How to Get to Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca

Posted 08/02/2024 | 8th February, 2024 

Hierve El Agua is one of the best day trips in Oaxaca and one of the most popular in the whole of Mexico. 

It’s a beautiful, very unique site located 70km from central Oaxaca. 

You simply cannot visit Oaxaca without a day trip to this fantastic spot. So, here is exactly how to get to Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca

Hierve El Agua

What is Hierve El Agua?

Firstly, let’s cover a little about Hierve El Agua.

Hierve El Agua is a natural site in Mexico known for its petrified waterfalls. In fact, there are only two waterfalls of this kind in the whole world (the other being in Cürüksu in Turkey). 

If you’ve researched Oaxaca, you will be familiar with the images of the iconic turquoise waters overlooking the stunning valley. Hierve El Agua is a day trip that doesn’t disappoint! 

These mineral formations resemble cascading water created over centuries by mineral-rich springs. The site offers unique geological features, fun hiking, and beautiful swimming spots.

Hierve El Agua

What is There to Do At Hierve El Agua?

There are two main activities at Hierve El Agua: hiking and swimming. And trust me, you want to do them in that order. 

Hiking Hierve El Agua

If you want to snap those iconic images of the waterfall cascading over the rock formation, you must do the Hierve El Agua hike!

Fear not, though; this hike isn’t particularly difficult. From start to finish, it takes around one hour, which allows plenty of time for stopping to take photos and for much-needed water breaks.

The views over the valley are truly breathtaking. In fact, they were some of the best I’ve seen in the whole of Mexico. 

The footpath is very obvious, and as such, it would be pretty hard to get lost on this route (we did meet a couple of travellers who managed to, though! They were quickly pointed back in the right direction). 

The most challenging part of the hike was the final ten minutes, where it became quite steep. The thought of a dip in the beautiful calm water certainly gave me the final motivational push. 

Swimming in Hierve El Agua

I must admit, I was a little disappointed when we first arrived here.

The infinity pool I had seen in the images was completely dry, meaning the first impressions were somewhat anti-climactic. However, after walking for just a few minutes, I got my first glimpse of the incredible natural pools (and a few early risers already taking a dip), and I was blown away.

Once you’ve completed the one-hour hike, you will be greeted by three inviting pools at the finish line.

The one closest to the cliff edge is the best photo opportunity, but it is also the most popular. The middle pool was the largest and my favourite, with plenty of people relaxing in and around the water.

Hierve El Agua Waterfall
Hierve El Agua Waterfall

How to Get to Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca City

Step 1: Oaxaca to Mitla

The first step of your journey from Oaxaca to Hierve El Agua is to get to Mitla. The cheapest way to do this is on the public bus. 

This bus stop is in front of the baseball stadium, with McDonald’s on your right. You cannot miss the bus stop, as tens of taxis and a few food and drink stands will be waiting outside this station. 

There isn’t a strict bus schedule, but they arrive roughly every twenty minutes – we were lucky and only waited just over ten minutes. 

I stood for half of the journey, which wasn’t too bad. The drive is pretty much down one highway, so it’s not very bumpy. 

Step 2: Mitla to Hierve El Agua

Once you’re in Mitla, the fun of getting to Hierve El Agua begins!

From here, you need to take a colectivo, essentially a big shared truck. The driver needed a full truck, which consisted of 15 people. (10 in the back and 5 in the front). This was cosy, to say the least!

Again, we were fortunate that we arrived at the same time as a large group from a hostel and were able to leave Mitla very quickly. 

We each paid $75 MXN, which appeared to be the ‘official’ rate for a full colectivo. We heard of people who spent a little extra to encourage the driver to leave with a less-than-full vehicle. Tourists appear to have varying levels of success with this, so I wouldn’t count on it. 

The journey in the colectivo is half the experience. It was very bumpy and uncomfortable, but this all adds to the journey, right?

The colectivo journey takes around one hour and twenty minutes in total. 

After around twenty minutes, you will reach the toll road and have to pay $15 MXN per person. Try to ensure that you have the correct change for this. 

Before you enter the grounds of Hierve El Agua, a staff member will come over to the collectivo and collect your entrance fee of $50 MXN, again, try to have the correct notes as this will speed up the whole process. 

Hierve El Agua5#

Total Cost of Visiting Hierve El Agua Oaxaca Mexico

$20 MXN (each way) for the bus between Oaxaca and Mitla

$75 MXN (each way) for the colectivo

$15 MXN for the toll fee (one way)

$50 MXN entrance fee

Total for the day: $255 MXN per person

Hierve El Agua

Alternative Options – Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca City

If you want to spend a little more money and cut out some of the stress from the journey, you have three main options.

Taxi to Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca City

You could arrange a private car for up to four people from Oaxaca to Hierve el Agua. This is undoubtedly the most straightforward but expensive option

However, taxis do not just hang around the site as it is very far out of the city, so if this is your preferred method of transport, you will need to pay the driver for the whole day. (Journey to the site, waiting for you outside, then the journey home).

Each driver will give his or her own price, but the journey alone should cost around $600 MXN. 

To make this slightly cheaper, you could take the bus from Oaxaca to Mitla and then take a taxi from there, doing the same on the reverse journey.

Hierve El Agua Tour

If you only have a few days in Oaxaca and do not want the stress of organising your own transport, then a Hierve El Agua Tour may be for you. There are a few different options that include other Oaxaca highlights, such as the Mitla ruins and Mezcal tasting.

Drive From Oaxaca to Hierve El Agua

Unless you are an experienced driver on these types of roads, I do not recommend doing this drive. 

Although it offers the most flexibility to see this stunning site, the roads are not in great condition and are incredibly long and windy up the mountain. 

If driving is the right option for you, Discover Cars is highly recommended in Mexico. They offer a wide range of vehicles.

Hierve El Agua Packing List

⭐ 2L of drinking water

⭐ Sunscreen (you cannot wear this in the water)

⭐ Towel

⭐ Small notes or change (ensure you pay the drivers with the correct amount) 

⭐Flip Flops or Sandals (the floor around the pools is very slippy)

⭐Sun hat

Hierve El Agua
Hierve El Agua

Frequently Asked Questions – How to Get to Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca

How Expensive is Hierve El Agua?

The minimum you can spend at Heirve El Agua is $255 MXN. This includes public transport there and back and the entrance fee. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Hierve El Agua?

We arrived at 11 a.m., which we were advised was the ‘worst’ time to be there because of the tour groups. This was not the case – there were quite a few people, but it wasn’t crowded. By lunchtime, the water had also warmed enough to enjoy. 

Can I Buy Food and Drink at Hierve El Agua?

Of course – this is Mexico, after all! By the entrance, there is plenty of stalls selling food (fruit, snacks, and full meals) and well as drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)

How Hard is the Hierve El Agua Hike?

The hike is medium difficulty. It is pretty steep but relatively short. There are plenty of places to stop, gather your breath and drink water. 

Can I Swim in Hierve El Agua?

Yes! You can swim in Hierve El Agua, which is amazingly refreshing after the hike.

How Long is Needed at Hierve El Agua?

The hike takes around one hour, and I recommend reserving one hour for relaxing and swimming in the water. You should then have some time to snap photos, grab a drink and snack, and freshen up. Altogether, I recommend three hours at Hierve El Agua. 


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