A Guide to Mazunte And Why It's Worth A Visit
When we first set off for our travels through Mexico, we had never even heard of Mazunte. Thanks to a couple of people that we crossed paths with on our crazy journey, we decided to spend a couple of days at this hidden paradise. Let's just say Mazunte completely blew us away and is one of the highlights from our 6 months in Mexico. As much as we would love to keep this place a secret, we're sharing a guide to Mazunte and hope you'll decide to experience this gem along the coast of Oaxaca.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT MAZUNTE
While others flock to the likes of Cancun and Cabo, those looking for an authentic Mexican beach getaway will find it in Mazunte. The waves are as strong as the sun, the roads are mostly unpaved and there's a real sense of community here even if most people are just passing through. Oaxaca's shoreline seems to be littered with tropical beaches and inspiring coastal scenery ideal for the artist, writer, musician or hippie. The internet might not be great and you'll be lucky if your room has a fan but aren't those all signs that you've stumbled upon a real paradise? There's certainly a touch of magic in Mazunte and I hope it stays that way for a while.
GETTING TO MAZUNTE, MEXICO
We were travelling to Mazunte from Puerto Escondido and it's a fairly easy ride if you're up for an adventure. At the ADO bus terminal in Puerto, buses to the small town of San Antonio leave hourly. We paid $38 pesos each (April 2016) for the 45 minute bus ride. Make sure to let the driver know that you are going to Mazunte because that bus continues to Pochutla and you have to get off at San Antonio. The bus stop at San Antonio isn't much of a stop at all. We were the only ones to get off the bus and essentially found ourselves on the side of the highway in front of an OXXO. Although this stop is called San Antonio, we weren't able to find anything by that name on Google maps. Everything would direct us to the San Antonio in Texas. And so we learned: San Antonio is actually the town of Santa Maria Tonameca.
But the mission from here was to find the cheapest way to Mazunte, about 7 kms away. Cabs were charging $60-$70 pesos for a ride but we knew we had to wait for a colectivo or pasajero (shared van) to take us to town because that would be $10 pesos per person. The van ended up being more of a pickup truck and we hopped in the back, held on tight and hoped for the best. It's a bumpy 20 minute drive to the town of Mazunte and we got off at El Rinconcito street which is where we started the uphill trek to our room for the night. These pasajeros come from Pochutla and are easily distinguished by their blue hood (while others are green or orange).
WHERE TO STAY IN MAZUNTE, MEXICO
We normally book all of our hostels over at Hostelword but, in a small town like Mazunte, it was slim pickings for accommodations within our budget when we were searching online. Once we got there, we saw SO many signs advertising affordable dorms and rooms for rent so there are definitely plenty of options once you get into town. We travelled during the off season (late April of 2016) so the town was relatively quiet and there seemed to be quite a few vacancies.
What we normally do is book one or two nights at accommodations we can find online and then scope out the scene in town once we've decided we want to stay longer (which is very probable in a town like Mazunte). The plus side of this alternative is that you can ask to view a dorm/room in person and avoid being fooled by exaggerated photos on the web. Secondly, since most hostels and inns in small towns don't advertise online, you may find the prices in person to be wayyy cheaper than those for places that are listed on popular booking sites. Double win!
We stayed at Casa Huijazoo Nature & Balance because we were able to book our stay with points earned through Expedia. The room was spacious and the views were great but I wouldn't recommend nor would I stay here again. Though it was affordable, there wasn't always staff on site. So when the water went out in the middle of the night, our only option would have been to wake up one of the managers by calling them on the numbers they had posted in the waiting area.
If you want to be close to the action, look for a place near El Rinconcito street. For a quiet stay with amazing views, there are places near the cemetery (close to Punta Cometa) that overlook the bay and are away from the main streets in town.
THE BEST PIZZA IN MEXICO?!
I know, I know. Pizza in Mexico? Maybe we shouldn't have but we did. After months of tacos and tortas, we were craving pizza so we went for it and we couldn't post this guide to Mazunte without sharing our memorable pizza experience. We ended up having to wait for this small place to open for dinner (business hours in Mazunte are fairly lax) and had the best pizza we've had in Mexico so far. The owner is from central Italy and makes pizzas from scratch before letting them cook to perfection in his wood-burning oven. He may or may not be wearing a shirt while he prepares your pizza. We may or may not have ordered a second pizza to go.
We're still kicking ourselves because we don't actually know the name of the pizza place and of course it's nowhere to be found online (it was not La Dolce Vita). But if you want great pizza and good service, head to El Rinconcito, close to the beach across from a cute ice cream shop. His pizza place is right beside another small restaurant called La Guera and he's got a blue surfboard at the front gate that says something about pizza on it. Be sure to try his homemade chimichurri too!
PUNTA COMETA, MAZUNTE
For sunset, sunrise, great views or if you're just wanting some peace and quiet, head to Punta Cometa. We missed it the first night but (thanks to our favourite pizza maker in town) we made sure to take in the views the following day before heading to Zipolite. We weren't able to stay for sunset but it was about 4pm when we reached the top and there was no one else in sight. It really is a special place. Many locals and hardcore travellers do this hike barefoot (HOW?!) but I struggled in my flipflops and would recommend running shoes. If you plan on staying for sunset, I imagine a lamp or flashlight would be useful as the path is not lit. Like, not at all. Apparently it can also get pretty crowded during peak season but it's well worth the experience and a great way to start or end any day.
There are paths to Punta Cometa from the main road and from the beach. If you're in town, head to the cemetery and you'll see various trails start from there. You can also start down by Mermejita beach and make your way up from there.
THINGS TO DO IN MAZUNTE, MEXICO
Head to a local bulletin board in Mazunte on any given day and you'll likely find an event, festival, outdoor movie or market happening in town. We were there at the start of the tango festival and spent a night watching talented couples dancing the night away right by the beach.
Mazunte is also well-known for it's annual Jazz Festival. Held over a weekend in mid-November each year, the jazz festival has concerts and activities throughout Mazunte attracting tourists from Oaxaca and beyond. Other activities nearby include the Ventanilla Lagoon, National Mexican Turtle Centre (see below) and local experiences like yoga, cooking and Spanish lessons.
THE NATIONAL MEXICAN TURTLE CENTRE
Right at the main road in Mazunte, on the east side of town, is where you'll find the National Turtle Centre of Mexico. During our visit to the turtle centre, we learned a great deal about the history and importance of turtles in this part of the Oaxacan coast. Prior to a government ban in 1990, the main industry in Mazunte was sea turtle hunting. As the town grew, a slaughterhouse was built close to where the turtle centre stands today and now the town is raising awareness and promoting ecotourism in the area.
I would recommend visiting for those that have time in Mazunte and are interested in learning more about turtles and their life cycle. Most information displays were also in English which was helpful (and not found everywhere in Mexico). We had a great time as you can see in our YouTube video linked below ;)
We visited in April of 2016 when admission was $31 pesos and the Turtle Centre hours at that time were:
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays for maintenance Wednesday to Saturday: 10am to 4:30pm Sunday: 10am to 2:30pm
TRAVELLING TO SAN AGUSTINILLO, ZIPOLITE AND BEYOND
We definitely could have used an updated guide to Mazunte to help us travel between the small beach towns along the coast. Luckily, this region of Oaxaca has several modes of transport to help you explore the beaches and there's an option for every budget. To travel the coast, a taxi would be the most comfortable but also most expensive means of transport. Be sure to agree on a price with the driver first to avoid any misunderstandings. Metered taxis are not common here.
Colectivos are shared taxis and they pretty much look like every other taxi. To ensure a colectivo rate, you'll have to specify that you want to take the taxi as a colectivo meaning the driver is free to pick up as many people as he dares to fit along the way. The rate depends on your location but would be significantly cheaper than a regular taxi.
Pasajeros are the cheapest (and most fun!) means of transport in this part of Oaxaca. You'll see several pickup trucks with coloured tents driving up and down the main roads. Most circle from Pochutla and are an easy way to navigate and explore the beaches and towns of San Agustinillo, Zipolite, Mazunte and Pochutla. Rates vary based on distances but can be between $7 to $15 pesos per person. You pay your driver once you've reached your destination and he charges according to when you got on (the longer you were in the pasajero, the more you would be paying).
HOW TO GET TO HUATULCO, MEXICO
After visiting Mazunte, we spent another two nights in Zipolite before making our way to Huatulco. With a bit of patience and planning, you can get to Huatulco from Zipolite for under $50 pesos per person. Board a pasajero with a green or orange hood that is headed to Pochutla. The ride is nearly an hour long but still only set us back $15 pesos each. We told the driver we were headed to the Pochutla bus stop and he let us off at the last stop. We crossed the street and walked past all the vendors and taxi drivers calling at us offering rides and kept heading towards the main bus terminal in Pochutla. The company SUR has frequent departures to the town of La Crucecita (main town in Huatulco) for $29 pesos. In total we paid $44 pesos each to get from Zipolite to Huatulco and it was a bit of work but worth it for us and our budget. You could also take a taxi (for around $450 pesos).
If you're planning a trip to this tiny beach town, we hope our guide to Mazunte, Mexico helps you explore one of our favourite spots in the country!