We had underestimated Mexico. Our ‘to see’ list was growing and time was disappearing – fast. With heavy hearts we made the difficult decision to cut the vast Yacutan Peninsula for Puerto Escondido. Would we regret this decision?
Yes and no. The Yacutan Peninsula is full of beauty, cenote swimming holes and Mayan ruins. But at certain times of the year one must experience all of this with swarms of spring breakers and honeymoon makers, bringing with them significantly inflated prices to match.
With this in mind we boarded a collectivo from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondidio (see step by step instructions below) and soon found ourselves stepping out onto the intensely humid but intriguing streets of Puerto Escondido. Puerto Escondido is split into multiple smaller beaches or bays – each one enticing you with its own charm depending on your interests and budget.
Bahia Principal – a convenient 10 minute walk from downtown Puerto – would be our first stop. Its strip of quaint shops between the shore and high bank were tourist friendly enough while still holding onto their local vibe. One can watch the small fishing vessels pull in every morning and relax on the beautiful white sands during the day. At night avoid the unauthentic restaurants by eating at the pop up street stalls, taco lovers eat your heart out! Oh and you’ll catch a glimpse of many iguana lazing in the sun while you’re at it!
Playa Zicatela is the long stretch of beach seen to the left of Bahia Principal – half an hour walk. Be sure to skip the road and follow the beach, dipping your toes and paddling your feet as you go will make the walk cool and enjoyable. It’s true that Playa Zicatela is “gringo town” but during the low season it still has a pleasant laid back feel. Spend your days relaxing on the beach spending next to nothing and you’ll be able to afford a nice dinner at night at one the many restaurants along the main street. Make space on your camera to capture the famous Playa Zicatela sunset and if you’re lucky, you’ll see whales in the distance splashing about. A truly magical experience that made the journey to Puerto Escondido unforgettable!
Bahia Principal – 150 pesos per night for 2 people during low season.
Playa Zicatela – Casa Olga – Calle Del Morro, Cerca Bajada de las brisas, Zicatela.
300 pesos per night for 2 people. This place has our recommendation. Don’t expect the exceptional bargain that we got unless travelling in the low season. Casa Olga is cleaned and cared for by two friendly owners who are welcoming. The balconies consist of hammocks to laze in while overlooking the beach and in house pool/ kitchen area.
Getting there from Oaxaca:
• Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido on Autotransportes (Autotransportes La Solteca, Calle de M.Arista 210, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico), – 209 pesos per person, 6 hours.
• Buy your colectivo ticket 2 days ahead of time, especially during peak season.
• Dramamine is an anti nausea tablets available from a local pharmacy and worth it for this . The 6 hour journey of narrow windy roads. You’d rather be zoned out on anti nausea tablets for 6 hours than puking all over the person in front of you (this actually happened).
Getting there from San Cristobal de las Casas:
• ADO buses depart San Cristobal de las casas from Av Insurgentes, Sta Lucia, 29250 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., México
• San Cristobal to Puerto Escondido – approx 663 pesos per person, 13 hours. Bring a jersey or blanket for this trip as the aircon is uncomfortably low, especially at night.
• ADO buses in Puerto Escondido arrive at ADO Bus Terminal, Centro, Puerto Escondido, Oax., México. This is an approx 10 minute walk to Bahia Principal.
Getting away to San Cristobal de las Casas:
• There are two main bus stations in Puerto Escondido and an airport slightly further afield.
∼ ETN Turistar Bus Station – Av. Oaxaca S/N, Fracc. Playas, 71980 Puerto Escondido, Oax., Mexico.
∼ ADO Bus Terminal – ADO Bus Terminal, Centro, Puerto Escondido, Oax., Mexico.
• If heading south like us, make your way to the ADO bus terminal. You’ll notice the address above is very close to the supermarket mentioned below. The terminal is small – toilets, waiting area and vending machine – but pleasant enough for a short wait.
• Buses to San Cristobal de las Casas generally leave twice a day. Check out http://www.ado.com.mx/ado/index.jsp for up to date booking times and prices.
• Puerto Escondido to San Cristobal – 663 pesos per person, 13 hours. Bring a jersey or blanket for this trip as the aircon is uncomfortably low.
• Buses in San Cristobal de las casas arrive at Av Insurgentes, Sta Lucia, 29250 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., Mexico
• A fan in your accommodation may just be worth paying a bit extra for.
• If you come in the low season shop around for your accommodation.
• Supermarkets: Both Playa Zicatela and Bahia Principal have small – medium size convenient stores with basic groceries. If you are wanting to cook in there is a very large supermarket in downtown Puerto – Súper Chedraui Puerto Escondido – (Av. Oaxaca 105, Centro, 71980 Puerto Escondido, Oax., Mexico).
• ATM: Both Playa Zicatela and Bahia Principal have ATM machines either on the street or inside the small supermarkets.