10-day Oaxaca Itinerary: From Beaches to Hiking

The complex ecosystems and rich biodiversity along the coast offer much to see and do, so if you’re into exploring, this itinerary will immerse you in the best of what there is to do outside of Oaxaca City.

In the Mountains

Image of San Jose Pacifico mountains with clear blue skies.
San Jose Pacifico. Photo © Antwon Mcmullen/Dreamstime.com.

DAY 1: San José Del Pacífico

Leave Oaxaca City by car or suburban van by 8am, arriving in San José del Pacífico by 11am. Grab a cup of coffee and a bite, throw your stuff in a cabaña, and hit the trail. There are lots of great trails to wander, just always try to be aware of where you are in relation to the highway, as, even if you get lost, you can always grab a camioneta back to town. With or without the psychedelic fungi that San José is known for, a walk through these mountains is sure to inspire awe. For dinner, grab pasta or a steak and some house-distilled mezcal at La Taberna de los Duendes.

DAY 2: San Mateo Río Hondo

After breakfast, hike out to San Mateo Río Hondo, which takes about 1.5 hours, but take your time to work up an appetite. You’ll pass by so many plants, bugs, and birds you’ve probably never seen before that you’ll end up making frequent stops. Eat lunch at Las Amapolas, admire the church, and walk back to San José, or get a camioneta to take you back to the highway and head south, arriving in Pluma Hidalgo for a cup of joe as the sun sets. Stay in town, or have a night reserved at a coffee plantation. You can sleep in a bed at Finca Don Gabriel, or out in the fields at Cerro de la Pluma, where you’ll basically camp out like coffee farmers.

DAY 3: Pluma Hidalgo

Have your plantation tour reserved beforehand. You’ll learn a lot about coffee production in Oaxaca, and get to taste a lot, too. You should be able to tour the plantation in the morning and early afternoon, arriving in Bahías de Huatulco for a sunset swim.

On the Pacific Coast

Bahias de Huatulco. Photo © Francisco Javier Zea Lara/Dreamstime.com.

DAY 4: Bahías De Huatulco

In Huatulco, spend a day exploring the bays and beaches. Head out to Playa La Entrega, with a stop for photos from the Mirador El Faro (Lighthouse Lookout) on the way, and do some snorkeling. Or rent a bicycle and pedal through the jungle trails of Parque Nacional Huatulco to get to undeveloped beaches like Playas El Maguey and Cacaluta. Take snacks. In the evening, have dinner on the beach at Playa Santa Cruz. Don’t forget to take a look at the open-air Capilla de la Santa Cruz, which houses one of the four crosses made from a once supposedly indestructible larger one. Enjoy a last dip in the calm waters of the bay and drinks at a palapa bar.

DAY 5: Las Cascadas Mágicas And Finca La Gloria

Have your transportation out to Las Cascadas Mágicas arranged beforehand, ready to leave town by 10am, after coffee and breakfast in La Crucecita. Before noon, you’ll be jumping off waterfalls and swinging on rope swings, splashing around in the thick jungle heat to work up an appetite for lunch. If you didn’t get enough coffee up in Pluma, grab a cup at the coffee farm La Gloria and explore the grounds of this lower-altitude plantation. Back in Huatulco by the early evening, relax poolside or on the beach, or get a massage or temazcal in one of Huatulco’s many excellent spas.

Photo of Mazunte with clear blue water and blue skies
Mazunte. Photo © Kimcurrell/Dreamstime.com

DAY 6: Mazunte

Leave Huatulco on an urbano bus by 8am, which should put you in Mazunte by 10am. Cool off from the trip on Playa Rinconcito, then stop by the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga to learn more about sea turtle biology and conservation. In the afternoon, you might take a camioneta east down the coast to visit beaches at San Agustinillo, Zipolite, and Puerto Ángel, but try and make it back to Mazunte an hour before sunset. Hike out to the tip of the Punta Cometa to watch the sun melt into the Pacific before dinner.

DAY 7: La Ventanilla

Start the day off with a tour of the lagoons at La Ventanilla, where the canoe you take to the conservation center on the island shares the murky mangrove waters with gigantic crocodiles. Learn more about the wildlife here on a hike through jungle trails, or take a horseback ride on the beach. After the tour, kick back on the beach in Mazunte, or visit others you missed, and head to Puerto Escondido by late afternoon, arriving by sunset.

Photo of Playa Carrizalillo with clear water and blue skies.
Playa Carrizalillo. Photo @Dabahos/Dreamstime.com.

DAY 8: Puerto Escondido

In Puerto, take some surf lessons on the smaller waves off La Punta Zicatela, or, if you’ve already got the skills, grab a board and hit Playa Zicatela, one of the world’s best surfing beaches. If hanging ten isn’t exactly your thing, spend the day checking out the calmer beaches for swimming. Start off at Playa Principal. From here, you can walk west to Playas Manzanillo and Puerto Angelito. Get to Playa Carrizalillo by sunset, as you won’t want to miss the view from the top of the stairs that lead to the beach.

DAY 9: Lagunas De Chacahua

Start the day early to take a morning boat tour of the Lagunas de Chacahua. Once in the town of Chacahua, surf, swim, or check out the crocodile farm across the inlet. Have your sunset tour of the Laguna de Manialtepec arranged beforehand, and get back to this lagoon by 4pm or 5pm. Here, do some bird-watching on a sunset cruise, and when the sun goes down, splash around in the glowing water with the bioluminescent plankton that lives here. You’ll be back in Puerto just in time to party on the last night of your trip.

DAY 10: Recreation And Relaxation

Take advantage of your last day on the coast doing whatever you like. Get back on the board and spend all day riding waves, eat too many shrimp cocktails, take a yoga class, or get a Zapotec massage to beat the soreness out of your muscles. In the evening, do some shopping on El Adoquín and the Avenida del Morro, grabbing some gifts and souvenirs to take home. This isn’t adios, but rather ¡Hasta la próxima! (Until next time!).

Cody Copeland

About the Author

For Cody Copeland, Oaxaca had always seemed elusive. After traveling to many other parts of Mexico, from Mazatlán to Cancún, Monterrey to Mexico City, he was told everywhere he went that he needed to see Oaxaca.

In 2010, Cody began teaching English at a public university in a tiny desert town about two hours south of Oaxaca City and was finally able to discover this magic for himself. He spent a year and a half in Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz, and it didn’t take long for him to realize that he had found Mexico’s best-kept secret. He took advantage of every opportunity available to get to know the place and its people, from donning colorful costumes for holiday parades to sharing traditional meals with locals in their homes.

Cody is a writer of essays, travel guides, and poems. His work has appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, The Texas Observer, The Río Grande Review, and Mexico City Lit, among others. He has lived and worked in Mexico for over six years and currently resides in Mexico City.

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