Sometimes at night I would wake up, frantic with a desire to get back to Mexico. To finally explore the Oaxaca Coast I’d wanted to visit for so long, to soak myself in the pacific ocean and fill myself with tacos. It’s all I could think about.
At the intercept of two relationships: one coming, one going; I found myself stuck. I had rented an apartment in Melbourne, purchased some furniture then within a few short months realised I wasn’t yet ready to give up the wandering nomad life I’d come to know and had desperate cravings to jump back on a plane and never look back.
My leap towards the Oaxacan coastline involved an urgent dash to find new tenants to take my lease, and thankfully amidst my whirlwind chaos of unsettled life and new beginnings those new tenants wanted to buy my furniture, too.
It was a lucky escape, for a second there I almost became a normal person who lived in one place.
Instead, once again I became a wanderer. First stop? The Oaxaca Coast of Mexico.
Bahías de Huatulco
There are a number of ways to get to the Oaxaca coast, the most popular are the larger Puerto Escondido airport, the smaller Huatulco Airport, or by land from Oaxaca City.
In this case, the flights into Huatulco suited me best.
Huatulco is a small town, that these days is primarily a tourist development. I had visited Huatulco a few years back on a vacation with my mum where we had a charming stay at the Hotel Plaza Delphinus, sipped margaritas by the ocean and enjoyed an excellent snorkelling trip with Oaxaca Expediciones – I would recommend all of the above activities for a visit to the Huatulco beaches.
Nevertheless, Huatulco was merely a transit point on this occasion as I made my way onwards to other Oaxaca beaches.
Leaving Bahias De Huatulco International Airport
Regular visitors say you can save yourself some cash by completely exiting the airport complex and walking across the road for a taxi, or, you can do as I did and decide you’re exhausted from the journey so far (I’d flown Australia to Los Angeles to here so far in this day) and book an airport offical taxi from inside the terminal.
Expensive being a relative term – the hour long drive costs a mere fraction of what the taxi to the airport in Australia did.
Mazunte Pueblo Magico
After a hair raising cab right down into Mazunte, dotted with breathtaking vistas down over the Oaxaca coastline, I reached my new home base for the moment. A town I’d not before visited, but many friends before me had done and highly recommended Mazunte for the yoga culture, beautiful beaches and alternative atmosphere.
I was besotted, immediately.
It was not just my own firmly held belief – Mazunte really is magical. It is registered as one of around 120 Pueblos Magicos, towns recognised by the Mexican government for their special, or magical qualities.
Staying in Mazunte
Whilst in Mazunte I stayed at Posada Olivo. It was a paradise of an accomodation, and I adored every moment. Marco was such a kind and helpful host, who taught me a lot about how many Italians have come to the Oaxaca Coast and made it their home – which is why there is so much excellent pizza in the region!
Posada Olivo is located conveniently between the main Mazunte beach, and San Agustnillo – which is a different town, but essentially joined at the hip so you can easily walk between the two.
Eating out in Mazunte
Every day was a new discovery of something delicious (and often very healthy, thanks to the prolific yoga crowd who hang out here) Mazunte offers no shortage of great juices, smoothies, fresh fish tacos, and ceviche.
Restaurantte Sahuaro was my favourite for fish tacos, as well as their amazing grilled tuna & different rice/vege salad bowls. I ate here most days. But when I wanted a break from the Mazunte health kick vibe and was looking for more stock standard local Mexican, I made my way to Tacos El Mazunte for great tacos & tlayudas
Learning Spanish in Mazunte
I studied Spanish every day at the El Instituto Iguana Spanish School. It was my favourite language school experience I’ve had so far and I would return again in an instant, given the chance.
Playa San Agustinillo
Tucked away right next door to Mazunte is the equally delightful Playa San Agustinillo where I passed many a day – margarita in one hand, foraged book in the other.
You see, I left my kindle somewhere onboard my inbound flight to Mexcico and lost it forever. In the small coastal Oaxacan towns I was in, there were no electronic shops and I didn’t have a long term postal address to shop online.
So instead, I enjoyed picking up second hand books in English whenever I could find them, and made good use of the different hostel and hotel book exchange shelves everywhere I went.
Finding books in San Agustinillo
I’m telling you this because San Agustinillo has the most delightful bookstore of anywhere in the region, and they have a well stocked shelf in English for those of us who are still grappling with their Spanish.
So if you’re in the area, get yourself to Nómada Librería for a delicious coffee & some new reading materials.
Coffee & Breakfast in San Agustinillo
Another delight in San Agustinillo is the café El sueño de Frida, introduced to me by Marco at my hotel, this cafe is run by a fellow Italian and friend of his.
Cristina is kind, fun, and full of tips & information in the area. The cafe itself has some great books and travel guides, not to mention that her breakfast foods are super delicious.
I passed many a morning munching on fruits or chilaquiles, planning my day out exploring or diving into a good book.
Leaving Mazunte wasn’t my intention, I had hoped to stay for a month or two and find myself a little bungalow.
At that time, Mazunte was still mostly receiving its internet by a mobile/radio link – which, as you can imagine, makes the internet speeds required by my work near impossible. There were, at that very moment, a handful of places who had just leapt on the new internet technology that arrived in this small town early 20189 – but none of them had any last minute vacancies during the current tourist season.
The promise of faster connections and coworking spaces lured me over to the bigger town of Puerto Escondido, an hour up the coast.
Coworking in Puerto Escondido
The easiest choice was the local Selina. If you’ve not travelled and attempted to work at the same time from Central America, you may not have encountered a Selina before.
They are a hybrid of coworking and coliving, with a range of dorm and private rooms, along with separate coworking passes. They can be quite pricy compared to alternative accomodation + coworking options, but they are also generally very nice places to be.
For some of my stay in Puerto Escondido I stayed and worked from the Selina and it was pretty idyllic. Beach front and full of chill out spaces and various pools, I would stay there again happily if I were passing through.
As a wildlife enthusiast, nothing delighted me more than taking part in releasing tiny baby sea turtles, hatched just that day, out into the grand Pacific ocean.
Learning about the relentless conservation efforts of the volunteers who work through the day, and patrol the beaches right through the night, to protect these precious turtles from predators and poachers.
There are a few places to be involved with sea turtles on the Oaxacan coast, but Playa Bacocho is the most accessible. The teeny tiny turtles are released each day at 5pm, and if you pay a 100mx donation to the charity you get given your own little turtle (for a few moments, anyhow) to love, cherish & name before gently releasing from their protective coconut shell (oils on our hands can damage their delicate young skin, so it’s best not to touch them directly) out on the sand for them to make their way down to the sea.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster as seabirds swoop and dive around to try and pick themselves up a baby turtle for dinner. So a lot of the process is throwing things into the air to deter the seabirds from getting their beaks around one of our beloved releases.
The whole experience lasts no more than an hour, but is quite emotional to free a wild animal out into the wild like this.
The magical Playa Carrizalillo was everything I had dreamed of in a Mexican beach. Soft, golden sand, hedged by greenery, warm waters and the best sunsets.
It is the next most popular beach in Puerto Escondido after Playa Zicatela, but it’s all for a good reason – it’s well worth the trip to spend a day.
The best fish tacos in Puerto Escondido
Smoked fish taco was suggested as the best fish tacos around, which was all too conveniently placed just a few minutes walk from my room at Casa Losodeli and an easy stroll from Playa Carrizalillo, too.
The tacos were, as promised, excellent. they were some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.
I adore snorkelling, and was on a mission to find the best snorkelling beaches in town. I was assured there were plenty, but my best bet would be to check out Puerto Angelito for the calmest waters and the most sheltered bay.
That advice was not wrong. Puerto Angelito is snorkeling paradise – it’s also home to some lovely beachfront bars and restaurants, as well as a jump point for boat trips.
The highlight of Puerto Angelito was the morning sea safari with Omar’s Sportfishing (despite the name, no fishing is involved in this tour) where we set out at dawn for three hours on the water spotting dolphins, sea turtles and humpback whales.
Playa Zicatela is the most popular beach in Puerto Escondido, it’s long and has some of the best surfing in Mexico– drawing a huge crowd of surfers & pro surfer competitions throughout the year.
I spent half of my time in Puerto Escondido located near Playa Carrizalillo, and the other half right on the doorstep of Playa Zicatela – they have such a different vibe from one another that it’s almost like being in completely different cities.
Zicatela is where Selina Coworking and Coliving space is, and the streets are lined with juicebars and surf shops. It’s much less of a local feel, and more of a beachy, surfer, tourist vibe – but that can be a really nice thing too.
Would I return to the Oaxaca Coast?
In a heartbeat, yes.
The state of Oaxaca already captured my heart, many times before – visiting the coastline did nothing other than amplify the feelings.
When the world is safe to travel again, I hope to find my way back again. To experience the true magic of the Oaxaca coast over, and over, and over again.