7 reasons to love Mazunte, Mexico
My hotel, restaurant and destination reviews of Mazunte, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido for Fodor’s Travel Guide Oaxaca are finally online. Now I can share why I believe Mazunte is Mexico’s next, best, beach destination. And why you should go see it now. If you love beaches and great food (like I do) follow the winding road along Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast and you’ll discover dreamy eco-hotels, rainforest-clad cliffs and a gorgeous stretch of coastline like no other. And there are so many unique things to do in Mazunte, it’s worth planning to stay a week or even longer.
Wondering where Mazunte is? It’s located on a pretty bay off Highway 200 about midway between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco. I began my Oaxacan odyssey from my beach condo in Puerto Escondido, and, after a brief Escape to Gecko Rock Resort in Mexico’s sea turtle country, focused on exploring Mazunte and its sister beach towns of San Agustinillo and Zipolite. I’ve been to Mazunte many times before, but this was the first time I spent enough time there to become completely enthralled by its unique vibe, incredible natural attractions and alternative culture.
Top Things to Do in Mazunte, Mexico
1. Sustainable Tourism: What I love best about Mazunte is its focus on sustainable tourism. It offers a bohemian spirit with plenty of yoga retreats, such as the world-renowned Hridaya Yoga and esteemed Solstice Yoga. Small, intimate hotel hideaways like Casa Pan de Miel, Oceano Mar and ZOA Resort, reflect this philosophy of wellness for planet and people, and seem to blend seamlessly into the landscape with their thatched roofs, green materials and environmentally responsible practices.
2. Absolute Tranquility: Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite are (for now) a bit tough to get to. There’s no direct bus service and they’re located off Highway 175, a meandering coastal road off Highway 200. When you’re in a room at the top of a jungle-clad cliff all alone except for a chorus of peeping crickets, you might wish for a bit more civilization, but this sense of isolation adds to the region’s appeal. Top things to do to soak up the tranquil vibe include walking on a pristine beach, listening to the waves, hanging out in a hammock. You’ll feel as though you’re in Mexico as it was 20 years ago. Pure zen.
3. Still a Bargain: The beauty of it all is that you can have an amazing vegetarian dinner, buy natural cosmetics, take a yoga class, go whitewater rafting or enjoy an evening of cocktails for a fraction of the cost of what you’d spend in Riviera Maya or Riviera Nayarit. Although it’s always been possible ( and still is) to find a rustic beach bungalow in Mazunte to crash for a few dollars a night, now there’s a new crop of more upscale hotels where you don’t have to worry about a laid-back pothead stumbling into your room. But this doesn’t mean Mazunte or San Agustinillo are out of reach budget-wise.
For example, a spacious suite for two at Oceano Mar ranges from 1000 to 1500 MXN pesos ( $75-$100 USD) a night, a fantastic meal featuring fresh, organic ingredients at Estrella Fugaz will cost under $10 USD and a 90 minute Hatha Yoga class at Solstice Yoga costs just $7 or $60 USD if you purchase a 10-class card. For more info, check out my top hotel picks for Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite in Fodor’s Oaxaca Guide.
4. Chic style: Many of these upscale retreats such as the cliffside ZOA Hotel are owned by designers and architects from Mexico City or expats from Italy (or other European countries). You’ll get lots of design inspiration with your stay. I found myself daydreaming of building my own hideaway on one of the emerald hills on the outskirts of Mazunte.
5. Beautiful beaches: Although the stretch of ocean in Mazunte has riptides that make it dangerous for swimming (Francisco Goldman’s book Say Her Name: A Novel tells the tragic story of the loss of his wife in these waters), the sparkling blue waters of San Agustinillo are perfect for body boarding. Plus, there are several small coves with beaches such as El Rinconcito with calm waters ideal for swimming.
6. Few crowds: The region is still relatively undiscovered and it’s unlikely it will ever see mega development. However, with the new super highway from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido (via Ventanilla) scheduled for completion in 2016, it’s possible that the number of visitors will increase. The increase in visitors will put pressure on this delicate coastal ecosystem. By supporting sustainable, small-scale hotels, such as the ones shown here, you can help preserve Mazunte’s unique character.
7. Healthy, locally-inspired global cuisine: Mazunte is located in the state of Oaxaca, known as the “land of the seven moles” and home to cuisine so diverse that UNESCO considers it an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This means dining out is one of the top things to do in Mazunte. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to sample the flavours of traditional Mixtec and Zapotec foods such as chapulines (toasty grasshoppers), mezcal, chiles, and maize tortillas. But Mazunte offers an added advantage for foodies. It’s got a thriving restaurant scene complete with street side wood-fired pizza ovens, Italian restaurants serving handmade pasta and a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options, thanks to the influx of international ex-pats and forward-thinking chefs. Add in proximity to the Pluma Hidalgo coffee-growing region (arguably Mexico’s best coffee) and an abundance of fresh fish, and you’ve got ten more reasons to love Mazunte’s food scene.
Check out my full restaurant list in Fodor’s, but some top spots to eat include Estrella Fugaz (vegetarian chile rellenos), Oceanomar ( pasta), La Ola (the mezcal cocktail rimmed with sal de
guano gusano (!) is a must-try as is the dorado in mole negro)
How to get to Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite by bus from Puerto Escondido:
Purchase a Sur Bus ticket for Crucero San Antonio at the OCC bus station on Highway 200. Or, you can purchase a ticket at the boarding gate just prior to boarding. The buses run every hour. Take the Sur bus (direction Huatulco) and exit at Crucero San Antonio ( the intersection with Highway 175). There are no buses from Highway 175 (San Antonio) to Mazunte so your options are a shared collective pick-up truck or a private taxi.
How to get to Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite by bus from Huatulco airport:
Exit the airport and walk to the bus stop on Highway #200. Do not cross the highway. Watch for a Sur bus (direction Pochutla/Puerto Escondido). You can exit at Pochutla crossroad and take a taxi to Crucero San Antonio ( the intersection with Highway 175) or continue on the bus ( after a stop in Pochutla) and exit at Crucero San Antonio. There are no buses from Highway 175 (San Antonio) to Mazunte so your options are a shared collective pick-up truck or a private taxi.
Taxi from Highway 200 to Mazunte costs 70 MXN pesos while a collective is around 10 MXN.
Taxi from Mazunte to Pochutla costs 150 MXN pesos
Getting around: Note that when you’re in Mazunte, it’s very difficult to hail a taxi on the street. I had to resort to following a driver, waiting until he played a few rounds of soccer and then prevailing upon him to drive me back to my hotel. Expect to pay around 25-50 pesos ( under $4 USD) to get most places. You can ask your hotel or restaurant to phone a taxi. Or, ask for a card from a taxi driver you like and count on him to pick you up at a designated time or place.
Hotels in San Agustinillo are easy to access by foot from Highway 175 but many of those in Mazunte ( especially those with fantastic views) are at the top of very steep hills a long distance from town. Unless you’ve trained in the French Foreign Legion, you won’t be able to walk there if you travel with a big suitcase, a purse and computer like I do.
If you have a lot of luggage, it’s worth considering asking your hotel to provide airport pick-up service at Puerto Escondido (PXM) or Huatulco (HUX) airports. Given the convenience, it’s worth the cost and it will be less expensive than trying to book a taxi yourself at the airport. For example OceanoMar offers airport pick-up service for 500 MXN ( around $35 USD).
Hazards: If you’re bothered by mosquitos, be warned that Mazunte has more insects than Puerto Escondido or Huatulco. I was there during the rainy season and spent most of my evenings under the mosquito nets supplied by the hotels. I was also grateful I had packed a supply of Laminitas, a plug-in device that looks like an air freshener but is made by Raid and dispenses an odorless repellent. Plug it in and your room will be clear of mosquitos in around 20 minutes. A box of Laminitas ( with 10 refills) costs under $5 USD at Super Che and is well worth the investment.
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