The Oaxacan Coast is quickly becoming one of the hottest parts of Mexico to travel, thanks to an array of unspoiled beaches and many hip beach towns.

Puerto Escondido and Mazunte are two of the main hotspots, so you may be left scratching your head as to which to choose.

Here we’ll explore both Puerto Escondido and Mazunte, including why both are worth a visit as well as what you can do in each. Each town has quite a different vibe, and Puerto Escondido has several distinct areas within it, so the best choice depends on your preferences.

Puerto Escondido

Why visit Puerto Escondido?

Puerto Escondido has all the hallmarks of an ultimate beach destination. There are many incredible stretches of sand to lounge on, as well as spots that are ideal for surfing.

You’ll also find some incredible once-in-a-lifetime things to do, such as releasing turtles into the Pacific as well as swimming in a lagoon filled with bioluminescent plankton that sparkles in the night.

PE’s main beach near its fishing harbor

While Puerto Escondido is quite popular nowadays, it’s still much less so than, say, Playa del Carmen or Cabo San Lucas, so you definitely won’t be swarmed by vendors and tour companies the minute you arrive.

The smaller secluded bays, like Carrizalillo and Manzanillo, do get rather busy in high season, but there is always space at the main beaches. It’s best to visit the smaller bays on the quieter weekdays and mornings.

Tip: Puerto Escondido has several very different areas. It’s almost like three towns wrapped into one! From backpacker to boutique and from party hubs to idyllic sunset spots, PE covers just about everything. To help you decide, don’t miss our guide to where to stay in Puerto Escondido.
Manzanillo beach, inside a more secluded bay

Best beaches in Puerto Escondido

The great thing about Puerto Escondido is that it has many beaches spread out along the town, each with its particular style and crowd.

Carrizalillo & Manzanillo

If you’re after the most picturesque beach you’ll want to head to Playa Carrizalillo, which is a turquoise bay sandwiched between two cliffs. It’s gorgeous, though the waves can get intense here at high tide. Nearby Playa Manzanillo has calmer waters more suitable for snorkelling.

There are many accommodation options near these beaches. It’s ideal for couples or families wanting to be away from the bustling La Punta, while having some of the best clifftop views in Puerto Escondido, for instance by staying at the Villas Carrizalillo.

If you’re working remotely then the area around these beaches can also be a good choice. I highly recommend staying at Casa Losodeli & Coworking, which I liked so much I’ve stayed there twice!

La Punta

La Punta has the best overall vibe, where you’ll find a mix of locals and tourists sipping margaritas from the shaded thatched-roof palapas, as well as those enjoying the lapping Pacific waves. It also has really good surfing conditions, where different sections are ideal for both pros and beginners.

It’s the most lively area in PE, but it has also seen quite a building boom in the last couple of years — don’t expect it to be perfectly quiet!

La Punta is best if you like a social vibe and easy access to surf shops and trendy food options. There are a lot of co-working cafes with Starlink internet, making this a great spot for nomads.

Top 4 Things to Do in Puerto Escondido

1. Participate in a Turtle Release – Puerto Escondido is home to various turtles such as the Olive Ridley and Hawksbill species. Although they’re seasonal, you can still release baby turtles year-round with the conservation programs by heading to Playa Bacocho in the mid-afternoon.

A turtle on sand crawling to the water at a beach in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

2. Learn to Surf – Although the scene is more geared toward experienced surfers, some areas in La Punta are ideal for beginners to catch their first wave. You can either book a class online or join one of the various local surf schools.

3. Visit the Bioluminescent Lagoon – There are only a few places in the world where you can see bright blue plankton light up a lake at dusk. The Manialtepec Lake near Puerto Escondido is one of them, and it’s best to go on a tour during the new moon (when nighttime skies are at their darkest).

4. Watch the Sunset from Zicatela Beach – Although it’s not so safe for swimming, the long, wild beach of Zicatela definitely has its charm. You’ll find little crowds and it’s one of the best spots for watching those epic dark-red sunsets take over the skies of Puerto Escondido.

Accommodation in Puerto Escondido

If you’re looking for an affordable option you’ll want to stay at Punta Mar. Located right on La Punta Beach, you’ll be staying in a stylish hostel with both dorm and private rooms to choose from.

If you’re after a more deluxe and memorable accommodation option, then the Punta Zicatela Hotel is perfect for you. Here you’ll be sleeping in a beautiful room overlooking the Pacific Ocean, along with an on-site swimming pool and bar.


Why Visit Mazunte?

If you’re after a more relaxed setting in a charming Pacific town, then Mazunte is your place.

Located roughly 65 km east of Puerto Escondido, it has a bohemian vibe and a health-focused community.

There are many vegan food options, yoga retreats, and mindfulness classes in Mazunte. If this is your jam, you’ll feel right at home!

I should confess I’m not overly spiritual or health-focused myself. But while I had heard Mazunte described as a “hippie town” I didn’t feel this vibe was overbearing in any way. It’s an unpretentious beach town with a laidback atmosphere, which can be enjoyed whether you’re into yoga or not.

There are many incredible natural spots to visit here, including Punta Cometa for its elevated views and Playa Mermejita, surely one of the most stunning Pacific beaches in all of Mexico.

Just don’t expect a major nightlife as this is quite a calm village! La Punta in Puerto Escondido is a better choice for somewhere more buzzing, while Mazunte is more of a cocktails-with-a-sunset-view kind of place.

Best Beaches in Mazunte

Overall Mazunte has fewer beaches than Puerto Escondido, but it’s home to arguably the most beautiful of the two.

Mermejita is the name, which has a beautiful, scenic coastline along with a more hidden atmosphere (no restaurants or services here). To get here you’ll need to hike over Punta Cometa, however, it’s very much worth the extra effort.

Rinconcito is the most popular beach of all, which is the closest to Mazunte’s town center. Here we’ll find a better atmosphere with crowds enjoying various restaurants and bars close by. It’s ideal for swimming, but you’ll still want to be careful as currents can get quite strong at times.

An empty beach in Mazunte, Mexico

Top 4 Things to Do in Mazunte

1. Walk along Punta Cometa – This rocky outcropping juts out into the Pacific, and offers breathtaking views over the Oaxacan Coast. Once a sacred spot during pre-Hispanic times, today we can instead enjoy some of the most memorable sunsets from the top of these cliffs.

2. Enjoy the less touristy Beaches – The beaches here are much more relaxed compared to those in Puerto Escondido. Playa Rinconcito has many restaurants and a more inclusive vibe, whilst Playa Mermejita is hidden and has fewer people. Just be careful when swimming as the waves can be really strong in both areas.

3. Swim with Wild Dolphins – Mazunte is the perfect place for seeing dolphins, and boat tours are leaving in the morning on a daily basis. There are several species here including Bottle-nose and Spinner Dolphins, and if you’re lucky you may even see a Humpback Whale (who frequent these waters from December until March).

4. Practice Yoga – It’s no secret that Mazunte is a chill place to hang out, and here we’ll find several yoga retreats offering lessons and a more healthy lifestyle. If you want to try a lesson without committing to a stay, then I’ve heard Casa Om is a great choice, which includes breakfast in the lesson rate. Those after a longer retreat can head to the Hridaya Yoga Centre.

Accommodation in Mazunte

Travelers looking to stick to a budget will want to stay at OYO Cabañas Abril, which is located in the heart of Mazunte town. It offers comfortable private rooms and has several restaurants and Internet cafes within touching distance.

Are you looking for a more deluxe experience in Mazunte? Then you simply have to stay at Hotel El Copal. Here you’ll stay in a beautiful hotel room either with a beach or mountain view and also get to enjoy the on-site Mexican restaurant, swimming pool, and close access to Mermejita Beach.

Puerto Escondido vs Mazunte

What are the Differences?

Mazunte’s main beach

As a whole, Mazunte is much more relaxed than Puerto Escondido. This means you’ll find it better for chilling out with several yoga retreats and quieter spots to get away from the crowds. While both have an array of great beaches, those in Mazunte are overall better.

Now, I love Mazunte, though I can easily see some travellers finding it a little bit too calm and sleepy!

La Punta beach, PE

Puerto on the other hand has more activities and feel-good vibes on the beaches, as well as a hectic nightlife scene that centers around the area of La Punta. Being a larger and more established tourist destination, it’s easier to recommend to just about anyone, especially if it’s your first time on the Oaxacan coast.

With a much greater range of accommodations, restaurants, nightlife options, and numerous tour companies that can take you on nearby excursions, in many ways it’s an easier place to be a tourist.

Getting In & Around

By flight

Puerto Escondido has its own airport, which welcomes domestic flights daily from cities such as Mexico City and Oaxaca City.

Mazunte doesn’t have its own airport, so you will need to fly into Puerto Escondido and then take the bus (around 1 hour), or from Huatulco which also has a regional airport and is an hour to the east.

The one-way flight costs $40-60 and is actually cheaper when departing from Mexico City.

By bus

From Oaxaca City, the bus journey used to go over narrow and winding mountain roads, taking roughly 10 hours. However,  a new highway between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido is opening in 2024, shortening the journey to around 2,5 hours. The ride costs $35-40.

Check prices and times for buses from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido.

To get from Oaxaca City to Mazunte, you’ll first take the 5-hour bus to Pochutla, and then a 10-minute taxi or colectivo to the town center. The trip costs between $15-20. However, the new faster route is to take the 2,5-hour bus connection to Puerto Escondido and then travel for about another hour to Mazunte from there.

Check prices and times for buses from Oaxaca City to Puerto Angel.

Getting around

Both towns are easily walkable and safe, although in Puerto you may prefer taking buses to and from La Punta which is further away.

Getting between both Puerto Escondido and Mazunte is quite simple, with local colectivos and buses departing on an hourly basis (costing just $2 a ride!).

The journey takes just one hour, which means both are easily accessible as day trips from the other. You can also take a taxi which is quicker, however, it will cost around $50.

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