Quest For Paradise: Oaxaca's best beaches

January 23, 2017
Katie Uniacke

In southern Mexico, Oaxaca’s coastline is where perfect, palm-fringed beaches meet the Pacific Ocean. Oaxaca is not only beautiful, it also boasts a rich culture and delicious local cuisine. A perfect option for those who have already sampled the sights and sounds of Oaxaca City. Once you’ve decided to head to this jaw-dropping stretch of Mexico’s coastline, you might be hard pressed to pick which beach or beaches to spend your time on. To help you narrow it down, we’ve picked a few of our favourites to share with you. From bustling city beaches to famous surf spots and from crashing surf to gentle, lapping waves, Oaxaca’s coast has a beach for everyone, and we defy you not to fall in love with it.

  1. Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido
An shot of the beach scene at Zicatela Beach

Zicatela Beach, Source: Adam Jones

This is one of the world’s most famous surf spots and attracts pro-surfers from the world-over, especially during the summer months when the waves are at their best, and biggest. Even if you’re not a pro-surfer, come for the spectacle! In the winter months, the waves are much calmer and at La Punta, at the southern end of Zicatela, the waves are good for beginners. Puerto Escondido is beach town that has managed to hang on to some of its fishing-village charm, but tourism is growing and this offers some of the best nightlife on the Oaxacan coast. You’ve had your fill of the waves head to one of the bars, and look out for the beach parties that tend to spring up!

  1. Playa Augustinillo, Mazunte

Mazunte is a world away from the busy Puerto Escondido. It’s a quiet village that’s ever-growing in popularity, and Augustinillo beach, just a few minutes away from the main Mazunte beach, is much calmer and better for swimming. This village has a laid-back beach vibe and is a popular spot amongst travellers looking for some downtime. One of its main draws is the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga (Mexican Turtle Centre), which is working to restore the area’s turtle population. You can take guided tours around the museum and see live turtles for yourself whilst learning about these beautiful creatures, that used to be this area’s main source of income. Now that killing turtles has been banned, this area is coming to rely on tourism and the turtle population is beginning to pick up. Mazunte is also home to Punta Cometa, Mexico’s southernmost point. This is the ideal spot for anyone looking to really get away from it all for some rest, relaxation and enjoying some cool drinks on the beach without the crowds.

  1. Barra De La Cruz

Hidden gems don’t come any shinier than this one. Barra De La Cruz is a very small village that a lot of Oaxacans haven’t even heard of. Another kilometre down the dirt track from the village will bring you to Barra’s beach, an endless stretch of white sand that’s protected for breeding turtles. This is another spot that’s known for its professional standard waves during the summer, and for smaller waves, much better for beginners, during the winter. You have to pay 30 pesos to access the beach, but you’re likely to have it pretty much to yourself. The only buildings on the beach are a small restaurant next to the car park, a branch of Mazunte’s turtle protection centre a few kilometres down (not open to visitors), and a house hidden away in a coconut grove which you can rent through Airbnb. During breeding season the turtle centre often releases baby turtles, so it’s not uncommon to find them washed up on the beach.

  1. Playa la Entrega, Bahia de Santa Cruz
A shot of the Playa La Entrega Beach in Oaxaca

Img Source: Molly, CC by ND 2.0

Playa la Entrega is just a short boat trip or drive away from the village of Santa Cruz. The crystal-clear water is extremely calm here, making it perfect for swimming, or snorkelling to see the fish that cluster around the coral. This idyllic spot can get busy at peak times. After you’ve worked up an appetite snorkelling, enjoy lunch at one of the many small restaurants that serve up local seafood.

  1. Playa la Boquilla, Puerto Angel

An image taken from aboard a boat of Playa Boquilla. A quiet beach on the Oaxacan coast

Img Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is another hidden gem that you shouldn’t have to share with crowds of people, although it does get busier during the high season and during the weekends. Thick vegetation gives way to a perfect half-moon of white sand, and the water here is always calm and perfect for swimming. It’s a small beach, 120m long and 20m wide. There’s one restaurant on this beach that only opens during peak times, and an eco-lodge style hotel. This beach is only a few kilometres from the small touristic town of Puerto Angel, where there are more beaches and plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels.

  1. Playa Zipotle, Puerto Angel

A shot of the lalsala bar on Zipolite beach. A haven for hippies

Img Source: Wikimedia Commons

This nudist beach is pretty well known as a hippie mecca. It’s not far west of Puerto Angel and it’s picture-perfect, but be aware that the strong under-tow makes this beach more suitable for sitting and sipping coconut water at one of many basic restaurants and bars that line it than getting your feet wet. If you’re not okay with nudity, stay away from the western end of the beach. There are plenty of places to rent a bunk or hammock to spend the night in on Zipotle itself, or you can stay in Puerto Angel.

A picture of a beautiful sunset at the Zipolite nudist beach in Mexico

Img Source: Wikimedia Commons

The entire length of Oaxaca’s coast is made up of beautiful beaches, so it’s not been easy for us to pick our favourites. If you’ve only got a few days, just pick one of these beaches and settle in for some serious R&R. If you’ve got more time, why not spend some time on some of Oaxaca’s busier beaches, like Puerto Escondido, before paying a few of its hidden gems a visit to get away from it all. Wherever you end up, you’re sure to fall under Oaxaca’s spell and want to come back again and again.

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