3 days in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite

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Heading to Mexico and planning to visit the stunning beaches of Oaxaca? In this article, I’ll share with you an itinerary for 3 days in Puerto Escondido, also visiting Mazunte and Zipolite! 

You would need a minimum of 3 days to complete this itinerary and visit all the places on the list, however, if you can spend more than 3 days exploring the beautiful beaches of Oaxaca, it’s amazing, and you should definitely do it! You can definitely stretch this itinerary for 3 days in Puerto Escondido and make it 7 days in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte & Zipoline (or even longer).

Overview of useful links used in this article:

Flights to Puerto Escondido or bus to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca

Renting a car – Rentalcars.com

Hotel in Puerto Escondido: Villas Carizalillo

Hotel in Zipolite: Casa Kalmar

Surfing lessons – book here

Mezcal tour – check availability

Dolphin & Whale watching – check price and availability

Releasing Baby Turtles – book here

Before we start with the itinerary, here are some useful things to know before going to Puerto Escondido.

Where to stay in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite?

If you’re wondering where to stay in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite, here are some of the best places to stay for any budget.

Affordable (below $40-50 per night):

Casa Losodeli & Coworking, Puerto Escondido

Hotel Casa Moringa, Zipolite

Medium budget (from $50 to $150 per night):

Villas Carizalillo, Puerto Escondido

Casa La Ola, Mazunte

Casa Kalmar, Zipolite

High budget (over $150 per night):

Hotel Terrestre, Puerto Escondido 

Casa Joseph Zicatela (Adults-only), Puerto Escondido

There is one place I would not recommend, though and that is Selina Hotel/Hostel. We’ve stayed in many Selinas all around the world, but the one in Puerto Escondido was pretty bad. Even private rooms were in a dire condition. The rooms are tiny, the AC points directly at your head and they don’t even provide blankets. It’s very easy to get sick there, and that’s exactly what happened to us. 

Now, let’s talk about the itinerary for your trip to Puerto Escondido (that’s based on our 3-day itinerary, which we were super happy with! (well, except for getting sick at the hostel).

3 days in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite

Overview of the itinerary for Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite

Day 1: Exploring the beaches of Puerto Escondido, night in Puerto Escondido

Day 2: Surfing lessons in the morning, driving to Mazunte & Zipolite in the afternoon, night in Zipolite

Day 3: Swimming in San Agustinillo beach near Mazunte and heading back to Puerto Escondido

If you’re staying in Puerto Escondido for longer, you can simply stretch this itinerary for 7 days and have a much quieter and much more relaxed itinerary for some of the best beaches in Oaxaca! 

Are you a foodie? Check my article about the dishes you definitely need to try in Oaxaca!

Without further ado, let’s get started with the best things to do in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite in 3 days (or longer, e.g. 7 days).

Day 1: Exploring Puerto Escondido: the best things to do in Puerto Escondido 

Explore Playa Carrizalillo – one of two swimming beaches in Puerto Escondido

If you land in Puerto Escondido in the morning, that’s awesome, you have the whole day to explore the town. Pick up your rental car and head to the beautiful playa Carrizalillo – pretty much the only swimming beach in Puerto Escondido! I recommend going there in the morning before it gets too busy and too hot. There are sun loungers you can rent and they cost around $10 per lounger and an umbrella. 

You can easily stay at playa Carrizalillo all day, especially if your itinerary is longer than 3 days. However, since you only have 3 days to explore Puerto Escondido and surrounding towns, it’s better to hurry up, otherwise, you won’t see much!

Surf at Playa Zicatela

Next, I recommend driving back to Zicatela Beach – probably the best surfing beach in all of Mexico! A lot of people come to Puerto Escondido specifically to surf. However, if you have never tried surfing before, you can take some surfing lessons. You can surely find some instructors online, however, if you want convenience, you can pre-book a 2-hour surfing lesson here.

Have seafood for lunch or take a food tour

Now it’s time for lunch! There are plenty of amazing spots for lunch in Puerto Escondido, but I recommend going to one of the beach restaurants, e.g. La Mariinera and trying local ceviche and fish tacos! 

Alternatively, you can take a food tour that starts at 3pm and explore the food offerings of coastal Oaxaca! You can check the price and availability of the food tour here.

If you’re not too keen on a food tour, maybe you will be interested in a Mezcal tasting? Mezcal is a traditional Mexican liquor that reminds me of a mix between tequila and whiskey. It’s unique, and it’s only produced in Oaxaca. This tour will bring you to one of Mezcal distilleries and you will have a proper tasting there.

Release baby turtles in the evening 

Another of the signature experiences in Puerto Escondido and pretty much everywhere along the coast of Oaxaca is releasing baby turtles. A lot of Mexican non-profit organisations work on preserving turtles along busy public beaches. Every day they go and collect new turtle eggs and relocate them to their centres where they are kept until they hatch. Baby turtles that hatch in the first half of the day usually get released immediately and the ones that hatch in the afternoon are kept in special boxes and get released by the tourists who pay a fee that goes towards the non-profit. There is a strict process that involves releasing baby turtles – they need to be released at least a few metres away from the water, so they can remember the area and return there to lay their own eggs in a few years’ time. 

If you’re interested in this tour, it needs to be pre-booked in advance. You can use this link to check the prices and availability.

Have dinner at Almoraduz restaurant & drinks at the La Palapita Bar

Finally, by 7pm when all turtles are released or you’re back from the Mezcal tasting, you can go for dinner to one of Puerto Escondido’s best restaurants, Almoraduz. It’s a fine dining restaurant, however, it has an A La Carte menu that is not too expensive. The dishes there are great and pretty unusual, and cocktails were perfect as well. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can eat in one of the restaurants in front of Zicatela beach and then head to La Palapita bar for cocktails – they have amazing cocktails in a very laid-back atmosphere on the beach. Another unusual cocktail places is called Las Brujas cocktail bar – it has a more grungy vibe.

Day 2: Whale & Dolphin Watching & exploring Mazunte and Zipolite

Whale & Dolphin Watching in Puerto Escondido

Watching whales and dolphins in Puerto Escondido is truly an epic experience. You get to see these majestic creatures up close and personal, swimming around in their natural habitat. It’s a reminder of just how awesome nature can be.

The best time to go on this tour is actually during the winter months (December to March), when the whales migrate to warmer waters. But honestly, any time of year is pretty great for dolphin watching – they’re always out there doing their thing. That’s why some tours focus purely on dolphins and some other ones include whales as well (depending on when you’re going to Puerto Escondido).

There are a bunch of different tour companies that offer Whale and dolphin-watching excursions, so you can shop around and find one that fits your style and budget. Some of them even offer snorkelling or beach hopping as part of the trip. I recommend this tour – book here.

Head to Mazunte and Zipolite

Whale & dolphin watching usually happens early in the morning, so you should be back by 12pm or even earlier. This is a perfect time to grab your rental car and head to Mazunte and Zipolite, two awesome towns located circa 50 minutes away from Puerto Escondido (well, Mazunte is located 50 minutes away while Zipolite is a bit further, just over an hour away). 

Mazunte has a very different vibe compared to Puerto Escondido. Puerto Escondido is a very laid-back surfing town, while Mazunte is a more family-friendly town that is also full of expats. Mazunte also has a great surfing beach, so you can definitely surf there. It also has an amazing swimming beach that is generally pretty calm (although it wasn’t calm at all when we visited Mazunte) – the swimming beach is called San Agustinillo. 

There are plenty of nice places to have lunch in Mazunte. I also recommend spending the afternoon there resting on the San Agustinillo beach. 

3 days in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite

Explore Zipolite

In the late afternoon, drive to Zipolite, where you will be staying overnight. Zipolite is different from both Puerto Escondido and Mazunte. Zipolite is a very laid-back beach town that’s become a haven for hippies and free spirits. The town has a bohemian vibe that’s reflected in its art and music scene, as well as in the lifestyle of many of its residents.

One of the main draws of Zipolite is its nudist beach. You don’t have to be naked there if you don’t feel comfortable (we weren’t naked). Just remember to be respectful and follow the community’s guidelines and rules. In addition to the nudist beach, Zipolite is also known for its vibrant music scene. You’ll find live music and DJs playing everything from reggae to electronic to traditional Mexican music. There are also plenty of art galleries and workshops where you can explore your creative side. 

In Zipolite, you’ll find lots of options for vegan and vegetarian food, as well as fresh juices and smoothies. And if you’re in the mood for a drink, there are plenty of places to sample local tequila and mezcal.

Some of the best places to stay in Zipolite are Casa Moringa and Casa Kalmar

Day 3: Zipolite and Puerto Escondido

On your last day in coastal Oaxaca, you can spend the morning on the beach swimming (you will have to drive to Mazunte for that as the waves are pretty dangerous in Zipolite) or surfing – you can also take some surfing lessons in Mazunte and Zipolite as well. You can also drive back to Puerto Escondido early and spend the first half of the day there instead. On the Zicatela beach, there are plenty of trendy beach clubs and restaurants with sun loungers, where you can stay as long as you buy something in the restaurant, e.g. order a beer or a soft drink. Some loungers were actually very fancy and it was mind-blowing that you don’t need to pay to rent them! 

The first day of the trip was probably a little too packed, so you can take one of the tours on your last day in Puerto Escondido as well – e.g. the food tour or the Mezcal tasting tour – most of these tours start in the afternoon and if your flight is very late in the evening, you will definitely be able to go on a tour and make it back to the airport. 

Puerto Escondido airport is tiny and as all the flights are domestic, you don’t need to arrive very early – 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes before your flight departure will give you more than enough time – and that way, you can also spend more time in beautiful Puerto Escondido. 

Summary of 3 days in Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Zipolite – the itinerary

I hope you enjoyed this itinerary for 3 days in Puerto Escondido! There are so many amazing things to do there, including visiting some of the best surfing beaches in Mexico, liberating baby turtles and watching whales. There are also lovely towns such as Mazunte and Zipolite where you can drive in just an hour and have a completely different experience. As I mentioned before, this itinerary is not very relaxing – if you are planning to spend 5 days in Puerto Escondido, you can definitely stretch it to 5 days and spend more time exploring different beaches and eating out (or learning how to surf). You can even stretch this itinerary and spend one week in Puerto Escondido – you will still find what to do!

Puerto Escondido FAQs:

How to get to Puerto Escondido? Can you get there by bus from Oaxaca City?

If you’re wondering how to get to Puerto Escondido, the easiest and fastest way there would be to fly via Mexico City or Guadalajara. There are currently no international flights going to Puerto Escondido (as of the beginning of 2023), so you will have to get to either Mexico City or Guadalajara (there are some other cities as well) and then hop on a flight to Puerto Escondido. You can check the prices and availability of the flights here > 

Do you need a car in Puerto Escondido?

While having a car in Puerto Escondido can be convenient, it’s not necessarily a requirement. The town itself is relatively small and easy to navigate on foot or by bike, and many of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, that if you’re staying only in Puerto Escondido. 

While Mazunte is not too far away from Puerto Escondido, it’s 50 minutes away by car, so completing this journey on a small bike might be a challenge. 

For this itinerary, I recommend renting a car. We always rent cars via Rentalcars.com and can definitely recommend the service. 

Can you actually swim in Puerto Escondido?

If you’re heading to Puerto Escondido, you better believe you’re gonna wanna hit the waves! Puerto Escondido is a surfer’s paradise, with some of the best breaks in the country. But what about swimming? Is it safe to take a dip in the ocean here?

Well, the answer is…it depends. While Puerto Escondido is known for its big waves and strong currents, there are still plenty of places where you can swim safely. Playa Carrizalillo, for example, is a sheltered cove with calm waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Playa Zicatela, on the other hand, is known for its massive waves and is only recommended for experienced surfers.

However, if you drive to Mazunte, the waves there are usually much calmer and it’s perfect for swimming. 

That being said, it’s always important to use caution when swimming in the ocean. Pay attention to warning flags and signs, and never swim alone or in areas where you’re unsure of the conditions. And, of course, always respect the power of the ocean and never underestimate its strength.

What to pack for Puerto Escondido?

For your trip to Puerto Escondido, there are a few key items you’ll want to make sure you have in your suitcase. Here are some essential things to pack for your beach vacation:

  1. Swimsuits – You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the water, so make sure you bring a few swimsuits to rotate through.
  2. Sunscreen – The sun in Puerto Escondido is no joke, so pack plenty of sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin.
  3. Sunglasses – Not only will sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun, but they’ll also come in handy when you’re people-watching on the beach.
  4. Beach towel – While many hotels and Airbnb rentals provide towels, it’s always a good idea to bring your own beach towel as well.
  5. Flip flops or sandals – You’ll want a pair of easy-to-slip-on shoes for walking to and from the beach.
  6. Lightweight clothing – It can get pretty hot and humid in Puerto Escondido, so pack lightweight, breathable clothing like cotton shorts and t-shirts.
  7. Water bottle – Staying hydrated is key, so bring a refillable water bottle to keep with you throughout the day.
  8. Beach bag – A spacious tote or beach bag will come in handy for carrying all your essentials to and from the beach.
  9. Insect repellent – Mosquitoes and other bugs can be a nuisance, so bring some insect repellent to keep them at bay.

Alright, I hope that these Puerto Escondido FAQs were useful!

Here are some other articles you might enjoy reading:

10 foods to try in Oaxaca

Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca road trip itinerary

Coyoacan – the best place to visit in Mexico City

The best itinerary for Tulum

Playa del Carmen on a budget

Exploring San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato

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