Puerto Escondido is one of the most popular destinations for surfers wanting to catch some waves south of the U.S. border. But given that this beach town sits along the Pacific coast of Mexico, you might be wondering—is Puerto Escondido safe?
Puerto Escondido is safe if you practice basic safety precautions, such as taking taxis at night and not accepting open drinks from strangers.
Read on for details about safety in Puerto Escondido, where I combine statistics with personal experience.
First Things First: A Disclaimer
I spent two weeks in Puerto Escondido as a solo female traveler. Overall, I had a positive experience safety-wise.
But the information I share here, with the exception of statistics from linked sources, is my personal opinion based on my encounters.
Everyone has unique experiences that shape their perception of any given destination.
So, take what you want from this article and leave the rest. Above all, never let your guard down just because I or anyone else tells you that a destination is safe.
Trusting your gut and following basic safety practices are vital to improving your security in any destination.
An Overview of Safety
Before we talk about safety in Puerto Escondido, below is a chart highlighting some of Mexico’s health and safety statistics.
|Organization||Index score||Country ranking|
|Global Health Security Index||57.0||25 of 195 (good)|
|Global Peace Index||2.61||137 of 163 (bad)|
Safety in Puerto Escondido: What the U.S. Department of State Says
If you’re a first-timer to international travel, it’s wise to make the U.S. Department of State (DOS) one of your go-to resources when asking yourself, “Is Puerto Escondido safe?”
The DOS offers among the most up-to-date safety information throughout the world, including Puerto Escondido. Their information applies to most travelers, regardless of their nationality.
According to the DOS, Puerto Escondido ranks as a Level 2 out of four for safety, advising travelers to “exercise increased caution.”
For context, most tourist destinations in Mexico fall under Level 2, including Cancun and Los Cabos. And I think we can all agree that the DOS’ advice is beneficial regardless of where you travel.
Below is a breakdown of these levels so that you can better understand where Puerto Escondido stands.
|1||Exercise normal precautions|
|2||Exercise increased caution|
|4||Do not travel|
I encourage you to check the DOS’ Mexican Travel Advisory page before you travel to ensure there aren’t any changes.
Understanding the DOS’ Mexican Travel Advisory Page
The DOS only mentions Puerto Escondido once on their Mexican travel advisory page. That’s because Puerto Escondido sits within the state of Oaxaca.
So, most of the DOS information you read on Oaxaca state applies to Puerto Escondido.
Crime is why the DOS advises exercising increased caution in Oaxaca state. But they specifically mention Puerto Escondido as a destination where U.S. government employees are free to explore without restrictions.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say if Puerto Escondido is safe enough for U.S. personnel, it’s safe for the everyday traveler too.
Should you plan on traveling to other areas around Puerto Escondido, the DOS states that the following areas within Oaxaca state are safe to visit without restriction:
- Oaxaca City
- Monte Alban
Alright, enough about the DOS. Let’s move on to some stats.
Safety in Puerto Escondido: What the Statistics Say
Numbeo is another resource I enjoy using when determining a destination’s safety. They offer a detailed safety breakdown, and comparing Puerto Escondido’s numbers to cities you’ve already been to can help put them into perspective.
According to Numbeo, Puerto Escondido ranks 49.5 for crime, with zero being the least crime and 100 being the most.
So, Numbeo’s data backs what the DOS says—there’s enough crime to warrant exercising increased caution but not enough to avoid Puerto Escondido altogether.
For context, San Francisco’s crime index on Numbeo is 60.63, making it about 10% more dangerous than Puerto Escondido.
Numbeo is constantly updating its data. So, I encourage you to visit their website for the most updated information.
Visiting Puerto Escondido as a Solo Female Traveler
If you’re planning a solo trip, you’re likely wondering—is Puerto Escondido safe for solo female travelers?
Puerto Escondido is a solid option if you’re a woman thinking about taking a solo female trip to Mexico. It’s a small town with all things of tourist interest laid out along a single road.
There were a handful of times that men said passing comments to me on the street or beach. But I never felt physically in danger.
That said, most solo female travelers know the heightened awareness and more calculated planning that goes into our independent ways.
For example, Puerto Escondido’s Zicatela beach is massive. Much of it is sparsely populated, though, and I didn’t feel comfortable venturing to such stretches of the beach alone.
The good news is that there’s a large portion of the beach with many surfers and sunbathers. So, you can enjoy beaching it even if you don’t make (or want to make) friends during your trip.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking to meet people during your travels, beachfront Selina Puerto Escondido is a great place to do it. This hostel boasts rooms from dorms to private suites.
Is Puerto Escondido Safe at Night?
Puerto Escondido is as safe at night as you make it.
Getting wasted without a sober companion or walking along poorly lit streets in the middle of the night increases the chance of trouble.
But if you practice basic safety precautions, as you should in any other unfamiliar place at night, you can expect a safe experience in Puerto Escondido.
As a parting piece of advice, if visiting the beach in Puerto Escondido at night is on your bucket list, reconsider it.
Not only would you become a target for crime, but some travelers report that police officers have given them a hard time for being on the beach after dark.
Does the Cartel Operate in Puerto Escondido?
Cartel activity occurs in Puerto Escondido, but cartel members mostly leave tourists alone. You shouldn’t have to worry about engaging with the cartel as long as you’re not participating in an illegal activity.
The bottom line?
Don’t buy or sell drugs.
Transportation in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is a small town ideal for exploring by foot. However, there might be times when you need to take transportation.
Is it safe to take a street taxi in Puerto Escondido?
Taking a street taxi in Puerto Escondido is safe if you call one in advance with a registered taxi service. You can ask your hotel’s reception desk or your Airbnb host to do this for you.
Should you be out on the town at night, I strongly advise calling a taxi to take you home. Unless you’re walking on the main street where restaurants and bars are still open, grabbing a cab is always the best choice, no matter how close your accommodation is.
That said, never flag a taxi off the street in Puerto Escondido. You run the risk of someone posing as a legitimate taxi driver.
Is it safe to take an Uber in Puerto Escondido?
Uber doesn’t operate in Puerto Escondido. So, you’ll need to call a taxi, of which there are plenty.
Is it safe to drive in Puerto Escondido?
It’s safe to drive in Puerto Escondido. However, you likely won’t need to rent a car for Puerto Escondido proper.
Instead, it’s more common to drive in Puerto Escondido when you’re coming from or going to other surrounding destinations in Oaxaca state.
Is it safe to take a bus in Puerto Escondido?
It’s safe to take local and long-distance buses in Puerto Escondido. If you’re taking a long-distance bus, ADO is among the most popular—and comfortable—choice.
As for local transportation, colectivos (shared vans) run throughout the town. Many colectivos operate the route from the market in downtown Puerto Escondido to Zicatela Beach.
Beach Safety in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido’s ten-foot waves attract surfers but make it dangerous for the casual swimmer.
The waves in Puerto Escondido are the biggest and most consistent from late April through September. This is the period that’s best for surfing.
Rip currents are common in Puerto Escondido. Furthermore, some parts of the beach have rocky areas that the town permanently discourages people from swimming near.
You can determine an area’s suitability for swimming by looking for a flag—green means the water is mostly safe for swimming, and red means do not enter.
The good news for the casual swimmer and beginner surfer is that not all beaches are the same in Puerto Escondido.
Playa Carrizalillo is better suited for less experienced swimmers and surfers, whereas Playa Zicatela and La Punta are excellent areas to watch advanced surfers from the safety of the shore.
A Note on Hurricane Season
Hurricane season in the Pacific runs from May 15th to November 30th, although a stray hurricane can happen outside these dates.
Although hurricanes hitting Puerto Escondido are quite rare, in May 2022, Hurricane Agatha made landfall nearby, marking the strongest Pacific storm ever in May.
It’s up to a person’s personal risk tolerance for whether it’s worth it to travel during hurricane season in Puerto Escondido.
But if you’re on the fence, this might help—the majority of hurricanes in the Pacific occur in late August. So, statistically, the earlier or later you travel in hurricane season, the less likely you are to encounter a storm.
Earthquakes in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido experiences earthquakes year-round.
Specifically, earthquakes happen almost every day in or around Puerto Escondido. At the time of my writing this article, there had been two earthquakes in the Puerto Escondido region in the past 24 hours alone!
But you won’t feel them most of the time.
And it’s rare for a large enough earthquake to occur where it puts you or your vacation plans in jeopardy.
If you’re interested in checking out the latest earthquakes in Puerto Escondido, visit Volcano Discovery.
Is the Water Safe to Drink in Puerto Escondido?
The water isn’t safe to drink in Puerto Escondido.
Such a situation is common throughout Mexico and likely comes as little surprise. But if you happen to be heading up to Bahía de Banderas during your trip, you can consider consuming the drinking water in Puerto Vallarta straight from the tap.
How To Stay Safe in Puerto Escondido
Below are some basic safety precautions to take in Puerto Escondido. As you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them—it’s wise to practice these tips regardless of where you travel.
- Take a taxi at night
- Don’t walk around showcasing expensive electronics
- Only take out money from ATMs inside a bank
- Never carry around all your credit cards and cash
- Use a money belt
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry
- Ask locals for advice
- Don’t leave an unopened drink unattended
- If you’re going to get inebriated, do so with a trustworthy sober companion
Finally, trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Other Safe Destinations in Mexico
I’ve explored much of Mexico as a solo female traveler and have felt safer in several destinations other than Puerto Escondido.
Below are the top places where I felt the safest:
And should you be considering a trip to Cabo, learn why I don’t recommend it for solo female travelers.
The Bottom Line: Is Puerto Escondido Safe?
Most travelers experience a safe and happy time in Puerto Escondido, and I was among them. The town pulses with sand, salt, and surfers.
What’s not to love?
While Puerto Escondido is safe to visit right now, I encourage you to double-check the DOS’ website and Numbeo for the most up-to-date information.
Above all, be smart about your choices and have fun.
If you have questions about safety in Puerto Escondido or want to share your experience, leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.