hierve el agua
via Wikimedia Commons

The only thing better than a hot spring is a hot spring with a view. And maybe a beer thrown in. Oaxaca’s Hierve el Agua (click on this link to get directions or add to a trip), a set of hot springs perched on the edge of a cliff, is about as perfect as it gets. I can’t speak as to whether or not you can bring a beer to these springs, but the view more than makes up for it. 

Hierve el Agua, natural rock formations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca By Galyna Andrushko

Part of what makes these cliffside pools so unique is they appear as though they sit atop frozen waterfalls. These strange, beautiful rock formations are the result of the mineral-laden spring water flowing down the cliffs… calcium carbonate and other minerals are deposited on the way down, creating the effect. They look just like waterfalls, frozen in stone. The minerals in the water are also said to have health benefits.

Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico By Hugo Brizard – YouGoPhoto
Thermal Mineral Spring Hierve el Agua, natural rock formations near Oaxaca, Mexico By Aleksandar Todorovic

There are two “sets” of waterfalls at Hierve el Agua. The easiest one to reach is the Cascada Chica. the 160-foot cliff has four hot springs. You will find a bunch of pools (man-made and natural) where you can enjoy the warm water. There are several pools right on the edge of the cliff, which offer the best views. The site is also home to ancient canals built by the Zapotecs 2500 years ago. The other “waterfall” is known as the Cascada Grande. It’s nearly 200 feet tall and doesn’t have any man-made pools. Trails connect the springs to one another and to the rest of the valley.

Visiting Hierve el Agua

The springs have become a tourist attraction of sorts. Locals built cabins, restaurants, changing areas with showers, souvenir stands, and other amenities in the valley nearby. There is an entrance fee to visit the springs, but it’s minimal. Parking and tolls will only cost each person a few US dollars. And, about that beer I mentioned earlier. Rumor has it that one of the food stands sells a “Piña Loca”, a mezcal and spicy chili-spiked drink served in a pineapple. Ahhh. Perfect.

Thermal Mineral Spring Hierve el Agua, natural rock formations in Oaxaca, Mexico By Aleksandar Todorovic
hierve el agua
via Flickr/Eduardo Robles Pacheco

More stunning natural beauty to uncover…

The Pink Lake at Las Coloradas is a dreamy oasis, home to flamingos

Skylight Cave is a surreal hidden gem absolutely worth the hike

The ultimate guide to the jaw-dropping waterfalls of Havasu Creek

 

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