Top Hotels, Restaurants and Things to Do in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Your guide to this Pacific coast city near Huatulco.
 

Playa Zicatela

Playa Zicatela, photo by Kirsten Wardman/Getty Images

With few large resorts, Puerto Escondido continues to feel like a hidden gem. An hour-and-a-half taxi or bus ride from Huatulco brings you to this semi-sleepy city on the Pacific coast where surfers gather to ride the Mexican Pipeline and vacationers soak up the sun.  

Hotels

Photo courtesy Hotel Santa Fe

If you’re a surfer: Beach Hotel Ines

This hotel boasts one of the best locations in Puerto Escondido, overlooking Zicatela Beach, a legendary surf spot. The collection of apartments, rooms, cabins and bungalows means every eclectic visitor can find a space that’s right for them. Amenities include a casual restaurant and a pool. 

If you love all things retro: Hotel Santa Fe

Once you see the posh pink palace located at the entrance to the beach, you know you’ve arrived at Hotel Santa Fe. This colourful colonial-style inn features locally made Mexican furniture and hand-woven bedspreads. Among the varied rooms are two presidential suites, each with verandas and semi-private pools.

If you are looking to relax: Hotel Casa de Dan

The clear-blue pool surrounded by lush gardens at Hotel Casa de Dan is what dreams of a laid-back Mexican vacation are made of. This boutique property overlooks the beach and features a café, plus a collection of 15 cabañas and apartments well-priced for daily, weekly and even monthly stays. 

If you’re a foodie: Hotel Suites Villasol

From basic rooms to spacious suites, the 85-room Hotel Suites Villasol is a beach-chic spot. There’s a pool bar and fine dining, but it’s the breakfast at the onsite restaurant that will entice even the sleepiest of travellers to wake up early. Don’t miss the chilaquiles, a traditional breakfast dish of fried tortillas with eggs and salsa.

Things to Do

The Zicazteca Surf School, photo by Paco Calleja

If you’re a surfer: Take a lesson with The Zicazteca Surf School

The famed Mexican Pipeline rips right across Zicatela, making it a hot spot for international surfers. Novices are well-advised to take lessons before venturing out. The Zicazteca Surf School’s two-hour class includes transportation, a surf board, rash guard and an introducton to surfing etiquette.

If you love all things retro: Shop for souvenirs at Mantelería Santo Domingo

Purchase a hand-woven souvenir from Mantelería Santo Domingo. This family-run textile shop sells clothing, tablecloths  and bedspreads created on a pair of wooden looms that are always in operation. Visit the shop and place a custom order at the start of your vacation so you can pick it up before your flight home.

If you are looking to relax: Float in the Laguna de Manialtepec

To really unwind, a moonlight float in the shimmering waters of Laguna de Manialtepec is a must. Located about 20 kilometres west of the city, this lagoon turns phosphorescent at certain times of the year due to an algae in the water that is activated by the movement of darting fish and swimmers. 

If you’re a foodie: Taking a walking tour 

Self-proclaimed “information goddess” Gina Machorro’s walking tour takes guests to local spots such as Tomasa’s kitchen for grilled tortillas or Mercado Benito Juárez to sample chocolate, bean and chili tamales. Along the way, Machorro shares stories about the history and culture of the Puerto Escondido area.

Restaurants

Sunset dinner at Zicatela Beach, photo by L. Daley/Getty Images

If you’re a surfer: El Cafecito 

Surfers in search of a strong cup of coffee and a pile of pancakes need only to head to beachside El Cafecito, located right by Zicatela—just follow the smell of fresh pastries. Or, kickstart the day with an El Verde, a freshly-squeezed juice spiked with parsley, celery, cucumber, pineapple and orange.

If you love all things retro: La Juquileña

For regional cuisine, head to La Juquileña restaurant (not to be confused with similar-sounding Las Juquileñas restaurant). Daily specials may include empanadas, cactus salad and tlayudas—a kind of Mexican pizza that features a tortilla topped with refried beans, shredded meat, cabbage, cheese and salsa.

If you are looking to relax: Fresh Restaurant & Lounge

No Mexican vacation is complete without a dinner on the beach. At Fresh Restaurant & Lounge, there’s always live performances by local musicians, spectacular sunsets over Zicatela Beach and a truly addictive dish called Camarones Coco Loco, which features jumbo prawns served with mango and coconut. 

If you’re a foodie: Spirulina

Diners gather under a palapa (a thatched-roof structure) at Spirulina for vegan and vegetarian-centric dishes and plenty of laid-back charm. The acai bowls and Green Flash power smoothies are breakfast-time hits, while lunch and dinner favourites include the veggie fajitas and homemade quinoa burger. 

[This story appears in the March 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine.]

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