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10 Best Beaches in Oaxaca

Looking to hit the Oaxaca coast? Oaxaca expert Eddie from The Vanabond Tales shares the best beaches in Oaxaca for every type of traveler.

The state of Oaxaca is perhaps most famous for its colorful and cultural capital Oaxaca de Juarez. But for those that make the journey beyond the rugged Sierra Sur mountains to Oaxaca’s coastline, more than 310 miles (500 kilometers) of pristine beaches and picturesque seaside villages await.

Best of all, the beaches in Oaxaca have retained a sense of authenticity, avoiding the mass tourism and over-development that has impacted some of Mexico’s most popular beaches. As you make your way along this iconic stretch of the Pacific, each beach town has its own charm and character. From the world-famous surfers’ paradise of Puerto Escondido, with its big waves and vibrant nightlife to the serene, unspoiled natural beauty of Huatulco, there’s a beach for everyone here.

In this post, I’ll list the 10 best beaches in Oaxaca and tell you where they’re located, who they’re good for, and what you can do while there.

My Guide to the Oaxaca Coast

The Oaxaca coast extends for approximately 330 miles (530 kilometers) along the Pacific Ocean, characterized by rugged cliffs, huge swirls, and some of the best surfing breaks in Mexico. The Oaxaca coast is renowned for its biodiversity, featuring marine reserves, lagoons, and estuaries that serve as habitats for a wide array of flora and fauna.

Located on the far western end of the Oaxaca coast, Puerto Escondido is the biggest beach town along the stretch. It has developed into a proper city, with plenty of infrastructure and things to do, but it retains a boho surf town atmosphere. On the eastern end of the Oaxaca coast stands Huatulco, which has a more mature and high-end feel as well as more developed infrastructure. You’ll find many beaches dotted in between the two main towns.

best beaches in oaxaca - view from zipolite lodge

Getting to Oaxaca’s Beaches

The Oaxacan coast is less developed than Cancun and the Riviera Maya, and is a great choice if you’re looking for a wilder and less commercialised beach experience. Along the coast, the scenery is both dramatic and serene, with towering cliffs and jagged rocks jutting out of the sea, while big waves lap at the golden sands.

The main reason why Oaxaca beaches remain some of the quietest and uncommercialised beaches in Mexico, is that they are a little difficult to reach, as you gotta cross the Sierra Sur mountains to get there. Here are the various ways to reach Oaxaca’s beautiful coastline.

By Air

The quickest way to reach Oaxaca beaches is by flying directly into either Puerto Escondido Airport (PXM) or Huatulco Airport (HUX). The airport in Huatulco is the more accessible option and offers various international flights from the USA and Canada. Flying to either airport will save you the 5.5 to 6.5-hour drive back from Oaxaca city to the coast. Check here for flights.

Alternatively, you can fly to the Xoxocotlán International Airport (OAX) in Oaxaca City and continue the journey either by rental car or bus. Direct flights from Los Angeles to Oaxaca cost around US$300 return. Flights from Mexico City to Oaxaca cost only $50 return(1hour).

best beaches in oaxaca - zipolite beach town

By Bus

For a more economical option, consider taking a bus. ADO is a popular bus company that offer comfortable and safe rides to Oaxaca’s coast from various parts of Mexico. Pre-book your bus tickets here.

The popular route between Oaxaca City and the coast takes between 7 – 10 hours and takes travelers on a steep but scenic drive through the Sierra Madre mountains range. Consider breaking up the trip in the beautiful mountain town of San Jose Del Pacifico.

By Car

Hiring a car is the best way to explore the Oaxaca state – the drive from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido in particular is best done by car as bus drivers along the route are notorious for their reckless driving and crazy speed. We rented a car for our Oaxaca road trip, exploring the capital city and the surrounding Mayan ruins, Sierra Madre mountains and the laidback Oaxacan coast. 

I always book my car rental from Discover Cars as they offer the best prices and excellent customer service. An economy rental car in Oaxaca costs around $200 for a whole week, which is less than $28 a day. The current price for gas is 23.50 MXN (around $1) per liter.

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best beaches in oaxaca - playa carrizalillo

Map of Oaxaca Beaches

I’ve pinned this list of best beaches in Oaxaca on this map. Feel free to download this map.

How to use this map: Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. To open a larger version in a new tab, click on the top right corner of the map. Star the map to save it to your own Google Maps.

Best Beaches in Oaxaca

1. Playa Zicatela: Best Beach in Oaxaca For Surfers

Puerto Escondido is known as one of the best surf spots in Mexico. The surf culture has infused the town with a laidback, easygoing vibe, attracting hippies and free spirits. The town is actually bigger than we expected, and there’s a wide array of activities on offer.

Playa Zicatela has played an important role in putting Puerto Escondido on the map. It’s home to the so-called Mexican Pipeline, which can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters) in height. Surfers from all over the world come to ride the waves here.

The pipeline isn’t suitable for beginner surfers, but you’ll find smaller waves at the far east end called La Punta. If you haven’t surfed before, sign up for a 2-hour surfing lesson here. The instructor will adapt the lesson to your level. Here, a small village of rustic lodges and restaurants has grown behind the tree-lined beach. You’ll also find a Spanish language school and a dog shelter.

best beaches in oaxaca - playa zicatela

2. Playa Carrizalillo: Best Beach for Families

The best beach in Oaxaca for families is Playa Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido town. The small cove is protected by cliffs, and only accessible via a long stairway. Walking down to the beach isn’t the issue, it’s climbing up the 167 steps on the rocky cliff face that’s hard work.

But the jade green water and perfect waves make it well worth the trek. We loved splashing in the waves here and spending all day chilling on the sand. There’s also a trail that you can hike on the cliffs surrounding the cove. You’ll find a few restaurants offering sun loungers on the beach, as well as street vendors shucking fresh oysters for you on the sand.

oaxaca beaches - playa carrizalillo

3. Playa Bacocho: Best Beach to Release Baby Turtles

On the windswept Playa Bacocho in Puerto Escondido, you can actually help to release baby turtles and watch them waddle into the sea. Vive Mar is a turtle sanctuary that protects 27 km of coastline, from Bacocho Beach to Vijia Beach. Four species of sea turtles (out of seven that exist in the world) nest here.

They run turtle release programs everyday at 5pm, and anyone can join for a small fee of 300 MXN ($15). The program runs all year long. The volunteers at Vive Mar first provide an educational talk about the turtles, then explain the process of hatching, and how the baby turtles need to crawl across the sand to reach the ocean. You can then join in the excitement of releasing the turtles into the water.

Releasing baby turtles is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both adults and kids alike. Nellie’s daughter said it was her favorite experience on their Oaxaca road trip!

best beaches in oaxaca - playa bacocho - baby turtle release
best beaches in oaxaca - releasing baby turtles

4. Playa Roca Blanca: Best Beach in Oaxaca to Escape the Crowds

One beach that rarely sees any crowd is Playa Roca Blanca, located in the community of Cacalote, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Puerto Escondido. Known for its stunning white sand and clear blue waters, the mile-long beach opens to the Pacific and often experiences moderate to strong waves.

Playa Roca Blanca benefits from its somewhat remote location by remaining relatively uncrowded and peaceful even during high season. On the downside, there are just a couple of rustic restaurants and basic lodges. It’s only suitable for the more adventurous travelers seeking to veer away from the crowds.

Getting to Playa Roca Blanca involves a drive northwest on Highway 200 to KM 102 at Cacalote, from where you take a left turn off the highway and follow a sandy road passing fields of papayas and coconut trees. The road is in good condition, although you need to watch out for the burros, chickens, and cows that sometimes stray onto the road.

best beaches in oaxaca - playa roca blanca

5. Chacahua: Best Beach in Oaxaca For Explorers

One of our favorite beaches in Oaxaca is Chacahua, a hidden paradise further east of Puerto Escondido. This secluded haven is known for its national park, the Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua, that sprawls across a network of lagoons and mangroves. The Chacahua beach is unspoiled and uncrowded, with golden sand fringed by coconut palms. Like the rest of Oaxaca coast, the sunsets here are nothing short of breathtaking.

Adding to Chacahua’s unique charm is its unique Afro-Mexican-influenced culture. The community here has a big Afro-Mexican population, and it offers a glimpse into the distinct traditions, music, and cuisine of the unique culture here.

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To reach Chacahua, you’ll need to rent a car or catch a colectivo to El Zapotalito and from there take a lancha (small narrow boat) to navigate the labyrinth of mangroves that cover a sprawling lagoon. Expert boatmen negotiate the maze of narrow channels with deft speed. Reaching Chacahua is an adventure in and of itself. The reward is a secluded beach paradise that feels untouched and wild.

best oaxaca beaches - playa cachahua at sunset

6. Bahía Santa Cruz : Best Beach in Oaxaca For Activities

Another major hub on the Oaxaca coast is Huatulco, characterized by its nine bays and thirty-six beaches. One of Huatulco’s most defining traits is its commitment to the environment, evidenced by its recognition as a Green Globe destination, one of the few in Mexico. Huatulco achieved international Green Globe Certification in 2005, as it has more protected space than any other destination in Mexico.

The most central and accessible beach area in town is Bahía Santa Cruz. It makes for a great base to explore the area and it’s a good spot to book a boat trip around the Bahia de Huatulco. Boats run pretty much all day long until just before sunset. A standard private boat tour costs about 2500 MXN (US$125) per boat. It starts at Marina Santa Cruz and goes all the way to Bahia San Augustin with two stops for snorkeling.

beaches in oaxaca - bahia santa cruz huatulco

7. Playa Tangolunda: Best Beach in Oaxaca for Luxury

Situated approximately 5 km directly east of La Crucecita, Playa Tangolunda is a wide sandy beach flanked by prominent resorts like Barceló, Secrets, Camino Real, and more.

For those in search of an all-inclusive experience in a convenient locale — near the town of La Crucecita and in close proximity to the Huatulco International Airport — Playa Tangolunda is one the best beaches in Oaxaca, offering a relaxing and hassle-free setting.

The beach provides easy access to various attractions, including the Parque Eco-Arqueológico de Bocana Copalita (Copalita Ruins and EcoPark). This nearby site features a compact archaeological area, hiking trails, as well as bike and ATV rental services, enhancing the overall appeal of the vicinity.

best beach in oaxaca

8. Playa la Bocana: Best Beach for a Mud Bath

What makes Playa la Bocana one of the best beaches in Oaxaca is the presence of the Copalita River flowing into the heart of the beach, creating an ecosystem distinct from any other in Huatulco. Because of this unique ecosystem, the mud found on this beach is renowned for its skin benefits, containing natural exfoliants. One of the best things to do on the Oaxaca coast is enjoying the mud bath massages offered on Playa la Bocana.

A beachfront massage provided by the locals at Playa la Bocana is typically priced at around 200 MXN (US$10). It’s a great deal, considering how you’ll be rubbed from head to toe with mud. Once you wash the mud off, you’ll have silky smooth skin for days!

best beaches in oaxaca - mud bath

9. Mazunte: Best Beach in Oaxaca for Yoga Retreats

About an hour west of Huatulco, Mazunte is one of the beaches that make up the Oaxacan Riviera, also known as the Costa Esmeralda (Emerald Coast). The cute hippie town has charming little shops, rustic beach resorts and well-priced restaurants. It’s also become known for its numerous yoga and meditation retreats and massage centers.

A worthwhile place to visit here is the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga, a research and conservation center dedicated to the protection of sea turtles in the region. You can learn about the different species of sea turtles, the threats they face, and the efforts to conserve them.

best beaches in oaxaca - mazunte

10. Punta Cometa: Best Beach in Oaxaca for Sunset

In the southern tip of Mazunte stands a rock outcrop named Punta Cometa, known as the best spot to see sunset in the Oaxaca coast. The 45-minute hike to Punta Cometa is a scenic one, bringing you through a lush tropical landscape. See the trail route on Google Maps.

To get to the trailhead, take the main street of Rinconcito to Camino Mermejita. This road leads up the hill and eventually to Mermejita Beach. After five minutes, you’ll see a cemetery on the left and then a road with a group of signs, including one for Punta Cometa. Follow the trail until you arrive at the entrance. There is also a park worker in the evenings who keeps count of the people arriving. 

sunset at punta cometa - oaxaca coast beaches

11. San Agustinillo: Best Beach to Unplug

Within walking distance from Mazunte, San Agustinillo is one of the best beaches in Oaxaca for its quiet beach and gentle surfs. While Mazunte appeals to a young bohemian crowd, San Agustinillo draws a more mature crowd. This is definitely one of the least visited beaches in Oaxaca.

Given the low-key nature of the town, it is unsurprising that relaxation, health, and wellness are forefront here. Yoga, meditation, wellness retreats, organic and vegetarian cafes, and spa services can all be found here. The town also offers horseback rides, mangrove boat tours, whale watching and sport fishing excursions. San Agustinillo also has more luxurious and stylish adult-only hotels nestled into the cliffside to cozy cabañas right on the beach. 

oaxaca best beaches - san agustinillo
san agustinillo - best beaches in oaxaca

12. Zipolite: Best Beach in Oaxaca for Nudists

Thanks to its history as a hippie hangout in the ’60s, Zipolite is one of the few destinations in Mexico where a liberal attitude is proudly and expressly accepted and it is renowned for being the country’s first legal nudist beach. Clothing is optional but most people do wear bikinis.

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The alternative, boho charm of Zipolite appeals to a diverse crowd, from solo backpackers and digital nomads to artists seeking inspiration. The sunsets here are particularly spellbinding, painting the sky in shades of pink and orange, and are best enjoyed from the beach’s soft sands or the rustic beach bars with a cerveza in hand.

Zipolite’s location near to the end of Route 175, which connects Oaxaca city to the coastline, makes it a strategic starting point for exploring other Oaxaca beaches.

sunset at zipolite - oaxaca beaches guide

13. La Boquilla: Best Beach in Oaxaca To Get off the Beaten Path

La Boquilla is a beautiful and secluded beach located a few miles east of Puerto Angel. Set amongst rugged cliffs and surrounded by tropical vegetation it has a secluded feel. Most travelers head straight for Zipolite, skipping La Boquilla, which is such a shame. But that’s the reason why La Boquilla remains relatively unknown.

To reach La Boquilla, the road can be quite rough, especially during the rainy season. An SUV is recommended for those choosing to drive. Alternatively, boat tours are available for accessing the beach. Make sure to come with everything you need for the day including drinks, food, and an umbrella as you won’t find anything to buy here.

One of the few places to stay here is the Bahia de la Luna Hotel, which offers an eco-friendly lodging experience. The hotel and its restaurant, located above the beach, serve authentic Mexican fare, fresh seafood, and drinks like margaritas and cervezas under thatched palapas and palm trees.

la boquilla oaxaca - oaxaca best beaches

14. Playa Estacahuite: best Beach in Oaxaca For Snorkeling

Closer to Puerto Angel and a little bit easier to access is Playa Estacahuite, a small, secluded cove known for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. The rocky sea floor is home to a variety of marine life, making it one of the best snorkeling spots in Oaxaca. It’s possible to rent snorkeling gear here. You can also rent kayaks or paddleboards to explore the coastline.

The beach has a few rustic seafood shacks serving fresh, local dishes, adding to its charm. Playa Estacahuite’s secluded location makes it an ideal destination for those looking to experience a quieter side of Oaxaca’s coast. The area around Playa Estacahuite offers modest accommodations, including beachfront cabins and small, family-run hotels.

best beaches in oaxaca

15. Agua Blanca: Best Beach in Oaxaca For Fresh Seafood

Agua Blanca is a tiny beach community tucked away down a narrow road off the Carreterra 200 — it’s easy to miss; but that’s what makes it so good! Agua Blanca is a picturesque beach with an expansive stretch of golden sand set against the backdrop of rugged cliffs and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

The beach is named “white water” after the white-capped waves that are a common sight. While the ocean here can be lively, with waves suitable for fun in the surf, there are also calmer, shallow areas for relaxing dips.

Seafood restaurants on the beach have long been a staple of the community and it draws locals from Oaxaca’s coast and from miles inland who come to enjoy the fresh shrimp and oysters for which the area is renowned.

best beaches in oaxaca - seafood ceviche

Final Thoughts on Oaxaca’s Best Beaches

Oaxaca’s coastline is a varied collection of diverse beaches, each one unique, yet all bound by the unspoiled beauty and cultural richness that characterize this special stretch of the Pacific coast.

What make the beaches in Oaxaca so special, is just how much they’ve retained a sense of authenticity, something that is missing in other regions in Mexico. Hopefully, this approach means that these tranquil and idyllic beaches will remain so for a long time, allowing us to experience Oaxaca’s beaches for many more years to come.

Be sure to check out our Oaxaca road trip itinerary which brings you to Oaxaca City and the surrounding Mayan ruins and waterfalls, up into the mountains and down to the Oaxaca coast where these gorgeous beaches lie.

Read my articles on Mexico below:

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About the Author:

Eddie is the author and creator of The Vanabond Tales, a travel blog focused on slow travel, minimalist travel adventures that are budget-friendly, outdoor-focused, and environmentally conscious. You’ll currently find him aboard his little sailboat Whisper sailing the Mediterranean.

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best beaches in oaxaca

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