Travel

Playa Escondida Mexico Review: Why I Fell In Love

If you’re thinking of travelling to Sayulita, you won’t want to miss my absolute fave little boutique hotel, Playa Escondida. 

Here’s the deal: 

Playa Escondida (“hidden beach” in Spanish) is a special and quirky little place, nestled in its own little world on a jungle hillside just 10 minutes outside Sayulita proper. Fun fact about Playa Escondida: It’s the location where Bachelor in Paradise was filmed. (Oh, come on, that perked you up just a little. 🙂 ) Here I’ll tell you why I think it’s so cool. 

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Shh.. Playa Escondida: Sayulita’s Best Kept Secret

I’m honestly surprised most people don’t know about Playa Escondida, even people who’ve been travelling to Sayulita for years. Maybe it’s because it’s located slightly out of town (about a 10-minute taxi or golf cart ride, or a 30-minute walk along the beach) or maybe they just haven’t advertised it much. Either way, I love that this is a bit of a secret gem. It has never felt busy when I visit and I’m into that. It’s a bit of a splurge $ wise, but not outrageous, and to me, the value is there. 

You might be wondering: what makes this place different from any other hotel in Sayulita? 

Well, when you arrive at Playa Escondida, you’re pretty much going to get spoiled from the word go. Our taxi dropped us off at the guest services hut and we were immediately greeted by warmly smiling staff who knew our names and beamed “we are so happy to see you!” (after a long plane ride, the feeling was mutual). 

Our bags were whisked to our room (we stayed in two different rooms on this trip, the first being “Cabana”, more on that later), and we were taken for a tour.

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Well, to be more specific, Dave was taken for a tour and I plopped myself down in the open-air Oceanside lounge, because I was on crutches and ready to do a whole lotta’ nothing for a few days. 

Within minutes Jesus the bartender materialized with a big smile and asked what I’d like for my complimentary welcome drink. “It is my pleasure to serve you!” he said grinning with no trace (really, none!) of irony. Ah, yes. I had arrived.

Sitting on the terrace peeled off my gross running shoe and sock (yeah I only had one shoe on.. the crutches are because I’ve been travelling with a  sprained foot). This is a place for peeling off layers, wearing flip flops and feeling the air on your toes. It was late October and it was pretty dang hot. 

Anyway, once my shoe came off, somehow,  that’s when the holiday truly began. Jesus brought me a stiff margarita (salted rim and not too sweet, just how I like ‘em), and as I sat and waited for Dave to finish his tour, I looked out over the private beach and ocean and sipped my marg. Perhaps a bit too quickly, as a second one arrived in no time.

This is crazy:

The things that make Playa Escondida so beautiful are also what makes it hard to photograph—winding curving paths and wild plant life everywhere. The plants are totally wild at Playa Escondida – bungalows are nestled right up close and personal (like RIGHT up close and personal) with jungle nature. 

Think warm humid air, bursts and bushels of palms, agave, birds of paradise and other tropical foliage. Hand hewn stone paths lead you through the curvy walkways with jungle plants and ceramic sculptures on each side, connecting all the elements of the place. Basically it’s a plant-filled, rustic and unique hideaway: this is closer to glamping than to the Four Seasons, and that my friends, is a good thing.

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Dave arrived back from his tour shortly, and also immediately took his shoes off too and got a drink in hand. We decided to eat our dinner right there on the terrace. For dinner I had this beauty on the left and Dave went ultra healthy with steamed fish on the right: 

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About the Rooms

So, the rooms at Playa Escondida are each wildly different. The accommodations are 30 standalone palps-topped huts, all sprinkled throughout the jungle on different tiers.

There are beachfront villas, a bird canyon villa, an ocean-view villa, and a tropical-view villa. They’re all open-air style pied-a-terres with private terraces and a combination of expansive ocean views, jungle views or canyon views depending on the room you pick.

Some rooms have a/c and some don’t, the ones without have powerful and strategically placed fans. I personally love the non a/c experience, but I must say that on this particular trip, to my surprise I found the a/c in our second room (Luna Danzante) a pretty sweet luxury, maybe because I was getting around on crutches and sweating like a stuck pig with the effort most of the time. Also, some rooms that are a little further out come with their own golf cart, which is a nice touch. Our room didn’t come with a golf cart so Dave organized a rental for us ($35/day), to help me get around the property in my slightly (okay more than slightly) incapacitated one good leg state. 

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Look at our badass golf cart! I loved that thing.

 

All of the bungalows have canopied beds with gauze mosquito nets (mosquitos love me, and over the course of 6 days, I would say I got about 3 bites, so, honestly, they’re not bad. Dave got zero bites.) The beds have lovely white soft linens and the rooms contain many small thoughtful details (for example, L’Occitane and Baño de Maria toiletries, made from olive oil and lavender). 

And…. guess what? Curious (and harmless) raccoon like creatures called tejones might pop in and steal food that’s been left out on your table if you don’t stay tidy.

The prices have a pretty broad range too.

Cabana
At $165/night, our first room, Cabana, was perfect for two friends or two couples staying together, as it had two totally separate rooms on different floors, each with a canopy topped double bed.

It has sort of a cool grotto treehouse feel – it feels like the bungalow is built into a cave in the jungle itself. 

playa escondida cabana

It’s made with grasses, tile, and stone material, and is completely private, fully surrounded by jungle plants and with its own three tiered sandy front yard (which gets raked tidily by staff each day) complete with a hammock.  The second bedroom of Cabana is accessed by a wooden ladder going up, and the ceiling is a large palappa style roof. 

The bathroom is on the lower floor and has a shower and toilet, with a bum gun for those who were wondering 🙂 The only kind of weird thing is that the bathroom has no ceiling, going with the open air vibe of the place, so is rather un-private, otherwise I loved this bungalow. 

The decor was handcrafted looking – art was made of grasses and coconut and bamboo. Most of the colors were muted and natural, yet there were some accent pops of lime green in some of the art and the pillows, tying it all together. Even the light switches were covered with a natural grass texture – no detail was left unattended. 

Here are a few more pictures of Cabana, which we booked for $165 USD per night.

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Luna Danzante
Our second room was Luna Danzante – this one also had two beds, but they were side by side, and it faced the ocean. The bathroom was larger and more private and it had an outdoor kitchen, bar and seating area to sit and watch the sea from. At $290US a night, this was quite a bit pricier than Cabana, and on reflection I’d say I am not sure it was totally worth the extra cash outlay, since really, we spent most of our time at the pool or beach rather than in our rooms. But being oceanfront WAS pretty awesome when it came to watching the storms over the water at night.

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spitFIRE hangin out at Luna Danzante at Playa Escondida

Overall Vibe

I must say the eco-inspired architecture at Playa Escondida really sets it apart. The bungalows and restaurants were clearly created by hand and use local materials throughout. There’s this sexy organic and flowing vibe that’s both understated and sort of flirty with all its curves and half hidden statues placed throughout the gardens. And the spanning ocean views from the infinity pool are pretty amazing.  “Monkey Mountain”is off to the south, and this is a spiritual ground for Huichol natives, descendants of the Aztecs. And you know what you don’t see? Power lines. Any. 🙂 

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The sunset viewing loungey hangout area (we liked to have our dinner brought here too).

Unplug, Baby.

With limited wifi and no televisions in rooms, Playa Escondida really is an idyllic place to unplug and zen out – which might sound terrifying at first, I do get that. On this most recent trip, I did something I can’t believe – I FORGOT my computer and phone chargers at home. After a mild heart attack, I decided this was a sign and truly tried to stay off my devices (although, ok, I did charge my phone up with Dave’s charger a few times.. I’m not THAT pure.) 

If you’re a real tech junkie, wifi in each room is acceptable, but you probably won’t be streaming many movies. The main sounds you’ll hear at Playa Escondida, day and night, are crashing waves (free earplugs are provided if you need them) and the sound of jungle birds.

What’s that you ask? Are there no sounds of screaming kids jumping into the pool? Not here, my friend.

This is an adult oriented place and kids aren’t normally allowed, except for during certain holiday dates or with special permission. Sorry parents… if you’re wanting a family friendly holiday destination, this probably isn’t it. (But check out this list of other Sayulita Hotels that might work for you).

To Infinity..

The pools at Playa Escondida were basically my office for the entire trip. They’re curvy indigo blue chlorine-free pools that sort of curve and sway around the property. The cliffside infinity pool is so beautiful, and it’s the perfect temperature: not too hot, not too cold, easy to sit in for entire days on one of the pool benches for hours, marg in hand. Not that I’d, um, know. 

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There’s also a tucked away hot tub that offers stunning views of the beach and the sunset. The temperature of it is also pretty great – not as hot as a traditional hot tub at home, so it’s comfortable to sit in for hours. And super private too. I spent one day in the hot tub on my own with a great book in hand and didn’t see another soul. The pools aren’t huge but they’re long enough to do a few laps if you like.

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Personally, I prefer to float around staring at the sky. One slightly unique (weird?) thing about the main pool is it is right beside the restaurant. No biggie, though. It does make getting food etc. while you’re sunning by the pool very easy, as the waiters come over and check on you periodically. 

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Animal Life

Oh, and speaking of animals, Playa Escondida has a sanctuary for rescued birds on-site. You can visit with these adorable little parrots and even feed them if you ask. If you meet the saucy little parrot Juanita, she might teach you some Spanish words, but they’re best not to repeat in good company. I saw a few guests walking about with Juanita on their shoulder, so I think she is available for hanging out with people who are “bird savvy”. 

So, naturally, luxury mixed with birds and the potential of a visit from weird little raccoon-looking creatures?! I LOVED it. This place is freaking paradise. Though I must say I was bummed that I did not see a single tejone on this trip. 

The Food at Playa Escondida

If you don’t feel like going into town for your meals, you need not leave the property to get great food. I actually recommend you skip town and eat here; why mess with that zen vibe by hustling into town when the food is delicious and cheap at Playa Escondida? We ate all our meals at the resort and in 6 days were never bored with the offerings once. Onsite meals are surprisingly affordable and the menu is extensive.

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There are three areas you can eat at Playa Escondida: the main restaurant by the pool, the sunset viewing terrace overlooking the ocean, or down at the beach bar. The beach bar opens at 09:00 and closed at 17:00, and when you’re there with your toes in the sand and a margarita in hand, you can order off the restaurant menu and have everything brought down to the beach. (Pro tip: try the spicy margarita). 

The wonderful Jesus even brought us our full dinner down to our reclining beach chairs for our last evening, but I think he was just being extra nice. One evening we saw a special table for two set up with candles and rose petals leading to it, right out on the beach. Not sure what was happening there but good to know they can accommodate ultra romantic requests. 

The menus are comprehensive with many of Western and Mexican style options and loads of vegetarian choices. The fresh fish was always on point and the lobster tail was divine. And the guacamole – OH MY! I am no stranger to guacamole, and this stuff is to die for. Incredible. 

Before each meal you’re brought a little basket of various fresh breads straight from the bakery, along with fresh soft butter. I considered skipping the bread and then laughed at that dumb idea and shoved my mouth full. Delicious. 

There’s a wonderful on-site bakery I may have visited a handful too many times for my bikini’s liking, but hey, whattaya gonna do. I worked off those croissants during my yoga each morning. In my mind. (I never went to yoga, but I did in my mind. That counts for something?? Oh c’mon. I was on crutches.).

Free Stuff

Yes, free yoga! Playa Escondida offers complimentary outdoor yoga every morning at 9am on a terrace overlooking the ocean. If you prefer to get your exercise IN the ocean, Playa Escondida also offers free use of their snorkeling and non-motorized water sports equipment ( kayaks, boogie boards and stand-up paddle boards). 

A couple of other complimentary touches I appreciated were free big bottles of water replaced in your room each day, earplugs (good ones), fresh (good quality) coffee provided to your room to make in your own coffee maker each day, and each room had a little library of English novels to peruse and borrow from. 

Little things like this in addition to really beautiful beach chairs on the private beach add up to make this feel like a gracious place where you’re not nickel and dimed.

Playa Escondida Mexico: First Class Staff Who Are Truly Happy

Part of what makes the Playa Escondida experience so cool is the team of people running it. They truly care about your experience and seem so darned happy and sparkly. You know how when people have that sort of glow thing going on and you can tell that they actually love their jobs? That’s a thing here, and it set me right at ease. I’ve been coming for years and I can tell you there isn’t a heck of a lot of turnover here – this crew is here to stay. 

It was delightful to see the staff often laughing and really the atmosphere at the resort. It’s plain to see they all get along when you notice them having their staff meals together and spending time together while off duty, always laughing and lovely. They’re always calling you by name and joking around with you, and there’s a genuine warmth and level of service that’s hard to deny. 

The atmosphere the staff has created is so welcoming: you’re treated like a family member from the moment you arrive. (Shout outs to Jesus, the Juan and Only, Jordan, Alonzo, Ixchel, and Marisol!) From the time we checked in to the moment my first personalized drink was concocted by Jesus, my spidey senses told me that the people working here were truly in a great mood.  And really, who wouldn’t be happy working in a paradise like this?

Don’t Miss Playa Escondida’s Spa

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spitFIRE in some kind of zen trance after a massage at Playa Escondida

Oh, and the full spa. Did I mention there’s a full spa? Dude, yes. Go there! 

Dave and I opted for massages in an open air, palm thatched palapa facing the ocean with billowy gauze curtains swaying in the breeze. I loved my massage, it was firm as heck which I am into, and Dave said his was one of the top three massages of his life. They do manis and pedis as well as facials and a variety of massages, even Thai foot massage. Oh, and want to blow your mind? The four hands deep tissue massage is pretty much a life changing event (two trained masseuses work you over at the same time!). 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, Playa Escondida resort is a brilliant little hideaway that’s in a class of its own. If you love nature and being in the jungle and on the beach, fresh affordable foot and gorgeous massages, you will love it here. 

I really recommend staying for at least three or four days to give yourself time to unwind and really experience the deep sigh of relief I seem to have every time I come here. And if you can swing it, try to stay in two different rooms. The vibe is entirely different in each individual cabana and it feels like a totally different experience depending on your room. 

Playa Escondida is special, and if you’ve been working hard and deserve a real break from everything, this is the place you want to be. Book your trip now.

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