Did you know Oaxaca beaches are some of the best beaches in Mexico? The Oaxaca coast spans 370 miles along the Pacific Ocean in the southern part of the country. It weaves through picturesque bays of turquoise water with golden sand and towering palm trees.
The coast of Oaxaca has remained largely undiscovered from mass tourism. The result is a series of mostly small to medium-sized beach communities nestled between the rugged mountains and the sea.
You’ll find some of the best beaches in Oaxaca are the most popular, though still enjoyable. While others still feel like an undiscovered paradise.
This guide starts with two of the largest Oaxaca beach towns – Huatulco and Puerto Escondido because I think these areas have some of the most beautiful beaches in Oaxaca.
While they are the most visited, you can still find a few unspoiled beaches in both. But make sure you keep reading to discover some quieter destinations along the coast of Oaxaca as well.
Let’s dive in and explore the Oaxaca coast, one beach at a time.
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Bays of Huatulco | Best Beaches in Oaxaca
The nine bays of Huatulco encompass many of the best beaches in Oaxaca. A few are only accessible by boat and almost all require transportation whether you decide to rent a car or take taxis.
I recommend you book this boat tour of the bays on one of your first days in Huatulco. The affordable price includes visiting several bays and a few stops for snorkeling and lunch (not included). The exact beaches will depend on the weather conditions that day.
Then during your next days in Huatulco, you can explore any beaches you want to revisit or those you didn’t get to see. During the high season, the captain will also keep an eye out for whale sightings!
Let’s discover a few of my favorite beaches in Huatulco. For a full list, you will want to read this article.
Bahia del Organo
Located within the Huatulco National Park, this Oaxaca beach is named after the tall, skinny cactus that resembles a pipe organ. And if you’re willing to put in a little more effort, it’s one of the top beaches in Oaxaca to spend the day.
With crystal blue water and golden sand, the crescent bay feels almost untouched. There are no restaurants or vendors. Just a beautiful beach.
How To Get To Bahia del Organo | Oaxaca Beaches
You’ll need to first get to the shaded dirt path that leads you 20 minutes to the beach. It’s best to take a taxi, especially in the heat of the day but it’s also possible to walk since there is a sidewalk the whole way. Just keep in mind that there is zero shade along the sidewalk.
Cacaluta is one of the most secluded beaches in Oaxaca. It’s not easy to get to but it’s definitely worth it on a calm day. And because it’s relatively remote, you may very likely have this beach to yourself.
It is important to be cautious here as this wild beach has small waves but often a strong undercurrent. Some days it’s not possible to swim here at all, so do check the conditions prior to jumping in.
Fun Fact – You might recognize Cacaluta Beach as the backdrop for the movie Y Tu Mamá También. The movie is about two teenagers and a beautiful older woman who take a road trip from Mexico City to Oaxaca in search of a secluded beach. Along the way, they learn about friendship, life, and sex.
How To Get To Cacaluta Beach
I recommend you book this tour to Cacaluta Beach which includes a guided walk through the Huatulco National Park to Bahia de Cacaluta. It also includes snorkeling afterward (the exact beach will depend on the conditions that day).
If you’ve rented a car, it’s possible to drive there and then hike the 30 or so minutes through the park. However, the entrance point isn’t well marked (I forgot to mark it during my tour). You’ll also want to keep an eye out for animals as a group of wild boar has been spotted in the area.
Bahia San Agustin
On the western edge of the Huatulco National Park is San Agustin, one of the best beaches for snorkeling from the shore. This large bay has become quite popular recently, so I recommend arriving early.
You can rent snorkel gear from one of the restaurants, though it’s always a great idea to bring your own if you can. There’s a pretty extensive reef that goes out from the center of the beach.
You will definitely need to rent a car to get here. It’s about 45 minutes from La Crucecita, half of which is along a dirt road. It passes by several vendors selling fresh coconuts, fruit, and other beach items.
Playa La Entrega
This beach can get really busy. But Playa La Entrega is still one of my favorite beaches in Huatulco because it’s an easy place to snorkel from the shore. And if you’re an experienced swimmer, you can get out past the bulk of the other beachgoers.
It’s also a favorite because Playa La Entrega is only about a 15-minute drive from La Crucecita. And when you’re ready to leave, there are taxis at the stand near the entrance ready to take you back.
Playa El Violín
Playa el Violin, with its small waves of crystal clear water, is a nice beach for swimming and snorkeling.
The access to this small cove beach is located along the road to Playa La Entrega. It’s a steep path down to the beach but if you can manage it, you’ll very likely have this beach to yourself.
Note there are two locations marked on maps. This is the correct location.
Playa La India
Located within Chachacual Bay, this Oaxaca beach is only accessible by boat. It’s often a stop on a tour of the Bays of Huatulco because it’s a great place to snorkel along the reef on the left.
There are chairs and umbrellas for rent as well as vendors selling refreshing drinks and micheladas.
This beach gets extremely crowded on the weekends when large boats of people arrive at the bay. So, it’s best to plan a visit early in the week.
If you go to Playa Arrocito on a weekday, this small beach can feel almost private. Playa Arrocito is located just a 10-minute drive from La Crucecita, in a small residential area.
The waves are usually gentle, though I always recommend assessing when you arrive. And the sand is coarse (hence the name which translates to little rice). For shade, you’ll need to bring your own or patronize the overpriced restaurant on site.
WHERE TO STAY IN HUATULCO
- Las Brisas Huatulco ($$$$) | Beachfront resort with sweeping sea views, swimming pools, and fitness center
- Quinta Bella Hotel ($$$) | Small beachfront resort in a central location with a pool and fitness center
- Hotel Nonni ($$) | Modern, clean rooms located in the heart of La Crucecita and a short taxi from beaches
- Hostal Azul y Blanco ($) | Huatulco’s only hostel. Shared and private rooms with a kitchen and rooftop
Puerto Escondido | Beaches of Oaxaca
Puerto Escondido is one of the top destinations on the coast of Oaxaca. At first, I wrote it off as a young backpacker destination infused with surfing culture.
I assumed the smaller beach towns of Mazunte and Zipolite would be more my style. But I soon discovered there is a piece of Puerto Escondido that will appeal to everyone.
The best part is that the beaches of Puerto Escondido are also some of the easiest to access along the Oaxaca coast without a car. Let’s look closer at some of my favorites.
Playa Carrizalillo – One of the Most Beautiful Oaxaca Beaches
Playa Carrizalillo is simply breathtaking. As you descend the steps towards the beach, a gorgeous cove of turquoise waters, golden sand, and towering palms comes into view.
And then, it will take your breath away again since you’ll need to climb more than 150 stairs when you’re ready to leave. But trust me, it’s totally worth it!
Playa Carrizalillo, with its playful waves and a small surf break, quickly became my favorite beach in Puerto. It does however get busy, so try to visit on a weekday or in the morning.
Playa Manzanillo – A Great Beach for Families
The calm cove of Playa Manzanillo is a popular beach for families. The small waves create one of the best swimming beaches in Oaxaca. And the rocks produce a nice area to snorkel.
I was surprised to find quite a few pockets of shade in the late afternoon. Plus there are several restaurants that will allow you to use their chairs and umbrellas if you consume food or drinks.
Playa Zicatela – Best Beach for Surfing and Nightlife
The large swells and powerful barrels of Playa Zicatela are endearingly named the Mexican Pipeline as this beach is known as a professional surf destination during the summer and fall.
While it may be one of the most famous beaches along the Oaxaca coast, Playa Zicatela is not a swimming beach. However, you can still enjoy it from one of the many beach bars that line the main stretch.
Or if you’re visiting during the surfing season, it’s the place to watch surfers catch waves. In addition, the area of Zicatela is the best for nightlife.
La Punta – A Great Beach to Chill and Watch the Sunset
At the far end of Zicatela Beach is La Punta. While technically the same beach, the area of La Punta has a different vibe. The beach is lined with palm trees, various games of volleyball, and several beach bars to spend the day.
At the far end of La Punta is an intermediate surf break. This Oaxaca beach is also a great place to watch the sunset before going to dinner. The sandy streets behind the beach are filled with a variety of restaurants, cute cafes, and shops.
A Bonus (No Name) Oaxaca Beach
Just beyond the large rock cliff that gives La Punta its name, is another more secluded beach. It’s a peaceful area to stroll in the mornings or in the evenings before sunset. There are impressive rock formations and an archway that perfectly frames the setting sun.
To get there, look for a trail along the cliff on the left. You’ll go up just a short way before coming down on the other side and onto the beach. Alternatively, you can time the waves to wade through the water which I did on the way back. But do so at your own risk as it can be a bit tricky.
Playa Bacocho – Long Beach Walks and Sea Turtles
On Puerto Escondido’s western edge is Playa Bacocho. This beach is best known for the baby sea turtle release each evening at Vive Mar.
There are also a couple of beach clubs with a high minimum spend amount if care to plant yourself in a resort atmosphere for the day.
Otherwise, this long stretch of beach only has a small area for swimming that can be a little rough and rocky. It is however more secluded and great for long walks.
Playa Coral – A Hidden Cove Beach in Oaxaca
Next to Playa Bacocho is Playa Coral, a secret cove that ranks as one of the most secluded beaches in Oaxaca. I found the best way to get there is to walk from Playa Bacocho. You’ll pass over a few rocks as you walk along the shoreline, though nothing too strenuous.
Playa Coral is the type of beach where you’ll want to bring everything you need for the day. There are no beach bars, nor a lot of shade. And swimming is good, though you need to be aware that there is sometimes a strong current at Playa Coral.
WHERE TO STAY IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO
- Villas Carrizalillo ($$$$) | Boutique hotel overlooking Playa Carrizalillo, one of the best beaches in Oaxaca
- Punta Zicatela Hotel ($$$) | Modern hotel located on the beach with a swimming pool and rooftop bar
- Suites La Hacienda ($$) | Traditional hotel with dreamy gardens and a pool, close to the best beaches
- Vivo Escondido Hostel ($) | Fabulous hostel located near swimming beaches, with pool and AC
Mazunte – A Peaceful Beach Town in Oaxaca
This small coastal town of Mazunte, Oaxaca is a peaceful backdrop for yoga and other wellness activities which are abundant in this area. But also has some beautiful beaches.
There are technically three beaches in Mazunte – the main beach which then curves around to Rinconcito and Playa Mermejita. The first two are best for swimming, though Mermejita beach has its own beautiful qualities.
In the late afternoon, it becomes a meeting point as the sun shines across the long stretch of beach, its sand dusted with black volcanic rock. I found it most majestic looking from above while watching the sunset from Punta Cometa.
While there’s not a ton to do in Mazunte, there’s a community feel among the several unpaved streets, all of which lead to the ocean. And you can easily take the colectivo to visit the other nearby beaches of San Agustinillo and Zipolite (see next).
WHERE TO STAY IN MAZUNTE
- Casa Lu Hotel Boutique ($$$$) | Deluxe suites with an ocean view and swimming pool
- Casa Ofelia ($$$) | Spacious rooms located on Mermejita Beach with a swimming pool
- Posada La Sabila ($$) | Dreamy bungalows with ocean views at a great rate steps from the beach
- Cabanas Balamjuyuc ($) | Rustic cabins and shared dorms with incredible views of the sea
San Agustinillo – A Sleepy Oaxaca Beach Town
San Agustinillo is one of the most sleepy beach towns in Oaxaca – perfect for those that want a truly relaxing vacation on the beach.
The waves are generally calmer than Mazunte, though you should be aware of the rocks in the water. In fact, residents will often warn with a whistle if you’re getting too close.
The town itself is situated on a short stretch along the road between Mazunte and Zipolite. There are a few restaurants, beachside hotels, and high-end artisan shops.
Other than lounging on the beach, there is not a lot to do in San Agustinillo. However, Mazunte is a short colectivo ride or about a 15-minute walk along the coastal road if you want to expand your surroundings.
Zipolite – Nude Beach in Oaxaca
This clothing-optional beach stretches for just over a mile before curving around to more secluded areas. As the only nude beach in Mexico, Zipolite attracts a fun, inclusive crowd.
At the far end of Zipolite beach, you can climb the rocks to Playa del Amor – a nudist enclave within Zipolite. If you’re into the nude beach, this is a welcoming and slightly more private area.
Puerto Angel – Playa Estacahuite
Puerto Angel is a small Mexican fishing town that feels like real life on the coast of Oaxaca.
It lacks the resort feel of Huatulco. It’s a world apart from the hippie community of Mazunte. And while calm, it’s not quite the vacation vibe of San Agustinillo that begs you to lounge on the beach all day.
Puerto Angel is home to one of my favorite beaches in Oaxaca – Playa Estacahuite. In this hidden cove, the water is magnificent shades of blue and green, perfect for snorkeling from the shore.
To get to Playa Estacahuite, it’s best to hire a taxi. And it’s a good idea to take the number of the taxi so that you can call them when you’re ready to leave. Or better yet, book a room at Casa Roni, one of a few hotels located directly at Playa Estacahuite.
Barra de la Cruz – A Hidden Oaxaca Surf Town
Located about 40 minutes east of Huatulco, Playa Barra de la Cruz is a lesser-known Oaxaca surf town. It’s relatively secluded though it does have nearby restaurants and some basic cabins to rent.
To get there, take the coastal highway towards Salina Cruz. Turn right at the road towards the small town of Barra de la Cruz. Access to the beach now costs 100 pesos per person to enter. It’s quite a steep increase from the previous 30 pesos, though it does allow you to use the bathrooms and showers on site.
WHERE TO STAY IN PLAYA BARRA DE LA CRUZ
- Ola Perfecta Hostal ($$) | Comfortable private rooms, some with air conditioning
- Cabañas Jaysur ($) | Several options with two beds for a great rate
Chacahua – Off the Beaten Path Beach Town in Oaxaca
This small community west of Puerto Escondido has remained relatively isolated until recently. It first drew attention from travelers as a surf spot on the Oaxaca Coast.
You can opt to book a day trip to Chacahua and the mangrove lagoons which includes transportation.
Otherwise, it takes about 3 hours to get to Chacahua from Puerto Escondido. But that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a popular destination for those looking for something a little different on the coast of Oaxaca.
And I can understand why. The town sits between the mangrove lagoons of Lagunas de Chacahua National Park and the open ocean.
Sunrises are something of magic as the sun rises above the ocean with views of the rugged mountains along the curved coastline. Sunsets are equally spectacular viewed from the lighthouse across the lagoon or from Arco de Piedra below.
Chacahua is a special place, although I fear the community has already been heavily influenced by travelers. This is a place to tread lightly, to enjoy the beauty while aiming to support yet impact the community as minimally as possible.
You’ll find soft, powdery sand and a unique landscape on this long stretch of beach in Oaxaca. Beyond the mountain ridges that descend towards the ocean are dramatic white sand dunes.
There are a few restaurants on the road leading to the beach, though the beach itself feels a bit untouched.
Playa Chipehua is one of the most distant beaches on this list. Most travelers may not have the time to travel the two hours east from Huatulco. But if you’re heading in that direction, it’s definitely worth making a detour here.
Questions about Oaxaca Beaches
The beaches in Oaxaca are some of the top beaches in Mexico. Along the coast of Oaxaca, the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains meet the Pacific Ocean to form a rugged coastline with picturesque bays.
Oaxaca City is about 260 kilometers from the beaches of Oaxaca. The drive, which twists and turns through the mountains, takes about six hours by car or seven hours by public transport. A new highway which has been in construction for years will cut the time considerably.
Yes, you can swim in Oaxaca! Many of the beaches along the coast are within calm bays protected from the open ocean. However, conditions change daily. You should always watch the ocean before you jump in, follow what others are doing, and ask if you are unsure. There are a few beaches in Oaxaca that are not recommended to swim.
Puerto Escondido and Huatulco will appeal to travelers for different reasons. Puerto Escondido is a fishing village turned surf town with a young crowd. Although, there are nice areas for families to enjoy as well.
Huatulco was developed by Fontaur as a resort travel destination. However, they seemed to have learned from their previous mistakes. Huatulco was designed with lots of green space and building height restrictions. The vibe is a modern Mexican beach town.