Getting Off the Beaten Track in Oaxaca in Mexico

Getting Off the Beaten Path in Oaxaca, Mexico

Getting Off the Beaten Path in Oaxaca, Mexico

During my time Mexico – once on my very first long-haul trip way back in 2004 and later with Andy, along with visiting the “go-tos” of Cozumel, Tulum, Cancun, or Puerto Vallarta, we veered off the beaten path and headed further south to the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Off the Beaten Path in Oaxaca 

Based on our own experiences, this post explores a little history and then delves into getting off the beaten path in Oaxaca, one of our favourite places to visit in Mexico.

History of Oaxaca

Oaxacan Handicrafts, Mexico

The state of Oaxaca is located in Southwestern Mexico, bordered by a stunning coastline to its south.  This region holds a rich history of indigenous peoples and cultures, spanning back to the days when the Zapotec Indians inhabited Oaxaca.  The ruins of Monte Alban were previously one of the largest inhabited centres of early Mexico and an integral part of the Zapotec civilization.  

Oaxaca is up and coming in the tourism world, due to its authentic cultural experiences and secluded, magical beaches such as the hippy beach town of Mazunte.  This region is famous for its traditional delicacies of mole sauces, mezcal, and fried grasshoppers, as well as its history of intricate woodworking and handicrafts, stemming from the roots of its indigenous peoples.

Things To Do in Oaxaca

Oaxaca has something to offer outdoor enthusiasts, culinary experts, beach bathers, and history buffs. 

Secluded Beach in Oaxaca, Mexico
One of Oaxaca’s Secluded Beaches

For history lovers, Oaxaca is sprinkled with architecturally rich buildings, like the golden Templo de Santo Domingo, the stark white Basilica de la Soledad, or the ancient ruins at Monte Alban.  Or you can check out a few fascinating museums such as the Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art or the Museum of Culture.

For those chasing culinary experiences, check out the Benito Juarez Market, or the fried grasshoppers and traditional moles at the town square of Huatulco.  

Looking for a place to stretch your legs and get your heart pumping in Oaxaca?  Pueblos Mancomunados offers pristine hiking opportunities, while the Ethnobotanical Garden allows visitors to experience some of the indigenous fauna of the region. Or you can head to the coast for some excursions waterfront and a chance to play in the surf!

Get Your Guide offer some great tours and activities in and around Oaxaca.



Huatulco – The Highlight of Oaxaca

When it comes to my personal favourite, you can’t beat the ocean bordering gem of Huatulco.  Only a short jaunt from Bahias de Huatulco Airport, this town boasts intimate beachfront resorts, nestled snuggly between lush jungle slopes, as well as truly unique dining, shopping, and cultural experiences in its main town square!

Things To Do in Huatulco

Huatulco Main Square in Oaxaca, Mexico
The Main Square in Huatulco, Oaxaca

In my opinion, the main highlight in Huatulco is its authenticity!  Inside the town square, there is a historical church which is open to the public for viewing, as well as a quaint park-like setting in the plaza, in which you can find a shady spot to people watch.  There are plenty of local food options, and I would urge anyone to bravely try the fried grasshoppers, as well as traditional mole sauces, which the region is famous for.

There are a variety of vendors in Huatulco, including jewelry, carvings, woodworking, pottery, or any of the local cuisine samplings.  Huatulco is on the rise as a popular cruise ship destination, and as so, sometimes the vendors tend to treat you as such.  It may feel a bit overwhelming to shop on a non-cruise day, as the vendors will flock to you and swarm around you, for lack of other customers.  It takes a little getting used to, but stating expectations up front and standing firm goes a long way.

As well as just exploring the town take a look at Get Your Guide for ideas of other tours and activities you could do.



Where to Stay in Oaxaca

Oaxaca State has accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes. AirBnB and Booking[.]com are both good options to start your search.

How to Travel to and Around Oaxaca

Flights into Oaxaca International Airport may not occur as frequently throughout the day as other Mexican hot spots, and will probably require a layover. 

If you are targeting the area of Huatulco specifically, consider Bahias de Huatulco International Airport.  From there, it is a short cab ride over to resorts lining the Pacific.

Bookaway has lots of transportation options for getting around Oaxaca. After your time in Oaxaca, popular next destinations are Puerto Escondido and Mexico City

Why You Should Choose Oaxaca

Oaxaca has a simple charm that I have not previously experienced elsewhere in Mexico. It is authentic enough to allow for new and unique experiences, yet humble enough to grant its visitors a dose of seclusion. Oaxaca is still a largely undiscovered gem, but it is on the rise, so now is the time to go!

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Have you been to Oaxaca in Mexico? What was your favourite thing to see or do there?

P.S. Read about our favourite off the beaten track adventure in Mexico via the following link:

Tanya Korteling

Tanya is the founder and head content creator for Can Travel Will Travel. She combines freelance SEO, CRO, Data and Marketing consultancy with exploring the world. Passionate about adventure, nature, wildlife and food, she incorporates these in her travels as much as possible. She also loves immersing herself in new cultures. She's visited hundreds of destinations in 50+ countries and lived in 4 countries. Tanya worked as a Data Planning Manager and Digital Marketing Strategist before leaving the UK in 2016 with her husband Andy, to travel, live and work abroad indefinitely. Together they share their experiences and useful information to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. I’ve been to Mexico but I missed Oaxaca. Definitely need to add this to my bucket list! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      I’d love to go back after reading this guest post – I went a long time ago but definitely missed some stuff!

  2. caffeinatedexcursions

    This is a great post! I have been to Puerto Escondido and want to check out Oaxaca City for the culinary scene, but now I’m adding Huatulco to my wish list too!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      How was Puerto Escondido, we were due to go there on our last trip but had to unfortunately fly home early!

  3. Your blogpost helped me realise that I have missed one of the best cities in mexico…If i visit next time then I am surely going to visit here…

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes you should definitely try and add it to your itinerary next time 🙂

  4. kellybarcus

    Oaxaca looks beautiful! After two recent trips, I’m excited to explore more of Mexico!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes it is, I’ve been to Mexico twice now too and would love to return at some point to explore the rest of it.

  5. Kemi

    I love off-the-beaten-path recommendations. Oaxaca looks really pretty even though it’s not large but most importantly, I love the history of it.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes from my memory of my distant trip it is lovely, hopefully I’ll visit again at some point with my husband.

  6. Wow, Oaxaca looks like a really interesting place to visit. I haven’t been to Mexico yet but would love to go once. Thanks for the awesome tips!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes it really is, can’t wait to visit again sometime!

  7. Elena

    I love off-the-beaten-path places. They keep authenticity and bring back the original meaning of the word “travel” from the times when tourist traps haven’t existed. Thank you, Tanya, for another tip. Adding it to my “Americas” list. We finally decided that it would be enough Asia for us after July 2019. Guess what, we are going to Mexico after that!

    1. La Vacanza

      “Such a nostalgic read about Oaxaca! Your firsthand experiences and the unique perspective make me yearn to escape the tourist crowds and delve into the authentic charm of Oaxaca. The historical richness, secluded beaches, and diverse cultural experiences sound incredible! Any specific hidden gems or offbeat spots you’d recommend exploring in Oaxaca? Eager to plan my own off-the-beaten-path adventure!

    2. Bhushan Pratap

      Wow, reading about getting off the beaten path in Oaxaca has me daydreaming of a truly authentic Mexican adventure! The blog provides fantastic insights into hidden gems and local experiences. Has anyone else explored these lesser-known spots in Oaxaca? I’m always up for discovering the road less traveled, so any additional tips or hidden gems from fellow travelers would be greatly appreciated!

  8. Emese-Réka

    I only visited Oaxaca city, including Monte Alban, but loved it! Huatulco is on our must-visit places though, so we will be back in the state, hopefully soon.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Me too – I hope to visit Huatulco at some point too 🙂

  9. Dylan

    I was just in Oaxaca and I somehow completely missed Huatulco! There’s just so much to see and do in this region…but it seems like a good enough reason to go back 🙂

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes I missed it when I went all those years back too! Hopefully, I’ll get to go back someday too!

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