Oaxaca’s Coastal Charms: 24 Must-Visit Beach Destinations
As you will see today, the beaches of the Pacific coast of Oaxaca are among the most beautiful and complete in Mexico.
This is partly thanks to the developing tourist infrastructure and the rich gastronomy of the area.
As I mentioned in the title of this post, Oaxaca offers beaches for all occasions.
If surfing is your thing, the best beach in Oaxaca and one of the best in Mexico is Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido.
However, if you want the best beach for snorkeling, your best destination should be Playa la Tijera.
Beaches with calm waves suitable for families abound in the Bays of Huatulco, where several beaches exist.
As you can see, these are just a few examples. Now, we’ll closely examine each of Oaxaca’s 24 best beach destinations. Take note!
Best Beaches in Oaxaca: Puerto Escondido
Let’s start with Puerto Escondido, a warm corner of the Pacific known for the best surfing beaches in Mexico.
Furthermore, Puerto Escondido is the most populated city on the coast of Oaxaca and the state’s most important beach tourist destination.
It is also the municipality’s main town of San Pedro Mixtepec – District 22.
The main beach, Puerto Escondido, has beautiful blue water and white sand in front of El Adoquín, a cozy space with hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.
Puerto Escondido has picturesque streets and buildings with several beaches, some very calm and others with intense waves.
The bay where the port is located was called the Bay of the Hidden Woman, after a colonial legend that refers to a young indigenous woman kidnapped by the pirate, Andrew Drake, brother of Francis Drake, who managed to escape by hiding there.
Puerto Escondido Oaxaca tourist attractions and activities
- El Adoquín avenue
- Botanical Center of the University of the Sea (UMAR)
- Turtle release
- Marine fauna tours
- Sports fishing
- November Festival
Puerto Escondido’s beaches
- Puerto Escondido (main beach)
- Puerto Angelito
- Puerto Piedra
1. Zicatela Beach
Among the best beaches of Oaxaca, Zicatela is one of the favorites for surfing because of its convenient waves, so much so that it receives thousands of surfers every year.
It is also a favorite among vacationers for its easy access, level of service, and scenic beauty.
The sandy beach is shaded by coconut trees and framed by rocky structures, making it a beautiful and welcoming setting for surfing tournaments.
The green water of Playa Zicatela is clean and crystalline, although dangerous due to its strong waves.
For this reason, it is not the most recommended beach in Oaxaca for families with children.
November is the best month for surfing because the Festival is celebrated in Puerto Escondido.
This beach fair has surfing competitions, fishing tournaments, off-road vehicle races, concerts, cultural events, and gastronomic samples.
2. Chacahua Beach
Playa Chacahua is 62 km west of Puerto Escondido, within the 132.7 km2 Lagunas de Chacahua National Park.
The park integrates terrestrial spaces, mangroves and lagoons, including Chacahua, Las Salinas, La Pastoría, Poza el Mulato, Poza de los Corraleños and Palizada.
The site was declared a Ramsar Site in 2008, an international convention that groups wetlands of global importance for the preservation of biodiversity.
A visit to Playa Chacahua may coincide with a sea turtle release event when baby turtles are released into the wild after being hatched and raised in captivity for protection from predators.
The lagoons offer the beautiful spectacle of bioluminescence when microorganisms in the plankton convert chemical energy into light.
Biodiversity observation in the lagoons and mangroves is another park attraction, including crocodiles in a sanctuary.
The most comfortable way to get to Playa Chacahua Oaxaca is to arrive by road to El Zapotalito, in front of the lagoons, and board a boat to the sandy beach.
3. Carrizalillo Beach
The shallow and calm water makes Carrizalillo, in one of the limits of the main inlet of Puerto Escondido, 2 km from the town, one of the most appropriate beaches for families with children and inexperienced swimmers.
To get to the beach, you must climb up and down a stone staircase with 200 steps.
Playa Carrizalillo can also be reached by boat from Puerto Escondido’s main beach.
Carrizalillo has plenty of aquatic entertainment, such as snorkeling and scuba diving.
But don’t worry, if you forget your gear, there’s a place where you can rent equipment.
You can order tropical cocktails, beers, snacks, and seafood at beachside restaurants.
4. Puerto Angelito Beach
Puerto Angelito sits in a small and beautiful transparent water bay half an hour’s walk from the main beach of Puerto Escondido.
The rocky promontories and green vegetation give it a beautiful and hospitable natural setting.
You’ll love the water of Puerto Angelito Beach! It is warm almost all year round, perfect for bathers, snorkelers, and divers.
It is best to arrive early to get a good spot on the sandy beach, where dolphin-watching excursions and tours depart to admire the bay from different angles.
From December to March, humpback whales come close and are seen by visitors on the whale-watching tours, which depart from this and other beaches in Oaxaca.
5. Bacocho Beach
Playa Bacocho is a beach with intense waves and a coastal corner on the outskirts of Puerto Escondido.
You will find several hotels and accommodations at the foot of the beach, making it an excellent place to stay close to the port but away from the hustle and bustle.
Several Mexican sea turtles are vulnerable or at risk of extinction due to the people who kill them.
The turtles are fished for their meat and shells. In addition, their eggs are preyed upon, which alters the populations’ life cycle and recovery.
Playa Bacocho is a turtle nesting site where the Vive Mar camp operates to identify and protect the nests and eggs, which take 60 days to hatch.
The hatchlings are released in emotional ceremonies where tourists with environmental concerns can participate.
By contributing to support the camp, you can enjoy the experience of helping a baby turtle to reach the sea.
6. Playa Marinero
A 200-meter-long beach characterized by clean water, moderate waves on the shore, and easy access.
Playa Marinero is an ideal place for beginners to get started in surfing and snorkeling.
The beach has good services, including lodging and food outlets, dressing rooms, bathrooms, showers, umbrellas, and horse rentals.
Children can have fun on the shore with gentle waves; the sunset at Playa Marinero is beautiful and invites you to enjoy a horseback ride along the sandy beach.
At Playa Marinero, you can photograph the sculpture “La mano en las Rocas” (The hand on the rocks), an artistic manifestation that projects into the Oaxacan sky.
To get to this beach, take the coastal road to Puerto Angel and detour on the right.
From Playa Marinero, you can walk to the southeastern sector of the main beach of Puerto Escondido and Playa Zicatela, the favorite place for surfing in Oaxaca and a sandy area with a variety of entertainment activities.
Best beaches in Oaxaca: Mazunte
Mazunte is a peaceful Oaxacan coastal town on which the Sierra Madre del Sur almost rushes, producing charming contrasts of sea and mountains.
Its beaches were the main supply centers for enormous quantities of turtles that went to the San Agustinillo slaughterhouse, which during the 1970s, killed more than 30,000 turtles a year.
These charming marine reptiles came to the town’s aid again through the development of an ecological tourism trend, which began with the opening of the Mexican Turtle Center.
Mazunte remains the main nesting site, with people visiting the Museo Vivo de la Tortuga to learn about these beautiful chelonians.
The aquarium exhibits several species of Mexican Pacific turtles, and there is a stretch of beach where animals are free to roam.
Main beaches of Mazunte Oaxaca
- Playa Mazunte (main beach)
- Punta Cometa
- San Agustinillo
7. Mermejita Beach
Isolated and considered a nudist beach with a respectable undercurrent, palapas and plenty of places to hang out are always available.
Mermejita, which until recently was a coastal spot, is located between Playa San Agustinillo and Playa Chacahua.
At its eastern end is a promontory called Roca Torón, used as a whale and dolphin watching spot.
Playa Mermejita is one of the rare nesting sites of the leatherback turtle, the largest sea turtle that can reach 2.4 meters and weigh more than half a ton.
It is in danger of extinction.
8. Punta Cometa
Punta Cometa is a mountainous outcrop in the Mexican South Pacific with a geographic position that allows it to dominate the sea with total visibility.
For this reason, it was an enclave of indigenous warriors during pre-Hispanic times.
The pre-Columbian Indians built a wall that the locals call “El corral de piedra” (the stone hog pen).
It was also a bastion of the Spanish during the Viceregal period and a refuge for pirates who plagued the Pacific coast.
Punta Cometa is currently an ecological space of rich biodiversity and great beauty in its mountainous part and cliffs, which receive the onslaught of the sea.
It is not suitable for swimming but rather to appreciate the majesty of the ocean and admire the land bathed by the sea that was a sacred hill for the natives.
A 2-kilometer road leads to the plateau from where there are spectacular views, and between November and March, it is used as a natural observatory for humpback whales.
9. San Agustinillo Beach
As I mentioned earlier, the coastal town of San Agustinillo was founded in the mid-1960s to capture and slaughter turtles.
After the closing of the slaughterhouse in the 1990s, the population turned to tourism, taking advantage of the beauty and warmth of its small coves, where lodgings, restaurants, and other tourist establishments have been built.
The beaches have moderate waves and serve as nesting grounds for olive ridley sea turtles, the smallest of the sea turtles, distinguished by their olive color.
Whales and orcas transit off the coast of San Agustinillo between late November and March on a migratory route from north to south.
Boat tours depart from the sandy beaches to watch the marine fauna and practice sport fishing.
During the rainy season, from June to October, a small lagoon forms and makes another tourist attraction.
San Agustinillo is perfect if you want a relaxing vacation in a quiet beach town on the coast of Oaxaca.
Best beaches in Oaxaca: Puerto Angel
Puerto Angel is a coastal town of 2,500 inhabitants founded in the mid-19th century during Benito Juarez’s second term as governor of Oaxaca.
Juarez was born in San Pablo Guelatao (now Guelatao de Juarez), 160 km north of Puerto Angel, and wanted to promote the coffee and timber industries by building a dock in the coastal town.
After being the port with the most cargo activity in Oaxaca at the end of the 19th century, Puerto Angel began to decline.
However, it resumed its economy in 1970-1980, with the construction of Federal Highway 200 on the Mexican Pacific coast.
The main activities of Puerto Angel are tourism and fishing.
The tourist activity occurs on the beautiful beaches of the horseshoe-shaped bay, lined with hotels and restaurants. The most immediately accessible beach is El Muelle.
Main beaches and tourist attractions of Puerto Angel
- El Muelle
- Mina del Angel
- La Tijera
- El Arrocito
10. Estacahuite Beach
Estacahuite is one of the best beaches in Puerto Angel, distinguished by its warm transparent water.
It is of golden sand, and the water is green and blue sectored in 3 spaces by two rocky structures, constituting a picturesque distinctive of the inlet.
You can observe dolphins, whales, manta rays, and other species from the coast, which could be admired more closely by taking a boat trip around the bay.
On the sandy beach, small hotels and restaurants prepare delicious food from the Oaxacan coast based on fish and seafood.
There are also places to rent snorkeling and diving equipment. In front of the beach are some coral formations you can see by snorkeling.
Playa Estacahuite has beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, a lifeguard service, and signage for dangerous areas.
It is a place to relax, swim, sunbathe, and enjoy peacefully with the family.
The beach is a 20-minute walk west of Puerto Angel.
11. La Boquilla Beach
The good vibes of Oaxacan beaches are felt at La Boquilla, a beach near Puerto Angel with moderate waves, delicious water temperature, and soft sands.
After parking your car, you must walk along a mountainous 3 km trail. But if you want to avoid the hike, you can also go by boat from Zipolite or Puerto Angel.
It is a peaceful beach where you can swim, sunbathe, and spend time close to nature.
In the nearby coral reefs live small fish of various colors that you can surely see while snorkeling.
The pleasantly warm water is green to turquoise in color. One of the few infrastructures is an ecological hotel with bungalows built on the mountain before the beach.
A restaurant serves coastal Oaxacan cuisine dishes, and nearby is the mangrove La Ventanilla, with rich and colorful biodiversity.
Another popular activity on the beach is yoga.
12. Panteon Beach
Panteon is a beach with clear water and medium-grain yellow sand.
You can hear marine creatures jumping in the water in its nooks and crannies on a small islet a short distance away. Perhaps a humpback whale?
Playa Panteon’s boatmen can always take you out to sea on sport fishing and marine flora and fauna observation excursions.
If you go during those months, you will surely be able to admire some humpback and killer whales, taking an unforgettable memory of your vacation on the coast of Oaxaca.
Panteon Beach is about 200 meters long. It has a gentle slope, moderate waves, and crystal-clear blue-green water.
It is located to the west, a short distance from Puerto Angel. It gets its name (Panteon is the Spanish word for cemetery) from the nearby cemetery.
13. La Tijera Beach
La Tijera Beach is the best place near Puerto Angel for diving and snorkeling.
The best way to get there is by boat, which leaves from Playa Panteon.
By land, it’s almost 10 km from Puerto Angel, and to get there, you have to go toward Pochutla to the town of Colorado.
At the end of this town, take a 1,300-meter cobblestone road that leads to the community of El Vigía.
From there, you must travel 8.2 km along a road surrounded by virgin nature, which leads to the small parking lot of the beach.
**Don’t forget to bring food and drinks because there is nowhere to shop at Playa La Tijera.
The final road is dirt and is usually upgraded after the rainy season, which on the coast of Oaxaca runs from June to October. It is best to take all-terrain vehicles.
The beach is virgin, small, and with spectacular marine fauna, one of the richest and most colorful on the coast of Oaxaca.
14. Zipolite beach
Zipolite is a coastal town in Oaxaca of just over 1000 inhabitants located between Mazunte and Puerto Angel, 5 km east of the first and 4.3 km west of the second.
It was the first nude beach in Mexico, remains the most popular in the country, and is the only “official” nude beach in Oaxaca.
Zipolite hosted the Latin American Nudism Meeting in January 2016, an event that brought together nudists representing Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and other Latin American countries.
The indigenous word Zipolite means “place of the dead.”
It is believed that near the main beach was a sacred place and Indian cemetery to which they brought corpses from long distances.
The crescent-shaped beach of Zipolite has fine sand and strong waves.
The water is almost always clear, except when more visitors gather in high season. The underwater current is more intense during the rainy season (June-October).
The beach stretches about 1700 meters, with hotels, restaurants, bars, palapas, and other tourist services.
15. Playa del Amor
“Lovers’ Beach” is a small and almost hidden cove surrounded by cliffs at one end of Playa Zipolite.
This wild little beach is a crystal clear water treasure and solitude, perfect if you are looking for private beaches in Oaxaca.
Because of its characteristics, especially the privacy provided by the rocky structures, it was the first place in Zipolite where the most uninhibited nudists began to take their clothes off.
The sand at Playa del Amor Oaxaca is medium-grained and golden in color, an intimate 50-meter-long, gently sloping spot with mostly calm to moderate waves.
Playa del Amor is charming for a wild experience in an unspoiled place without kiosks, chairs, benches, palapas, umbrellas, or lounge chairs.
Best beaches in Oaxaca: Huatulco Bays
Santa María Huatulco is a Oaxacan municipality in the Coastal Region with an international airport that handles more than 800,000 passengers annually.
Huatulco’s main tourist attraction is its nine bays with fantastic beaches, hotels, restaurants, and everything you need to enjoy a memorable beach vacation.
The 9 Huatulco Bays
- Santa Cruz
- El Órgano
- San Agustín
Besides its beaches, Huatulco has excellent scenery for ecotourism and adventure entertainment.
The most popular beaches in Huatulco are in the bays of Conejos, Santa Cruz, Chahué, and Cacaluta.
Other places and activities of interest
- Llano Grande waterfalls
- Magic Waterfalls of Copalitilla
- Yeé Lo Beé butterfly farm
- Horseback riding
- Extreme sports (mountain biking, rappelling, and zip lines)
- Main square and temple of Santa Maria Huatulco
16. Santa Cruz Bay
Santa Cruz is one of the nine inlets of Huatulco and one of the most exclusive destinations on the coast of Oaxaca.
It has three paradisiacal beaches (Punta Santa Cruz, Yerbabuena, and La Entrega) and a pier for docking and launching boats, including international cruise ships.
Santa Cruz is the most populated town in the municipality of Santa María Huatulco and has 3, 4, and 5-star hotels and first-class tourist services.
Its beaches of fine sand and crystalline water are very well kept, and extraordinary urban constructions have been developed farther away from the beaches.
Santa Cruz is also one of Huatulco’s main nightlife centers, with restaurants, cafes, clubs, and bars.
17. Conejos Bay
Conejos (rabbit) is another of the nine bays of the Oaxacan municipality of Santa María Huatulco.
It has three beaches (Playa Conejos, Punta Arena, and El Tejoncito) with white sand and soft waves, perfect for families with children.
On the sandy beaches, there is a wide variety of entertainment, such as horseback riding, underwater sports, and excursions around the bay, the inlets of Huatulco, and the coast of Oaxaca.
The largest beach is Punta Arena, a sea turtle nesting site, while El Tejoncito and Playa Conejos have clear blue water and beautiful white sand.
Bahía Conejos is the first beach in Huatulco, heading east to west on the Acapulco – Salina Cruz highway.
The beaches offer horseback riding, ATV tours on the sandy beaches, snorkeling, sport fishing, and wildlife-watching excursions.
In Bahía Conejos, there is a camping area where you can spend a night in front of the sea, under the starry vault of Huatulco.
18. Chahue Bay
This bay also has 3 beaches: Playa Chahué (main beach), Playa Esperanza, and Playa Tejón.
Chahué is one of the Mexican beaches with the international “Blue Flag” certification, awarded by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
It has a long boardwalk perfect for a night walk, which ends in a small square with a fresh sea breeze.
The beaches’ tide is variable and sometimes rises, activating the red flag signaling.
Chahue’s beaches are clean with beautiful transparent blue-green water and surrounded by vegetation.
It is 1 km from Bahía Santa Cruz, suitable for swimming and snorkeling when the sea is calm.
19. Cacaluta Bay
Cacaluta is one of the nine bays of Huatulco, with two virgin beaches (Cacaluta and Arroyo) of beautiful blue tones and white sand.
This bay was one of the central locations of the famous Mexican movie “Y tu mamá también.”
There are two ways to access Cacaluta Bay:
- By boat from any of the bays of Huatulco and, generally, from anywhere on the coast of Oaxaca
- On foot, a 20-minute walk along a dirt road
The bay is southeast of Santa Cruz, and its two beaches are contiguous. It’s very easy to go from one to the other.
Cacaluta Bay is part of the Huatulco National Park, a National Protected Area of 11,891 hectares, with 54% terrestrial and 46% marine areas.
The most usual way to go to Cacaluta is by the sea on tours across the bay and by renting boats to spend a day at the beach.
20. Chachacual Bay
Chachacual Bay is part of the Huatulco National Park, an inlet with virgin beaches.
There are two beaches here (Paya Chachacual and Playa la India), both with a quiet atmosphere.
Access to these pristine sandy beaches is only by sea. You can hire a tour or a boat in Santa Cruz or other coves near Huatulco.
The bay is southwest of Santa Cruz, and the boat ride is about 15 minutes from there.
On the beaches of Chachacual Bay, you can sunbathe, swim, relax, and breathe fresh air in a place devoid of infrastructure.
You can also stroll around and observe the biodiversity. The flora species closest to the beach are mangroves, ficus, and acacias.
Further away in the thicket can see ceibo, tatanil, mulato, and macuil trees.
21. Maguey and El Organo Bays
These two bays of Huatulco are so close to each other that they are often referred to as one.
The extension is 750 meters, and in each inlet is a beach with the same name as the bay:
Playa Maguey and Playa El Órgano are wide sandy beaches with calm turquoise water south of Bahía Santa Cruz.
The most common form of transportation is by sea from this coastal town, a 15-minute trip.
To get there by land, take the same road to Playa La Entrega (Santa Cruz Bay).
The main activities in Maguey and El Órgano bays are swimming, snorkeling, and flora and fauna observation.
The flora comprises mangroves, huanacaxtle, guayacanes, and macuiles, among other plant species.
Terrestrial fauna consists of pigeons, quails, chachalacas, and vultures.
Best beaches in Oaxaca: Chipehua, Venado, and Cangrejo
22. Chipehua Beach
Chipehua is a fishing village that, despite the tourist activity, has not lost its elemental spirit.
In addition to its paradisiacal beaches, its golden dunes give it a desert, open and minimalist atmosphere.
The nearest town is the port of Salina Cruz, 35 km to the northeast, which can be covered in 25 minutes by Federal Highway 200.
From Salina Cruz, buses depart to Chipehua.
The beach has warm water, and you will only hear the sounds of nature. However, Chipehua is much more than swimming and sunbathing.
In its dunes, you can practice sandboarding, a fun sport where you descend the sand on boards similar to snowboarding. There is a place to rent this equipment.
Although the waves of Chipehua are not as big as those of Zicatela and other localities of the Pacific Ocean of Oaxaca, they are enough to practice a safe and soft surf, suitable for beginners.
23. El Venado Beach
El Venado is in the Oaxacan municipality of San Jacinto Tlacotepec, 44 km from Puerto Escondido on Federal Highway 200, perfect for people who meditate.
This beach is home to the La Encomienda Cooperative, an environmental center dedicated to collecting and hatching turtle eggs, then releasing the baby turtles to recover these endangered species on the coasts of Oaxaca.
After resting, reading, sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the flavors and aromas of the sea at El Venado Beach, you can chat with the turtle camp representatives to learn about their work and give them a small contribution.
At El Venado, you can also hike, surf, dive, and snorkel in a small Oaxacan paradise that you will surely have almost to yourself.
24. Playa Cangrejo (Crab Beach)
You guessed right! The name of this beach is due to the many crabs that inhabit the nearby lagoon.
It is in the Oaxacan municipality of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec, very close to Salina Cruz.
The main crab species at Playa Cangrejo is the mazunte or moro crab, although they are no longer seen in large quantities like before.
It is estimated that the population of these enormous blue crabs has decreased in ¾ of the beaches of Oaxaca, mainly due to indiscriminate capture and habitat damage.
Playa Cangrejo has blue water and average to intense waves. It is a semi-pristine beach with few people who fish and attend to tourists.
One of the favorite activities in the sandy area is horseback riding since the locals make a living from renting horses.
What beaches are there in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca?
Puerto Escondido and its surroundings have great beaches with good services.
Again, Zicatela is a surfer’s paradise; Carrizalillo has calm waters, and Chacahua is in a national park with beautiful lagoons.
Other popular beaches in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca are Puerto Angelito, Marinero, Manzanillo, Cacalotepec, Bacocho, and Puerto Piedra.
How many beaches are there in Huatulco, Oaxaca?
Huatulco is a municipality in Oaxaca with 9 bays and 36 beaches, among them:
- Playa Chahué
- Playa Conejos
- La Entrega
- Playa Maguey
- Playa El Órgano
- Paya Chachacual
Playa Chahué is the only beach in Oaxaca that has obtained the Blue Flag awarded by the UN environmental organization, a certification that only 35 beaches in Mexico have obtained.
Beaches for camping in Oaxaca
In Oaxaca, several beaches are suitable for pitching a tent and enjoying the shelter of the sky and the stars.
Cabañas y Acampado Marinero, in Zicatela Puerto Escondido, have camping areas and small beachfront cabins with bathrooms and showers.
You may want to read: 16 Best Places for Camping in Mexico: Where Are They?
In La Ventanilla, near Playa La Boquilla, there is a campsite where you can bring your tent or rent one; there are tents for up to 5 people.
Virgin beaches in Oaxaca
Among the virgin beaches in Oaxaca are La Tijera and El Venado.
In the Huatulco National Park, other beaches that remain entirely natural on the Oaxacan coast are Chachacual, La India, Cacaluta, and Arroyo.
Beaches near Oaxaca
The state of Oaxaca is bordered on the east by Chiapas and on the west by Guerrero.
In both of these states, facing the Pacific, there are great beaches.
The distances by road between Oaxaca City and the main Oaxacan beach towns are as follows:
- Puerto Angel (234 km)
- Huatulco (235 km)
- Puerto Escondido (257 km)
- Zipolite (259 km)
- Mazunte (263 km)
Therefore, the closest beaches to the capital of Oaxaca are those located in the area of Puerto Angel and the bays of Huatulco.
Best beaches in Oaxaca: Conclusion
As you see, the beaches of Oaxaca are beautiful and rich in biodiversity and fun activities, well worth a visit at least once in a lifetime.
Don’t forget to share this post with your folks. If you’ve been to Oaxaca and want to share your experience with us, please share in the comment box below. Vamonos!