Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca!

Hierve el Agua was the main reason I flew to Oaxaca.  Yes, Oaxaca is a major destination, due to its historic significance, amazing handmade crafts, & of course: the FOOD!!  Mexican food is great in general ~ but Mexicans themselves rave about the food in Oaxaca.  And yes: it’s that good.  But in spite of all this, Hierve el Agua was the #1, most-important sight I HAD to see, & I wanted as much time there as possible…so I hired a private guide, & away we went!  Find out everything you need to know about visiting one of two petrified waterfalls in the world, in this “Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca!” 

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

If you come to Oaxaca & do NOT visit Hierve el Agua….it’s like you didn’t come at all!!

Hierve el Agua means “Boiling Water.” 

But don’t worry ~ the water isn’t boiling…anymore. It’s actually quite cold.

How to Get to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca

Most who visit Hierve el Agua start their journey in Oaxaca City, which is a 90-minute drive from Hierve.  There are many ways to get there: by car, bus, taxi, group or private tour.  Group tours are advertised all over the city, & average around 350 pesos ($18 US) ~ but the downside is: you’ll have limited time there, as tours make several other stops.  For maximum time at Hierve el Agua: arrange a private tour.

Hierve el Agua

Oaxaca City

Important Info about Hierve el Agua

  • Where is Hierve el Agua Located? About 67 kilometers south-east of Oaxaca City, outside the town of Mitla.  It’s a 90-minute drive from Oaxaca City on good roads (but rougher road as you get closer to Hierve). 
  • Best Way to Get to Hierve el Agua: If you want more time there, take a private tour (which can usually be arranged through your hotel).  If you only want about an hour at Hierve el Agua, & don’t want to do the short hike ~ opt for a group tour. 
  • What is the Entrance Fee for Hierve el Agua? About 25 MXN, or $1.50.  It also costs about 50 MXN to park your car. Most tours will include these very small fees in your tour price.
  • Can You Swim at Hierve el Agua? YES!! I visited in early July, & the top green pool was definitely open for business, with many people swimming.  The temperature was pleasantly cool (but not super cold); perfect for cooling off on a hot day. 
  • Can You Hike at Hierve el Agua? Again, YES!! At the site, if you follow the path to the right of the green pool, it winds down the mountainside to two viewpoints of both petrified waterfalls (yes, there are two)!  The hike is very short (about 30 minutes total), & there were very few people on it at 8AM.  It’s a short hike to get a HUGE pay-off, & to see the falls from many different angles. 
  • Are There Changing Rooms, Bathrooms, & Food at Hierve el Agua? Yes, yes, & yes! The changing rooms & bathrooms are pretty basic here, so don’t expect luxury ~ & there are numerous food stalls up by the parking lot.
  • Best Places to Stay in Oaxaca City: I stayed at two different hotels during my time in Oaxaca, & loved both of them.  The first was Hotel Casa Ortiz ($62+/night), an elegant boutique hotel located around the corner from Templo de Santo Domingo (my favorite church in Oaxaca by far)!!  The other was the NaNa Vida Hotel ($82+/night), just a few blocks from Casa Ortiz.  Like most hotels in Oaxaca, they’re situated around beautiful, central courtyards ~ which can get noisy, but both of these hotels managed to feel quiet & very safe.

What You Need at Hierve el Agua

You don’t need much at Hierve el Agua, but you’ll definitely need sunscreen (there’s very little shade here), a towel, bathing suit, & a good camera, plus running shoes if you intend to hike.  Also, I always bring activated charcoal when I travel to Mexico ~ in case I get diarrhea (!), the charcoal binds with toxins & gets them out of my system.

Read Next: How to Avoid Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico!

Photos of Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca

As you’ll see from these photos: photo opportunities here are endless.  I’ve put the photos in chronological order, starting with the first view you’ll see, then heading down the mountain on the hike to two viewpoints.  The remaining photos show all the different shots you can take in & around the first emerald green pool…

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

This is the first view you’ll see when you walk down the path…

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

And this is that crazy blue-green pool up close…

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

If you do the short hike down the mountain (which you definitely should!!), this is the first viewpoint you’ll come to ~ looking ACross to the first petrified waterfall, with the green pool above it.

What is a Petrified Waterfall?

What is a petrified waterfall, anyway?  It’s a waterfall formed over thousands of years, as water that flows over a cliff’s edge slowly calcifies, creating mineral formations ~ which make it look like a waterfall frozen in time.  The only other petrified waterfall in the world is in Hierapolis, Turkey…which I visited many years ago.  In my opinion, Hierve el Agua is more impressive, due to the surrounding scenery & its more dramatic waterfalls.

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

Most people don’t hike down to the second petrified waterfall ~ but it only adds about 10 minutes to your hike! At 8AM, we were the only people on the trail.

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

My guide told me it was okay to climb up to the base of the (second) petrified waterfall. Great ~ as long as there’s not an earthquake!

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

This lone tree is probably the most iconic image of Hierve el Agua.

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca!

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

You can only see this view (of the first petrified waterfall) if you make the short hike down the mountain…

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, GIrl WHo Travels the World

I brought a change of clothes so that not all of my photos would be taken in hiking clothes!

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl Who Travels the World

One of the most beautiful infinity pools in the world..

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Girl WHo Travels the World

Walking on the moon…

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, GIrl WHo Travels the World

Again: the amount of different views & vistas here create endless photo opportunities.

Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca!

 Thanks for reading this “Ultimate Guide to Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca!”  This is one of my new favorite regions in Mexico, & I’ve already received questions asking me if Oaxaca is safe.  Overall, I would answer with a resounding: “YES!!”  I found the region very mellow yet bustling, & the people were overtly friendly & helpful.  Oaxaca City is one of the most charming places I’ve been, & it’s one of my new top picks for solo travel.

xoxo Noelia 

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