The Oaxacan coast is one of Mexico’s more off-the-beaten-path destinations for travelers looking for some sun and sand. Unlike popular tourist destinations like Cancun and Cabo, the tourism infrastructure in this part of Mexico is far less developed which could be a deterrant for some but a huge draw for others.
The Oaxacan coast is characterized by two very developed cities in Puerto Escondido, and Huatulco. These cities are super developed with resorts, malls, and all the things most vacationers are familiar with. They are also home to the two main airports in the region with regular flights from Mexico City. In between these two cities are where the real magic happens. There are numerous very quaint and charming beachside towns along the coast popular with backpackers, surfers, and people that want to get away from the crowds.
For the purpose of this blog post, I will mostly focus on Mazunte and Zipolite, which were my favorite towns in the region. We came here after our amazing stay in Oaxaca City.
How To Get To Mazunte
For most people, getting here will involve either flying into Puerto Escondido/Huatulco, or taking land based transfer from Oaxaca City.
From Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is like Mazunte’s more popular older brother but word is beginning to spread that Mazunte is the place to be. This is especially true for people who aren’t entirely into the touristy party scene of Puerto Escondido. Buses (vans) can take you from Puerto to Mazunte for pretty cheap but if you are looking for even cheaper, you can take local camionetas and work your way towards the coast.
If you want a quicker, more direct route, a taxi can get you from Puerto Escondido to Mazunte (and vice versa) for 600 pesos. You can haggle it down to 550 pesos if you are persistent but you likely won’t be able to go any lower than that. The ride takes about an hour and might be the ideal option if you can split the cost with other travelers.
From Oaxaca/San Jose del Pacifico/Pochutla
From Oaxaca City, you can take a scenic small flight to Puerto Escondido or Huatulco, and then take a taxi or collectivo to Mazunte. Alternatively, you can take a bus or shuttle van from Oaxaca City to Huatulco or Puerto Escondido, and then do the same thing. The airplane transfers are done through TAR airlines and Aerotucan. I’ve seen prices for as low as 1300 pesos and as high as 2700. The total journey time is only 40 minutes and you will witness some spectacular scenery flying over the mountains.
The land based transfer from Oaxaca to the coast is very windy. The road goes through the mountains and you are making wide turns for the greater part of 4 hours. The entire journey is 7 hours.
We took the local shuttle van (not the big ADO bus) from Oaxaca and got dropped off at the Huatulco Airport. We paid 300 pesos for this one way transfer. We rented a car from Alamo at the airport and used that to explore the area for the next few days.
Where to stay in the area
We actually stayed in Zipolite, a neighboring town about 20 minutes from Mazunte. We found a cool eco lodge called Hotel Noga that was on the beach and looked charming. However, you will have zero problems finding an accommodation in the area.
There are so many guesthouses, hostels, Airbnbs, and resorts that no matter what your budget and desires, there is something for you. Unlike the Yucatan or Cabo, this area attracts backpackers and local tourists so prices here are catered as such. You won’t find any huge all-inclusive chain resorts here which I’m a huge fan of.
Nude Beach at Zipolite
We hadn’t done much research before booking our accommodations. It turns out that Zipolite is Mexico’s only nude beach! We had absolutely no idea until we checked into our hotel, walked on to the beach, and was greeted by swarms of people in their birthday suits. Okay, it is not that bad, but having never been to a nude beach before, it was a shock nonetheless. We would be having breakfast on the beach and we could see people having their morning strolls naked!
By the end of the trip however, we said what the hell and decided to join in. We got into the ocean in the nude, enjoyed some waves, and promptly put our clothes back on. Officially certified nudists!
Things to do in Mazunte, Oaxaca
Part of the beauty of Mazunte Oaxaca is that you’re not overrun with things to do. It’s more of a “horizontal” town, so definitely don’t come here if you’re looking to party and go wild. Just to give you an idea, you could probably walk around the whole place in little more than half an hour. The WiFi is notoriously patchy at best, there are very few street lamps so when it gets dark it’s pitch black, and opening times are more of a general guide than a reliable guarantee.
All of this makes Mazunte Oaxaca the perfect place to totally unplug and properly chill out, but there are some things you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Head to Punta Cometa Mazunte for Sunset
Punta Cometa is probably Mazunte’s most famous landmark. This mini peninsula extends out into the Pacific Ocean and is the southernmost point of Oaxaca State. It provides unrivaled and uninterrupted views of the surrounding scenery.
Punta Cometa is hands down the best vantage point in Mazunte, and each evening people make the pilgrimage out to witness the spectacular sunset. Golds, purples, oranges and yellows flood the sky as the sun makes its remarkably rapid descent below the shoreline.
Getting to the end of Punta Cometa is a 15 to 20 minute hike along a rocky, and in parts steep trail. Make sure you time it right to allow for how long it takes to walk there as we saw a number of people arriving after the sun had already set.
The trail is well marked out so you can’t get lost. But remember to bring a torch or have a charged phone with a bright light on it for the walk back as, unsurprisingly, it’s dark. Punta Cometa is also a great place to watch the sunrise in Mazunte which is equally as spectacular.
Drinks at El Copal Mazunte for Sunset
El Copal Mazunte is one of the more well known restaurants and hotels in the town, and that’s largely down to the spectacular views it has out over Mermejita Beach. It’s located a little way up into the hills and is a bit out of town, but it’s definitely worth the walk.
To find it, head towards Mermejita Beach and take the last road to the left before you arrive. It’s signposted from there and you may even be met by a security guard or member of staff who will guide you up to the restaurant.
Hit the Stunning Mazunte Beaches
All along the Oaxaca coastline you’ll find arresting beaches. Each has their own charm, and Mazunte has a couple of the finest along this stretch. Overlooked by green mountains, and facing towards craggy outcrops of rocks that pepper the rough Pacific Ocean, they’re covered in soft golden sand.
At the far end of Mazunte Beach is a smaller, even quieter alcove. Here you’ll find fishing and tour boats and a few restaurants and places to stay set back slightly from the beach.
The other main stretch of sand is Mermejita Beach. A more secluded, undeveloped part of the coast, it’s as pretty as it is peaceful. Don’t expect bars or shops nearby. Come here prepared with everything you need otherwise you’ll face a steep walk back into town for supplies. This was actually my favorite spot in the area. We came here twice because there was just no one here. The hanging swing beds provided by El Copal are also amazing here. You don’t even need to stay at El Copal to use them!
A word of caution, take care when you’re swimming in the sea in Mazunte Oaxaca. The waves are huge and the current is strong. There are lifeguards on at peak times of year, but take care at all times and don’t go out of your depth.
Nearby Oaxaca Beaches and How to Get to Them
How to Get Beyond Mazunte Beach
Mazunte is just one of a whole string of magnificent beach towns along this part of the Oaxaca coastline, many of which are easily reached. The best way to get from town to town is by a bus type vehicle called a pasajero.
They’re basically pickup trucks with a large tent on the back that do endless loops along the Oaxaca coast, transporting mainly Mexican locals. But they’re far cheaper than taxis and are also a fun way to get around.
There’s no need to wait at a bus stop, just head to the main road and wait for something that looks like a pasajero. You can hail them down from anywhere and they’re quite frequent, going at around every 15 minutes (but remember this is Mazunte time).
Journeys cost between around $7-15MXN (£0.30-£0.60GBP, $0.40-$0.80USD) and depending on how many people they pick up and drop off take virtually the same as a taxi to get from place to place.
Beaches and Towns to Visit Nearby Mazunte Oaxaca
Zipolite – Famous for being home to Mexico’s only nudist beach, it’s also got a great reputation as a surfer’s haven thanks to the big waves. Another hippie stronghold with a chilled out atmosphere.
San Agustinillo – Based around one main road and a long, wide stretch of beach with cabanas and bars built onto it. Many people stay here rather than Mazunte which is just a 5 minute pasajero trip or twenty minute walk away. You’ll find some nice restaurants and cafes to make it worth the short trip from Mazunte Oaxaca.
Puerto Angel – Probably the least touristy town along this stretch, it’s a sleepy fishing village with a couple of beaches and some stunning scenery but not much else. Come here for a complete escape and some great, rustic seafood restaurants.
Where to eat?
Being on the Pacific coast, there is no shortage of amazing foods and restaurants to eat here. Seafood tacos and aguachiles are pretty much available everywhere and you can expect fresh camarones and pescado everywhere you go. But aside from the foods you would expect, there are also some fantastic restaurants here that are “upscale” but really not that upscale.
Hands down this is the best restaurant in the entire coastal Oaxacan area. Located near Zipolite, this outdoor restaurant serves Mexican food with a modern flare. We ordered the seafood dishes and the camarones and tuna steaks are absolutely delicious. The prices are more expensive but were still very affordable by any standard with main dishes at around 200 pesos.
The hotel we stayed in also had an amazing kitchen. Located within the outdoor bar, you can see your food being prepared. They made amazing guacamole and an absolutely delicious pasta. We also tried numerous seafood dishes at Hotel Noga as well as mezcal cocktails. Highly recommended in Zipolite vs the touristy places on the beach.
El Alquimista was another fantastic restaurant in Zipolite. It is a hotel situated on the beach and the restaurant is on the sand facing the ocean. Make sure to make a reservation so you can get the tables directly on the beach for the best views. I had their shrimp curry which is a strange thing to have in Mexico but it was absolutely delicious once I added some habaneros to the mix. This is a great place for group dinners or even romantic dinners.
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