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Do you like the sound of a seaside escape in Mexico filled with spectacular scenery and mountains of fresh seafood? Puerto Escondido offers exactly that and everything you can expect from la buena vida. This coastal paradise has gorgeous marine life, tasty cuisine, and endless adventure potential. Yet, it still feels safe and maintains that authentic local culture we love.
We are suckers for fun experiences, and Puerto Escondido delivered that and much, much more. To take full advantage of one of the best places to visit in Mexico, we highly recommend trying a tour. Luckily, this town has an array of tours, from mezcal tastings and cooking classes to kayaking and dolphin watching.
Below, we’ve summed up the 10 best tours in Puerto Escondido so you can find one that works for you. So allow us to get a bit nostalgic as we reminisce about the unbelievable adventures we had in Puerto Escondido – and share how you can experience it for yourself!
- Our Top Picks for Tours in Puerto Escondido
- Why book a tour in Puerto Escondido?
- 10 Best Tours in Puerto Escondido
- 1. Mezcal Distillery Guided Tour
- 2. Dolphin Watching in Puerto Escondido
- 3. Sport Fishing in Puerto Escondido
- 4. Puerto Escondido Surf Lesson
- 5. Made in Oaxaca Food Tour
- 6. Baby Turtle Release Tour
- 7. Manialtepec Lagoon by Kayak
- 8. Sunset by Horse Tour
- 9. Cooking lessons of traditional Mole
- 10. Birdwatching Tour
- Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Renting a Car in Mexico
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
Our Top Picks for Tours in Puerto Escondido
Maybe you’re already in Puerto Escondido or looking to book something right this minute – don’t worry, here are our two top choices for tours you can book now.
Best overall tour: We can’t recommend this small-group dolphin-watching tour enough! We were among the first boats out and got to see massive pods of wild dolphins – both from the boat and once we jumped in the water! There are only 10 people on the boat, so it’s not crowded and swimming with wild dolphins is something you’ll never forget. You can purchase tickets for this highly-rated tour online here for $61 USD which includes hotel pick-up.
Most memorable tour: Get ready to be overwhelmed with cuteness on this tour to release baby turtles! It’s tough to be a little turtle these days, so local environmental groups are giving these tiny guys the best chance at survival and you can help! We got to hold turtles that had just hatched (safely in gourds so you’re not handling them) and help them make it to the water. It was one of our favorite moments of the whole trip and you can join in too by booking a spot here for only $58 USD.
Why book a tour in Puerto Escondido?
Sure, doing your own thing on holiday is fun. But when it comes to less touristy spots like Puerto Escondido, tours are especially helpful. If this is your first time here, it can be overwhelming to pick what to do and where to go. But tours help you access the best locations and activities without worrying about logistics.
Plus, tours allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the local culture. Our guides gave us a unique window into their way of life and were passionate about this part of Mexico. We were also able to get closer to nature than we ever imagined – and do so in a safe and sustainable way.
Overall, safety in Mexico is often a concern for travelers, and Puerto Escondido is no exception. Tours gave us peace of mind. Guides know this area well and can give you an authentic experience while ensuring you’re safe.
10 Best Tours in Puerto Escondido
1. Mezcal Distillery Guided Tour
The Mexican state of Oaxaca is the birthplace of mezcal. So if you’ve been hoping to try this powerful beverage, this is the place to do it! To get to know this iconic spirit, you can book this mezcal distillery tour to learn all about the traditional distillation process and try a handful of different mezcals.
The distillery is only about 15 minutes from Puerto Escondido but trust us, you will want someone else to take care of the transportation. After all, mezcal can really hit you. This is one of those experiences where you’ll want a designated driver!
This whole mezcal experience was loads of fun from start to finish. We got a guided tour of the distillery, where we learned all about the history of this beverage (along with some fun facts!).
Forget everything you know about a traditional uptight “distillery” too. This setup is much more informal and authentic, and you’ll be sipping and sightseeing while donning sombreros.
The guide helped us refine our pallets to this potent potion, and really appreciate the unique flavors. Some brave souls even tried a shot with a worm in it (that was a hard no from us!). Because it’s a small group, we were also able to make some new friends!
After the tasting, our guide took us to a super authentic restaurant. The food isn’t covered in the price. Regardless, we were happy to have him introduce us to some fabulous local delicacies. Plus, we definitely needed some food after all that mezcal!
These tours are offered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and last about 2.5 hours. They cost $87 USD per person. However, with unlimited, high-quality mezcal and convenient hotel pick-up and drop-off, this is a steal.
Related Read: If you also want to try tequila, visit the town where it all began! Click here to learn all about visiting Tequila, Jalisco.
2. Dolphin Watching in Puerto Escondido
All those years collecting Lisa Frank merch turned a whole generation of us into wannabe marine biologists and dolphin experts. Although those dreams might not have panned out, we found the next best thing and were not disappointed one bit!
This dolphin-watching experience is one of those bucket-list things that lives up to the hype. When it comes to dolphin watching, Puerto Escondido is one of the best places you could imagine for this. The Pacific waters of Mexico’s west coast are frequented by huge pods of dolphins as well as whales and sea turtles. Trust us, you are in for a treat!
We were picked up from the hotel, and our group of only 10 castaways were on the ocean just after 7 am. Although it’s early, the ocean is absolutely stunning at this time, and it’s a great way to start your day. Soon after arriving, we encountered two massive pods of dolphins that swam all around our boat. They were basically just showing off if you ask us … and we had front-row seats!
The most memorable part of it all was when we had a chance to dive into the dolphin-filled water (at a safe distance, of course). The experience truly brought us closer to these magnificent creatures.
At only $61 USD ($53 USD on Saturdays), this is an activity worth investing in! It includes hotel pick-up, your guide, bottled water, and the dolphin swim. However, hotel drop-off isn’t included. The tour will end around 10 am on the beach, so you can grab a coffee or go for another swim!
3. Sport Fishing in Puerto Escondido
The waters around Puerto Escondido are full of all kinds of big fish. It’s a fisherman’s dream! Although we aren’t what you would consider pros, we thought we would give sport fishing on this tour a go. It turned out to be a super exhilarating experience, and we got a takeaway to boot!
Our 5-hour tour set off at sunrise, and it wasn’t long before we made it to the deep blue. Our guide and captain, Omar, eats, sleeps, and breathes the ocean. He was a treasure trove of knowledge about everything from the life below us to the techniques of spotting and catching.
We managed to hook an impressive sailfish. However, we also saw tons of dolphins and turtles and even a manta ray that flew past. With little to no skill but excellent coaching, we were able to reel in a few Mahi Mahi. They were then filleted right on the boat (another skill we never thought we’d learn!).
We took our fresh catch back to the beach, where a local restaurant prepared it for us. Being able to enjoy the fruits of our labor was the icing on the cake. I guess you can now call us hunters in the hunter-gatherer equation, right?
This whole experience costs only $450 USD per group (up to 4). It included everything we needed for the 5-6 hours we spent at sea (fishing equipment, fishing license, knowledgeable guides, and a beverage cooler). It also includes pick-up from your Puerto Escondido accommodations (although you’ll end the tour at a seaside restaurant).
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
4. Puerto Escondido Surf Lesson
We always recommend checking out the local surf scene when you’re at a coastal destination. What’s awesome about Puerto Escondido is that the waves here can accommodate all levels of surfers. So whether you’re a complete newbie or an avid surfer, we suggest signing up for this local surf lesson.
If you’re just starting out (or have never tried the sport), the instructors make you feel so comfortable. They really help build your confidence and give you the tools you need to succeed in the water. We learned everything from how to read waves to ocean etiquette (which I had never thought of before!).
If you already have some surfing experience, you’ll have the chance to improve your technique at the hands of some lifelong surfers. They really understand the ebb and flow of the area’s surfing spots. Our guide, Donovan, was a local, and believe me, these waves pulsate through his veins.
In Puerto Escondido, we had the chance to choose between three surfing locations, each promising excellent waves and stunning scenery. You might even be lucky enough to have a turtle or dolphin join your lesson too! This is a private lesson, so even if you have a few spills (and there were many), embarrassment is kept to a minimum.
You will also be picked up from your hotel, making the buildup to your 2-hour lesson a little less stressful. The lessons cost $59 USD per person, and you get a board and rash guard when you arrive. Tours are offered every day at 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm, so it’s super easy to fit into your schedule.
Don’t miss the chance to learn (or improve!) your surfing skills. Book your private surf lesson in Puerto Escondido right online here.
Related Read: If you love water sports and exploring the ocean, check out the best places to go scuba diving in Mexico!
5. Made in Oaxaca Food Tour
Not sure if we mentioned this before, but we LOVE food! So, this food tour in Puerto Escondido was one of the first items on our agenda. Food tours like this regularly serve up some of the most memorable experiences of our travels. We love that they completely avoid the tourist highways and get you in the kitchen and at the markets with locals.
Another reason to try this food tour is that it can help you understand the local cuisine (and what to look out for when dining on your own). You’ll venture far from the tourist sector and check out a local barrio (neighborhood). You really get a window into Oaxacan culture AND taste their delicious cuisine!
On this tour, we even made our own tortillas. We also learned what makes Oaxacan cheese so special. But my personal highlight was trying the beloved local drink Chilate – which would become one of those things we will forever have an unquenchable thirst for (thanks, Mexico!).
This experience lasts just over 3 hours, and you will visit markets and family-owned joints where traditions are alive and thriving. The group size is also kept small, so it feels really personal.
The tour costs $85 USD, and all we can say is “come hungry!” There is more than enough to taste and indulge in, and your food and nonalcoholic drinks are covered.
Tours are only offered at 3 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so make sure to plan ahead and wear comfy shoes (it is a walking tour, after all). You’ll begin the tour at the entrance to the Benito Juarez Market and end near a main road. If you need to get a taxi home afterward, your guides are happy to assist you.
Related Read: Are you also visiting Oaxaca City? Then check out the best restaurants in Oaxaca while you’re there!
6. Baby Turtle Release Tour
Did you know sea turtles return to their birthplace – even after decades at sea – to lay their eggs? Unfortunately, the number of them who successfully hatch and make it to the water has drastically decreased – which is exactly why we joined this turtle conservation project.
In Puerto Escondido, we were happy to learn that local environmental groups are working tirelessly to ensure that these tiny creatures have the best chance of survival.
To raise funds for these efforts, they now allow visitors to take part in this moving event. Plus, it helps spread the word on conservation and gives participants something to remember for the rest of their lives. When we visited, we joined these efforts by releasing baby sea turtles, and we definitely won’t forget the experience!
The tour guides picked us up at 4 pm and drove us to the release site. The timing is perfect because you also get to watch the sunset while you release baby turtles! The whole thing is so wholesome and heartwarming and was one of our favorite moments of the trip.
It’s a pretty straightforward tour. The guides will explain their conservation efforts and how you’re helping the process. Then, on the beach, you’ll be given a baby turtle (in a gourd to avoid contamination) that hatched less than an hour before.
At sunset, they are released, and you get to witness one of nature’s purest miracles first-hand. You’ll free it near the water and slowly watch it inch its way home to the sea!
The whole thing takes about 2 hours and costs $58 USD. This includes transportation from your hotel. It’s such a touching moment and worth every penny – and mind you, that money is also going to a really good cause!
Don’t miss this special experience … book this sea turtle release right here.
7. Manialtepec Lagoon by Kayak
Kayaking is one of those activities that we never get tired of! So if you’re looking for a fun alternative to chilling on the beach, spend a day kayaking down the Manialtepec Lagoon. You can paddle through the calm water, taking in the scenery and seeing some unique local birds.
This estuary is teeming with life and is only 20 minutes from town. Luckily, this tour includes transportation, so you have one less thing to worry about! You’ll be picked up around 7 am from your Puerto Escondido accommodations.
You arrive just as the river starts to wake up. When we went, the initial 6 km (3.7 mi) boat ride was filled with the sound of majestic bird calls and the ocean nearby. I also really enjoyed watching the fisherman cast their nets just after sunrise.
Once you reach the carnero where the birds nest, your guide will show you all the fascinating species around. We were particularly intrigued by the spoonbills filter-feeding through the shallows. We also saw some cormorants, white ibises, crested caracaras, and many herons.
You will rest on Puerto Soil Beach on the fringes of the lagoon before kayaking back to complete this 6-hour adventure. It’s a long morning, but one great thing about this tour is it’s catered to the group’s abilities. The route will be chosen based on your preferences, so it doesn’t matter how experienced you are.
Kayaking in the estuary costs $72-$90 USD, depending on how many people you book for. That includes roundtrip transport, kayaking equipment, insurance, and your experienced guide (who knows A LOT about local wildlife). There will be no more than 10 people in your group, so it feels quite intimate. Food and drinks aren’t covered, but there is the option to purchase a local lunch afterward.
Tours are only available on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, so click here to secure your enchanting kayaking tour in Puerto Escondido.
8. Sunset by Horse Tour
The duality of the river estuary and long beach just outside of Puerto Escondido is a truly magnificent landscape to behold. Combine that with this sunset horseback ride, and you have what might be one of the best experiences in Mexico!
We were picked up from our hotel promptly at 3 pm and taken to the ranch, where we were introduced to our horses for the ride. If you’re new to horseback riding, these guides are great at making you feel comfortable for the journey ahead!
Our guides led us all the way to Playa Suelo, where we visited a local family’s rustic beach bar. With a cold beverage in hand and a plate of fried shrimp, we watched the sun slowly dip toward the horizon — muy romántico!
This 4-hour sunset horseback tour costs $105 USD per person and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off and your guide. We paid for our own refreshments at the beach bar, but the whale splashing on the horizon was totally free!
9. Cooking lessons of traditional Mole
If you thought we were done gabbing about the insanely delicious food in Mexico, think again! We loved taking a food tour to learn about the local flavors, but we also needed to get in the kitchen ourselves and try this traditional cooking class in Puerto Escondido.
Making mole is one of those mysteries that has long alluded to us, and it was about time we learned how to cook up a batch from scratch. This sauce is so rich and full of flavor and originates right here in Oaxaca! So if you want to make it, Puerto Escondido is the place to learn!
We were whisked off to a local house where our guide and his abuela were ready to get cooking. One of the most fascinating parts of the day was learning about herbalism and the use of botanicals in Indigenous cooking. Honestly, we learned so much about this region’s culture, people, and culinary traditions as we cooked!
On the menu, we had chicken tamales, mole Oaxaqueño, and fresh ranch cheese. We also learned how to make tortillas by hand, which was super satisfying. There is just something that hits differently when you get to prepare the food that you eat, and this whole experience more than satiated our appetite.
This cooking tour lasts 4.5 hours, with start times varying depending on the day. The price is normally $90 USD, but they occasionally offer deals as low as $55 USD. It includes roundtrip transportation and everything you need to prepare the food (which, of course, you’ll also get to eat!). It’s not offered every day, so plan your trip carefully to work this into your itinerary!
Related Read: Those who are also exploring Mexico’s capital won’t want to miss the best tours in Mexico City!
10. Birdwatching Tour
Birdwatchers or anyone who loves wildlife won’t want to miss out on this magical lagoon tour!
Although we had already visited the Manialtepec estuary on our kayaking tour, we decided to return for a tour focused specifically on birds. This time around, we sat back and relaxed in a motorized boat while our expert guide gave us an in-depth tour. There are seriously hundreds of bird species here!
On this sunrise birdwatching tour, we got picked up before the crack of dawn (at 6 am to be precise). There simply is no better way to start your morning than with such a tranquil experience in nature. The estuary was buzzing with all the different birds greeting the day!
Our guide, Ephraim, has lived in the area his whole life, and there isn’t a corner of the lagoon he doesn’t know. We were offered high-quality binoculars and bird guides to help us start our journey as birdwatchers.
After a while on the boat, we stopped for a break on a calm beach where there was a small restaurant. Here, we bought some snacks for the ride back, and we’d recommend bringing cash if you want to do the same.
This whole 4-hour experience costs $170 USD per person and requires a minimum of 2 people to book. It includes transportation to and from your hotel, an expert guide and captain, a boat ride, bottled water, and the use of binoculars and bird books.
Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido
There are a few different areas to stay in Puerto Escondido, and we have an entire blog on the best hotels in Puerto Escondido. It includes hotels and hostels in every budget to suit every traveler!
However, to quickly give you a little info, here are the main areas to stay:
Near Playa Carrizalillo
This is the area where we stayed, and I personally loved it. We were within walking distance to Playa Carrizalillo, close to the market and local restaurants, and away from the busy streets, but still only a 40 MXN ($2 USD) taxi to Playa Zicatela!
We stayed at Casa Losodeli and loved every second of our stay. It had a huge outdoor pool surrounded by beautiful gardens. We stayed in the one-bedroom apartment so we could cook, but they had a large selection of rooms to choose from. The owner was one of the nicest people we have ever met (and no, she didn’t know we were bloggers). Truthfully, you can’t go wrong staying here.
It’s an adults-only place, so not suitable for families. But it’s great when traveling solo, with friends, or as a couple. Prices start as low as $62 USD when you book ahead online.
This is the largest beach area in Puerto Escondido and where the majority of the hotels, bars, and restaurants are. However, you can’t really swim at the beach here because of the rough swells, and it has no shade. But if you’re after nightlife and restaurants, then look no further.
Hotel Rockaway is located just across the street from Playa Zicatela. It features a large pool and fitness center. The reviews are flawless, and the price is super reasonable. You can expect to pay between $90-$140 USD a night. So don’t hesitate to check it out and book it online.
For something a little cheaper, check out the Selina. It is a top-notch hostel with everything from budget dorms to fancy private rooms. You get a better bang for your buck in this area, with dorms starting at $23 USD and private rooms at $71 USD. You can book Selina on Booking.com or through Hostelworld.com.
This is the beach area to the south of Zicatela but still part of the same bay. This area has more of a “hippy vibe” but is still within walking distance of the main area of Zicatela.
Punta Zicatela Hotel is one of the top-rated properties in all of Puerto Escondido. With two pools (indoor and outdoor) and a rooftop bar with superb views, you really can’t go wrong. It is super cheap too but has all the creature comforts you’d expect from a beautiful hotel. You can find rooms as low as $100 USD when you book online in advance.
All the hotels in these areas come up in the search under Puerto Escondido, so use the map on Booking.com and select hotels in the area you want to stay.
Renting a Car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Puerto Escondido is the place to go for awesome cuisine, nightlife, beaches, and incredible wildlife. But to access some of this town’s best attributes, we highly recommend taking a tour! The ones we mentioned were some of our favorite experiences in the area. So if you’re planning a trip here soon, we hope this list has helped!
Puerto Escondido is just one of the many amazing places in this country. If you’re traveling elsewhere, check out all our other blogs about Mexico. For a little sneak peek, I’ve linked to some articles below. Thanks for reading!