It’s easy to understand why many Oaxaca vacationers stay right at the beach. And not just at the popular crystalline stretches around the Bahías de Huatulco , Puerto Ángel , and Puerto Escondido . Some adventurers flee the resorts to find even more pristine strands hidden in far corners along the entire Oaxaca coast. There they discover solitude and wildlife-rich shorelines varying from mangrove-edged lagoons and algae-decorated tidepools to shoals of pebbles and sand of a dozen colors and consistencies.
Sand makes the beach, and Oaxaca has plenty, from warm, black mica dust to cool, velvety white coral. Some beaches drop steeply to turbulent, close-in surf fine for fishing. Others are level, with gentle, rolling breakers made for surfing and swimming.
Oaxaca’s beaches yield fascinating troves of shells and treasures of flotsam and jetsam. Beachcombing is more rewarding during the summer storm season when big waves deposit acres of fresh shells—among them clams, combs of Venus, conch, cowries, limpets, olives, sand dollars, scallops, starfish, and whelks.
During the summer–fall rainy season, beaches near river mouths are often fantastic outdoor galleries of wind- and water-sculpted snags and giant logs deposited by the downstream flood.
Wildlife watchers should keep quiet and always be on the alert. Animal survival depends on them seeing you first. Occasional spectacular offshore sights, such as whales, dolphins, and manta rays, or an onshore giant constrictor, beached squid or octopus, crocodile, or even a jaguar looking for turtle eggs may reward those prepared to wait and watch for them. Don’t forget your binoculars and Steve Howell and Sophie Webb’s A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern America.