The 16 Best Oaxaca Beaches

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Pronounced wa-ha-kah, tropical Oaxaca is perhaps Mexico's most magical state. A place of wild beauty, colorful traditions and over 300 miles of Pacific coast. Known as the Emerald Coast, this is a beach-lover's paradise with some truly world class spots.

Not only does Oaxaca boast some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, it is without doubt home to the best surfing beaches in the country. Front and centre of Mexico's surf scene is the lively resort town of Puerto Escondido home to one of the best surf-spots on the planet.

Much of Oaxaca is a little more off the beaten track with swathes of pristine coast dotted with laid back beach towns. Hippie enclaves such as Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite still retain all their boho charm, and even more developed spots like Huatulco haven't been spoiled.

The fact that Zipolite has the only legal, public nude beach in Mexico is testimony to the relaxed attitude that permeates Oaxaca. This chilled Oaxacan vibe not only encourages beachgoers to become one with nature, but makes it a great place for wildlife. The ocean teams with sea life and dolphins are almost commonplace. A number of beaches also run baby green turtle release programs.

So relax and check out our list of the best beaches in Oaxaca for surfing, swimming or just chilling.

  • 1. Playa Zipolite

    Playa Zipolite
    Ana Escobar
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Located on the southern coast of Oaxaca state, Playa Zipolite is Mexico's first and only legal nudist beach. It is very popular as a clothing-optional resort and is pretty laid back, with the use of marijuana largely ignored. On the first week in February the beach hosts the annual Festival Nudista Zipolite. For a little more seclusion head to Playa del Amor just over the bluff to the east.

    On… read more »

  • 2. Playa Mazunte

    Playa Mazunte
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    The small beach town of Mazunte is just west of San Agustin on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca. Far from the main tourist route and requiring a rough 8-hour road journey from Oaxaca City, it remains a quiet haven, so you'll only have the company of a few backpackers and locals on this lovely beach.

    The 1km long cove is sheltered by the Punta Cometa peninsula and lookout point which is… read more »

  • 3. Playa Puerto Angelito

    Playa Puerto Angelito
    Adam Jones
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Located in the popular beach destination of Oaxaca, Playa Puerto Angelito is a small family-friendly beach just to the west of Manzanillo Beach. Together these adjacent beaches stretch for about 120 metres.

    Both these attractive beaches curve around the bay and have beautiful white sand, clear aquamarine waters and rocks at either end, but Puerto Angelito is busier with fishermen pulling up their boats and fixing their nets. You can… read more »

  • 4. Playa Tangolunda

    Playa Tangolunda
    Pedro Fernandes
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    A 500 metre stretch of golden sand edged by rocks to either extreme, Playa Tangolunda nestles in the shallow depth of Huatulco Bay just a short drive from Parque Nacional Huatulco. Backed by a mix of high-end hotels, it can be reached via the Acapulco to Salina Cruz Highway (Highway 200) with public parking within walking distance.

    Sea breezes help to keep the air on Playa Tangolunda fresh, while there's no… read more »

  • 5. Playa Carrizalillo

    Playa Carrizalillo
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    Playa Carrizalillo is one of the most popular beaches on the Puerto Escondido coast of Oaxaca. Located at the end of a bay of the same name, Playa Carrizalillo may only be roughly 100 yards in length but has the facilities much larger beaches would be proud of.

    One downside is that the main access point to the beach is from the surrounding cliffs, with a set of roughly 150… read more »

  • 6. Playa Zicatela

    Playa Zicatela
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Playa Zicatela is the biggest and one of the best beaches in Puerto Escondido. It's easy to reach from the town with street parking nearby. The 3.5km long sandy beach is a popular surfing spot with plenty of wave action from the famous "Mexican Pipeline" at the northern end of the beach. This tubular wave can reach up to 20 feet in height providing a spectacle to watch pro-surfers riding… read more »

  • 7. Playa La Punta

    Playa La Punta
    Darij Zadnikar
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Playa La Punta is a semi-officially recognised subdivision of Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido. Forming the hook of Zicatela's hockey stick shape, it curves around the Pacific Ocean facing both to the north and the west – making it an ideal spot to check out the nightly sunsets.

    Playa La Punta is also a favourite with surfers. Its point creates a consistent wave, and lessons and gear can be… read more »

  • 8. Playa Cacaluta

    Playa Cacaluta
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Located near to Huatulco, Playa Cacaluta is one of just a handful of beaches in the vicinity that doesn't see large numbers of sunworshippers congregating on its white sands. Coming from the Zapotec words for "the place of the blackbird", the jungle surrounding the beach is a haven for birdlife and also contains several small lakes.

    Wild and undeveloped, visitors to Playa Cacaluta won't find any facilities on offer – but… read more »

  • 9. Playa del Amor

    Playa del Amor
    Great for:
    • Fishing
    • Swimming

    One of the region's smaller beaches, Playa del Amor, or Lover's Beach, is a great addition to any itinerary. Both secluded and private, it is surrounded by high cliffs covered in jungle sweeping down to golden sands and calm shallows known for their swimming, snorkelling and diving.

    The rocks on either side of Playa del Amor are home to all manner of marine species, while the beach itself forms a rough… read more »

  • 10. Playa Bacocho

    Playa Bacocho

    One of the longest stretches of soft white sand in the Puerto Escondido area, Playa Bacocho lies four kilometres west of the town centre, making it easily accessible along the sealed coastal road. Backed by palms and native forest, Playa Bacocho has a stunning location, with warm waves rolling in towards its wide expanse of sand.

    There are several pockets of large smooth rocks protruding out of the sand at… read more »

  • 11. Playa Mermejita

    Playa Mermejita
    Martin Barona
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Playa Mermejita is a small beach that until recently was entirely wild with no facilities. Its secluded nature has turned it into an unofficial nudist beach, so leave your cameras at home. But Playa Mermejita also has the distinction of being one of just two beaches in Oaxaca where endangered leatherback turtles are known to come ashore to nest.

    At the western end of Playa Mermejita visitors will find the natural… read more »

  • 12. Playa Manzanillo

    Playa Manzanillo
    Mr. Theklan
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    Perhaps Oaxaca's most laid-back beach, Playa Manzanillo is a small arch of soft sand meeting calm warm waters sheltered by the bay. As a result, Playa Manzanillo is one of the best spots in the region to swim and snorkel without having to worry about strong currents, with corals and tropical fish just waiting to be discovered.

    More popular with local families than international tourists, Playa Manzanillo is lined with several… read more »

  • 13. Playa Principal

    Playa Principal
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Right at the heart of Puerto Escondido, Playa Principal sits tucked in a small curved bay. It's proximity to the town centre makes it one of the area's most popular beaches. Its pale sands sweep gently down into the waters, while a 1.5 kilometre walkway parallels Playa Principal and is the location of several restaurants, bars and places to stay.

    The walkway provides the perfect spot for an evening sunset… read more »

  • 14. Playa Maguey

    Playa Maguey
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    Although almost entirely surrounded by native forest, Playa Maguey can be reached by both road and sea. Those who make the effort to explore this stretch of Oaxaca coastline are met by a pristine stretch of white sand gently curving around a small bay which is ideal for swimming and snorkelling. The latter is best at the eastern end of the bay among the rocks, with equipment available to… read more »

  • 15. Playa Rinconcito

    Playa Rinconcito
    Dan Nevill
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    The westernmost section of broad sand which stretches for around 500 metres Playa Rinconcito forms part of the crescent of Playa Mazunte.

    Sloping gently into the turquoise waters the beach consists of a light golden sand, backed by rolling hills covered in native flora and basic thatched structures acting as cafes and restaurants during high season. The beach is primarily the haunt of European backpackers and independent travellers, who come for… read more »