Imagine navigating a high-altitude airship, borne by the tropical breezes, over Oaxaca’s vivid shoreline, mountain, and valley panorama. Start your adventure in the southwest, at Oaxaca’s coastal border with its neighboring state of Guerrero. Here, as you drift eastward above the green coastal plain directly below, the broad estuary of the Río Verde empties into the sea. The mightiest river system entirely within the state, the Río Verde’s tributaries drain a major fraction of western Oaxaca, including the central valley, where it is known as the Río Atoyac.
As you continue easterly, the forest-swathed peaks of the Sierra Madre del Sur stretch ahead, cresting at cloud-capped 12,300-foot (3,750-meter) Cerro Quiexobra, Oaxaca’s tallest mountain. To your right far below, Pacific waves wash a coastline indented with small bays and lined with wildlife-rich mangrove wetlands and pearly, palm-tufted strands. In succession, you pass over the small resorts of Puerto Escondido , Puerto Ángel , and the Bahías de Huatulco , where visitors flock year-round to enjoy the delights of South Seas Mexico.