Mexico has long been a popular destination, but that popularity exploded when the pandemic made travel outside the continent impossible. One booming region is the beautifully sun-kissed Costa Chica along the coast of Oaxaca, where Puerto Escondido in particular has caught the eye of tourists, surfers and bohemian wanderers from around the world.
The coast of Oaxaca has a lot to offer. Fantastic beaches and bodacious surf. Delicious food and welcoming culture. Huge iguanas clashing on the terrace of your hotel. It offers all of this and more. To help you find it, we take a look at where to stay, where to eat, and what to do along the Oaxaqueña coast.
The cities of the coast of Oaxaca
We will focus on the stretch of coast between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco. For all intents and purposes, you’ll almost certainly end up staying in one or all three of these cities:
Currently one of the most popular destinations in the world, Puerto Escondido has become something of a surf mecca. With gorgeous beaches, plenty of markets to shop in, and a pretty much non-stop party, it’s not hard to see why so many travelers flock here.
Mazunte (or Zipolite)
Just over an hour up the coast from Puerto Escondido is the small town of Mazunte and the adjacent village/beach of Zipolite. It’s a much smaller bohemian area with lots of fun hostels and bars. It is also known for its LGBT-friendly scene and nudist beaches.
At the southern end of this stretch is Huatulco, which has long been popular among Mexican tourists and is the region’s most developed town. For a while it seemed to be primarily a hotspot for overseas retirees, but a more diverse array of people have been seen showing up even since the pandemic has pushed people to explore wherever they can.
Where to stay on the coast of Oaxaca
There are plenty of great places to stay in this area, with Airbnbs largely being your best bet. That being said, there are plenty of hotels, resorts, bungalows, and even camping opportunities here and there.
Located on the largest hotel property in Huatulco, Las Brisas is a sprawling paradise that offers luxurious rooms (including some huge ocean-view suites), multiple private beaches, restaurants, multiple pools, sea kayaks, snorkeling, etc. Carts transport you through the resort’s beautiful tropical landscape, and the buffet offers a wide range of tasty dishes. With various stay packages, including an all-inclusive option, there is something for everyone. Guests range from families to couples to retirees, and there’s plenty to do (including just relaxing on the beach). All in all an incredibly huge resort with an abundance of gorgeous views.
- Nearest airport: Bahias de Huatulco International Airport
- Weather: 20 minutes
- Distance: 11 miles
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Selina Puerto Escondido
There are plenty of hip surf hotels in Puerto Escondido, but Selina really hits on all the most desirable fronts. It has comfortable, well-decorated rooms, plenty of opportunities to meet fellow travellers, a co-working space with some of the most trusted internet sites in the area, and perhaps most importantly, close proximity. immediate with great beaches and bars. And with rates starting at $29 a night, the price is right.
- Nearest airport: Puerto Escondido Airport
- Weather: 10 minutes
- Distance: 3 miles
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Where to eat on the Oaxaca coast
Ocean Restaurant Huatulco
If you are staying at Las Brisas, you will have many exceptional dining options. If you fancy a break from your all-inclusive all-inclusive, head to the aptly named Ocean Restaurant Huatulco, which offers a beautiful setting and tasty dishes.
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Sal and Pimienta
In Mazunte, stop at Sal y Pimienta, where you’ll enjoy beachside seating and a great selection of seafood. It’s also right in the heart of town, making it a great spot to stop for a meal in the middle of a day of wandering.
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Puerto Escondido has exploded in popularity thanks to its beaches, but the food in the hotter tourist areas tends to be pretty average. Instead, head to Costa Hermosa, which sits on the beach below the bustling Adoquin area. Hermosa offers a pleasant atmosphere, beautiful views (especially at sunset) and quality seafood. They can also put you in touch with a fishing boat and its crew, if that’s what you’re looking for.
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What to do on the coast of Oaxaca
This whole stretch of coast is essentially an outdoor paradise and therefore offers plenty of outdoor exploration.
Hit the beaches
Perhaps the most obvious thing to do is hit the beaches. All three towns mentioned above have gorgeous options, but La Punta Beach in Puerto Escondido is arguably the most notable. Here you can surf, swim, enjoy food and alcohol at a series of beach side restaurants, join in a game of volleyball or just relax and soak up the sun.
See wildlife and release baby turtles
Wildlife viewing opportunities abound all along the coast. Arguably the most popular are baby turtle releases (there are several places you can do this, and this one in Puerto Escondido is arguably the most popular), boat rentals for fishing and whale watching, turtles, dolphins, and other sea life (the options abound, but here’s a good one), or one of the lush and bustling wildlife sanctuaries like Huatulco National Park.
Beyond indulging in all the outdoor activities offered by this paradise, the next most common commitment is partying. From bars to clubs to beach parties, you can have a party and boozy time in any of the aforementioned towns, but the star is definitely the Zicatela Beach area in Puerto Escondido. Barhop along its many beachside clubs and bars, where you’ll find it all too easy to have fun late at night – or even late into the morning.
How to save money on your trip to the Oaxaca coast
While prices have risen throughout the region due to its growing popularity, it is still very much possible to enjoy it on a budget. In other words, the beaches are free. Swimming is free. There are many free opportunities to view wildlife and explore the outdoors. Basically, to enjoy the region at a lower cost, stay on the beaches.
Your best bet for finding affordable accommodation is through Airbnb. There are plenty of options for under $20 a night, but you’ll need to be prepared for hostel-style living.
Although there are a handful of car rental companies out there, most of them are pretty terrible. Your best option for a car is through Los Tres Reyes, where they usually have good service and sometimes offer special deals for weekly rentals. If you’re comfortable on two wheels, ask your hotel or Airbnb host about renting motorcycles or scooters. There are many small “agencies” that rent them out, but the cheapest option is to rent from a private bike owner, of which there are plenty.