Getting from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido is not easy. As two staple places on the backpacker route between Cancun and Mexico City, many people make this journey. Yet, despite these two places being less than 100 miles apart, overland journeys take around 7 to 8 hours!
As such, many travellers have become confused in figuring out the best, most comfortable or cheapest route to get from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. Flights with commercial airlines only operate via Mexico City, making that journey long and inefficient.
But, this complete guide on how to get to Puerto Escondido has all the transport options. Including costs, comfort levels and journey times. There’s even a bonus at number 6 – a stopover in San José del Pacifico, a magical town in the Oaxacan mountains.
Making the journey in the opposite direction? No worries, all these transport options also work when you’re heading from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City.
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|How to get to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca City|
Flying | Taking the bus | Colectivo | Drive | Private Transfer |
With a stopover in San José del Pacifico
Is it worth going to Puerto Escondido?
How to get from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido
Transport options are aplenty to travel between Oaxaca City and the coastal town of Puerto Escondido (and vice versa).
The two places are separated by the Sierra Madre mountain range, which results in journeys taking much longer than you’d expect. Particularly, given that Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido are around 100 km apart.
The transport options below are suitable for all budgets and group sizes. So, you should have no problem finding the perfect option for you and you’ll be on those Oaxaca coast beaches before you know it!
The Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido New Highway: an Endless saga!
The new highway across the Oaxacan mountains has been in the works for years. Literally.
When work first started, it was due to be completed by 2015. Well, it’s now 2023 and it still isn’t finished!
The most recent estimate was for it to open by the end of 2022. But, as of January 2023, delays due to land disputes are holding up the construction of the last 15 km of road.
Completion of the road is pivotal to increasing tourist numbers in Puerto Escondido and along the Oaxacan coast. The new road will be 100 km in length, reducing driving time to just 2 to 3 hours.
Formed of 3 tunnels, 10 bridges and a viaduct, the road will give splendid views of the mountains. That’s without the inevitable travel sickness you currently have to deal with on the winding roads for 8 hours. Or 10+ hour night buses sat upright…
Hopefully, the road will be complete very soon!
Option 1: Take a flight to Puerto Escondido
Can you fly from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido?
Yes, direct flights operate just a couple of times per day. But, you won’t find the OAX to Puerto Escondido route on flight comparison sites or with well-known commercial airlines.
Additionally, you won’t find a jumbo jet waiting for you on the tarmac.
Instead, small propeller planes seating no more than around 10 people make the journey each day. While this will certainly be a unique experience, it can make for a bumpier flight and landing.
The two airlines operating the OAX to Puerto Escondido (PXM) flight route are Aerotucan and Aerovega. The latter of which has almost no online presence, but is legit.
Booking & Cost
An Aerotucan Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido flight can be booked online or at Oaxaca de Juarez Airport.
For Aerovega, you’ll need to email [email protected] Or send a WhatsApp message to the airline (a one-man, one-captain company) on +529545880062.
The price of a one-way flight starts at around 190 USD/3,500 pesos. This has gone up a lot in the last year (from 2,500 pesos) due to the increasing price of fuel.
To note, you’ll want to check the luggage allowance with whichever company you book with. Smaller planes are normally much more stringent about keeping to weight allowances, including carry-on.
Excess luggage is likely to incur a costly fee to cover the increased amount of fuel needed. And, a flight is unlikely to be a suitable way to travel with a surfboard or any other bulky gear.
In all honestly, the price is not much for a near-private flying experience. Especially, if you consider the flight an activity as the views and overall experience are so cool.
The flight time between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido is only 30 minutes. And, on a clear day, you will be treated to the most majestic views of the mountains and coast.
Flying is by far the quickest way to reach Puerto Escondido. This is still true even when you factor in the additional travel time to and from the airports on either side.
Oaxaca Airport is a 30-minute drive from the heart of the city. While Puerto Escondido Airport is just a 10-minute drive from the Centro district and closer yet to the neighbourhoods of Bacocho and Rinconada.
Option 2: Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido Bus
Taking the ADO bus to Puerto Escondido from Oaxaca City is the option that most balances budget and comfort.
There are cheaper options, but you sacrifice comfort. And, there are more comfortable options, but you pay a premium for them.
Like much of Mexico, the inter-city buses are large coaches. Typically, these sit 45 to 50 people and have a large compartment for luggage under the bus.
The seats recline a little. But these are not lay-flat buses typically seen in South America and South-East Asia.
Around 2 to 4 services a day operate on the Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido bus route. However, the times and prices of these services change by the day, month and season, so be sure to check in advance.
These buses drive along the main highways, going via Salina Cruz on a 500-km route. This is because they are too large for the more direct mountain route.
(Hopefully, the new highway connecting Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City will change that!)
Booking & Cost
One option is to book a first-class bus with OCC (an ADO company). Tickets generally cost 600 to 700 pesos.
A second option is to book an ADO gl bus, which is an executive class. These tickets cost around 750 pesos for more legroom and comfort.
Promotional fares are available via the ADO website when tickets are booked more than 7 days in advance. This can be up to 50% off, so well-worth planning ahead.
I would say that the ADO gl buses are worth paying a little extra for. Generally, they are not as full, have fewer seats so more legroom, guaranteed power sockets (including USB) and have drinks available onboard.
Even though the buses avoid the main mountain pass, the route is still windy. So, any extra comfort you can get is a bonus.
I took the Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido bus overnight and struggled to sleep with the windy roads and full bus. But, it was much more comfortable than the smaller minivans that operate the mountain route.
Travelling between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido by bus takes around 10 hours along the 500 km route. The buses typically stop at Salina Cruz and Pochutla too.
Sometimes, there is one bus that leaves in the morning, arriving in Puerto Escondido in the evening. But mostly 2 to 3 buses leave in the late evening, travelling overnight to the coast.
I prefer to get the latest bus possible to arrive as late in the morning as possible at my destination. I’ve arrived off a night bus at 7am and not been able to check in until 3pm. And it’s not nice – especially after very little sleep!
The Oaxaca bus station is slightly out of the city centre. So you’ll need to factor transfer time into your journey too.
Similarly for Puerto Escondido’s ADO bus terminal. Although it is located centrally, many visitors stay in the Zicatela, La Punta or Rinconada neighbourhoods. All of which require onward transport.
Option 3: Colectivo to Puerto Escondido through the mountains
A cheaper option, though much less comfortable, is to take a colectivo to Puerto Escondido.
Colectivos are small public shuttles, which typically seat around 16 people in a minibus-style vehicle. The seats are much closer together than on the large inter-city coaches, reducing both legroom and seat width.
Additionally, colectivos make a lot of stops along the way to collect more passengers. This can add hours to long journeys.
The Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido colectivos do take the more direct mountain pass route. But, this does make for a very windy and bumpy ride.
And, many people report experiencing travel sickness. Expect to be thrown around in your seat on those hairpin bends!
As such, this is typically not a comfortable journey. But, what you sacrifice in that regard, you make up for in cost. If you are tall, prone to travel sickness or just prefer personal space on a long journey, then I’d highly recommend taking the bus over a colectivo.
How to get to from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido by colectivo
To take a direct colectivo to Puerto Escondido, head to La Solteca S.C.L (this is the name on Google Maps, so you can find it easily).
Another, less direct option, is to take an Eclipse 70 or Lineas Unidas colectivo to Pochutla. Then, take another colectivo or an ADO bus along the coast to Puerto Escondido.
This route via Pochutla is more time-consuming and costly. But it’s considered slightly less risky and bendy. Your choice.
To note, there’s a good chance your luggage will be put on the roof of the vehicle. It’s rare for people to lose luggage, as normally everything is tied down well.
But, you should keep all valuables and important items in a bag that you take onto the colectivo.
Another tip is to take the colectivo during the day. This way, you can experience incredibly scenic views as you make your way south through the Sierra Madre mountains.
You can take colectivos at night to Puerto Escondido. But, honestly, the ride is terrifying enough on the narrow mountainside roads without adding in driving at night.
Plus, if you’re going to sacrifice comfort, you might as well get some incredible views in exchange. Though, there will likely be times that you are just in the clouds and can’t see anything!
245 pesos. Plus the cost of travel sickness medication if you so wish!
Booking in advance is not generally required but services will be busier around national holidays. The day before is usually best to avoid disappointment and having to change plans last minute.
Usually 7 to 8 hours depending on the number of stops to collect people and have comfort breaks, as well as the conditions of the roads.
Option 4: Drive to the coast from Oaxaca City
If you have your own car or already have one rented for an extended period, driving to Puerto Escondido makes perfect sense.
You can leave when you like, stop when you like and it means you have your car with you on the coast. Which, is a great way to get around and explore harder-to-reach beaches and towns.
But, I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car just to travel between Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca. It’s not cost-efficient and the drive is not an easy one.
Is it safe driving from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido?
In short: it’s mostly safe but not without risk.
Most of the time when this question is asked about places in Mexico, it’s usually carjackings, robberies, corrupt police officers and roadblocks that people are concerned about. None of which are a real concern on the roads here. Although, some roadblocks can occur as a way for the local people to protest.
Instead, the biggest safety concern is the condition of the roads and the weather conditions.
Oaxaca City is around 1500 metres above sea level, but the roads pass through towns around 2600 metres above sea level. All before dropping back down to sea level in Puerto Escondido.
As such, the roads wind around the mountains with many hairpin turns and blind corners. Plus, heavy fog can reduce visibility to almost nothing and heavy rain is not uncommon.
A safer option is to follow the diversion route that the ADO buses take via Salina Cruz. However, this does extend the journey time from around 7 to 10 hours.
If you want to drive the mountain route, make the journey during the day and check the weather forecast in advance. Ideally, you’d also have experience with the roads before. As well as having experience with the car (braking distance, handling etc) and driving on the right-hand side of the road (alien to us Brits and Aussies).
There are no toll roads on the mountain route from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. But there is on the route via Salina Cruz.
Other than this, the cost will be that of your car hire and fuel. Plus snacks, you always need snacks for the journey!
Note: the new highway, once finished, will have two tolls along the route. Given the total cost is currently estimated at 410 million USD, it’s unlikely to be that cheap!
Driving via the mountain route in your own car will take around 6.5 to 7 hours without stops. Via Salina Cruz, driving time will be around 10 hours.
RELATED POST > > > Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido (Complete Beach Guide)
Option 5: Private Transfer to Puerto Escondido
Another option to get for driving from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido is to take a private transfer. Now, these aren’t as popular or common for this route as in other parts of the country, due to the long journey time.
However, like much of Mexico, when someone is willing to pay, someone is willing to drive. But, a private transfer isn’t going to come cheap.
Booking & Cost
Online, it is the same company that takes bookings through Expedia, Viator and TripAdvisor. You can book through any of these and the cost appears to be the same.
A one-way journey in a car that seats 3 people costs 359 USD on weekdays and 399 USD on weekends. For larger groups, a private transfer in a minivan seating 8 people costs 499 USD on weekdays and 519 USD on weekends.
These costs are for the whole vehicle and therefore are split between all passengers. For 8 people travelling in a minivan on a weekday, this equates to just over 62 USD per person.
You may be able to get a better price by booking direct. Ask at your hostel or hotel in Oaxaca for recommendations.
A major plus point of a private shuttle is that it picks you up from your hotel and drops you off at your next hotel. And, as a private option, you won’t be driving around waiting outside other people’s hotels.
Depending on where you’re staying in both Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido, expect the total driving time to be around 7 hours. Though, the entire journey will take slightly longer as you’ll no doubt stop for food and toilet breaks.
Option 6: Via San José del Pacifico (with a stopover)
An alternative option to a long drive or expensive flight is to stop mid-way. And, there’s nowhere more perfect for your stopover than the mountain town of San José del Pacifico.
Located at 2600 metres, San Jose del Pacifico is known as the magic mushroom town of Mexico.
Use of the natural psychedelics has been decriminalised in the town due to their indigenous and cultural use. As such, (a relatively small number of) backpackers and tourists come to San Jose del Pacifico for a psychedelic experience in the mountains.
But, magic mushrooms aren’t the only reason to visit San José del Pacifico. Hiking trails and viewpoints that look over the Sierra Madre mountains, often from above the clouds, are perfect for adventure-seeking visitors.
This is the perfect place for a stopover between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido as you can stay for one, two, three or more nights. Accommodation is available in cheap town-centre hotels or more remote forest cabins where you’ll be fully disconnected from the rest of the world.
My recommendation would be to stay at Cabanas La Cumbre, a hostel-hotel with both a town centre location and forest huts.
Prices start from around 180 pesos per night for a one-bed room. The hostel part in the town of San José del Pacifico has some of the best views and is perhaps one of the most scenic hostels in the world!
For more information and a detailed guide on how to get there from Oaxaca City and then on to Puerto Escondido, read this complete guide to visiting San José del Pacifico.
Is it worth going to Puerto Escondido?
If you like surfing, beaches and/or being by the sea, then you’ll find something perfect for you in Puerto Escondido.
Although it has a reputation as a surfing town, there’s plenty more on offer. Whale-watching tours, sunset boat rides, releasing baby turtles into the wild and kayaking in lagoons are just a few of the activities in Puerto Escondido.
Plus, there’s also everything from party hostels to luxury villas. As well as all types of restaurants from seafood to Persian.
There are beach bars and markets. Plus sunset spots and world-class surfing competitions right on the beach.
What’s more, you can travel along the coast to other small towns and special beaches. Like Lagunas de Chacahua National Park, a small town where there’s barely any WiFi or phone signal, but miles of golden sand.
Or, Mazunte and Zipolite, Oaxaca’s coastal spiritual towns with sprawling beaches. In fact, some of Mexico’s best beaches are in Oaxaca – here are 25 Oaxaca beaches you should add to your must-visit list!
If you have any questions or want any more information, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Information is correct as of January 2023 but is subject to change in future.
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