Where to stay, surf, eat, and find great wifi in Puerto Escondido during COVID-19
I traveled to Puerto Escondido for three weeks in November 2020 during COVID-19, so please keep that in mind while reading this Digital Nomad Guide, because from what I hear Puerto Escondido is very different when there aren't all these travel restrictions in place.
Puerto Escondido Where surfers die and go to heaven, I read that somewhere when planning our trip to Puerto. I don't think that is true, but I do think they were on to something.
We arrived in Puerto Escondido late at night, took a van we coordinate with the hotel we were staying at called Selina, packed our bag and our surf bag in, and drove the 10-minute ride from the airport to our accommodation. Our room was nice, very simple, but clean, with an epic view from the lookout space just a few steps away from our front door.
Don't Surf La Punta
Eager to surf this surf heaven, we woke up early the next day and headed to La Punta, wow were we disappointed. Not because of the waves, the waves are amazing, really fun, open face lefts with just the right amount of power to have some fun, but not too pitchy where you are going to get demolished if you catch one wrong. We were disappointed because of the locals. For some reason, there is no such thing as surf etiquette here. The locals go for every single wave, and they start way back in the rocks so by the time the wave gets to you they not only have caught the wave but flying down it so fast to intentionally keep anyone else from joining in. There is no such thing as sharing here. This is a bummer is because La Punta is a point break, the wave only breaks in one spot, so there is only one wave to surf. So you can't spread out. If you get lucky enough to drop in on a local and catch a bit of a ride, watch out because 30 feet in front of you is where the surf school guides hang out with their Wavestorm newbies and they full-on push an unsuspecting newbie right in front of you with no shame. This may sound like a harsh assessment, but it's accurate. I have talked to over eight other travelers who have come here to surf and their experience has been exactly the same. Needless to say, we walked away from that surf session irritated and disappointed.
But like I said earlier, whoever said Puerto Escondido is a surf heaven was on to something. La Punta might really suck, but there are other amazing breaks not too far from Puerto, you just have to be adventurous and go find them. I'm not going to blast them on here because my boyfriend would kill me for publicizing the epic surf breaks. But I can tell you, they exist, they aren't too far away, most of them between a 1-4 hour drive, and there my friend you will have almost all the waves to yourself, and boy are they beautiful!
If you want to stick around Puerto Escondido, there is also Playa Carrizalillo. This is more of a long board wave, fat, rolly, and very fun if you have the right board. I decided to rent a longboard a of couple times from the guys down on the beach and had a blast catching tons of waves. There are about 10 sets of stairs you have to take to get down to the beach, but it's worth it, the water is a beautiful color, and the vibe is very tropical and relaxed.
Wifi in Puerto Escondido During COVID-19
The wifi has been pretty reliable, aside from our first day in Puerto Escondido. When we first arrived and the wifi and cell service was completely down for over 7 hours. That was for the entire city of Puerto Escondido, not just at our hotel. The staff at Selina assured us that wasn't normal, but did say the wifi does sometimes cut out for an hour or two every once in a while. They accredited this to the fact that the government in charge of Puerto Escondido is in a fight with the telecom companies in the area. And said that during negotiations or disputes the telecom companies will sometimes just turn everything off. I don't know if that is really true or not, but it's a funny story. Rest assured though, you can feel pretty comfortable coming down to Puerto Escondido to work, over the three weeks I have been here, that 7-hour shut off was the only one I experienced.
Where you stay does seem to matter for wifi. At Selina I didn't have a problem, however, a few friends were staying down the road at a hostel called MexiPipe, and they said they couldn't even load their emails on their wifi. Some other second-hand feedback I have received is that wifi is even better at Hotel Zicatela than at Selina. I have also received mixed reviews on the wifi speeds in the La Punta area. One person said they are terrible, and another said they were staying at La Punta Zicatela Hotel and they were great. I think the general consensus is that wifi over by Playa Zicatela is more reliable.
Staying and Working at Selina in Puerto Escondido
The Selina in Puerto Escondido is in a great location. It is across the street from Playa Zicatela which has monster waves that are very entertaining to watch, as well as tons of beachfront bars. Due to COVID-19, Playa Zicatela is a ghost town, there is zero nightlife, so I haven't experienced the fun lively side of this area but people who came prior to COVID said it is a great party town.
Selina is also built on a big hill, so the views from some of the rooms and the lookout points are pretty spectacular. I loved laying in one of the hammocks, journaling, and watching the sun go down. Or practicing yoga in their wellness center and listening to the giant waves crash on the shore. (Note: to all my yogis, bring your own yoga mat, Selina provide 2 and if they aren't taken, they definitely aren't cleaned and smell pretty rank).
The room we stayed in was one of the lower level suites, it was spacious and had a desk both Andres and I could work at. However, it was a lot more beat up than I was expecting. The headboard was broken, the bathroom was extremely minimal, and the A/C didn't work very well. I am so thankful we booked a suite with extra space and a table we could use as a desk because it turned out the coworking space on the property (which is not included in your room price) was booked out two and a half months in advance. So if we couldn't work in our room, we would have been stuck working outside, in the heat, at the restaurant which can get pretty noisy.
The pools are nice, the restaurant has good food (about 10-20% more expensive than other food in the area), and the people who we met here have been very cool, friendly, and fun. The shared kitchen is disgusting, don't count on cooking in there. The fridges are overflowing with other people's food so you won't have anywhere to store your food anyway. Luckily it's pretty cheap to eat out, about $7-11 USD per meal including a drink, coffee, or cocktail. In Playa Zicatela I ate breakfast at the Elephant Garden at least ten times during my trip, their food is fresh, flavorful, and pretty inexpensive compared to their competition Spirulina.
Overall, I would recommend staying at Selina for at least part of your trip, just for the people you will most likely meet. Otherwise the other hotels in the area seem to be a bit more kept up, have better wifi, and are about 30% cheaper. I found everything related to Selina to be very overpriced.
La Punta - Food & Night Life
I love the vibe of La Punta. Where Puerto Escondido is more built up and city feeling, La Punta is much more jungle and natural feeling. There is a true hippie surfer vibe with all the palm trees, surf shops, small cafes, small buildings made of palm fronds and natural woods, and dirt roads.
Some of our favorite places to eat were Cafeole for breakfast, a burrito place called Amoki has a crazy good fish burrito, and a food court made of shipping containers that had epic calamari.
Apparently the nightlife in La Punta is supposed to be pretty lively, but we went looking for a party and dancing a few times during our three weeks there and never found it, it was a ghost town. I think this is because of COVID-19, but definitely don't expect to find crazy parties right now. I had the most fun making friends with people at Selina and have kickbacks with them at the hotel or on the beach.
Transportation in Puerto Escondido
The taxis around here seem to be very safe. We took a taxi back and forth from Playa Zicatela to La Punta a few times costing about 35-40 Pesos each way and never had a problem. We later decided to rent a motor scooter from a local guy named Miguel for the three weeks we stayed just for the freedom. I really like having my own set of wheels. That cost us about $140 USD for the whole time. It's much more expensive than just taking a taxi, but we chose the convenience over the cost.
The streets are pretty easy to navigate, because there are likely only three main areas you are going to want to go in Puerto Escondido- La Punta, Playa Zicatela, and Playa Carrizalillo.
Things To Do in Puerto Escondido for a Digital Nomad
There isn't much to do in Puerto Escondido aside from surf, relax, party, and maybe a day trip of snorkeling and swimming with dolphins. Otherwise, at least right now, it's a pretty sleepy beach town. I really enjoyed it as a nice working getaway. Because there isn't much to do, it forces you to just slow down and enjoy your time with the people around you and nature.
Safety in Puerto Escondido During COVID-19
I felt very safe the entire time we were in Puerto Escondido. We even left our bag full of money and cell phones with a local bar own while we surfed in Playa Carrizalillo and didn't have a problem. However we didn't venture outside the normal tourist places of La Punta, Playa Zicatela, and Playa Carrizalillo, so those are the only areas I can speak to in Puerto Escondido. We did however take some trips to some remote surf villages along the coast, and also didn't have any problems there either.
I had heard some scary stories about mainland Mexico before coming and was pretty nervous. For those of you who are a bit nervous too, I recommend coming, you will be pleasantly surprise to find it isn't any more dangerous than any other beach town, and just basic awareness and common sense are required.
Overall I think Puerto Escondido is a nice place for a Digital Nomad to escape for a while. The energy is low-key and relaxing, the weather is nice, and the views are beautiful. I think Andres and I will definitely be back, but on vacation mode to hit up the surf villages again because those were absolutely amazing.