Travel to Oaxaca, Mexico (A Mega Backpacking Guide)
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The Complete Guide to Traveling & Backpacking Oaxaca
One of the most naturally beautiful places in Mexico, travel to Oaxaca seems like it’s one of those hidden gems, still undiscovered by the masses. With dramatic mountains and epic coastlines, the beaches in Oaxaca are some of the best that Mexico has to offer!
There are many culturally rich things to do in Oaxaca that you’ll probably have a tough time choosing what to do. Oaxaca is probably best known for its indigenous peoples; the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. These cultures have survived better than most others due to the rugged and isolated terrain in which they live.
How to Pronounce Oaxaca?
Oaxaca is pronounced wa-HA-kah with the emphasis on the ‘HA.’
I had a tough time knowing how to pronounce Oaxaca at first, but once you hear it you won’t forget it again.
The cities in Oaxaca boast a vibrant artisan crafts scene and colorful festivals. The food in Oaxaca could be described as unique cuisines bursting with authentic flavor.
For outdoorsy people, hiking in Oaxaca is some of the best in Mexico with incredibly diverse plants and animals all over the state. If you are more of a beach-goer, then no doubt you have heard about the world-famous surfing in Oaxaca, found on the Pacific shores of Puerto Escondido.
Everything you could want to know about the state of Oaxaca can be found in this mega travel guide like things to do in Oaxaca, what to know about Oaxaca and where to stay in Oaxaca!! Come on, get to Oaxaca already!
☀️ Best Time to Visit Oaxaca
In my opinion, the best time to visit Oaxaca City is between September and October (early fall/autumn) or April to May. This is because the temperature in Oaxaca City is a perfect mix of moderate temperates and fewer tourists.
However, the weather in Puerto Escondido and other areas of the Oaxacan coast varies quite a lot from the weather in Oaxaca City. The best time to visit Puerto Escondido and Huatulco is during the month of April when temperatures are still hot but the hotels are cheaper.
The high season in Oaxaca is during the months between June and August, and mid-December to early January. It can get very busy in Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, and other parts of the Oaxacan coastline during the high season so it is best to book accommodation early.
🎓 Spanish Schools in Oaxaca
There’s no better way to learn a language than becoming totally immersed in it. There are loads of Spanish Schools in Oaxaca that come highly recommended and cheap! Whether you’re interested in trying out a language school in Oaxaca City to learn Spanish with a homestay or attending a Spanish School in Puerto Escondido to learn Travellers Spanish in between surf sessions, you’ll be sure to find a quality Spanish school that’s right for you.
Here is a list of the best Spanish schools in Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Escondido:
Best Spanish Schools in Oaxaca City
Best Spanish Schools in Puerto Escondido
💀 Day of the Dead in Oaxaca
Many people wanting to experience an authentic ‘Dia de Muertos’ come to Oaxaca for this incredible festival. This is because Day of the Dead in Oaxaca City is one of the most culturally rich places to experience in Mexico.
Day of the Dead is actually a series of celebrations across a few days around the time of Halloween each year. It is a time for families and friends to come together in honor of a passed loved one. Many will drink, eat and play music at the grave of their loved ones and rather than be somber, people celebrate the life of those who have since passed.
If you plan to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos in Oaxaca City, be sure to plan well in advance and book accommodation. This is an extremely busy few days for the city. I made the mistake one year of not making a booking which meant I spent a whole day looking for any place to stay and ended up in a horrible hostel dorm where things went missing and guests were destructive towards the property.
READ MORE: My Day of the Dead in Oaxaca
TRAVEL TO OAXACA CITY
Oaxaca City (known to locals as Oaxaca de Juarez) is a place rich with traditional culture, brightly colored houses, dramatic mountainscapes, delicious foods, and mezcal – a smokey, fiery liquor that I think makes margaritas taste soooo much better!
The population of Oaxaca City is 300,050 (as of 2014), made up of the largest percentage of indigenous peoples after the Yucatan. The Zapotecs and the Mixtecs were the most advanced in the region at the time of the Spanish conquest, but several cultures flourished from as far back as 2000 BC.
Nowadays, visiting Oaxaca City is a cultural affair, with pre-colonial ruins, churches, and beautiful artwork and textiles created today. If you’re looking for ‘traditional’ Mexico – Oaxaca is where you can find it!
So where is Oaxaca City, exactly?
Well, it isn’t close to anywhere, actually. In fact, Oaxaca City is at least 6 hours by bus from Mexico City, 10 hours from San Cristobal de las Casas and about 7 hours up the mountains from Puerto Escondido. Oaxaca City is located right in the middle of the State of Oaxaca, hiding amongst the mountains. Read more on how to get to Oaxaca City below.
Because Oaxaca City is so far away, I recommend you spend at least 3-5 days there. Making the effort to get there though will surely pay off because Oaxaca de Juarez surely is a magical destination!
Now that I might have tickled your fancy, read on for even more reasons why you would want to travel to Oaxaca City with my top things to do, where to stay, and even a handy Oaxaca map, so you can find them all!
How Long to Spend in Oaxaca City
I recommend staying in Oaxaca City for at least four days. You’ll need one whole day trip to see Hierve el Agua and another if you want to visit the Monte Alban Pyramids. That will only leave you two short days to eat your way through this culturally rich and exciting city.
Things to do in Oaxaca City Centre
If you’ve been wondering what to do in Oaxaca City, you’ll be pleased to know my list below is filled with popular activities and a mix of the more unusual things to do.
Oaxaca City is not only a budget-friendly destination, but the deep sense of culture you’ll see here will be sure to amaze you! Matter of fact, the entire downtown area of Oaxaca City is dedicated as a World UNESCO Heritage Site!
Eat Delicious Foods Around The Zócalo
Thriving and bursting with activity it’s pretty hard to go past the center Zócalo, one of the quintessential things to do in Oaxaca City. Stay awhile and watch a demonstration, eat something from the food vendors or sit and people-watch.
Come with a book or just a smile to meet some of the local people. You can book a private discovery walking food tour here that lasts for four hours and includes the food! Otherwise, if you are on more of a budget and on a time constraint, just book the group tour to show you the good stuff.
If you’re lucky, there will be an array of delicious street foods on offer around the place with all manner of amazing Oaxacan foods to try!
Marvel at the Gold Interior of Oaxaca’s Churches
Many of the churches in Oaxaca City are intricately decorated with gold and elaborate religious sculptures and textiles.
Right next to the Zocalo, you can drop in on the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption while you are exploring the center. Do not miss popping your head inside this amazing Spanish Church to check out the wall-to-ceiling gold décor that is sure to WOW you!
Probably the most famous and impressive church in Oaxaca City, though, is the Templo de Santo Domingo (sometimes also called the Santo Domingo Church), which is over 400 years old and is surrounded by cacti gardens to get your perfect Mexico shots!
Be Engulfed in all the Beautiful Mexican Art
Shops and streets in Oaxaca are lined with beautiful artwork. From smaller, independent artisan shops to huge art galleries displaying world-renowned artists, you absolutely must take in some of Mexico’s gorgeous art.
Day Trips from Oaxaca City
Most of Oaxaca’s natural and historical sites are out of the center, meaning day trips from Oaxaca City are going to be essential. But trust me, you will want to see at least some of them because Oaxaca boasts some of the coolest day trips in the whole of Mexico!
Splash around in a petrified waterfall called Hierve el Agua
About an hour and a half drive from the city, Hierve el Agua is a fascinating calcified waterfall and swimming area. Hierve in Spanish means to boil, so you can be forgiven for thinking the water might be hot. Instead, it is the opposite, with the water standing at about 22°C.
The waterfall itself takes on a petrified look, standing frozen, as it bursts over the edge of the cliff.
There are a series of terraces at the top for swimming in, or just taking epic photos if that’s more your thing. There is also a short hike from the pools to just below one of the petrified waterfalls. This hike will take you past a couple of beautiful viewpoints where you can gaze across the whole valley.
For me, Hierve el Agua was one of the best things to do in Oaxaca City, hands down. However, it’s not easy to get to by yourself. The easiest option is to just take one of the day trip tours that stop at Hierve el Agua, Mitla Ruins, the Thule Tree, a Mezcal distillery, and a weaving village for a mere $200 pesos (prices in 2018). Read on below for the best way to book these tours.
Tasty Mezcal Tours
Oaxaca is one of the biggest producers of Mezcal, meaning a Mezcal tour is one of the top things to do in Oaxaca City. All Mezcal, imported and local, is made in the traditional way from the agave plant (a type of cactus). If you’re interested in learning about this process – then do a tour!
Booking a tour before you go is not necessary since you can easily organize them once you get there. But if you are more of an organized person and would like to book a tour before you go, you can book with Get Your Guide.
OFF THE PATH IN OAXACA: Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve
The Best Hotels in Oaxaca City
This beautiful hotel is a restored 16th Century Convent and features an outdoor courtyard with a waterfall and pool. The building is in the traditional Mexican-style with the garden and outdoor area situated in the centre of the building and features large balconies and air conditioning.
Hotel CasAntica is only one block from the Zocalo, the main plaza of Oaxaca City.Check Price on Booking.com
Hotel Posada del Centro
This lovely little place is quintessentially Mexican. Brightly coloured paint and bedspreads with a gorgeous terrace garden nestled in the middle and only 200m from the Zocalo main square.
Hotel Posada del Centro has extremely comfy beds and also offers free coffee and water to guests.
The Best Hostels in Oaxaca City
This quaint, clean hostel is located right in the heart of Oaxaca City. It is Casa Style with a cute little garden square right in the middle of it.
Hostal Chocolate has a nice rooftop to hang out on and a good free breakfast.
Azul Cielo Hostel
Azul Cielo is a bright, fun and happening hostel and is one of Oaxaca City’s best-selling hostels. Azul Cielo is Casa Style with a nice grassy area in the middle of the hotel where everyone hangs out.
It is one of those hostels that you will always remember. The staff are remarkable, the place is kept clean and the breakfast is amazing!
Other Oaxaca City Accommodation
Couchsurfing in Oaxaca
There’s also a strong Couchsurfing scene in Oaxaca. Backpacking means that you are trying to save every last peso and Couchsurfing means that there are people out there that would love to have to stay for free.
I met a couple of locals and they were really lovely, even taking us to a traditional graveyard out of town for the Day of the Dead celebrations. If you like meeting new people and having localized adventures, give CS a try!
Best Restaurants in Oaxaca City
If you’re eating cheap in Mexico I highly recommend the Menu del Dia (Menu of the Day) at Royalty. Here you’ll get 4-5 different foods to try for a set price, usually only $50 pesos (prices as of 2018). The Menu del Dia at Royalty is damn good and so damn cheap.
Mercardo 20 de Noviembre
Visit the Mercado 20 de Noviembre to indulge in traditional Oaxacan foods like tejate (corn and cacao beverage that tastes better than it sounds), chapulines (seasoned crunchy grasshoppers), mole (a traditional style of sauce using cacao and is usually made into a curry-style dish with chicken) or Pozole (a subtly flavoured soup made with hominy (kind of like popped corn but wet – it’s really good!).
This is a market more than it is a specific restaurant but the food is veryyyy good in the whole place!
How to Get to Oaxaca City
Below are the different ways to Oaxaca City from various places in Mexico. Note that these prices are as of 2018 and might have changed from then. Please use them as a rough estimate!
Mexico City to Oaxaca City by Bus
Mexico City to Oaxaca is super easy and there are a lot of buses doing the route. The tourist bus is generally the ADO Autobus and you can get between the two cities for about $780 pesos ($36 USD).
To do the same trip for only 200 pesos ($10 USD) there is an entire terminal for second-class buses next to the Central Abastos, a huge market about a 15-minute walk from the center of the town. Here, you can travel all over Oaxaca and to nearby states for super, duper cheap.
However the buses are noticeably older and crappier than the ADO, so it really depends on how much comfort you like!
Flights from Mexico City to Oaxaca City
There are flights to Oaxaca City from Mexico City twice every couple of hours and the cost is relatively cheap, especially in the low season where you can get flights for as low as $40 USD ($750 pesos).
Check out Kiwi.com to see if there are any flights in your price range.
Disclaimer: Please note with the current pandemic situation, flight schedules and their prices often change.
Huatulco to Oaxaca City by Bus
There are two overland options to travel from Huatulco to Oaxaca City. The first is to take a colectivo (mini-bus / van) and the second is to take the ADO bus.
The bus is generally slower than Colectivo vans. The ADO Bus operates first-class buses via the Isthmus, which is an easier and gentler route compared to going directly through the mountains as the colectivo vans do. The bus takes about 8 hours while the colectivos take about 6 hours.
The ADO bus from Huatulco leaves 3 times per day and costs approximately $250 pesos.
Flights from Huatulco to Oaxaca City
Aerotucan, Aerovega, and TAR operate direct flights between Huatulco and Oaxaca. Prices vary but generally are around $3,000 pesos ($150 USD).
Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City by bus
The colectivo van takes approximately 6-7 hours to complete the journey whereas the ADO bus takes at least 10 hours.
This is because the smaller vans are able to fit on roads the large buses cannot. This means though, that the route that the colectivos take is mountainous and very windy and it would be a good idea to take motion sickness tablets to stop from feeling sick the whole time.
Transportes Villa del Pacifico has colectivos that leave from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido once every hour, from 3:30 am until 11 pm and cost $220 pesos (as of September 2018) for a normal ticket or $400 pesos return.
If you prefer the slow and steady race, take the ADO bus. It leaves several times during the day and takes about 10 hours for the full journey. They have toilets on board and (sometimes) the seats recline meaning you can have a half-decent sleep, possibly.
The ADO website lists different prices depending on the time of day but generally, the price range for the ADO bus from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City is between $260 to $355 pesos.
Flights from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City
There are a minimal number of flights from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca. The flight time is an easy 35 minutes, but the cost is not very cheap. Generally, flights cost around $2,000 pesos and they book out quite fast!
Map of Oaxaca City
Save this map of Oaxaca City into your Phone or Google MyMaps by pressing the square button [ ].
TRAVEL TO SAN JOSE DEL PACIFICO
High up in the mountains of Oaxaca sits a tiny town, consisting of about two streets. This place is a must for anyone who likes peace, tranquillity, and being alone since there really aren’t too many things to do in San Jose del Pacifico.
A town permanently surrounded by mist, San Jose del Pacifico only has a small tourist scene, yet it is a destination that is quite famous. San Jose is well known for its hallucinogenic mushrooms that can be obtained easily since they grow freely in the surrounding forests here.
Things to do in San Jose del Pacifico
Firstly, I must mention that mushrooms are an illegal substance in Mexico, however, in San Jose it seems to be relatively un-policed. You will probably be approached by a seller at some point, but if you are not, just ask someone where you can get them, there are a number of places.
If he is still there, there is a friendly Shaman Navorro that runs a mushroom shop on the main road which we can highly recommend.
4 Elementos Temazcal
The temazcal is a traditional Mexican sauna inside of a mud-brick “igloo”. In the middle, hot rocks are splashed with water using a bouquet of healing herbs and plants.
4 Elementos is located on a huge block of magical land owned and run by Shaman Navarro. You can do as I did and indulge in a temazcal and mushroom tea combo for $450 pesos (as of 2018).
Where to Stay in San Jose del Pacifico
Sueno Atrapado Hostel
If the above isn’t really your thing there’s a really lovely brand new hostel called Sueño Atrapado hostel across the road from Casa de Catalina.
The owner/manager is awesome and even cooked meals for us! The bedroom is cosy and the views are spectacular.
Where to Eat in San Jose del Pacifico
On the Main Road
There are only a few places to eat out in San Jose and they can all be found on the main road going through town. I highly recommend the street-food place that sells Pozole (chicken stew) with a side of chili.
How to Get to San Jose del Pacifico by Bus
How To Get from Oaxaca to San Jose del Pacifico
San Jose del Pacifico is a 3-hour drive from Oaxaca City on a windy, mountainous road. The only way to get there is by colectivo (van), as no big buses will fit the roads. The colectivo van from Oaxaca to San Jose is $90 pesos
How to Get from Puerto Escondido to San Jose del Pacifico
Hope you enjoy winding roads! Getting to the mountains is going to be a very fun drive (Hot Tip: invest in some Dramamine or travel sickness medication!).
From Puerto Escondido, you can get a first-class bus from the main terminal to Pochutla which might cost you around $110 pesos, otherwise, there will be colectivos running for half that price.
From Pochutla to San Jose del Pacifico, you will be able to jump on another smaller bus/colectivo (either of these two companies Eclipse-70 and Lineas Unidas). This leg will set you back around $80 pesos and will take approx 4 hours.
If you are doing this in reverse i.e. San Jose del Pacifico to Puerto Escondido then just read this section backward lol!
How to Get from Mazunte to San Jose del Pacifico
Mazunte to San Jose del Pacifico will be much similar to the above – all you need to do is get to Pochutla. Pochutla is the connecting hub that gets you from the coast right up to Oaxaca City. You can get to Pochutla by Colectivo or Taxi, it’s only a 30-minute drive from Mazunte.
If you are doing this in reverse i.e. San Jose del Pacifico to Mazunte, again you need to get to Pochutla and then hop on a colectivo to Mazunte.
Map of San Jose del Pacifico
Save this map of San Jose del Pacifico into your Phone or Google MyMaps by pressing the square button [ ].
TRAVEL TO PUERTO ESCONDIDO
Long beaches, rolling waves, and the scorching hot sun are what is brought to mind when the idea of traveling to Puerto Escondido floats into your mind. The name in Spanish means Hidden Port, referring to the hardworking fishermen that come in and out each day.
Puerto Escondido is one of the busiest tourist coasts in Mexico, with surfers and domestic tourists streaming here in droves for the Pacific surf and cooler waters. Buzzing with juice bars and beachfront nightlife, there’s something here for everyone.
Is Puerto Escondido safe?
Despite being such a popular tourist destination, one thing I always get asked when people hear I have traveled to this surf-centric town is: “Is Puerto Escondido Safe?”
And for once in my life, I can’t say, “well nothing ever happened to me!” because actually, something did. I had my wallet stolen from my room in Puerto Escondido because a person I had made friends with within the hostel decided to bring a local woman into my room to ‘get it on’ with her in a more private space. I didn’t even realize it was gone until well into the next day and by then she had charged over $700 on my credit card.
It seemed to me that this was a common occurrence in Puerto Escondido. Crime in Puerto Escondido isn’t rampant, but the local women who robbed me appeared to hang out at the bars, looking for drunken men to go with them.
My advice for safety in Puerto Escondido, and anywhere for that matter, is if you are going out and getting drunk, try to keep your wits about you and don’t go home with anyone you don’t know very well. Especially if you have money or valuables on your person.
How Long to Spend in Puerto Escondido
I recommend staying in Puerto Escondido for at least a week. There are so many beautiful beaches to explore and natural sights to marvel at that if you leave any sooner you’ll only be pining to come back to explore even more!
Things to Do in Puerto Escondido
Blistering hot sun, surf, and sandy restaurants are what Puerto Escondido is all about. This is one of the most popular beach areas in Mexico and that makes it relatively busy year-round.
There are plenty of things to do in Puerto Escondido besides surf though because this area is where the lush Oaxacan mountains meet the sea! Spot awesome animals like turtles and dolphins, swim in bioluminescence lakes and dodge the crocodiles.
It’s an amazing destination to lose your time and you can do a little or as much as you want in Puerto Escondido.
Surf on Carrizalillo Beach
Surfing in Puerto Escondido is one of the quintessential things to do. Zicatela is famous for its consistently big, perfect waves.
But what if you don’t surf? Well, then you are in luck! Playa Carrizalillo is the perfect beach for beginner surfers. You can rent a board right off the beach for $50 pesos and then enter the contained bay with the other learners.
You can also take a surfing lesson from one of the many Mexican surfie grommets who sit at a little shack on the beach. The price of a private lesson can range from $500 – $1,000 pesos.
Note that these prices are as of 2018 and might have changed from then.
Laze Around on Beautiful Beaches in Puerto Escondido
The coast of Oaxaca is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. Puerto Escondido and the surrounding areas are no exception to this rule. Be sure to check out the beaches of Roca Blanca, La Punta, or Agua Blanca.
If you have children or would like calm waters to swim in check out Puerto Angelito and Manzanillo Beaches. The snorkeling in Puerto Escondido isn’t the best but you can definitely take snorkel fins and a mask to Puerto Angelito and swim around the rocks there.
RELATED: The Best Beaches in Oaxaca
Phosphorescent Laguna de Manialtepec
If you’ve never swum with bioluminescent plankton before – do it now! This lake is packed full with it, so bring your snorkel mask or goggles!
The cost is around $350 pesos for a night tour (as of 2018). Try to do it when there is little or no moonlight. Book ahead here!
Horse Riding to Hot Springs
This was the BEST horse riding I’ve ever done in my life. The guide allowed us to canter on our horses and since the horses knew the way we just allowed them to run! It was so much fun!
Make sure you do the 5-hour ride to Aguas Thermales de Manialtepec and bring your swimmers. Once there you’ll find a series of hot spring pools and a diverted stream into the cooler river water, perfect for hot days!
The cost of the horse rides is $1,700 pesos (price as of 2018) with discounts for extra people.
Release Baby Sea Turtles
This is easily one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido. The baby turtles are so heart-wrenchingly cute that you’ll be sure to grow attached to your little tortugita in the short time you spend together. Plus you’ll sleep better that night knowing your money actually went towards helping them save more of these cute but threatened species.
To let go of baby turtles, head to Bacocho Beach at 5 pm. There’s a shack on the beach right in front of the car park – you won’t miss it. Turtle releases happen every single day so bookings aren’t needed, just turn up!
The cost to let go of a baby turtle is $100 pesos per turtle. Otherwise, you can book a tour that picks you up goes to Playa Palmarito to release baby turtles.
Puerto Escondido Tours
Most of the above tours in Puerto Escondido can be organized through Kiko at Eco Adventures Puerto Escondido. I first met Kiko at the turtle release, as he was the English-speaking organizer there.
We took his number and he organized a bunch of Puerto Escondido tours. He is super friendly, excitable, and best of all, his company is eco-friendly, putting many of the profits back into helping animals and people in the Puerto Escondido area.
Best Hotels in Puerto Escondido
Bungalows Zicatela is directly across the road from Zicatela beach and features a private bathroom, WiFi, Cable TV and a delicious breakfast included. Some of the rooms have air conditioning or sea views, while others look out onto the pool. For the price, this is one of the best hotels in Puerto Escondido.
Shavanna Hotel Boutique
This 4-star hotel is lovely and chic! Boasting a large pool to cool off in, a rooftop breakfast with treetop and beach views and an easy, 15-minute walk from the centre of Puerto Escondido. The staff is very friendly, most speak good English and the rooms are airconditioned.
Best Hostels in Puerto Escondido
Selina Puerto Escondido
Selina is easily the best hostel in Puerto Escondido because it’s so close to Playa Zicatela beach, has a nice pool, SUPER clean rooms with modern décor and the fastest internet in the whole of Puerto Escondido! They have a huge garden complete with a pool and a clean, shared kitchen.
Selina also has the only Coworking space in Puerto Escondido with seriously delicious air conditioning in the workroom so if you need good Internet, go there!
Tower Bridge Hostel
I’m a sucker for a hostel with a big garden, and Tower Bridge has just that, with a pool nestled in the middle. It also has an epic drinking game board played every night and some really cool people working there. The only downside is it’s a little far from the main area so a bus or cheap taxi will be needed to get into town.
Best Restaurants in Puerto Escondido
Cafecito is always busy. This restaurant is located on the main strip of Zicatela and serves up a whole baked snapper with dessert for only 200 pesos – and it’s goooood!
Ley Va – Al Pastor Tacos
The best Al Pastor tacos in Puerto Escondido is from Taqueria Ley Va. They are so cheap too at only $35 pesos for a plate of 5 tacos. Served topped with a little piece of pineapple and jalapeño cream on the side! They are located right across the road from the ADO bus station so be sure to drop in when you’re in town!
Sometimes on the road, I just need to have some Thai (my fave!) and Lychee Thai definitely satisfies that craving. A little pricier than the street food, this place has a great Asian fusion menu and a cozy atmosphere.
How to Get to Puerto Escondido
Getting to Puerto Escondido is relatively easy since “all roads lead there.” There is the ADO in Puerto Escondido, which travels almost everywhere near and far.
Mexico City to Puerto Escondido by Bus
You can take an ADO bus from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido. This is a long trip that takes 11 hours but if you go overnight you can just sleep and save money on a hotel too!
Flights Mexico City to Puerto Escondido
There are flights to Puerto Escondido from Mexico City twice a day and the cost is pretty cheap, especially in low-season. Check out Kiwi.com to see if there are any within your price range.
Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido by Bus
Colectivos (mini-bus/vans) travel between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido regularly throughout the day and night. The price is about $180 pesos and the trip takes about 6-7 hours.
This is the better option over the ADO bus for time-poor travelers because the vans are smaller, so they can take the faster route through the mountains. Beware though, the road is very windy and makes even the toughest stomach feel on the edge of throwing up.
You can take a mini-bus from Oaxaca to Perto Escondido from Transportes Villa del Pacifico, a short walk from the Zocalo. Tickets as of September 2018 are $220 pesos per seat and the bus leaves every hour from 3:30 am to 11 pm every day.
If you prefer the slow and steady race, take the ADO bus. It leaves several times during the day and takes about 10 hours for the full journey.
The best time to leave is at 9:30 pm as it arrives at 7 am the next morning. They have toilets on board and (sometimes) the seats recline meaning you can have a half-decent sleep, possibly.
The ADO website lists different prices depending on the time of day but generally, the price range for the ADO bus from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido is between $260 to $355 pesos.
Flights from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido
There are a minimal number of flights from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. The flight time is an easy 35 minutes, but the cost is not as cheap as flying between Mexico City and Puerto Escondido. Generally, flights cost around $2000 pesos and they book out quite fast!
Huatulco to Puerto Escondido by Bus
There is a public SUR bus from Huatulco to Puerto Escondido that runs every hour on the hour. The price is 55 pesos one-way from Huatulco ADO station to the terminal in Puerto Escondido. Pay the driver when you get on, and keep the stub
Alternatively, you can take a taxi, however, the prices range from $600 pesos to $1500 depending on how much the driver feels like charging you. It’s a 1.5-hour drive.
Mazunte to Puerto Escondido by Bus
Take a Colectivo from the main street in Mazunte to the Oxxo at the intersection on Highway 200. Stand outside the Oxxo in the car park and wait for either a bus or colectivo heading to Puerto Escondido to pick you up. The price is approx $40 pesos for the second leg of the journey.
Map of Puerto Escondido
Save this map of Puerto Escondido into your Phone or Google MyMaps by pressing the square button [ ].
TRAVEL TO MAZUNTE
Mazunte is an adorable coastal town not too far from Puerto Escondido that attracts day-trippers and long-stayers alike. It has a cute, hippy vibe, especially on the brightly colored main road filled with vegetarian restaurants, artisan stores, and yoga retreats.
This was easily one of my favorite places to visit in Oaxaca State. Mazunte has that tight community atmosphere that’s hard to find in the bigger towns. I came to Mazunte just for a day trip, and then returned a week later to stay for a couple of weeks because I loved it so much there!
Things to Do in Mazunte
Watch the Sunset from Punta Cometa
Punta Cometa is an easy 30-minute walk from the center of town this grassy hill is a great place to watch the sun dip below the sea. The 360° views of Playa Mazunte and Playa Mermejita are incredible! It’s easily one of the best things to do in Mazunte.
Festival de Jazz, Mazunte
If you’re lucky enough to be in Mazunte on the third weekend of November you’ll be able to attend the famous Festival de Jazz in Mazunte! The tiny town becomes absolutely jammed during the 3-day festival and the streets flow with happy festival-goers and locals alike. Do not miss it!
Yoga in Mazunte
There’s good yoga at Hridaya and at Casa Om Shanti in Mazunte. The drop-in Yoga classes go from 8:30-10:30 am on Mondays through to Saturdays and are paid by conscious donation. Additionally, they offer complimentary group meditations from 7:00-8:00 am daily.
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Best Hotels in Mazunte
Mazunte and Zipolite are the kinds of laid-back towns that you can easily just rock up, check a few places out, and find one you like on foot. There’s no need to book hotels in Mazunte in advance. But if you really must book, here are a couple of good options.
Zoa Hotel is just 6 minutes walking from the beach but overlooks Mazunte and the ocean from atop a hill. This contemporary Mexican-style property has its own vegetable orchard and the toiletries used are eco-friendly and biodegradable. The rooms at Zoa Hotel feature terraces and balconies with views of the Pacific Ocean, a minibar and air conditioning. The grounds boast a reading area with incredible views and an infinity pool.
Villa Luna de Miel
Villa Luna de Miel is just minutes away from the town centre and also close to Punta Cometa. It has a huge palapa that overlooks the whole town with incredible views! The sunrise from the hotel is absolutely incredible and the rooms are large and spacious.
Best Restaurant in Mazunte
Meaning “The Mischievous Ones” in Spanish Los Traviesos is located on the Mazunte main road. It has really tasty traditional local food for only $40 pesos a pop.
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How to Get to Mazunte by Bus
Puerto Escondido to Mazunte
To get from Puerto Escondido to Mazunte head to the main road that runs through the town (Carretera Costera). From there grab a bus heading towards Pochutla and ask them to stop at the Oxxo Supermarket in San Antonio. The cost is $35 pesos and takes 1.5 hours.
It is not much of a stop; more a drop-off at the edge of a highway so make sure you tell the driver to stop or you will end up in Pochutla! Cross the road to the Oxxo and from there take a colectivo (truck with a tarp roof) to Mazunte for $10 pesos.
Pochutla to Mazunte
Pochutla to Mazunte is only a 20-minute drive. It costs just $10 pesos for a colectivo from near the main bus station in Pochutla and the colectivo goes directly to Mazunte.
Oaxaca to Mazunte
From Oaxaca City, you can take a bus to Pochutla (8 hours) or a van (6 ½ hours). From there, take a $10 peso colectivo from near the main bus station in Pochutla.
Map of Mazunte & Zipolite
Save this map of Mazunte and Zipolite into your Phone or Google MyMaps by pressing the square button [ ].
TRAVEL TO ZIPOLITE
Zipolite is the little brother of Mazunte, a mere six kilometers up the road. It has a similar relaxed small-town vibe as Mazunte, but the drawcard (mayyyyybe) is that it’s actually a nudist beach. It’s famous for being a prime destination for hippies in the 60s in Mexico, and some still remain, wandering endlessly up and down in the scorching sun.
But now in Zipolite, you’ll also find a new crowd of slow budget travelers, a slightly different type of traveler to Mazunte. Zipolite is made up of hippies and alternatives, relaxing in the hot sun, eating seafood, and sleeping in wooden canañas or tents on the sand.
Things to Do in Zipolite
Nude Beaches in Zipolite
Going to the beach is one of the only things to do in Zipolite since it is so small. Playa Zipolite is a clothing-optional beach but people mostly wear clothes along the main stretch of the beach. If you really want to get your kit off, head to the West End of Zipolite, or to Playa de Amor on the East End.
Yoga in Zipolite
For the yoga, you’ll have to catch a quick camione (truck) to Mazunte, since this is where the best Yoga is. There’s good yoga at Hridaya. The drop-in yoga classes go from 8:30-10:30 am on Mondays through to Saturdays and are paid by conscious donation. Additionally, they offer complimentary group meditations from 7:00-8:00 am daily.
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Best Hotels in Zipolite
I’ll preface this by saying there are loads of hotels and hostels along the beachfront in Zipolite so there isn’t much of a need to book in advance.
La Habana Hostal y Camping
I walked past La Habana Hostal y Camping several times during my stay in Zipolite and wished so hard that they had room for me. Their private rooms are on stilts and so close to the water that you’d be sure to be lulled into a deep sleep each night with a cool ocean breeze and the sound of waves.
No bookings can be made for this hostel, just turn up!
Posada Brisa Marina
My friends stayed at Posada Brisa Marina so I spent a lot of time there hanging out with them. The rooms are clean but basic and it’s got loads of tales on the sand for socialising and drinking. The restaurant/bar on site is somewhat of a central meeting place so there’s always something happening here.
Hotel Nude Zipolite
Yes! There are actual nude hotels in Zipolite! Not only is Hotel Nude seriously highly rated on booking.com, you are also allowed to be nude in almost the entire hotel except for the restaurant. The rooms are clean and the décor is rustic and wooden. Oh and there’s a really big pool 😉
The Best Restaurant in Zipolite
Sal y Pimienta
Right on the beach, Sal y Pimienta place sells giant plates of grilled fish with chips and salad for only $130 pesos and big fat hamburgers with the lot for only $90 pesos. Plus it’s REALLY bloody good.
How to Get to Zipolite by Bus
Follow the instructions on how to get to Mazunte from either Puerto Escondido or Potchutla. Once you are in the small town of Mazunte, you can easily take a colectivo truck from the main street of Mazunte to Zipolite for $6 pesos.
Why Travel to Oaxaca?
I have done two road trips through Oaxaca and I can tell you this… When you travel to Oaxaca and experience the amazing Oaxacan Coast, with its long sandy beaches, perfect weather almost year-round, and seriously delicious foods at seriously good prices you won’t want to leave!
It’s easy to see why so many people decide that backpacking Oaxaca is not only a great cheap place to travel but also full of fantastic cultural activities sure to appease literally anyone. This makes Oaxaca the perfect destination for anyone traveling Mexico on a shoestring. With so many cultural and beach-centric things to do, Oaxaca really is a special destination!
Check Out These Awesome Tours in Oaxaca!
Oaxaca Backpacking FAQs
If you are planning to visit Oaxaca, you must wonder about the safety of Oaxaca. After all, not all places in Mexico are safe. Luckily, Oaxaca is one of the safest states in Mexico. Because of how touristy it is, the government has spent a lot of resources on maintaining the safety and infrastructure of Oaxaca. Obviously, even “safe” in Mexico has dangers and risks. Always keep your wits with you and don’t do anything too crazy like get really drunk or take drugs, especially from strangers!
The state of Oaxaca has plenty of exciting attractions. We recommend spending at least a week in Oaxaca State, visiting the city of Oaxaca, San Jose del Pacifico, and places on the Pacific Coast such as Puerto Escondido and Mazunte. If you are a surfer, then you might consider spending a bit more time in Oaxaca because you will love surfing on the Pacific Coast.
Though Oaxaca is dotted with incredible beaches, serene mountain towns, and World UNESCO Heritage Sites, it is surprising that’s not what it is most famous for. Oaxaca is famous for being the gastronomic capital of Mexico, with its seven varieties of mole being its signature dish. There are also many unique dishes in Oaxaca that are not readily seen in other places in Mexico. Those dishes include tlayudas, chapulines, and more! And, one of Mexico’s most iconic drinks, Mezcal, originates from Oaxaca!
Since Mazunte is a small town on the Pacific Coast, there is no direct bus from Mazunte to Oaxaca City. Your best bet is to take the colectivo (shared van) that runs between Puerto Escondido and Pochutla. From Mazunte, take a collective to Pochutla, one of the biggest cities on the Pacific Coast of the Oaxaca State. There, you can catch a different colectivo to Oaxaca City. On the way to Oaxaca City (from Pochutla), you can make a stop at the serene mountain town of San Jose del Pacifico, one of the popular sights in Oaxaca State.
Getting from Zipolite to San Jose del Pacifico or Oaxaca City is easy. First, you must take a colectivo (shared van) from Zipolite to Pochutla, the main transportation hub of the Oaxacan Coast. There are two colectivos that will take you to Pochutla from Zipolite. The first one (the quicker route) goes from Zipolite to Puerto Angel to Pochutla. The alternative route goes from Zipolite, through San Augustinillo and Mazunte, and finally arrives in Pochutla.
Once you are in Pochutla, catch any colectivo running to Oaxaca City, even if you wish to go to San Jose del Pacifico. That is because all colectivos going to Oaxaca City from Pochutla must pass by San Jose del Pacifico!
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Are you about to travel Oaxaca? Did you find this Oaxaca travel guide helpful? What was your favorite thing to do in Oaxaca? Add them in the comments below!
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Originally Posted: Apr 30, 2017. Frequently updated.
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