In Mexico’s incredible state of Oaxaca, find diverse and cute beach towns that line the Pacific coast. However, there is one rustic and almost rugged beach town that stands out from the rest: Chacahua.
This intrepid beach town is located in Lagunas de Chacahua National Park. It actually stretches over two shorelines and is reachable via lagoons of mangroves, crocodiles, turtles, and multiple bird species. What was once a sleepy fishing village of a few families, is a haven for travelers looking to completely disconnect.
Chacahua is special and different than any other place in Oaxaca, or maybe Mexico for that matter. It’s a beautiful fusion of Afro and Mexican cultures, a rich treasure chest of pristine coastline, and a tranquil place to simply be.
The unspoiled shores of Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua are easily accessible from Oaxaca’s most popular beach town, Puerto Escondido. How to reach Chacahua is part of the overall experience, it’s an adventure.
This guide explains all the buses, boats, and details on how to get to Chacahua and what to do there when you finally arrive. Unless you surf, there’s not too much to do except enjoy one of the best beaches in Oaxaca Mexico.
Here’s all you need to know about tranquil and unpretentious Chacahua Mexico.
Table of Contents
- How to Get to Chacahua Oaxaca Mexico
- Chacahua Accommodation Options
- Best Things to Do in Chacahua National Park
- Tips for Visiting Chacahua Oaxaca
- How to Leave Chacahua to Puerto Escondido
- Final Thoughts on Chacahua Oaxaca Mexico
How to Get to Chacahua Oaxaca Mexico
Chacahua beach is located in Lagunas de Chacahua National Park in the state of Oaxaca Mexico. The easiest way to get there is by public transportation from one of the larger beach towns of Puerto Escondido.
Getting to Chachua includes a mixture of collectivos, boats, and maybe even an open-air truck.
The process can seem overwhelming, but below, it’s broken down step-by-step on how to get to Chacahua.
Trust me, the effort to get to Chacahua is worth it!
How to Get to Chacahua from Puerto Escondido
From Puerto Escondido, there are no direct collectivos for Chacahua Oaxaca. Look for the collectivos that depart frequently from downtown Puerto Escondido for the Rio Grande. Take this collectivo and exit at the stop for the gateway village of El Zapotalito.
With tourism growing, the driver will usually ask if you are looking to visit Chacahua.
The collectivo company is Servicio Mixto and they can be found a few blocks to the north of the ADO bus station in Puerto Escondido. It is located on the street Cuarta Pte., directly across the street from a G500 Gas Station.
The stop for El Zapotalito is just a little past the town of Rio Grande. There’s a quick stop here to load up lots of new passengers and supplies for villagers. These collectivos also accept surfboards for those looking to surf in Chacahua.
🚐 Puerto Escondido to Chacahua Collectivo Logistics | Catch them here: Cuarta Pte. | Departure Information: leave from the station every 10 minutes | One-Way Ticket Cost: $55 – 60 pesos per person | Duration: 1 hour | Exit at the roadside stop for El Zapotalito
Once you reach El Zapotalito, take a taxi to the boat launches. This may require some waiting until the car fills. El Zapotalito does have an ATM, so make sure to stock up on last-minute cash if need be.
🚗 El Zapotalito Taxi to Boat Launch Logistics | Catch them here | Taxis can be shared (depart when full) or private | Shared Taxi cost: $20 pesos | Private Cost: $80 pesos | It’s best to share the taxi with other passengers since you will more than likely be waiting to share a boat
How to Get to Chacahua from El Zapotalito | 2 Options
There are two different ways to get to Chacahua from El Zapotalito. The most popular way is to take a small boat, or in Spanish, a “lancha.” There is a direct boat route that is scenic and twists through the narrow paths of the mangroves. Otherwise, there is a quick 10-minute boat ride that combines a camioneta, or an open-air truck ride. The camioneta follows a dirt gravel road.
Each route is different and gives a different perspective on the magical Chacahua National Park. Personally, I suggest arriving in Chacahua via boat and leaving via camioneta. This allows for two beautiful angles to appreciate the beauty.
Have the taxis drop you at the parking lot for the lanchas. There are many different boat docks in Zapotalito, but the boat drivers will usually move you from dock to dock to make sure a boat is at full capacity.
Additionally, taxi drivers can receive a commission from tour-based boat companies that are more expensive. Do take some time to wander the dock and look for boats waiting for passengers.
The best and cheapest way to reach Chacahua is by utilizing the local “collectivo lancha.” Typically, the lanchas found here are more reasonable. Make sure to verify the lancha is taking the scenic route before departure.
Oftentimes lanchas can skip the long boat ride, and simply cross the lagoon to the open-aired shared camioneta.
Chacahua Long Boat Ride Launch Logistics | Average shared Boat Launch Fare: $200 pesos per person | Duration: 45 minutes | Last boat: 19:00
The route to Chacahua via camioneta still requires a fast 10-minute boat ride. This boat launch is a little farther down the road, past the main collectivo lanchas.
The short boat ride drops you off on a small wooden dock that opens to a dirt road. Wait here to load into a camioneta. There is usually one on standby, ready to load eager passengers to the main plaza in Chacahua.
Alternative Route Boat Launch Logistics | Shared Boat Launch Fare: $50 pesos per person | Duration: under 10 minutes | Wait for a camioneta into Chacahua
Next, catch the truck to Chacahua.
🚚 Chacahua Camioneta Logistics | Fare: $50 pesos | Duration: 40 minutes | This route goes past many of the main beachside cabañas, hop out at your accommodation, or take the truck to the final stop in town
Chacahua National Park Tour Day Trips
If you want to visit Chacahua Oaxaca but only have a day, a guided tour is probably the best option.
➜ This Chacahua National Park Tour departs Puerto Escondido and includes a scenic boat trip through the lagoon, and a visit to the Crocodile Sanctuary, and provides ample free time to snorkel, swim, or relax.
Chacahua Accommodation Options
There are two popular options when it comes to Chacahua accommodations. Either sleep in a no-frills cabaña or bring your own tent! There aren’t really any Chacahua hotels, only basic family guesthouses. However, development is happening along the coastline and there are hotels sprouting up.
Due to the fact that Chacahua is a little time-consuming to reach, I recommend spending at least 3 full days here. Once you get in the groove and disconnect, this place becomes a slice of heaven.
✈ Travel Planning | Bring more cash than you expect. Chacahua has a special pull to keep you here.
Sleeping in Chacahua Oaxaca
There are two main areas to sleep in Chacahua. The most popular option is on the main beach strip. This is where the longer boat rides in the lanchas drop. This is also where many of the main restaurants, surf rental shops, and backpackers are set up.
Across the small inlet, on the opposite side of the main village, find a few cabaña options. This side of Chacahua is less frequented by travelers and must be accessed via a small local boat. The boat ride is under a minute and should cost no more than $15 pesos. The most popular thing to do in Chacahua on this side of the lagoon is to take the climb up to the abandoned lighthouse.
Cabañas & Camping in Chacahua
Many of the Chacahua cabañas have spaces to set up for camping. The facilities are basic but include access to the bathrooms, showers, and super-slow Wi-Fi. During the rainy season, it’s crucial to be under a covered roof. The storms at night can be strong and the extra protection is essential.
There are quite a few cabañas and guesthouses. Simply walk along the beach and in the village to find one that suits your liking.
One of the best Chacahua cabañas, especially for campers, is Terra Tipi. The food here is excellent and popular among travelers. Don’t miss out on trying a slice of their homemade cheesecake!
The camping fee can be waived if you eat all your meals here, but otherwise, it’s $50 pesos a night ($2.50 USD).
Booking Places to Stay in Lagunas de Chacahua Oaxaca Mexico
Chacahua is changing. There used to be almost no online presence in this sleepy Mexico beach town. Now, there are a few places to stay in Chacahua that utilize online reservations.
If looking for peace of mind with an online reservation, check out the following cabanas.
8 Awesome Things to Do in Chacahua National Park
Now that you know how to reach one of the best beaches in Oaxaca, simply enjoy it!
Here are some of the best things to do in Chacahua Oaxaca.
1 | Relax at Chacahua Playa
Chacahua Playa is the main stretch of beach and where many of the cabañas are located. So ultimately, it’s also one of the most popular beaches. Go for a dip in the early morning or into the late afternoon.
During the mid-afternoon heat, many people take refuge in a hammock or grab lunch in the shade. It’s hot here even during the rainy season! The beach is long and usually pretty empty, so take advantage of a peaceful sunrise or sunset stroll.
The ocean here can have a strong current, so take caution when swimming. However, the sea here is usually more calm than in Zipolite or Mazunte. Since Chacahua is pretty barren, there are no lifeguards on duty.
2 | Chacahua Surf Destination
Chacahua is at its core a surfer’s paradise. The waves come in big out close to the jetty. Many of the advanced surfers wait to ride massive waves from here. There are also many spectators who sit out near the rocks to enjoy the mind-boggling show.
All surfing levels can appreciate Chacahua. Beginners can rent a board and take some lessons from locals. There’s an amazing woman who offers classes on Chacahua Playa. Lessons get cheaper the more sessions you book, so if spending a few days here take advantage of the discounted prices.
Many people bring their own boards to catch some waves. Many of the cabañas have spaces to hold boards. The surfing in Chacahua National Park is some of the best in Oaxaca and not as crowded or intense as in Puerto Escondido.
Don’t miss the opportunity to surf in Chacahua.
3 | Hike to the Lighthouse (El Faro)
One of the best things to do in Chacahua is to hike up to the lighthouse, or Faro, for sunset. The views from here are spectacular. Be prepared to see the ocean, the village, and some distant views of the Lagunas of Chacahua.
Technically, the lighthouse is closed off and restricted. There is a sign blocking the hiking path, but everyone seems to ignore the signs and visits at least once.
To reach the lighthouse, catch a local boat to the other side. The price should be no more than $15 pesos for the minute ride across the lagoon. The trail is short, but not well maintained, since ya know, it is technically prohibited.
In less than 5 minutes, reach the old abandoned lighthouse.
☛ Useful Tip | It’s best to do the lighthouse hike in a group so that you can split the cost of the boat and have enough people to return. This side of Chacahua is quiet and you may need to wait to get a ride back. Bring a headlamp and wear good shoes. We had to yell and flash our lights for 40 minutes until someone came to pick us up. Be patient. Eventually, someone will come.
On the way back in the darkness, look in this lagoon to see the bioluminescence.
4 | Chacahua Bioluminescence
Speaking of, many people come to Chacahua Mexico to experience the bioluminescence lagoons. Many of the locals offer night tours to swim in the lakes that are filled with organisms that light up the lakes. To best experience Chacahua bioluminescence, try to go closer to a new moon.
☛ Tour prices are negotiable, but usually run between $100 – $300 pesos
5 | Read a Book, Journal, Unplug
So, what to do in Chacahua? Simply relax!
Chacahua is pretty disconnected from the outside world, including technology. The Wi-Fi and phone service are unstable, so it’s the perfect escape if looking to disconnect while traveling in Mexico. So, what to do in Chacahua?
The tranquility of Chacahua is ideal for catching up on some reading, writing, or brainstorming some creative manifestations. Even plug-ins are far and few between, so bring an actual hardcover book (gasp!), or two, or three.
Many of the restaurants and cabanas have plenty of hammocks and covered areas with lounge chairs.
Unplug, disconnect, and find solitude in this coastal hideout.
☛ Psst… Lagunas de Chacahua is not an officially registered Oaxaca pueblo magico, but it really should be!
6 | Explore More Lagunas de Chacahua via Private Boat Tour
If you absolutely loved the Lagunas de Chacahua on the way in, spend more time exploring them via a private boat tour. Many locals offer up their services to explore a few stops in the national park.
The boats are rentable for a few hours and tours can be tailored for what you want to see and do.
☛ The standard boat tour is around $1,600 pesos ($87 USD) for a few hours. To cut down on expenses, round up a few like-minded travelers.
7 | Get a Massage
On the main Chacahua beach, there is at least one hut that offers massages. It’s essential to book a massage by appointment. Bonus, This establishment also offers morning yoga classes, some even by donation. The beach hut offers specialty massages on the second floor overlooking the ocean.
What better way to relax in Chacahua than with an open-air massage and the not-so-distant sound of waves crashing in the backdrop?
8 | Eat all the Seafood
The food in Chacahua is simple but oh-so-delicious! For obvious reasons, it’s heavy in the seafood department.
One of the best things to eat in Chacahua is pescado empapelado, or fish that is slow-cooked in foil or paper with spices and barebones veggies. This slow-cooked dish takes time, so plan for this meal to take at least an hour to prepare. I promise it’s so worth the wait!
🍽 Oaxaca Foodie Tip | Try Restaurant & Cabañas Jamy for this popular Mexican fish dish
Terra Tipi has excellent Oaxacan dishes and also serves up yummy seafood dishes. The ceviche here is simple and delicious.
Many of the food stands serve up fish or shrimp burgers. Don’t miss the chance the eat some of the freshest seafood in Chacahua.
Tips for Visiting Chacahua Oaxaca
Chacahua is quite rustic and barebones. Here are some tips when visiting this paradise.
- Make sure to carry and purchase toilet paper.
- Buy a large 5-gallon drinking water from one of the tiendas in town to replenish your reusable water bottle
- Bug spray is indispensable, especially at sunrise and sunset, it’s pure gold.
- Also, sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen
- Carry plenty of cash. There are no ATMS here and few places take cards. If they do, there’s usually a ridiculous % fee added, like around 10%
How to Leave Chacahua to Puerto Escondido
Sadly, there will come a time to leave Chacahua Oaxaca. Either catch a collectivo boat back to El Zapotalito or flag down a passing camioneta. If you stayed at Terra Tipi, the trucks go by every hour right behind the property.
The camionetas start running around 6 a.m. It’s best to leave early to avoid the mid-afternoon heat in the truck.
Once in El Zapotalito, catch a taxi back to the main road to wait for a collectivo to return to Puerto Escondido. From Puerto Escondido, most travelers return to Oaxaca City by bus.
Alternatively, you could slowly follow the Pacific coastline all the way to Zipolite. Here, catch a collectivo to San Jose del Pacifico, a village nestled in the mystical Sierra Sur Mountains. Cabañas Rancho Viejo is a good place to stay in San Jose del Pacifico.
More Oaxaca Travel Guides
Looking to experience the best of Oaxaca?
The Historic Center of Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but don’t miss a chance to experience these best day trips from Oaxaca. The East Oaxaca Valley from Oaxaca to Milta is dotted with interesting ruins, artisan villages, and ancient marketplaces. The pueblo of Teotitlan del Valle is a highlight with its stunning woven rugs and the sacred hill of Cerro Picacho.
These detailed Oaxaca itineraries are a great place to start planning a trip to Oaxaca Mexico!
Final Thoughts | How to Get to Chacahua & What to Do in One of the Best Beaches in Oaxaca
In conclusion, Chacahua is one of the best-unspoiled beaches in Oaxaca with a unique cultural flair. The route to get to Chacahua National Park is an adventure all in itself. Take the scenic boat ride through the Lagunas de Chacahua, or hop in the back of an open-air camioneta that speeds along a dusty road.
Either way, both options lead you to the sleepy fishing of Chacahua, an up-and-coming no-frills surf destination in Oaxaca Mexico.
Wondering what to do in Chacahua? Simply relax and unplug. There are lots of ways to spend the days like wandering along the beachfront, swimming in the ocean, eating lots of seafood, or taking a surf lesson.
However you spend the time in Chacahua, you won’t leave without a carefree smile or shake the feeling that you’ve stumbled upon one of Oaxacas’s best-kept secrets.
Have you heard of Chacahua Oaxaca? Did you visit Lagunas de Chacahua National Park and this sleepy fishing village in Mexico? I’d love to know what you think in the comments below!
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