Oaxaca beaches are some of the best in all of Mexico. The gnarly Pacific Coast that runs along Oaxaca’s southern edge is riddled with postcard-perfect bays, coves, and inlets that lure sunbathers as much as they do surfers.
As Mexico’s “last coast,” the weekenders and wedding parties of Tulum, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo have yet to sink their mass-market tourism hands into the charm and originality of Oaxaca’s beaches and beach towns.
For this reason, Oaxaca’s coast is still relatively a hidden gem, where a beach all to yourself isn’t entirely out of the question. Which of these nine Oaxaca beaches is calling you?
Where is Oaxaca?
As Mexico’s “last coast,” you may have never heard of Oaxaca or known that it has a surreal string of beaches. The state of Oaxaca is situated in southwestern Mexico with the capital city of Oaxaca de Juarez at its mountainous center.
It’s bordered by the states of Guerrero to the west, Puebla to the northwest, Veracruz to the north, and Chiapas to the east. The state’s series of paradisaical coves, bays, and inlets are all located along the southern fringe of the state, where the coffee farm- and mushroom-laced mountains meet the Pacific.
Weather at Oaxaca Beaches
The weather at Oaxaca’s beaches is summer-like and tropical year-round. Though there are certainly better times of year to visit than others, depending on how much you can stand an afternoon rainfall.
The rainy season brings daily tropical downpours from May through October. But, if you can handle the wet weather, these months are also part of whale watching season along the Oaxacan coast. If you’re not into waiting out the rain, the dry season along Oaxaca’s beaches begins in November and ends in April, bringing slightly less humidity, more mild temperatures, and of course little to no chance of rain.
If you can, the best time to visit Oaxaca’s beaches is between the months of November and February when the weather is at its driest and coolest all year. April and May are to be avoided unless you don’t mind visiting the beaches near Oaxaca during their hottest months of the year.
Best Beaches in Oaxaca
Here are nine of the best Oaxaca beaches definitely worth adding to your Mexico bucket list.
- Bahias de Huatulco
- Puerto Escondido
- Puerto Ángel
- San Agustinillo
- Roca Blanca
- Lagunas de Chacahua
- Barra de la Cruz
1. Bahias de Huatulco
For swimmable turquoise blue seas and serene bays scattered with coral reef and marine life, Huatulco’s beaches are the Pacific at its finest.
With a grand total of 9 bays and 36 beaches all within the perimeter of this Acapulco-alternative resort community, there is quite literally a beach or bay for everyone’s taste in Huatulco. You won’t find that kind of spread at any of the other beach towns on Oaxaca’s coast.
Swim, snorkel, scuba dive, jetski, or hire a lancha (motor boat) for the day to check off as many bays and beaches as you can.
The most popular of the bunch are the cruise port sands of Santa Cruz, the luxury resort-riddled beaches of Tangolunda, and the family-friendly snorkel and water sport cove of La Entrega. For all-to-yourself Oaxaca beach vibes, head for the golden sands of Organo, San Agustin, and Conejos.
The beaches at Chahue, Maguey, and Cacaluta are also worthy of a visit if you still have time for more Oaxaca beach.
Just keep in mind Chahue and Conejos are more of a dry land beach experience, as their big waves and rough currents aren’t among the best of the Oaxaca beaches for swimming.
Where to stay in Huatulco: Binniguenda Huatulco & Beach Club to be close to the downtown and swimmable Santa Cruz beach and Villas & Resort Luz de Luna for a bit of luxury and to get away from it all.
2. Puerto Escondido
Whereas Huatulco is definitely a resort town, Puerto Escondido fits more into the category of authentic fishing port turned global surfing mecca. Within its moderately developed folds, there are seven beaches, each one offering up something slightly different from the rest.
Top of the list for experienced surfers is Playa Zicatela where the waves can get as tall as 10 feet or more.
Needless to say, Zicatela is not the spot for the boardless to take a dip. Instead, head down the beach to La Punta, a smaller beachside community full of oceanfront loungers and restaurants that dish up local and international cuisine. The waves are much friendlier for swimming and oftentimes beginner-friendly for newbie surfers to give it a go.
Playa Carrizalillo is as picturesque as Oaxaca’s beaches come. Descend the 155-ish stone steps to the cozy crescent-shaped beach. This is also a popular spot for beginner surfers, as the waves are gentle and crash close to shore.
Just down the Puerto Escondido coastline from Carrizalillo are the sister beaches of Puerto Angelito and Playa Manzanillo, popular with families, snorkelers, and those looking to hop on a dolphin and whale-watching boat tour.
Lastly, Playa Bacocho is a must-visit of the beaches of Oaxaca and not for swimming necessarily.
Every day at 5pm, there’s a baby turtle release hosted by the non-profit organization Vive Mar. For a $5 dollar donation that goes towards sea turtle conservation, you can release your own baby turtle into the sea while the sun sets over the Pacific.
No best beaches in Oaxaca list would be complete without mention of the Mexico-famous nude beach of Zipolite Oaxaca.
In all reality, the only legally nude areas along this Oaxaca beach are located at the extreme east (Playa del Amor) and west (Playa Desnudo) ends of the beach. Though don’t be surprised to see a mix of clothed and unclothed in the mile-long middle stretch of Playa Zipolite.
This Oaxaca beach is lined with palapa-covered restaurants and boutique hotels and is popular come sunset hour when the sky explodes into color.
Though swimming is an option usually, there are certain stretches of the beach, denoted by red flags planted in the sand, that contain dangerous riptides and big crashing waves.
Of all of Oaxaca’s beach towns, Zipolite is a true charmer. It’s been luring free-spirited tourists to its shores since the 60s and is even considered to be a natural vortex of positive energy, more specifically down the beach at Cameron Bay.
Expect to find yoga studios, meditation dens, and a thriving spiritual community in this rustic beach town.
Where to stay in Zipolite: El Alquimista Yoga Spa for a chill getaway near the beach or and Villa Aikia for amazing views from the infinity pool, the wide open windows of your room, from the rooftop yoga area, and everywhere else in the hotel.
4. Puerto Ángel
Add this Oaxaca beach to your itinerary if you’re staying in Zipolite. It’s the perfect day trip and offers not only some of the best beach for swimming in Oaxaca, but a rare glimpse at the Oaxaca Coast of yesteryear being not as developed or transformed by tourism as the rest of the Oaxacan coast.
Puerto Ángel is still mainly a fishing village. You won’t find crowds of beachgoers here or even the same infrastructure to cater to them. A visit to this Oaxaca beach is a window into the original Oaxacan coastal lifestyle pre-tourism.
Expect to rub shoulders with locals at lunchtime over plates of fresh-out-of-the-sea seafood and find fishermen pulling ashore with their day’s catch.
For surfing, Puerto Ángel is not the spot. But if you’re only looking to swim, it’s perfect. The best of Puerto Ángel’s beaches are Playa Panteon and Bahia Estacahuite. The former is as secluded as it gets and definitely one of the best beaches near Oaxaca.
Where to stay in Puerto Ángel: Hotel Pasion de Luna offers a true escape from it all with lounge chairs in the pool, boho-style rooms with plush beds, and views of the ocean from every area of hotel.
Similar to Zipolite, Mazunte has quite the spiritual and international crowd wandering its sandy streets and swimming in its turquoise waves.
Unlike Zipolite, Mazunte wears the badge of pueblo magico (Mexico magic town), the only of Oaxaca’s beach towns to receive this government-given designation.
Besides the yoga studios, tattoo parlors, fresh-pressed juice joints, and boutiques adorned with dreamcatchers, Mazunte is home to the southernmost point of the Oaxaca coast in the form of an out of this world rocky promontory and beloved sunset spot called Punta Cometa.
The best beach town in Oaxaca, Mazunte is also home to the National Mexican Turtle Center at the community-managed Laguna Ventanilla, a wildlife-rich spot known for its annual arribada, or mass nesting event of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles.
Of Mazunte’s beaches, Playa Mazunte and Playa Rinconcito are lovely for swimming and renting an umbrella-shaded lounger for the day, while the not so swimmable but tranquil oasis of Playa Mermejita is the perfect spot to catch sunset from the sand.
Mermejita’s position adjacent to the dramatic cliffs and hiking trails of Punta Cometa make for an even more adventurous arrival to its sands should you choose to take the scenic path.
Where to stay in Mazunte: Casa Lu is less than a minute from the beach. It has a lap pool, a very cool bar, and beautiful rooms that you won’t want to leave.
6. San Agustinillo
San Agustinillo is a laid-back Oaxaca beach town sandwiched between the slightly bigger beach towns of Zipolite and Mazunte.
Literally a one-street seaside locale, San Agustinillo packs a punch with some of the most gorgeous beach, laced with amazing rock formations and caves, and has more than a few mouthwatering restaurants to choose from, including several Italian-owned pizzerias. Some would even say it’s the best beach in Oaxaca.
The best part is that San Agustinillo’s central location makes it easy to hop in a camioneta for 10 pesos and visit the neighboring beaches in Zipolite and Mazunte in less than 15 minutes whenever you want to. Its compact size also means that many of the hotels and hostels are literally on the beach.
If you’re debating between lodging in San Agustinillo or Mazunte, let the vibe decide for you.
Whereas Mazunte is on the younger, hippier, and digital nomad-heavy end of the Oaxaca beach town spectrum, San Agustinillo tends to attract more couples, families, and a less party-oriented crowd. It’s also a great spot for surfing, with several surf schools located on the beach.
Where to stay in San Agustinillo: Casa la Ola is located right on the beach, with cabanas that have balconies right over the sand. The rooms are stylish and clean with a focus on getting you outside as much as possbile.
7. Roca Blanca
This hidden gem of a Oaxaca beach is flying way under the radar at the moment. Though the beachside amenities are sparse at Roca Blanca, you will get an entire 6-kilometer stretch of beach practically all to yourself, save for a few locals and in-the-know surfers.
Spend the day on the beach or under the shade of one of the seafood-dealing palapa restaurants or take it to the ocean with your snorkeling gear to swim with the local sea life.
If you look out from shore, you’ll spot the beach’s namesake “White Rock.” There, hundreds of sea birds add their droppings to the rock’s already thick collection during breeding season.
In general, Roca Blanca is a swim-friendly beach, though there can be moments where it’s not the best Oaxaca beach for swimming. If you happen to visit when the waves on the rougher side, stick to the protected area where the lagoon meets the sea for an always calm refuge.
8. Lagunas de Chacahua
Though a bit more work to access, Lagunas de Chacahua, is worth the two-part journey to it. Yes, there’s beautiful Pacific Ocean-hugging beach in Lagunas de Chacahua, but there is also a series of wildlife-rich lagoons that contain those sought after bioluminescent plankton and sometimes dolphins too.
There’s also a highly unique mix of Afro-Mexican culture due to an African slave ship that ran aground right there centuries ago.
Lagunas de Chacahua is actually a 132 square kilometer national park that consists of five lagoons, each one linked by a web of mangrove, and plenty of surf-friendly coastline.
In fact, most of the travelers who make the trip are wave-seeking surfers or no-frills backpackers lured by the promise of turtle, crocodile, and shore bird viewings in a wifi dead zone.
To get to the beaches of Chacahua National Park, you’ll have to take a taxi or colectivo to the pueblo of Zapotalito (about an hour ride from Puerto Escondido), then hire a boat at the Zapotalito Dock headed for the island where your very rustic accommodations await.
Lagunas de Chacahua is for the nature-loving, need-to-disconnect type, where sand, sea, and lagoon are all you really need.
9. Barra de la Cruz
This last beach on the best beaches of Oaxaca list is for the surfers.
Barra de la Cruz is like a Oaxaca coast surf secret, that despite including it here, hopefully, stays that way. It’s located down a remote stretch of highway south of Huatulco and the beach itself reflects the off-the-beaten-path nature of Barra (as the locals call it).
The beach is a picturesque white sand and crescent-shaped bay sandwiched between two rocky bookends. Palms and jungle-like vegetation line its edges and nothing but the bare bones of a village and a few surf bungalows constitute Barra’s concept of civilization.
But, like I said, Barra is for the surfers.
Paddle out and enjoy a few waves, likely all to yourself. Then dig into some ceviche and cold beers at the only hut on the beach if it’s open.
If you don’t happen to be a surfer, but love the idea of an off-the-beaten-path Oaxaca beach, the rugged and remote scenery of Barra de la Cruz is just as worth the trip from Huatulco.