My first time in Puerto Escondido I spent entirely in Rinconada. To be honest (and this will surely make me sound stupid), I wasn’t even aware there was a whole other section at Zicatela and La Punta! When I came back to PE in 2023 I was like, “whoa, this town is bigger than I remember”.
The different parts may as well be different towns. From Punta all the way to Playa Coral, the vibe changes with each successive beach.
Depending on what type of traveller you are, you might have a strong preference for one area of Puerto Escondido over others.
Let me help you make your choice…
In a hurry? Some quick tips
If you want to be in a social and buzzing place with a young vibe, stay in La Punta, for example at Pacific Budda or Raiz Boutique Hotel. For a quieter stay at consider Rinconada, where you can find beautiful clifftop bungalow hotels such as the Villas Carrizalillo. For other options (including for long stays if you’re working remotely), read on.
Best areas in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is a large town with a population of around 30,000, which stretches along a wide sandy beach and then a collection of smaller bays. There are at least four different areas popular with tourists, each with a different atmosphere.
Best for: backpackers, surfers, social travellers, digital nomads
La Punta is by far the trendiest part of Puerto Escondido. This area went from a pretty inconspicuous surfer haunt with dusty streets and bamboo shacks to becoming the place for nightlife, trendy restaurants, boutique shops, and co-working spots.
You can think of it a bit as Mexico meets Bali, but on a small scale.
Despite a rapid proliferation of surf shops, Airbnbs, and beach bars, it has a small village feeling. Punta has a super fun vibe and you should stay here if you’d like to chill, surf, or watch the sunset from the lookout point.
The beach at La Punta is wide and stretches far, so there’s always plenty of space. The area does become a busy beehive of activity, especially in the high season (Dec-Jan). When people talk about the huge boom the town has seen in recent years, La Punta is usually what they’re talking about.
Many of the cafes advertise their free high-speed Starlink satellite internet, so this can be a great haunt for remote workers. La Punta has a young vibe and may not be the best choice for families or those wanting a quiet stay. There’s also a lot of construction work going on that can make it a noisy place at times.
Prices are higher in the gringo-oriented La Punta, but you do have many more options for cafes and restaurants, including vegan food, speciality coffee, craft brews, and international cuisines like Thai or Middle Eastern.
While La Punta is the original ‘backpacker hangout’, it’s been going upscale, and you’ll now also find many boutique hotels, apartments, and surf houses as well.
Where to stay in La Punta
Affordable AC rooms and villas along the main road
Incredible hotel with a jungle cabin vibe - in a quiet part of La Punta
Hotel with amazing roof terrace and balconies with ocean views. Away from the busy part of La Punta, but within walking distance
Best for: families and couples looking for oceanview bungalows or apartments in a quiet area
This is my personal preferred area to stay! Although the wide-open beaches of Zicatela or La Punta have their own appeal, the small hidden bays and coves around Rinconada are truly some of the most scenic spots in Puerto Escondido.
It’s a relatively calm part of town and the rocky cliffs here create some sublime ocean views.
The only downside is that the beaches here have limited space, being hemmed in by hills on either side. On weekend afternoons they can be packed, though I loved spending time here in the mornings when you can have them virtually to yourself. My favorite beach is Playa Manzanillo, which has calm waters (unusual for PE) where you can even do some nice snorkeling.
Rinconada has several resort hotels with cliffside bungalows with thatched roofs. You can also find plenty of apartments and villas in this area.
If you’re a backpacker looking to socialize, then you’ll probably feel a bit secluded in Rinconada and might prefer to visit the beaches here on a day trip from La Punta. But if you’re looking for the most beautiful and laidback area of Puerto Escondido, then look no further.
If you’re nomading, then check out Pauline Coworking for a beautiful spot to work from.
Where to stay in Rinconada
Best for: digital nomads, budget travellers and those seeking local life
Away from the coastline, Centro forms the actual heart of PE where locals hang out. Being almost the polar opposite of La Punta, this is where you should stay for lower prices and an un-gentrified vibe.
It’s only a 15 to 20-minute walk from here to beaches like Playa Manzanillo or Playa Principal. Unlike other areas where restaurants are mostly tourist-focused, here it’s easy to find truly authentic tacos, lovely coffee shops without hipster pretense, and a buzzing local market.
Several of the best hostels and co-works are located in centro, including the excellent digital nomad-friendly hostel Casa Losodeli, where I’ve personally stayed twice.
If you’re going to stay in PE for a longer time, for instance while working remotely, I highly recommend being based around here. It will allow you to have all the best local food options and conveniences near you. And if you rent a scooter, you can easily make it to all the other areas of PE and take a trip to La Punta whenever the mood strikes.
Casa Losodeli & Co-Working — highly recommended!
Best for: anyone looking for a quiet hotel or beach house stay
Even though it’s only a 20-minute walk north of La Punta, Playa Zicatela is far more subdued. You’ll find here a very spacious beach, some of the larger hotels, as well as many smaller beach houses and apartments.
For less bustle but more comfort, Playa Zicatela is the place to look. I recommend it either if you want to still be fairly close to La Punta but in an area that is not as busy, or if you are looking for a more upscale hotel or a beach house with a pool.
The sandy beach has ample space for sunbathing, but I should mention that the waves are notoriously intense here. In fact, this is a renowned surfer spot (for expert surfers only) that’s home to the famous Mexican Pipeline. The waters are not so great for swimming, but it’s perfectly suitable for just soaking up the sun, and I loved just watching the epic waves crash onto shore here.
The trendy hotel chain Selina Puerto Escondido is based here, though I would have honestly expected it to be at La Punta. A small boulevard is host to a variety of mostly 3- and 4-star hotels, having a slightly more upmarket vibe.
Other beaches to know about
There are a couple of other areas that are interesting to check out when you’re in Puerto Escondido, but which are not among the main places I recommend for choosing your accommodation.
Playa Principal is, as the name suggests, the main beach in PE. It’s cool to check out the fisherman’s docks here and the waters are fairly calm and suitable for swimming. However, it’s quite busy, close to the main road, and cut off from Playa Zicatela by a river. Although there are quite a few accommodation options around, I thought this was somewhat of a less appealing place to stay.
Playa Bocacho and Playa Coral are the wildest beaches in PE. They’re great for sunset views and witnessing some of the baby turtle releases here. There are just a few hotels here though (mainly Posada Real Puerto Escondido and La Coral) and with Playa Coral being known as a nudist beach, it has more of a niche appeal.
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