Sometimes Earth’s beauty is so stunning it hurts. I felt that – along with an amazing, calming energy – at Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Mexico.
This is a popular place for day trips from Oaxaca City. And you will find a ton of info on this spot on the web. But we offer four tips that helped us make the most of our visit — and maybe they’ll help you, too!
4 tips for Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca
1. Go in the morning – or at least before noon.
There are a lot of tourists that show up in the afternoons on group tours. A lot. And, they all wear sunscreen. The water might get a little… slimy. And you won’t have an easy time relaxing like my special little overachiever.
2. Go when it’s sunny.
We played waiting games with the clouds to get the colors to pop in our photos. But this wasn’t such a bad thing because we went early enough in the day that the hordes of tourists weren’t a factor as we waited.
3. Save money, go at your own pace, with a colectivo, not a tour.
If you take a colectivo (shared taxi) instead of an organized tour, you’ll save a lot of money.
Not only that, but if you go on an organized tour, the Hierve el Agua site is one stop on a day-long itinerary with a bunch of stops. You won’t get to relax and really explore this special place.
You will run around all day, and then end up at the natural mineral pools and rock formations at Hierve el Agua for 45 minutes in the late afternoon – with every other tourist in town. We know this because we stayed long enough to witness it.
How to get to Hierve el Agua with a colectivo
Get started out of Oaxaca City before 9 a.m., because it can take nearly three hours to get to Hierve el Agua.
The first colectivo goes from Oaxaca City to the village of Mitla. It cost us 50 pesos for two people for about a 45 minute ride (less than $3 USD).
Colectivos in Oaxaca City are maroon and white cabs – they look different from the pick-up trucks and vans in other parts of Mexico.
From Mitla, we transferred to another colectivo for the rest of the trip. These colectivos are pick-up trucks. They are white.
The ride from Mitla in the coletivo truck took about another 45 minutes or so. It normally costs 50 pesos per person to get to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, but the driver will wait for at least six passengers. (You could pay more than one fare to get the show on the road.)
We lucked out and both times we got seats in the cab.
4. Wear sport sandals, not flip flops.
I’m notorious for wearing flip flops everywhere. In this case, there is a trail you can walk down to rock formations that look like a waterfall. You can easily see the “waterfall” from the mineral pools. It’s helpful to have something more than flip flops in this area. There are no railings, and the ledges are cliffs with gentle running water over the sides that make them slippery. Also, the trail itself has rocky steps, so it just makes sense to wear sensible shoes.
Speaking of slippery… the water in the pools is oily. It’s almost gross. I am guessing it’s from everyone’s skin and the lotion they use. You’ll just contribute to the problem if you slather it on before you get in.
I don’t know how much longer this place will retain its beauty with all the tourists that visit every day. But for now, Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca is a Mexican treasure.
How did this odd place form, anyway? See Wikipedia for some geological info.