I Heart Puerto Escondido - Mini guide
We spent four days in P.E. at the end of May. It was definitely hot, but also completely empty. So my suggestion is this - go at the end of May, but be sure to reserve a room with AC. That was so key to our happiness (that, and endless beaches all to ourselves). Plus, you can stay at some of the beautiful hotels (like Hotel Santa Fe) for less than $50/night.
We read all about "Gina at the tourist booth" in every review about P.E. When we met her, it was like meeting a living legend, the unofficial Google of Puerto (but more accurate and friendly, with a nice smile). She basically planned our entire trip for us, told us the best beaches to visit, where to eat, and what tours to sign up for. She was AMAZING! So once you arrive, go say 'hi' to Gina right away.
1. Snorkeling in San Augustin - this beach is about hour and a half hours from P.E. and it is snoozy! Here, we found the best snorkeling in Mexico to date. There is a huge reef that you can swim to from the shore, a very healthy coral reef, and so much aquatic life below the waves.
With the sun striking the surface of the water, bubbles glittered up with every movement. Swimming through this field of sparkles could have been like navigating through the most incredible meteor shower in slow motion. This is simply another world.
3. Bioluminescent lagoon - you'll see signs all over town advertising night tours for this. Lalo's tours are the most established and family owned.
4. Pool day at Villa Sol Beach Club and Pez Gallo - for just 70 pesos a person you can purchase a wrist band and hang out at the pool, beach, swim up bar, and restaurant all day. Bring your own towel and a book. This was the perfect spot for a day of relaxation, day drinking, and enjoying life.
Neither Spencer nor I are surfers, and although there is a long list of sports and activities we are interested in, this is not one of them. Maybe if we lived by the water full time, or if Spencer knew how to swim, we would feel differently. So the beaches listed here are places we enjoyed either snorkeling, or watching the surfers do what we were happy to observe from the shore.
1. Playa at Puerto Angelito - We found this to be the best snorkel beach (in late May, perhaps other spots are better at other times of the year). The water was super calm. There is a little cove with a lot of fish, and a fairly healthy coral reef near the shore.
2. Playa Carrizalillo - We'd heard this was the spot to snorkel, but after walking down the many stairs to the beach, the waves were just too big. This is a cool little beach though, a few restaurants, and not too many people.
3. Playa Principal (Playa Zicaleta) - this is the main beach in town, it stretches for a few miles down the cost and is probably a good spot to lay out with a book, or try the waves if you're a confident surfer. We saw several folks out there on boards and it was fun to watch them from the swim up bar.
Places to Eat
We stayed in the Rinconada area - it's a nice spot since it's away from the touristy Zicatela area. Most of the listed restaurants here (except Santa Fe) are in that area. Also, despite warnings from Laura, our first meal was at Cafecito (#1 on Tripadvisor). It was just as bad as she said it would be. So don't pay attention to TA, listen to your friends.
1. Hotel Santa Fe - good spot for dinner and to watch the sunset. They have a ton of vegan and vegetarian options (tofu!) - perhaps the most variety of any menu I've seen in Mexico.
2. Cinemar - great option for breakfast, they have good espresso and excellent food at typical (not inflated) prices. The granola/fruit/yogurt breakfast is super tasty.
3. Sultan - this is an Israeli owned cafe and possibly the best falafel/humus I've had since visiting Israel 12 years ago. The food is so good and also really inexpensive for the excellent quality.
4. Almoraduz - Our #1 spot for dinner. After a day of drinking at the pool, Spencer announced that he loved his dinner so much that he was going to sing it a song and write it a poem. Sadly, this was all just talk, but the food really was that good. He had a dish that we called "cheese and leaves" which sounds weird, but it was insanely yum. Everything here was wonderful.