While most tourists know Mexico for its placid Caribbean beaches, they should venture into a lesser-known territory to discover that Mexico has literally every kind of beach imaginable. Mexico’s beaches are all wonderful in their own way, and due to its proximity to the equator, it is summer all year long. To the east of Mexico, there is the gulf and the highly coveted Caribbean ocean. To the west lie the beaches of the great and formidable Pacific. My favorite beaches on the Mexican Pacific coast are all in Oaxaca. While the Pacific is known for its enormous wave sets and strong undercurrents, Oaxaca’s topography allows for both tranquil beaches for relaxation and beaches with gigantic waves for surfing. In this article, we will explore the best tranquil beaches for relaxation, snorkeling, and recreational swimming.
Santa Maria de Huatulco, or Huatulco for short, is a town built for tourism and hotels that encompass a territory consisting of various bays or “bahias”. Therefore, all beaches along this coastline are collectively called Bahias de Huatulco, in that there are various beaches in each bay area. There are 9 bays and 36 beaches in Bahias de Huatulco. Four bays contain beaches accessed via hotels, private casitas or public entrances off the highway, and five bays are located within a protected national park. Needless to say, there are many beaches to explore, and all of them are beautiful.
In and around Santa Maria Huatulco and Santa Cruz, the two main tourist towns with beaches for cruise docking, there are many beaches both large and small with both turquoise blue tranquil waters as well as cobalt blue wavy water. The most popular and developed beach is called Santa Cruz with long stretches of sand, a cruise dock, restaurants, and shops. Even though this may be the most crowded beach, its turquoise blue waters do not disappoint.
Bahia Tangolunda has 5 different beaches that are less crowded, yet a bit more exclusive as they house the majority of Huatulco’s luxury hotels and beach rentals. My favorite beach in this region is Playa Violin. It can be accessed from the highway, but there are also private homes and small eco-resorts with their own private walkways. Playa Violin is small and peaceful with vibrantly turquoise waters. There are hardly any visitors on the beach, and the beach is surrounded by lush forested mountains and impressive rock formations.
Huatulco National Park has 5 of the 9 bays that make up Bahias de Huatulco and is one of the most important protectorates of Mexico’s pacific coral populations. There are thousands of species of flora and fauna in this massive area of jungle and beaches. There is absolutely no development of any kind in the national park, so the beaches are pristine and perfect for snorkeling. Feel free to take land hikes within the park before heading to any one of 20 beaches to relax and snorkel. The entrance fee for land exploration is 20 pesos, and there is a fee of 23 pesos to enter the beaches. Exploring all the beaches in this park could take weeks, but with such a cheap entrance fee, it is well worth it explore over multiple day trips.
About 30 mi (50 km) north of Las Bahias de Huatulco lies Zipolite, a beautiful and extremely long stretch of beach at around 2 mi (3.5 km) in length. This beach is great for long walks and is also the only clothing-optional beach in Oaxaca. There is an annual nudist festival here for those interested in a weeks-worth of suit-free bathing. There are rustic cabins and economical hotels along this beach, catering more to the European backpackers and Mexican middle class.
San Agustinillo lies about 3 mi north of Zipolite and has 3 beaches naturaly sectioned off by rock formations. The best beach for swimming and relaxing is called Playa el Rinconcito. The small fishing village of San Agustinillo offers delicious fresh fish at various modest beach shacks along the shoreline. Like Zipolite, San Agustinillo offers more affordable accommodations for backpackers and families on a budget.
A mile north of San Agustinillo, lies Mazunte, my personal favorite. The main beach in Mazunte is called Playa Mermejita. From Playa Mermejita you can take a hike on a marked trail up to Punta Cometa, a grassy look-off point at the top of a magnificent cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Not only can you see the surrounding mountains and shorelines, but you also get the best sunset sightings in the world. The hike is easy, so there is no excuse not to hike up every evening after a long day at the beach to marvel at the magnificent pink and orange sky bidding farewell to a bright red descending sun.
Mexico is the land of eternal summers and an abundance of beaches to have fun in the sun. There is a beach for every taste under the sun, from surfer’s paradises to calm snorkeling and relax havens. Luckily, you can have the whole range in one vacation when you visit Oaxaca!
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