A burgeoning cultural and culinary capital with a beautiful colonial core of lovely, tree-shaded streets, Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most captivating cities. Artists and artisans alike are inspired by the area’s creative atmosphere, indigenous traditions and bright, clear light.
A magnet for surfers, would-be surfers and every other kind of beach lover, this ‘Hidden Port’ is one of the most enjoyable spots on Mexico’s Pacific coast. By day, you can surf, snorkel, dive, swim, tan, go sportfishing or look for turtles, dolphins and whales. By night, a busy cafe, restaurant and bar scene brings live music and a freewheeling, unpretentious nightlife.
The countryside and villages around Oaxaca are a big part of its appeal. The city stands at the meeting point of three valleys that have been a center of civilization since pre-Hispanic times: the Valle de Tlacolula, stretching 50km east from the city; the Valle de Zimatlán, running about 100km south; and the Valle de Etla, reaching about 40km north.
Bustling, sweaty Pochutla is the market town and transportation hub for the central part of the Oaxaca coast, including the nearby beach spots of Puerto Ángel, Zipolite, San Agustinillo and Mazunte. Hwy 175 from Oaxaca runs through Pochutla as Av Lázaro Cárdenas, the narrow main street, and meets the coastal Hwy 200 about 1.5km south of town.
Valle de Zimatlán
South from Oaxaca, Hwy 175 goes through San Bartolo Coyotepec, famed for its black pottery; Ocotlán, with one of the Valles Centrales’ busiest weekly markets; and San José del Pacífico, famed for its magic mushrooms, en route to Pochutla near the coast. Hwy 147 goes to Cuilapan.
Tehuantepec, 245km from Oaxaca city, is a friendly but hot and sweaty town, and most travelers blow through here on their way to somewhere else. June and August are the main months for partying in the fiestas of Tehuantepec's 15 barrios (neighborhoods), each of which has its own colonial church, many of which are prettily painted and floodlit after dark.
Barra de la Cruz
This well-tended indigenous Chontal village, about 25km east of Huatulco, offers surfers the chance to catch some amazing waves and everyone the chance to get off the grid and slow right down. The right-hand point break, off the beach 1.5km from the rustic village, gets up to a double overhead and is long and fast.