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Yes, There Are Still Cheap Beaches in Mexico. Here’s One.

cheap beaches in Mexico: Puerto Escondido

There are cheaper places to sit on a beach in the Americas than Mexico, but it can still be a great value one country down from the USA. Many travelers visit one of the big resort areas and presume that’s how much things cost throughout the country. Those are oddities though, bubble places full of foreign tourists who fly in for vacation, spend freely, and then fly back out.

You have to look a little harder and get beyond the crowds, but there are still cheap beaches in Mexico, especially on the Pacific coast. One of those is famed surf spot Puerto Escondido. 

I just spent five great days in Puerto Escondido. This is a town discovered by, and still very much filled with, surfers. That makes it different from Tulum, a place that was once full of backpackers but is now full of moneyed tourists trying to act like backpackers while spending big bucks for a designer yoga retreat with no electricity. Half of them seem to be there because they saw it on Instagram and liked the backdrops to pose in front of. 

This has happened in other spots too to some extent, from Sayulita to Loreto to Zihuatanejo—all destinations the budget travelers latched onto first. Mexico has a lot of sandy coastline though and even if the government would like to turn every pretty bay into a mass-market tourism destination, it’s not going to happen. There are just too many places even if the numbers doubled.

So don’t worry, if you ask around and do some research, you can still find a nice beach spot in Mexico where you can chill for a week on a reasonable amount of money. Here in Puerto Escondido, prices are geared to surfers, backpackers, and average Mexicans. As in double hotel rooms right across from the beach advertised for 400 pesos ($30) and hostel beds for 80 ($6.25).

All over town there are 2-for-1 cocktails (“happy hour all day long”) and two beers for $2.30. Food at the beach restaurants is reasonable and if you head into the center, everything is just as cheap as it would be in any other town in Mexico. You can get a meal of the day or a plate of tacos for $3 and a kilo of fruit for a buck.

Carazilillo Beach

Apart from the seriously overpriced rates at the airport if you fly in from somewhere, taxis are far cheaper than in places like Cancun and Ixtapa. We went from Carrizalillo Beach where we’re staying to La Punta at the far end on the other side of town and it was about $3.25. All the other rides have been $2. We bought tickets in an express passenger van up the long and winding road to Oaxaca City and they were about $16 each for seven hours.

I’m here on vacation with my family, so we’re in an Airbnb rental apartment that’s $100 a night with all the fees, a few minutes’ walk to Carrizalillo Beach pictured above. There are only three of us, but the place can sleep six and there’s a huge TV with cable, a swimming pool, hammocks, and a full kitchen. Like a lot of places here it’s not air-conditioned though, so it’s deathly hot in the afternoon. Don’t underestimate the heat at a Mexican beach at the end of July. Or how fast you’ll get sunburned.

Carazilillo Puerto Escondido - one of the cheap beaches in Mexico

We’ve tried to stay in the shade much of the time on the beach by renting chairs and umbrellas from one of the restaurants. The thing is, you don’t really have to rent them as long as you order something to eat and drink from the accompanying restaurant. They say 100 pesos each (about $7 when I wrote this, less now) but they’re pretty low-key about it and you can hang out there the entire day. If you want to gorge on seafood you can spend a lot, but you don’t have to: beers are two bucks and a plate of fish tacos about $5. With a gorgeous view of the water and surfers or learning surfers. But of course you can just plop on a sarong or towel for nothing. Bring a cooler if you want.

I’ve been buying a good cup of coffee in the morning for $1.60 and really good gelato from Italian immigrants for $2 or so a pop. Overall the prices here are pretty similar to what you find in central Mexico where I live, which means they’re a great value.

It’s not as easy as it used to be, but there are still some cheap beaches in Mexico if you get beyond the famous resort areas and overpriced sucker places like Tulum. Hit the more authentic Puerto Escondido instead. Check the map below for current lodging prices:

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Amy Moss

Monday 19th of October 2020

Your article was very helpful. I am in San Miquel Allende. Huge disappointment, The CV virus restrictions keep changing and my 2 destinations, Italy - where I have lived for the last 9 months - has now closed the borders to US citizens. Ireland was plan B after SMA, and as of today Oct 19 2020, border will be closed in 4 days! What’s next? Please no tourists, no fast food or Americana, Escondido sounded cool. I am literally going batshitcrazy in Limbo. SMA as an art colony is long gone. I asked to go to centro plaza to eat something and he took me to a Taco Bell!!! at a newly built shopping center. Great moment! I am staying up the hill above this mini metropolis SMA. in an airb&b for 10 dollars per night. Rustic, shower is hot once a day upon request, the view is wonderful. That’s it. Any further recommendations in Mexico (or anywhere to wait out the CV virus? Insane right? Amy

Heather

Monday 18th of December 2017

Wow, sounds like Puerto Escondido my kind of destination! And I definitely know what you mean about Tulum being full of posers. I visited about 8 years ago, and then again recently: what a change. For the better? Time will tell.

Elaine K.

Saturday 21st of January 2017

I would like to retire in Mexico in a low key safe place by the beach. I am not looking for a large place. As long as I have two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen, I will be happy. But, I would like to open my door to a beach. Can anyone recommend any place in Mexico that the prices have not gotten out of control. After living a life as a professional, my goal and wish in life is to live a simple life.

Tim Leffel

Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Beachfront property will always cost more, but Mexico has a lot of coastline. If you're willing to be in a sleepy place and get functionally fluent in Spanish, plenty of choices where there aren't many tourists. Try the ones on the Gulf Coast near Merida, fanning out from Progreso. I sold my house there two years ago for $55K.

Monika

Thursday 8th of September 2016

Fantastic experience after reading your awesome blog. There have a lot of beautiful islands with resorts that are very expensive. But you have shared the beautiful but cheap place in Mexico. Thanks for sharing your great article with us.

Taylor

Wednesday 14th of October 2015

If you fly into Huatulco, walk the five minutes from the terminal to the airport entrance to find cabs that are a lot cheaper than the ones onsite. I paid 400 pesos for the one hour ride to Zipolite. A deal in my book!