10 of the best beaches in Oaxaca (you need to visit)
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You must visit these top 10 Beaches in Oaxaca
Some parts of Mexico’s Oaxaca coast around Puerto Escondido can often be referred to as an undiscovered paradise. This stretch of coast that runs along the Pacific Ocean is not only lined with sandy beaches and gorgeous bays, but the surf in Oaxaca is some of the best in the country (and perhaps the world). If you’re after the beaches with the best surf of just generally looking for the best beaches in Oaxaca for lazing, you’ve come to the right place.
Whales, dolphins and whale sharks can be spotted off the Oaxaca Coast (or Costa Oaxaca) at the right time of year. The best time to see these amazing animals would be from December through to April. You can grab tours from local fishermen in Puerto Angel or Puerto Escondido. Be sure to barter as prices can vary dramatically.
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Playas de Puerto Escondido / Hidden Port Beaches
Puerto Escondido township has seven beaches. All of these beaches are good in their own way, but here we are just going to talk about the best beaches. The main beach of Puerto Escondido (Playa Zicatela) is one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. The beaches around this area in Oaxaca are a surfie grommets mecca.
There are three beaches that make up ‘Puerto Escondido Beach.’ These three beaches are Playa Marinero, Playa Zicatela and La Punta. The stretch between them all is loooong. Actually, it’s about four kilometres from one end to the other. That gives you quite a bit of room to find the perfect spot on the beach.
First up, let’s discover Playa Zicatela
1. Playa Zicatela / Zicatela Beach
The surf is crazy good, and the nightlife too!
Photo credit: Jo Simon / CC BY
Imagine four kilometres of white sand; a couple of beach shacks to eat at and some spectacular surf breaks running up Playa Zicatela. It’s universally known as a seriously gnarly surf spot that surfers either love or never want to try out again. Only surf here if you know what you’re doing. The undertow is far too strong for swimmers, and bodysurfing would be done at your own risk.
If you don’t surf, there is plenty of room to relax on a sun bed or on the soft sand. You can even hire surfboards to learn (although we would recommend learning on a quieter beach like Playa Carizalillo). The best way to enjoy Playa Zicatela is to bring everything you need for a whole day at the beach and don’t leave until the sun goes down.
2. La Punta de Zicatela / The Point
Surf, swim and bodyboard at The Point
Photo credit: Darij & Ana / CC BY
Walk along the water’s edge and you’ll find yourself in La Punta. This has a much more relaxed and close-knit feel than Zicatela. Here you can find budget hotels and backpacker vibes. If driving from Puerto Escondido, drive as far East as you can go, and when the road turns into a beach, you’re there. There are many cute shacks both on and behind the beach on the sandy roads where you can find well-priced tacos and hamburgers and even a Thai food shack! La Punta is top of my recommendations of where to stay in Puerto Escondido. Also, it’s only a 3km short taxi drive to the nightlife of Puerto Escondido, meaning it’s quiet but close enough to party when you feel like it!
At La Punta, there’s a small place on the beach that rents surfboards to visitors. You’d be likely to meet some of the local surfie dudes here as they are well-known in the small community. The surf at La Punta is good, but not as gnarly as Zicatela, making it a great place to learn to surf or to just swim and hang out all day.
3. Playa Carizalillo / Carizalillo Beach
Learn to surf on this spectacular beach!
Hard to say, difficult to get to (167 stone steps down a cliff, WHAT?) but a small beach that makes it all worth it! The soft golden sands, bright turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs that surround it, makes for one of the prettiest beaches in the area (and it feels so exclusive). It’s a small 300-metre long beach that doesn’t get too overcrowded, making it one of my favourites and one of the best beaches in Puerto Escondido.
There is so much soft sand that you don’t really need to hire a sunbed (unless you want to – then you can just buy food/drinks at the restaurants). The food is pretty good considering they have to lug everything in their restaurants up and down those steps!
On the beach, there are usually at least two surfboard-hiring points – both competing for your business. If you feel like haggling, this is where you can bust out those skills. Three of us hired boards for 2 hours including the use of a rash shirt (trust me you’ll want this) for 50 pesos each person. Playa Carizalillo surf is much smaller than the surf at Zicatela and La Punta. I call them “baby waves”. Strong enough to carry you back to the beach but they don’t dump you and smash you around. It’s the perfect beach to learn to surf!
To get to Playa Carizalillo, you’ll need to drive west of Puerto Escondido. It’s an easy 10-15 minute drive or taxi from the main strip of Puerto Escondido. Or if you’re staying at Tower Bridge Hostel it’s less than a 10-minute walk!
Playas de Puerto Angel / Port Angel Beaches
Going further along the Oaxacan Coast and we get far away from the city life to beaches that are lesser-known than some of the others here. But equally as beautiful I promise! These are the best beaches in Puerto Ángel.
4. Playa Mazunte / Mazunte Beach
Where the turtles come en masse
This gorgeous beach is covered in golden sands, restaurant palapas and at certain times of the year – thousands of turtles! Mazunte Beach in Mexico is one of the last remaining beaches where “arribadas” occurs. This is a phenomenon in the Olive Ridley turtle species where between September and December thousands of turtles exit the water at the same time to lay eggs on the beach together. The baby turtles will also all hatch together and run to the water in large groups. If you want to know more about turtle hatchings in Mexico; read my guide.
Aside from this special occurrence, Playa Mazunte is a spectacular beach. The water is deep and clear, and although there are waves, they aren’t too powerful. There aren’t usually bad riptides like there are at its counterpart, Zipolite. Although the beach is small (about 500 metres long) you can always find a little spot of your own.
Mazunte township is a small sandy motley of tattoo parlours, restaurants and yoga studios. Mazunte is perhaps famous for its vast array of yoga getaways to choose from. There are places where you can do yoga by donation and there is even a restaurant where you can eat vegan food by donation called Prasad.
Mazunte Beach is located about an hours drive east of Puerto Escondido and can be accessed by taking the camiones or taxi colectivos from Hwy 200 (the main highway running through Puerto Escondido). You will then be dropped off at a point on the road where you’ll have to take another colectivo to Mazunte.
5. Punta Cometa / Comet Point
Watch the sunset from the edge of a cliff
Punta Cometa is the southernmost tip of Mexico. Here you can see more of the Pacific Ocean than anywhere else in Mexico! Want to see an amazing sunset from perched on a grassy knoll? Come to Comet Point! The awesome cliff edges, sunset and a rock formation called ‘Ventanilla’ (or ‘The Window’) make for some amazing photo opportunities, so don’t forget your camera.
You can easily walk to La Punta from Mazunte Beach, and it’s a fun and adventurous afternoon. Running along the beach, through the western part of Mazunte town, along with some cliff edges and winding through some forest trails, this short trek is the perfect afternoon activity. If you want to make a whole day of it, Playa Mermejita is right next to La Punta and is a great place to swim!
6. Zipolte Beach / Playa Zipolite
Do nothing on the most chilled beach you’ll ever experience
Playa Zipolite is easily one of the best beaches Oaxaca has to offer. This two-kilometre-long sandy ‘clothing-optional’ beach is what dreams are made of. Zipolite became a popular tourist destination in the 60’s, and the long dreadlocked hippies and unashamed nudists can still be found there today. It feels like you’ve been let in on a secret when you first arrive on Zipolite’s sandy streets. There are no resort developments, no hustlers. Just you, some restaurant shacks and a huge beach to enjoy.
Many people come to Zipolite just for the day, to eat dinner while watching the sun slowly dip behind the ocean. But if you have the opportunity, why not stay a few days in one of the run-down beach shack hotels? Here you will find a slower pace of life and maybe even meet some of the friendly unpretentious locals and long-staying tourists who get caught up in Zipolite’s charm.
Surf here is good. But there are powerful riptides that make swimming dangerous. Flags are put up daily, or you can walk to one of the calmer beaches nearby. Boogey boards are a hit; the smaller waves coupled with how powerful they are, make it the perfect place to boogie board.
Zipolite Beach is a short 17-minute drive from Mazunte Beach. There are taxi colectivos you can easily catch between the two beaches for a few pesos.
7. Playa del Amor / Lover’s Beach
Hang out with your wang out
Playa del Amor is s small beach nestled on the eastern end of Zipolite. Sectioned off from the rest of the world by dramatic cliff edges, this is a beach that’s serious about its nudity. Everyone here is naked, so wearing clothes might make you feel a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless, Playa del Amore is a beautiful beach and the water here is calm, making it a popular beach for fishermen to dock their boats as well.
To get there, look for the spray-painted signs on the tip of Zipolite and follow the signs up and over the cliff. It’s a beautiful and short trek using pathways and stairs with great viewpoints along the way. Atop the cliff is a restaurant (that is now closed) that offers beautiful scenery of both Zipolite and Playa del Amor.
Bahias de Huatulco / Huatulco Beaches
Huatulco in Mexico is known for it’s 9 beautiful bays and 36 pristine beaches. All with their own personalities and things to do and see. The best beaches in Huatulco are the ones with the right amount of sand, calm waters and not too many tourists. You see Huatulco can get really, really busy.
8. Bahia Tangolunda / Tangolunda Bay
Tangolunda is perhaps the most popular area with numerous 5-star resorts and all-inclusives. If you aren’t staying at a resort, there are a few public access areas to get down there. Around Tangolunda Bay there are some great dive sites, notable Isla Motosa, which can be booked in the nearby town.
9. Bahia San Agustin / San Augustine Bay
St. Augustine is considered the most beautiful of all the beaches in Huatulco. Endless white crisp sand and warm clear waters give this beach a great wrap. Because it is so long (1.5 kilometres) it’s easy to get away from the built-up areas and find your own patch of sand in the sun. There is also snorkelling and boat tours that can all be booked from the beach.
10. Bahia Cacaluta / Cacaluta Bay
Photo credit: warriorwoman531 / CC BY-ND
Want a gorgeous long stretch of sand all to yourself with no resorts or anything built on it yet? Playa Cacaluta is where you can find this! It will take some searching though because even if you have a car it is still a 30-minute hike to the beach from the carpark. You can also easily get to this beach by boat from neighbouring Santa Cruz.
Bahia Cacaluta is of great ecological and natural value, with forest and mangroves that reach all the way to the sea. Bahia Cacaluta in Zapotec language means, “black bird”, and there are many that can be seen from this beach.
Beaches in Oaxaca Mexico Map
How to use this Map
It’s so easy to download this map to your phone! To open this map in Google Maps simply tap the small square icon on the top right-hand side of the map.
If you are using the map from your phone, the map should save into “Your Places” > “MAPS” automatically. You can select an area (such as Oaxaca) to download and use offline if you won’t always have access to data. For more information on how to download maps for offline, click here.
Place: Beaches in Oaxaca
Currency: Mexican Peso
$1 USD = 18.92 Mex$
I was here: November 2014
Which is your favourite beach in Oaxaca?