Practice a more sustainable style of travel on this 10-day exploration of southern Mexico. Start in Oaxaca to tour the city's food markets, sit down with local artisans and cooks, and visit rural villages supported by ecotourism. Cross the Sierra Madre del Sur to hike among cloud forests and spend a night in a secluded mountain cabin, then finish on the wild Pacific beaches of Huatulco—exploring one of Mexico's newest national parks, helping with sea turtle conservation, and snorkeling among pristine ocean reefs.

Highlights

  • See how culture and cuisine intertwine with food tours and cooking workshops
  • Visit local artisan villages to see the region's famous textiles, alebrijes, and pottery
  • Hike among the misty cloud forests of San José del Pacífico
  • Help release turtle hatchlings on the beaches of Huatulco
  • Snorkel in some of Mexico's clearest, cleanest water in Huatulco National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oaxaca, Huautli Experience in San Pablo Etla Oaxaca
Day 2 History, Culture & Gastronomy in Oaxaca, Pulque & Tepache Workshop Oaxaca
Day 3 Archaeology & Crafts Tour of Oaxaca Oaxaca
Day 4 Visit Mitla, the Tule Tree, a Mezcal Distillery & Teotitlán del Valle Oaxaca
Day 5 Transfer to San José del Pacífico, Cloud Forest Hike  San José del Pacífico
Day 6 Transfer to Huatulco, Mangrove Paddle & Turtle Release  Huatulco Bays
Day 7 Discover the Waterfalls of the Sierra Madre del Sur Huatulco Bays
Day 8 Explore Wild Huatulco in Huatulco National Park Huatulco Bays
Day 9 Community Corn Workshop, Snorkel in the Bays of Huatulco Huatulco Bays
Day 10 Fly to Oaxaca & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oaxaca, Huautli Experience in San Pablo Etla

Welcome to Oaxaca
Welcome to Mexico! Upon arrival, you will be picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel in Oaxaca. This southern Mexican city is considered the country's unofficial culinary capital, rich with Indigenous and colonial culture, architecture, and gastronomy. You could visit one of the excellent local museums, such as the Textile Museum of Oaxaca or the Museum of Cultures, with interesting exhibitions that will allow you to delve deeper into Mexican culture, or sit back and watch local life go by as you enjoy a mezcalería at an alfresco café.
 
This afternoon, you'll visit nearby San Pablo Etla and meet Margarita Barrita, a member of Alegria de la Vida. Local women created this collective to preserve the culture and use of huautli (amaranth), an ancient grain that has formed part of the Mesoamerican diet for over 8,000 years. You'll be guided through the cultivation process from planting to harvest, watch the transformation into flour, and help whip up your own batch of tzoalli (a pre-Hispanic dessert based on amaranth and seeds and considered a food of the ancient gods).

Day 2: History, Culture & Gastronomy in Oaxaca, Pulque & Tepache Workshop

Sample the vibrant flavors of Oaxaca's markets
Visit the markets of Oaxaca

Start today on an empty stomach, as you embark on a guided city tour to discover Oaxaca's cultural, historical, and gastronomic richness. Your day begins with a visit to the Mercado de la Merced, where you'll kick off your culinary adventure with traditional baked empanadas. Walk through the colorful streets of the Jalatlaco neighborhood to reach the 16th-century Aqueduct and sample delicious tacos on the street of Garcia Vigil.

Continue to the architectural complex formed by the temple of Santo Domingo, home to a museum of cultures and the site that holds the treasure of the Seventh Tomb of Monte Albán. Here you can stop and cool down with some of the town's famous ice cream. Then, pass the impressive Baroque facades of the Cathedral and the Novo-Hispanic mansions on Alcalá Street to finish at the Plaza de la Constitución. Its authentic Art Nouveau kiosk and colorful markets full of delightful aromas and flavors make it the perfect place to end the tour with some Oaxacan hot chocolate.

Later in the day, meet your local guide and head out of the city to the tiny village of Latuvi. Nestled in the Sierra Norte mountains, this is one of a cluster of remote Zapotec hamlets that have banded together to create the Pueblos Mancomunados, a forward-thinking program of ecotourism that supports the communities and helps maintain their traditional way of life. On today's excursion, you'll visit Señora Martha for a pulque and tepache workshop. Learn how sap is harvested from giant agave plants and pineapple rinds are fermented, then help prepare (and, of course, sample) some of these sacred beverages. 

Day 3: Archaeology & Crafts Tour of Oaxaca

Blue skies over the ancient ruins of Monte Albán
Get ready for a diverse morning of ancient ruins, riveting history, and colorful Oaxacan handicrafts. Start with a visit to the UNESCO-listed, pre-Columbian archaeological site of Monte Albán, located on a hilltop in the heart of the Oaxacan Valley. Dating to the sixth century BCE, this vast city was once the capital of the Zapotec people, and it remains one of the country's largest Mesoamerican sites. You can still see the remains of its ancient temples, pyramids, canals, and even ball courts.

The tour continues to the community of Arrazola, known for its alebrijes—distinctive Oaxacan woodcarvings of colorful mythical creatures. Browse its many workshops and look for the perfect fantastical alebrije of your own to bring you luck. Afterward, you'll stop in Cuilapan de Guerrero and the 16th-century Santiago Apóstol, a former monastery and jewel of Dominican architecture. The day's tour ends in Coyotepec, a town known for its signature Oaxacan black pottery, where Doña Rosa will be waiting to show you her black clay workshop.
Plan your trip to Mexico
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Visit Mitla, the Tule Tree, a Mezcal Distillery & Teotitlán del Valle

Visit a rug weaver's workshop to meet local artisans

Today's tour starts with a visit to the millenary Árbol del Tule (Tule Tree). With a circumference of over 148 feet (45 m) and an age of at least 2,000 years old, this Montezuma cypress remains one of the largest and oldest trees in the world. Continue to a local mezcal palenque (distillery) to learn how this traditional Oaxacan spirit is made, then head to the remarkable archaeological site at Mitla to discover the ceremonial center of the Zapotecs. Known as the "Place of the Dead," this religious and burial site dates back to 900 BCE, with Catholic churches built over the ruins by the Spanish in the 16th century.

Your day ends with a visit to a wool rug weaver's workshop in Teotitlán del Valle, where you can meet local artisans and learn about the time-honored skills and wool-dying techniques that create these colorful symbols of the region. 

Day 5: Transfer to San José del Pacífico, Cloud Forest Hike

Hike in San Jose's Cloud Forest
Hike in San José's Cloud Forest
Today starts your journey to the coast, but first, you'll stop in San José del Pacífico, a small town hidden in the middle of the forests and mountains of Oaxaca. Located at 8,202 feet (2,500 m) above sea level, this small community is rooted in traditions, with a setting surrounded by ancient trees, lofty clouds, clean air, and pure water. Get settled into your small cabin with views of the Sierra Madre del Sur, then meet your local guide for a three-hour, medium-level hike. 
 
As you pass through misty cloud forests and spot the rare flora and fauna of the region, your guide will share secrets and stories of the fascinating biology and diversity around you. After reaching a small village, stop for food and take in the sights before returning to San José del Pacífico, where a quiet night amid unspoiled nature awaits. 

Day 6: Transfer to Huatulco, Mangrove Paddle & Turtle Release

Help release sea turtle hatchlings on the beaches of Huatulco
Strike out toward the beach today as a private transfer takes you 4.5 hours southeast to your base for the next four nights in Crucecita. This charming town is part of the coastal paradise known as Huatulco, where the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur meet the Pacific Ocean. The area comprises nine idyllic bays, small villages and beach resorts, and the 29,400-acre (11,890 ha) Huatulco National Park.
 
Spend your afternoon settling in and exploring the many postcard-perfect beaches on your doorstep. As night falls, you'll join an unforgettable two-hour excursion with La Escobilla turtle sanctuary, where you can join in with conservation efforts and sustainably experience the nocturnal wonders of Huatulco. The experience starts with a brief tour of the hatching pen, where you'll learn about sea turtle conservation before releasing some new hatchlings on the beach. 

Then it's time for a trip in a cayuco or traditional rowing boat, allowing you to experience the neighboring mangrove lagoons without impacting their delicate ecosystems. End the evening with a night walking patrol along the beach, searching for sea turtles who come to these sands to nest. If you spot a newly dug nest, you'll help collect it and plant it in an incubation pen to further aid the conservation and protection of these fragile species. 

Day 7: Discover the Waterfalls of the Sierra Madre del Sur

Hike to refreshing waterfalls in the jungles around Huatulco
Today's adventure takes you into the wild jungles of the Sierra Madre del Sur, where you'll start with a visit to a local rural community. After a warm welcome, set off on a guided hike to search for the region's magical waterfalls, stopping at plenty of spectacular viewpoints along the way. After time to enjoy the crystal clear waters of the falls (and cool off with a refreshing dip), you'll head back through the jungle for a memorable lunch, with typical dishes like buttered rice, handmade tortillas cooked on a comal griddle, and black beans. 
 
The afternoon takes you back to Huatulco, where you can relax on the many pristine beaches, try your hand at some of the myriad watersports offered on the bays, or explore more of the area at your leisure.

Day 8: Explore Wild Huatulco in Huatulco National Park

See more of the national park on foot and by boat on today's guided tour

On today's excursion, you'll get to know the most beautiful corners of Huatulco and its five distinct micro-ecosystems: low deciduous forest, wetlands, thorny scrub, coastal dunes, and coral reefs. Start with a leisurely hike along a forest trail to arrive at the heart of Huatulco National Park, where a boat awaits. Hop aboard and continue your exploration on the turquoise waters of the Pacific, where you can stop to snorkel among the sheltered bays and coves. Along the way, your knowledgeable guide will share fascinating facts about the area's rare and resplendent flora and fauna.

Day 9: Community Corn Workshop, Snorkel in the Bays of Huatulco

Learn about Corn with the Local Community
Learn about corn in the local community
Corn first originated in central Mexico over 7,000 years ago. Since then, it has remained inextricably linked with the region as a gastronomic staple and a cultural symbol. In today's community workshop, you'll start the day in the hands of Josefa, a local cook who will welcome you with a warm greeting, her best coffee, and the stories of her chickens. Learn how corn is transformed from seed to cob, help in the kitchen as Josefa turns simple corn into flavorful local dishes, and practice flipping your own tortillas. Close this memorable experience by sitting down to a meal with your local hosts.

In the afternoon, you'll head to La Entrega Beach, one of Huatulco's 36 beaches and a perfect spot for snorkeling. Dive into its famous reef (and some of the clearest and cleanest waters in Mexico) to swim among flourishing corals and diverse marine life such as turtles, puffer fish, manta rays, and sea urchins. No experience is required, and your knowledgeable guide will have even the most novice of snorkelers experiencing the colorful underwater worlds around Huatulco in no time. 

Day 10: Fly to Oaxaca & Depart

Sunset over Huatulco

Your immersive Mexican adventure draws to a close this morning, as you say your goodbyes to Huatulco and catch a 40-minute flight back to Oaxaca to continue your onward journey. Safe travels!

More Great Mexico Itineraries 

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Mexico? Check out these other Mexico itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in Mexico, or discover the best time of year to visit Mexico.

Map

Map of Culture, Cuisine & Conservation in Oaxaca & Huatulco - 10 Days
Map of Culture, Cuisine & Conservation in Oaxaca & Huatulco - 10 Days