infrastructure (lounge chairs, cocktail bars, etc.) – for better or worse.
But we really enjoyed the open, unspoiled natural beauty of the place. It felt fresher and more rugged than any of the other P.E. beaches, and the solitude was welcome.
Playa Bacocho is vast and stretches as far as the eye can see to the west. If you’re up for some exercise, it would be lovely to simply walk undisturbed along the perfect golden sand, dipping your bare feet into the water as the waves crash to shore. Just make sure to leave enough energy for the return trip!
Vive Mar also does a daily baby sea turtle release on Playa Bacocho every day at 5:00 p.m. For 100 pesos ($5 USD) you can release a cute little turtle back into the ocean while supporting the conservation of these endangered creatures.
No trip to Puerto would be complete without a lazy afternoon lounging and swimming at the stunning Carizalillio Beach. This beach has the best views in the area, hands down. It’s located right off the main strip in Rinconada and takes a bit of an uphill walk to get there if you’re coming from the town center, but it’s so worth it.
Carizalillio truly is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen. Soft, golden sand, gentle waves, and green vegetation on the surrounding cliffsides.
There is limited space in this small cove, however, and you’ll need to pay to use a lounge chair if you have any desire for shade. Luckily, the local beach bars supply the chairs; if you order a ~$4 USD cocktail you don’t have to pay separately for the chair.
This might be the best swimming area of the Puerto Escondido beaches since it’s protected from direct currents. It’s also the beach used for surfing lessons for absolute beginners due to the gentle conditions.
Playa Manzanillo / Puerto Angelito
These two strips of beach are essentially one beach in another semi-protected bay east of Carizallio. This seems to be the place for families to go while the kids swim in the gentle water and play in the sand. We didn’t spend much time here as we weren’t really into that vibe and it was somewhat crowded and noisy.
While the beach itself was pretty enough, there was also an overabundance of vendors selling lounge chair access, cocktails, floaties, and anything else beach-related you can imagine. We find it annoying to be hassled to buy things, and Playa Manzanillo seemed to be the worst for this. With all of the other amazing beach options in the area, we wouldn’t fault you for skipping this one.
It would be easy to dismiss Playa Principal as nothing special, but we found it to have its own unique, humble charm. This is the beach where the local fishermen dock their simple wooden boats after the morning catch, which is neat to see. A small lagoon divides the bay, leading some to subdivide this area into two beaches: Playa Principal to the west and Playa Marinero to the east. We, however, consider it to be basically a single beach.
There are a few vendors renting lounge chairs and serving cocktails on Playa Principal, but it’s toned down compared to Carizalillio and Manzanillo. This is a great beach for body-boarding since the waves are the perfect size: big enough to be exciting, but not so big as to toss you around like a child’s doll.
As another bonus, you can easily get to Avenida Gasga from here to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at one of the many excellent restaurants on that strip.
Ah, Playa Zicatela. The crown jewel of the Puerto Escondido beaches. This 3 km long beauty has it all – surfing, relaxation, restaurants, parties – we could go on and on. This is where the majority of tourist lodging is located, and for good reason – the views, especially the sunsets, are spectacular.
Zicatela is why P.E. is world famous among surfers – the waves here are absolutely enormous (don’t try to swim here, please!). The 1.5 – 2.5 meter monsters are breathtaking to watch as they crash relentlessly to shore. We don’t surf, but we’ve spent many a moment wondering how anyone could safely navigate such monsters.
One of the great things about Zicatela is that it never really feels crowded. It’s so big that there’s always space for everyone. In fact, the city will sometimes set up a giant live music stage for various festivals on Zicatela. Skydivers even use this beach as a landing spot!
Playa Punta Zicatela
While technically just the southern end of Zicatela beach, La Punta (“the point”) feels like its own distinct place. This beach is the favorite hangout spot of the hippies and beach bums looking for their own little slice of paradise. And to be honest, this end of the beach is the most scenic part of Zicatela in our opinion.
Subjectively speaking, the waves here seemed about 75% of the size of those along Zicatela proper. Perhaps that’s why the majority of surfers congregate here – the surf is exciting but manageable.
Behind the beach is a strip of simple but tasty restaurants to enjoy after getting your surf on. This little neighborhood is also home to surf schools, hostels, and Airbnbs. Don’t expect many fancy comforts and amenities in this area; here it’s all about the simple life of sand, sun, and surf. To be honest, that’s part of Playa Punta Zicatela’s charm.