Review: Playa Escondida, Sayulita, Mexico
Playa Escondida is an eco-friendly luxury boutique hotel/resort on the Riviera Nayarit mountain coastline, near Sayulita. “Playa escondida” translates into “hidden beach” and with its 30 rooms nestled on the property, you can enjoy the best of both worlds; the jungle and the beach. While it was a bit of a fluke we ended up staying here and didn’t really know what to expect, it ended up being one of our most memorable stays in 15 years of traveling together. In this post, I’ll explain what makes Playa Escondida so special.
Playa Escondida is secluded but not remote, which is one thing that we struggle with when choosing where to stay. While some people may enjoy being marooned on the resort property, we don’t and like to be able to escape, even if it is only for a few hours a day. Playa Escondida offers guests the haven of the resort with convenient and easy access to Sayulita town; it’s either a 30 minute walk through a shaded path or on the road, or a 10 minute golf cart ride. Yes, you read correct: “short golf cart ride” as it is very common and acceptable to get around by golf car or ATV in the region.
One of the things that’s really high on our list is outdoor space and there is no shortage of that at Playa Escondida, from the casita style rooms to all the public spaces on the resort, it’s all open air. As there are numerous stone paths and gravel walkways, comfortable shoes or sandals are required and I wouldn’t even recommend bringing high heel shoes due to how casual everything is here, even if you’re having a fancier dinner at the poolside restaurant in the evening. We were a little worried about mosquitoes, bugs, and wildlife since the resort is in the jungle and everything is open air but there were few mosquitoes and bugs; it was quite tame compared to Bali and Koh Samui where it was bugs and reptiles gone wild and rogue after sunset. We also did not encounter any “coatimundies” aka Tejones aka Mexican raccoons. If you have read reviews on TripAdvisor and Playa Escondida’s FAQ page, you have been forewarned about the notorious but mostly harmless coatis who can be a nuisance when they make messes. We took extra precaution to not leave any food, beverage containers, and garbage out in the open (placed in the fridge) and always kept our bags zipped up to try to keep them away. While we were terrified of encountering them, we are somewhat disappointed we didn’t because they look cute on paper!
Things to Do:
While you’re at Playa Escondida, you can be as lazy or as active you want. For those wanting to relax, there is never a shortage of palapas and chairs on the beach and by the pool. There is also a hot tub tucked away that offers stunning views of the beach and the sunset and while you would think the hot tub would be crowded, this was not the case and we even go to enjoy it just the two of us a few times.
For those who want to be active, they provide kayaks, boogie boards, stand-up paddle boards, and can arrange for other activities like horseback riding on the beach. Each morning, they offer a complimentary yoga class from 09:00-10:00 by the beach in the yoga terrace. When the yoga terrace is not being used for a yoga class, you can work out in there as there there are hand weights and mats because there is no gym onsite.
Based on the pool shape, you cannot swim laps but an ocean swim can be refreshing and get your heart rate up depending on how string the surf is. While the beach can be calm and very swimmable, those who prefer calmer ocean swimming conditions may not feel as comfortable entering the sea as the surf can be quite big and powerful at times. The beach is very clean and it’s a very soft sandy bottom but they sometimes get urchins so exercise caution.
From guest services to the restaurant and bar, the staff at Playa Escondida are fantastic. You can tell that the staff care about the guests and the hotel, and that they are also proud and happy to work there. It was delightful to see the staff enjoying the atmosphere at the resort, be it through employee meals and even spending time together. If we get to enjoy a resort, you hope the staff also get to enjoy some aspects of it but I must say that working at the beach bar would be pretty nice in some ways.
Food and Beverage:
One of the reasons why we don’t like staying at remote resorts is due to having to eat onsite all the time which can get very boring and expensive very quickly. Thankfully, Playa Escondida is not only close to Sayulita town for more variety off the resort property but their food onsite is not only delicious but also incredibly affordable. We enjoyed the food, drinks and atmosphere at Playa Escondida so much that we preferred to eat onsite and only had light snacks like paletas and empanadas in town in between meals. The restaurant serves up Mexican and western food and we stuck to the Mexican food of course.
The beach bar opens at 09:00 and closed at 17:00 and you can order off the restaurant menu and have everything brought down to the beach, which we did for lunch. Between 17:30 to sunset, the bar opens up on the terrace and offers 2-for-1 drinks until sunset for happy hour. Every evening, we chose the same seats with a view of the sunset, ordered a ceviche or aguachiles, and chips and guacamole to go with our margaritas. As we sat there, it was hard to imagine being anywhere else; the sound of the waves, the setting sun, the gentle breeze, the birds flying by, all while enjoying each other’s company with great food and drinks.
The majority of guests are middle-aged, a few young couples and very few children. While they do accept children, it must be within their policies and pre-approved. Due to how beautiful Playa Escondida is, it’s understandable why parents would want to bring the kids for a family vacation, but it’s really not that type of place where kids run around and play together all day and can self-entertain; there are no TVs, no games rooms, no kids’ pool, and no kids club. For us, we appreciated the mostly child free setting here for the tranquility.
Playa Escondida has a 3 night minimum stay policy and since they only have 30 rooms, it can make a last minute booking challenging. Thankfully, they accepted our proposal to stay in Cenzontle 2 nights and in bungalow 1 for our last night.
Cenzontle is a two story bamboo hut up the hill in Bird Canyon, which means it comes with its own golf cart to facilitate commuting to the beach, restaurant and into town. As Playa Escondida charges $50 per day for a golf cart rental, it’s a great deal to have it included in the price of the room. It talks about 5-7 minutes to drive between Cenzontle and the resort.
Cenzontle’s main floor has a kitchen, living area, bathroom, shower, and hammock on the balcony and the master bedroom with a king bed and another bathroom is located on the second floor, which is accessible by stairs outside. The room sleeps 2-4 and you could ask for an extra bed to be placed downstairs if you want to share the room to bring costs down. While it looks really rustic, it was so well maintained and I am not sure how housekeeping manages this high standard.
While the shower is indoors, you can open the window and have a stunning view of the mountains and jungle and we were very satisfied by the water temperature and pressure. I can’t recall if this room has air conditioning as we didn’t need to use it; the ceiling fans and breeze keep it cool all day and night.
It’s very quiet and nice to hear the wildlife at night but Cenzontle is right beside the common road that leads to the resort and other villas so you do hear vehicles as they pass by. This is probably the only minor drawback to this room. For those with mobility difficulties, the stairs to get up to the bedroom are not too steep but be mindful of them and we would say this is one of the rooms with the less walking required.
Bungalow 1 is an open-air casita with a thatched roof. It has a queen bed, full bathroom and a nice garden patio with two side-by-side hammocks. Bungalow 1 feels like glamping as to get privacy, you close the curtains. Interestingly, there is no key for this room as the door is small gate with a latch.
While we were not worried so much about safety, we did find bungalow 1 a lot less private due to its location closer to the resort but also because Bungalow 1 is right below. That being said, we didn’t really hear the guests in Bungalow 1 who occupied it while we were there and we were mindful to be quiet as well.
The room has a safe and we kept everything zipped up again, which we usually do in all tropical destinations regardless of the room. Housekeeping was also impeccable in this room and we enjoyed everything about it.
For those with mobility difficulties, the walk to Bungalow 1 is somewhat steep and through the jungle but only takes about 5 minutes from the restaurant. At night, it is illuminated but it still gets very dark so you may want to use a flashlight.
Bungalow 1 is also located near the road that leads into the resort, so you do hear the noise from some vehicles but there is less traffic than up where Cenzontle is. Again, this would be the only minor drawback to this room.
Both rooms had fridges, a coffee maker with ground coffee, plenty of filtered water, Occitane soap and local brand organic shampoo and conditioner.
In staying at Playa Escondida, we were able to enjoy ourselves and really relax by detaching ourselves from our hectic life back home and our frequent travels. There were times where we just sat and looked out at the sea, listened to the waves, and talked for hours without really feeling the need or desire to go anywhere. This was probably the first time Jason was able to sit in the same spot for 2 hours without getting stressed out in all our years together.
When we wanted to venture out, we had a blast driving around on the golf cart to visit Sayulita town to have a drink, snacks, or just cruise around. We recommend Wakika Heladeria for paletas and ice cream, La Empanaderia for empanadas, and Palmar Trapiche is a lovely beer garden with lots of local Mexican craft beer on tap and good food.
We enjoyed our stay at Playa Escondida overall, and in the two rooms we chose. While Cenzontle was our favorite, Bungalow 1 also had its charms and we would chose it again. That being said, as there are 30 rooms that are pretty much all different at Playa Escondida, there is lots to discover and experience. We’re already looking at which room we’d like to stay in for our next stay! If there is a perfect day, you might get to experience it at Playa Escondida, I know we did.
Which room did you like better: Bungalow1 or Cenzontle? Have you stayed at Playa Escondida before? Did you know it was featured on the TV show The Bachelor?
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