Hidden Gems of Oaxaca's West Coast
Sometimes the best discoveries are hidden in plain sight. So too is Mazunte, Mexico — Oaxaca’s bohemian beach town.
Located in the southern tip of Oaxaca, Mazunte is best known for its sapphire seas, sugar sand beaches, and sea turtle conservancy (more on that later). Even more notable is the rich tapestry of culture and ecotourism found at the heart of Calle Rinconcito and the lush side streets of Oaxaca’s most laid-back beach community. Meet Mazunte. From the moment you step off the plane and into the unpaved streets does it become remarkably apparent: ¡Bienvenidos aqui! (You are welcome here).
It’s impossible not to make friends the moment you step into the town. People walk their dogs barefoot, women sell their wares, artists stop and stare at the rolling surf. Ask any of them for directions and you’ll be told the same thing: Walk down Avenida Paseo del Mazunte, the town’s main street towards Calle Rinconcito. Lined with small shops and restaurants on either side – Mazunte’s charm is laid bare. Flamingo pink bougainvillea climbs stone houses. Palm trees sway in the wind. Writers and musicians hideout from the late afternoon sun inside thatched roof cabanas, working on their novels or strumming their guitars. Mazunte was once a turtle fishing village long ago, before the sale of turtle meat was outlawed in the 90s. Soon after, the government founded el Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga (the National Mexican Turtle Center) which works to protect six indigenous species of sea turtle and two types of land turtle. Today, the Center continues to draw eco-tourists from around the world.
Just up the road, the Center maintains one of the many breeding grounds for sea turtles: Playa Escobilla. In May, tourists and locals-alike flock to these breeding grounds to watch the hatchlings make their first journey to the sea. It is a magical thing, and just one of the many reasons that the Mexican government officially bestowed the title of Pueblo Mágico to Mazunte. It is an honor that only 121 towns in the whole of Mexico can claim. And you can see why. As you follow Calle Rinconcito down to the beach, stop inside a bustling little bakery named La Baguette. For only 5 pesos, devour a crisp chocolate pastry, La Librito, before washing it down with a tart green juice at the Tiburon Juice Bar. On the road again, find yourself winding down the verdant backstreets of Mazunte, passing by a yoga studio and eventually, a beachside hookah lounge. The sun may be setting by the time you make your way onto Mazunte Beach.
Imagine golden sand flecked with seashells, rolling surf and miles of swaying palms. After a twenty minute stroll, you’ll finally make it to Punta Cometa (Comet Point). It is a place of sea cliffs tiered like layer cake. There, a crowd of locals gather around the cliffside, sipping beers and taking bets on whether or not the green flash will appear. They’ll ask you to join them.
Soon, the sun settles into the hammock of the sea, calling you all home together. And on that walk back to town alongside the locals, you’ll find that somehow, in just one instant, you’ve become a local too. Because that is just the way of Mazunte.