What is Hierve el Agua?
Hierve el Agua is an ancient geographical site featuring two rock formations including a petrified waterfall and natural springs.
The name, Hierve el Agua, translates to boiling water and ranks among Mexico’s most astounding natural wonders, famous for its petrified waterfalls.
While it’s translated name is boiling water, no thermal pools or hot springs can be found at Hierve el Agua.
Hierve el Agua formed over centuries, triggered by the water cascading from the carbonated springs at the top of the cliffs.
As the carbonated water kept trickling down from the cliffs, the rock formations began to calcify from the excess minerals deposited near the rocks, resulting in a stunning petrified waterfall effect.
Historians have reason to believe that Hierve el Agua was used as a sacred holy site for the Zapotec communities and the indigenous people used the waterfalls to redirect spring water for agricultural purposes.
Today, Hierve el Agua is home to two rock formations: the 100 foot long Cascada Grande or large waterfall and the 40 foot high Cascada Chica or small waterfall.
Visitors can take a dip in an array of pools at the top of the waterfalls while enjoying panoramic views of the valley below.
What is so special about Hierve el Agua?
Hierve el Agua is a one-of-its-kind natural wonder with its calcified, natural stone rock formations and a petrified waterfall effect that makes it unique when comparing it to any other waterfall in the world.
Situated at over 5,000 feet above sea level, this ancient geographical site is nestled in the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Hierve el Agua is one of the highest elevation points in Oaxaca County and one of the best spots to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains in the distance.
What town is Hierve el Agua in?
Hierve el Agua is located in the town of San Lorenzo Albarradas, just 1 hour 25 minute drive (42 mi | 68 km) from Oaxaca City making it one of the most easily accessible day trip destinations from Oaxaca.
Another popular day trip from Oaxaca is the Zapotec community of Teotitlán del Valle, where they weave handmade rugs and other artisanal crafts.
How do I get to Hierve el Agua?
Hierve el Agua is one of the most popular day trip destinations in Oaxaca as it can be reached by car in just 1 hour and 25 minutes from Oaxaca City Center.
Transportation options for visiting Hierve el Agua include: colectivo, bus, taxi or private transportation (recommended).
Taking a bus to Hierve el Agua is possible but it’s not recommended as this is the least comfortable and least convenient way to reach the site.
There is no direct bus route to Hierve el Agua. In other words, visitors that decide on making the trek should be prepared to make multiple stops and transfers so visiting with someone who speaks Spanish would be highly recommended.
Visitors can choose to hire a taxi for the day to bring them to Hierve el Agua and return to their accommodations in Oaxaca City.
One of the things you should consider before deciding on hiring a taxi is that many taxi drivers only speak Spanish.
This makes things difficult for those who are new to Spanish and are trying to negotiate taxi fares to and from Hierve el Agua.
If you do decide on taking a taxi to Hierve el Agua, we recommend always confirming the price ahead of time before getting in the car and having exact change to pay to the driver.
While this option is better than taking the bus to Hierve el Agua, it won’t be nearly as comfortable or as easy as hiring a private driver and creating your own personalized itinerary would be.
The best way to truly explore Hierve el Agua and the surrounding area would be to create your own itinerary and hire a professional, licensed, bilingual driver to take you out for the day.
When it comes to planning an itinerary, you can choose to let the driver make some suggestions based on his experience or you can take the plans into your own hands and include stops along the way for view points, bathroom breaks and time to do some hiking in the surrounding area of Hierve el Agua.
If you need driver recommendations, please contact us and we’ll share some contacts for drivers that are available to hire for day trips, multi-day trips and other tours in Oaxaca.
Renting a car and driving to Hierve el Agua with your friends and family is our last and final option on the list — and a great option at that.
If you do decide to book a car rental in Oaxaca, it’s highly recommended that the vehicle has full insurance coverage, you have a valid drivers license and you always obey the rules of the road in México.
Tip: Click here to book a reasonably priced, fully insured rental car for your upcoming trip to Oaxaca.
Hierve el Agua Tour
Don’t want to deal with the hassle of planning your visit to Hierve el Agua? Join a guided tour to Hierve el Agua and join other fellow travelers on a day trip to explore the ancient site and learn about the history of these glorious petrified waterfalls.
One of the many benefits that come along with taking a guided tour of Hierve el Agua is that you don’t have to worry about any transportation or logistics — just arrive to the meeting point, hop in the van and go!
Is Hierve el Agua open 2023?
Hierve el Agua was reopened for the public in October 2021, but the authorities in San Lorenzo Albarradas have restricted the number of visitors to 200 per day.
Due to this, it’s very important to arrive to Hierve el Agua as early as possible to avoid any issues with entering the site.
Hierve el Agua opens at 7 AM and is typically packed with tourists by 9 AM. Avoid the heat and the crowds by visiting as early as possible.
How much does it cost to go to Hierve el Agua?
The entrance fee for Hierve el Agua is $50 MXN ($2.50 USD).
How much does it cost to park at Hierve el Agua?
Parking at Hierve el Agua is very affordable at just $80 MXN ($4 USD).
Note: This information is very useful for those who are planning on renting a car and driving to Hierve el Agua.
Best things to do in Hierve el Agua
Once you enter Hierve el Agua, you will see a network of hiking trails to explore, including short and easy nature walks as well as steep hikes that lead deep into the mountains.
This nature walk is the most beautiful part of the Hierve el Agua experience with panoramic views of the valley and the petrified waterfall as well as plenty of secluded spots to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
Swimming & Views
The natural mineral pools located above Cascada Grande (big waterfall) are one of the most photographed spots in Oaxaca, perfect for a swim with stunning views of the entire valley in the distance.
Things to do after Hierve el Agua
Visit Árbol del Tule, Tlacolula & Mitla
After exploring all that Hierve el Agua has to offer you’ll probably be ready for a drink and a bite to eat.
We recommend making the following stops on your way back to Oaxaca City.
1. Archaeological Ruins of Mitla
3. Árbol del Tule (widest tree in the world)
After a long day of wandering around Hierve el Agua, you’ll probably be ready to do something a little more relaxing to close out the afternoon.
If you’re a fan of mezcal, you’ll be thrilled to know that on the return journey from Hierve el Agua to Oaxaca City there are a wide variety of mezcal factories that you can stop at where you can enjoy a mezcal tasting, buy mezcal by the bottle or simply learn about the process of how mezcal is made.
Top Rated Mezcal Distilleries:
1. Fábrica de Mezcal Artesanal El Rey de Matatlán – (4.5 ⭐)
2. Fábrica de Mezcal Mal de Amor (Palenque) – (4.6 ⭐)
3. Fábrica de Mezcales El Sabino – (4.7 ⭐)
How do I get to Hierve el Agua without a tour?
If you prefer to visit Hierve el Agua without a tour, you can do so by either taking a colectivo, bus, hiring a taxi, hiring private transportation or renting a car and driving to the site on your own schedule.
Is Hierve el Agua hot?
The temperatures can be sizzling hot during the summer, given the desert-mountain landscape and extreme aridity. Temperatures range around 90° F during the day, falling to 60° F at night.
There is virtually no shade to be found at Hierve el Agua hike so be sure to stay hydrated and use sunscreen if necessary.
The water found in the natural and manmade pools is pleasant, ranging between 72° to 81° F year-round.
Can you swim in Hierve el Agua?
The natural and manmade pool formations in Hierve el Agua are perfectly safe for swimming.
If you’re interested in the possibility of taking a dip in one of the pools after walking around in the sun, it’s recommended to either wear a bathing suit or pack a bathing suit that you can change into during your visit.
Is Hierve el Agua worth it?
Hierve el Agua is absolutely worth it and is one of the most popular things to do in Oaxaca, México.
If you’re planning a trip and you want to visit one of the top Oaxaca waterfalls, we can’t recommend enough a visit to Hierve el Agua.