Headed to the beautiful Oaxaca Beaches?!
You’re in luck — as there are plenty of options for amazing Oaxaca beaches to explore.
As determining the best beaches Oaxaca has to offer is subjective to your needs and wants, this article has something for everyone. From surfing beaches to swimming beaches, the best beach to do the Oaxaca baby turtles release, to the only (legal) Mexico nude beach, it’s all on the Oaxaca Mexico Coast.
💁♀️ In case you were wondering, the correct Oaxaca pronunciation is wa-ha-kah!
Along the Emerald Coast, as the Oaxacan Coast is known, you’ll find all different types of beach towns, for all different types of travelers. In this article, you’ll discover a nice mix of places with posh Oaxaca beach resorts, to an off-grid Mexico national park, and everything in between
On a personal note, let me say that you’ve landed on the right Mexico blog — and with the right Mexico blogger! Hi, I’m Shelley, and I have been living and enjoying solo travel in Mexico since April 2018. In total, I’ve spent about four months in Oaxaca, my hands down favorite state in Mexico.
My four months were divided between a month in Oaxaca City during Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and three months on the coast of Oaxaca — including a 10-day silent meditation retreat in the Mazunte pueblo magico, two weeks in Chacahua, and many other seaside stops along the way.
In this article, I’m sharing everything you need to know about the best Oaxaca beaches that I’ve discovered. This includes the best beach towns in Oaxaca you’ll want to stay in, things to do in Oaxaca beaches, and how to get to the coast of Oaxaca. With so much ground to cover, let’s get to it!
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BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Oaxaca mexico Beaches FAQ
Where is Oaxaca?
Oaxaca state is located in Southern Mexico, south of Mexico City and Puebla, in-between the states of Guerrero and Chiapas.
For most people, a trip to Oaxaca means visiting Oaxaca City, located in the center of the state. However, the Oaxaca beaches are located in the southern part of the state, on the Pacific Ocean.
Though typically a colder ocean, Oaxaca water temperatures hover around 78°F (26°C) nearly year-round.
OAXACA Mexico MAP
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Best time to visit Oaxaca beaches?
Weather-wise, the best months to visit the beaches of Oaxaca are November to April during the dry season. The rainy season in Oaxaca lasts from May to October, and the coast of Oaxaca sees a lot of rain thanks to its tropical climate.
This also happens to be during the Oaxaca whale watching season. In 2019, a 108 square mile (280 km²) area off the coast of Puerto Escondido was declared a Mexico Whale Watching Zone. From most Oaxaca beaches, you can see several species during their migration to the Gulf of California.
If you can, try to plan your Oaxaca vacation for the winter months, when the temperatures and humidity are most mild, and the mosquitoes are at bay and you can see the whales. If you’re visiting any other time of year, you can expect rain, but usually only for 1-2 hours per day in the afternoons.
🦟 Oaxaca Travel Tip: Regardless of when you visit, you will encounter mosquitoes and other bugs on the Oaxacan Coast. Practice sustainable tourism in Mexico by using eco-friendly mosquito repellent and even an anti-mosquito bracelet.
OAXACA Beaches Weather
🥵 Oaxaca Travel Tip: Especially in summer months, it can feel 5-10°F hotter because of the humidity. Don’t forget your LifeStraw Reusable Water Bottle to both stay hydrated and also filter your drinking water so you don’t get sick in Mexico.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
What Oaxaca airport do I use?
There are two airports servicing the Oaxaca beaches — Puerto Escondido International Airport (code: PXM) and Huatulco International Airport (code: HUX). Get information for all these two below, to make sure you’re using the correct Oaxaca airport.
PUERTO ESCONDIDO Airport
If you’re traveling to Puerto Escondido or Lagunas de Chacahua, use Puerto Escondido International Airport (code: PXM).
Though the word international is in the name, this airport doesn’t really have international flights 🤷♀️ To fly into PXM, you’d have to connect through the Mexico City, Oaxaca City or Guadalajara International Airports, as there’s no direct flights from the U.S.
BAHIAS DE HUATULCO Airport
If you’re traveling to Huatulco, Mazunte, Zipolite, San Agustinillo or Puerto Angel, use Huatulco International Airport (code: HUX).
This airport has a limited number of Oaxaca flights from both the U.S. and Canada; most of them only in the winter during high season in Huatulco. However, there are plenty of connecting flights through the Mexico City, Oaxaca City, Monterrey and Tijuana International Airports.
OAXACA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
If you’re also traveling to Oaxaca City, use Oaxaca International Airport (code: OAX). From there, you have five options to get to the coast of Oaxaca: flight, renting a car, using a private transport company, the ADO bus, or the colectivo (small, shared van). Check out the article linked below for details.
RELATED ARTICLE 🚐💨 Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido & Huatulco: 5 Transportation Options.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
This is the most popular Oaxaca beach town! One of the things that put Puerto Escondido, which means hidden port, on the map are its surf waves. Puerto Escondido’s famous big wave surf spot is Playa Zicatela beach. The Mexican Pipeline wave at Zicatela regularly reaches 10-feet in height 🏄♀️
While Pipeline is not a wave for beginner surfers, there are smaller, more manageable waves at La Punta, Playa Carrizalillo and Playa Marinero, as well as several surf schools. In fact, surfing is one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido — aside from just simply enjoying a Puerto Escondido beach or two!
Best Puerto Escondido beaches
Playa Carrizalillo, Puerto Escondido
Playa Carrizalillo is arguably the most beautiful beach in Puerto Escondido. It’s not super easy to get to, as you must walk down (then back up!) about 155 stairs to access this beach. However, Carrizalillo is great for swimming, and could honestly be on a postcard, so it’s worth the trek.
Playa Puerto Angelito, Puerto Escondido
This lively beach is frequented more by locals than visitors, so to get a more authentic feel for Puerto Escondido, head to Puerto Angelito. It is located in a beautiful beach cove with a small reef right off shore for some great snorkeling, and there are also a few restaurants right on the beach.
Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido
One of the main beaches in Puerto Escondido, and where you’ll find the Mexican Pipeline wave as well as lots of surfers and surfskaters. The waters here aren’t always safe for swimming, but the beach itself is very nice and there are a lot of great restaurants, bars and shops on Playa Zicatela.
La Punta, Puerto Escondido
While technically a part of Playa Zicatela, the eastern edge of this beach, known as La Punta, has its own vibe. While Zicatela can sometimes be crowded and touristy, La Punta has a more laid back, cool, bohemian vibe to it.
La Punta is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Puerto Escondido, followed by a nice dinner and stroll through this lively part of town. Just off the beach, you’ll find cute cafes with lots of vegan options, boutique shops and cool bars.
🏡 NEED A PUERTO ESCONDIDO HOTEL? La Punta is my favorite neighborhood in Puerto Escondido. I spent about a week here during my Mexico solo travels adventures, and stayed in chic Casa UMI, located just a few blocks from the beach, in a very safe area.
Playa Bacocho, Puerto Escondido
Playa Bacocho is on the west side of town not far from Playa Carrizalillo, and a rather quiet beach. The swimming here is good in most places, but what people often head here for is the Puerto Escondido turtle release at sunset. Keep scrolling for more info 🐢⤵
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Best hotels in Puerto Escondido
Hotel Escondido ($$$$)
Though the decor is rustic-chic, the service is 5 Star luxury all the way at Hotel Escondido, one of the best Oaxaca boutique hotels in the entire state.
This is a gorgeous boutique hotel, located on a private beach about 30-minutes from downtown Puerto Escondido. It is the perfect place to disconnect from it all in one of their private beachfront bungalows.
As this hotel is on the outskirts of town, you’ll want a rental car to get around. There is an onsite restaurant, however, and you’re also near Casa Wabi, an artist’s residence and outdoor art gallery with works by famed Mexican artist, Bosco Sodi.
Villas Carrizalillo ($$$)
Villas Carrazillio overlooks Playa Carazillio below — with million dollar views at a reasonable price-tag! Each villa has a dining area and seating area with TV; some also have a terrace and a kitchenette. There’s a gorgeous pool and restaurant onsite with complimentary breakfast.
Casa UMI ($$)
I stayed here for about a week, and highly recommend Casa UMI. It is located just four blocks from Playa La Punta in the boho chic La Punta neighborhood. The room was huge, with cold AC and a comfy bed, high end finishes in the bathroom, and I loved relaxing in my private hammock by the pool.
Best hostel in Puerto Escondido: SelIna ($-$$)
One of the top names in hostels worldwide, Selina has a location in a quieter area of Playa Zicatela. They are known to have the best Wi-Fi in Puerto Escondido, as well as a tropical garden with swimming pool and a restaurant/bar. Private rooms and shared dorms available.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Best things to do in Puerto Escondido
BABY TURTLE RELEASE Puerto Escondido
One of the most popular Oaxaca attractions takes place on the beach at sunset; the Vive Mar Baby Turtle Release Program. A Puerto Escondido must do for many, you can do the turtle release with Vive Mar, or opt a more complete tour to also visit other Puerto Escondido sites — Check out your options below ⤵
To do the release with Vive Mar, head Playa Bacocho and look for their thatched-roof hut on the beach. Sign up for the release starts at 5pm, and will often reach max capacity, so sign up as early as possible to secure your spot for the sunset baby turtle release.
Vive Mar is a nonprofit organization, and they ask for a $100 peso ($5USD) per turtle donation, with all proceeds benefiting Oaxaca sea turtle conservation. This is a great way to help support the local economy and practice sustainable tourism in Mexico.
Oaxaca sea Turtle Release TOURS
BIOLUMINESCENT MANIALTEPEC LAGOON
Located about 10 miles north of Puerto Escondido is Laguna Manialtepec, or Manialtepec Lagoon. It is popular at sunrise and during the day for standup paddle boarding (SUP), but the lagoon is even more spectacular when the sun goes down.
Each night, the waters of Manialtepec Lagoon light up with sparkling bioluminescent phytoplankton. While this natural phenomenon is visible to some extent each night, the effect is most visible during the New Moon, when we can’t see the moon in the sky.
To experience the bioluminescence in Puerto Escondido, you’ll need to book a bout tour, as you have to be in the center of the lagoon to see it.
Puerto escondido bioluminescence & Lagoon tours
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Bahias de Huatulco, Oaxaca
Located about two hours west of Puerto Escondido is Bahías de Huatulco, usually just called Huatulco (pronounced wa-tool-coh). Huatulco is the perfect spot for those looking for near resort style accommodations, and relatively crowd-free beaches.
Though a resort town, there’s also Huatulco National Park, a 29,000-acre park that’s partially on land and partially in the protected waters off the coast. In 2005, Huatulco achieved international Green Globe Certification, as it has more protected space than all other Mexico tourism destinations.
Huatulco has an astounding 36 beaches, as well as nine bays. In fact, the word bahías in its name means “bays” in Spanish. With so much beachfront real estate, the best things to do in Huatulco involve being in or around the ocean, at a Huatulco Mexico beach.
🏨 NEED A HUATULCO HOTEL? There are gorgeous, inexpensive beachfront options at these best hotels in Huatulco.
Best things to do in Huatulco
From great snorkeling on a boat tour to sport-fishing expeditions — to even whale watching in the winter during their migration season — a Huatulco Oaxaca beach vacation has much to offer.
enjoy the best beaches in huatulco
Among the best Huatulco Mexico beaches, check out Playa la Bocana, Bahía San Agustín, Playa Entrega, Bahía Tangolunda and Bahía de Cacaluta. For fans of the film, Y Tu Mamá También, you’ll recognize Bahía de Cacaluta, as it was one of the film’s locations.
🚗💨 Huatulco travel tip: As Huatulco has 36 beaches and nine bays, they are quite spread out. The easiest way to see them all is in your rental car.
explore Copalita EcoPark and Ruins
The Parque Eco-Arqueologico de Bocana Copalita (Copalita EcoPark and Ruins) has a small ruins site, as well as bike and ATV rentals and hiking trails. There’s also the Cascadas Magicas de Copalitilla (Copalitilla Waterfalls), a gorgeous natural area with waterfalls and jungle pools you can swim in.
visit the neighboring town, la crucecita
Head to the neighboring town of La Crucecita to eat the best tacos in Huatulco! As this is a resort town, you’ll want to head off-resort to get the best, most authentic Mexican food at places like Los Gallos and Tlayudas Arely, two favorites among locals where you can sample some Oaxaca cuisine.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Mazunte is one of Mexico’s 135 or so pueblos magicos (magic towns). It is actually the only one on the coast of Oaxaca.
If you’re wondering, What is a pueblo magico? — here’s your answer! The Mexican Tourism Board awards the prestigious distinction of pueblo magico to pueblos in the country with certain characteristics like exceptional natural beauty, unique culture and folklore, and historic relevance.
As the name pueblo may have cued you in on, Mazunte is a small town. There are no stoplights, one main road going through town and about 12 dining options. There are, however, some really great Mazunte hotels that are quaint yet luxurious.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Best things to do in Mazunte
Visit Laguna Ventanilla Nature sanctuary
Laguna Ventanilla is a lagoon that about 20 families have taken up a conservation effort to protect. It is accessible only by boat, and you’ll catch a tour in Mazunte from the guys in the red shirts. While boating out to the lagoon through the mangroves, be on the lookout for iguanas, spicer monkeys and even deer.
Take a yoga class at hridaya Mazunte
Mazunte attracts a lot of yogis, healers and spiritual folk. In town, close to the border with San Agustinillo, you’ll find Hridaya Yoga Mazunte, which has drop-in yoga and meditation classes by donation at their beautiful ashram. (🧘♀️I actually did one of their 10 day silent meditation retreats!)
Laze on the best beaches in mazunte
Mazunte has relatively untouched beaches, so they are all beautiful and peaceful. However, the best one of them all is Playa Mermejita, a must see in Mazunte. Besides Mermejitas, don’t miss Playa Mazunte, where you’ll find all the restaurants, bars and Mazunte tour operators.
Visit the neighboring beach towns
Mazunte, Zipolite, San Agustinillio and Puerto Angel are all within 30 minutes of one another. If you have a rental car, you can easily go on your own. If not, head to the main road and wait for a pasajero (taxi truck) to arrive, then jump in the back, and head to your next Oaxaca beach town.
🛻💨 Pasajeros cost $5-20 pesos ($0.25-$1USD) per ride, depending where you’re going.
Watch the sunset at punta cometa
Punta Cometa is just a short and easy hike up from Playa Mazunte. You can walk up there all day, but it’s especially popular at sunset because you’ll get some amazing views from the clifftop. Just below Punta Cometa is Playa Mermejita.
Eat dinner at la pizzeria 🍕
After a beautiful sunset, head down from Punta Cometa and walk directly over to La Pizzeria for some delicious brick oven pizza. The owner is Italian, and actually there’s a large Italian expat population on the Oaxaca Coast, so this pizza is way better than it should be for rural Mexico.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Zipolite is one of the beaches that make up what’s known as the Riviera Oaxaqueña (Oaxacan Riviera), along with San Agustinillo and Puerto Angel; the next two beaches on this list. Despite increasing tourism, these small fishing villages have retained their old school vibes and laid back charm.
Of the three, Zipolite is the most famous — or maybe even infamous — as it has Mexico’s only legal public nude beach. Besides Zipolite, nudity is tolerated in other Mexico beach towns, and there are even other beaches on the Oaxacan Coast that permit being topless, like La Punta in Puerto Escondido.
🏝 Oaxaca Travel Tip: Not all of the Zipolite’s gorgeous beaches allow nudity, it’s really just the portion of the beach outside of the appropriately-named, Hotel Nude Zipolite. In fact, most beach goers remain clothed.
At either end of Zipolite beach — Playa del Amor to the east and Playa Desnudo to the west — you’ll find large clusters of rock formations that are excellent for exploring tide pools at low tide or photographing the crashing waves at high tide. At sunset, find a hammock, lay back and enjoy the views.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
San Agustinillo, Oaxaca
The next Riviera Oaxaca beach is San Agustinillo, which is one town over from Mazunte. These two towns are known to have the best beaches in Oaxaca; and I agree completely. In the San Agustinillo vs Mazunte debate, I pick the accommodations San Agustinillo, but the Mazunte restaurants and social scene.
best hotels in SAN AGUSTINILLO
While Mazunte attracts a younger, bohemian crowd, San Agustinillo’s vibe is a bit older and more posh.
For this reason, if you want nice accommodations, opt for one of these San Agustinillo hotels — Casa Bagus, Zoa Hotel, Casa Cometa and Casa La Ola (seen in the photo) — then just walk to Mazunte when you want.
Best Things to do in San Agustinillo
For swimmers, the waves in the waters off San Agustinillo beaches are more manageable, making it a little easier to bodyboard and surf than in Mazunte. If you’re new to surfing, there’s a local surf school, Tropical Surf, that offers lessons.
Besides surfing, the other San Agustinillo things to do also involve the beach. There are basically three San Agustinillo beaches that connect to one another, with large boulders in between them. The beach has some restaurant options, and you can find locals offering inexpensive boat tours to see the dolphins.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES
Puerto Angel, Oaxaca
The final Oaxaca Riviera beach is Puerto Angel, which is about 30 minutes west of San Agustinillo, closer to Zipolite. Of all beaches listed thus far, this is the least visited, which also means you might have it all to yourself.
While all Oaxaca beaches were essentially just small fishing villages some years back, many now make the bulk of their income from tourism. As there’s fewer Puerto Angel hotels, it’s still largely a fishing village, which offers a nice glimpse into old school Oaxacan coastal life.
🏡 NEED A PUERTO ANGEL HOTEL? Hotel Pasión de Luna is the hands down best hotel in Puerto Angel. It has stunning accommodations, even more beautiful views and complimentary breakfast. If it’s not available, Casa Bichú Hotel Boutique is another wonderful option.
Puerto Angel isn’t known as the best Oaxaca surf town, however, the swimming is great — especially at Playa Panteon, the best Puerto Angel beach. Here, you can eat fresh-caught seafood at the restaurants along the beach as the fishing boats bring it in. For a more secluded beach, head to Bahía Estacahuite.
Lagunas de Chacahua, Oaxaca
One of the most off the beaten path places to visit in Oaxaca is Lagunas de Chacahua National Park, usually just called Chacahua (pronounced cha-caw-wah).
Wondering, How to get to Chacahua? It is only accessible by boat from the small pueblo of Zapotalito, about an hour east of Puerto Escondido. You can opt for a direct route, or take the tour route where the boat captain will take you through the mangroves and point out some interesting sites along the way.
🏝 Need a Chacahua Hotel? I stayed in this beautiful beach cabana for about two weeks! You can’t get any closer to the beach than this house, which also happens to be the nicest place to stay in all of Chacahua.
Things to do in Chacahua
Chacahua, Oaxaca is a place to think, admire nature, lay in a hammock, read a book, go for a swim, take in the gorgeous sunset and eat fresh seafood. The WiFi is basically nonexistent, so this is the perfect place to find peace and quiet.
This island sits on the Pacific Ocean, and is popular with surfers and backpackers. The waves are medium-sized, but there are locals that offer lessons for beginner surfers, as well as board rentals.
For those who don’t surf, there’s a small crocodile zoo, a lighthouse you can climb up to and watch the sunset from and a boat tour through the mangroves. When the sun goes down, you can take another boat tour to see the bioluminescence in Chacahua.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES ON THE OAXACAn COAST
Oaxaca Mexico Travel FAQs
Is Oaxaca safe for travel?
Short answer: Yes!
Longer answer: Aside from big surf waves, mosquitoes, sunburns, and not drinking too much mezcal, you’re in little danger on the beaches of Oaxaca. In fact, Oaxaca ranks among the safest states in Mexico.
RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 Safe Travel in Mexico: 20 Tips for Solo Female Travelers
However, since no place on Earth is 100% safe, you’ll want to follow the 10 General Travel Safety Tips below — the same as you’d do when traveling anywhere. You should also register for the U.S. STEP Program, and put your mind at ease with Mexico travel insurance.
Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling. If Mexico and Oaxaca travel safety are on your mind, get your free quote below from World Nomads, one of the biggest names for the best travel insurance.
Do I need a visa for Mexico?
No, U.S. passport holders don’t need a visa to travel to Mexico. This is just one reason Mexico is one of the best travel destinations for Americans.
When you arrive in Mexico and go through Customs and Immigration, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist visa. This is a small piece of paper that you need to hold on to so you can give it back to an Immigration officer when you leave the country, so don’t lose your FMM!
Do I need to speak Spanish to visit Oaxaca?
What do I pack for Oaxaca beaches?
For the most part, Oaxaca beaches are hot all year-long with 85-95°F days and 75-85°F nights. There’s some general packing info below, but for a more thorough guide, head to The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico + FREE Printable Checklist and download the FREE checklist below ⤵
With Oaxaca’s sunny, hot (and humid 😥) days, definitely pack a LifeStraw Filterable Water Bottle to stay hydrated, and eco-friendly sunscreen to avoid sunburns and practice responsible tourism in Mexico. If you plan on drinking a lot of mezcal, don’t forget your anti-hangover meds.
As far as how to dress, Mexicans in general are modest dressers, so err on the side of conservative when off the beach. Of course, you’re heading to beach towns, so besides bathing suits, think sundresses, flowy, breathable, cotton, light-colored clothing, a sun hat and sandals, and you’ll fit right in.
🧳 FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico
Wondering what to pack for Oaxaca and all of Mexico? Download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below — it covers both Mexico beach packing and packing for Mexico cities. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.
BEST OAXACA BEACHES ON THE OAXACAN COAST
Final Thoughts: Oaxaca Beaches
Is Oaxaca worth visiting?
As it will take at least two flights to get to Oaxaca, Mexico, or a flight and a bus to get to, you might be wondering if traveling to Oaxaca is worth it. The short answer is OMG, HELL YES. While the Oaxaca beaches aren’t as easily accessible as other Mexico beach towns, they are some of the most beautiful.
For those who want more than just big name all-inclusive resorts, Oaxaca is your place. There are luxury accommodations available (especially Hotel Escondido near Puerto Escondido), but Oaxaca also offers guests a chance to feel more connected to nature.
If you want to immerse yourself in some local Mexican culture, eat authentic Mexican food and some of the freshest just-caught seafood of your life, Oaxaca offers all that. As it’s still somewhat off the tourist radar, especially as far as Mexico beaches go, the beaches of Oaxaca are peaceful and gorgeous.
Have any questions about Oaxaca beaches?
If there was anything we didn’t cover in this article, please ask away in the comments down below!