Life's a Beach: A Guide to the Coast
Published on Tuesday, 02 September 2014 15:38
By Lumina N. Schafrath
Oaxaca City is a cultural hub, attracting travelers from all corners of the earth. The charmingly vibrant capital is full of art, culinary wonders, and history that is written as much on the walls as in the wrinkles of its older generations. It seems full of unexpected surprises, to say the least. But this sentiment is not reserved for the city alone. Whether you live, work, study, or are visiting in Oaxaca, you simply must head to the beaches in the south to experience a whole other side of this diverse state. The tropical climate and beautiful beaches are just the surface of what awaits you in these Mexican beach towns.
Oaxaca's Pacific Coast offers relaxation and adventure for all interests and budgets. Your adventure begins by deciding how to leave Oaxaca city. You can book your trip with the OCC first-class bus station, take a much cheaper mini-bus (also known as a combi), or skip the 5 - 7 hour ride through the Sierra Mountains by taking a half-hour flight from the Oaxaca Airport to Puerto Escondido. This “Hidden Port,” is the farthest west of the well-known beaches and one of the more developed seashore options. Puerto Escondido seems to move to a bustling rhythm that doesn't miss a beat. The action is centered at the Playa Zicatela, glittering with local shops, hotels, and restaurant options by day, and jumping nightclubs by night. Just three kilometers south lies the more relaxed Punta Zicatela, with economic hostels, chill cafes and its famous waves for experienced surfers. A timely bus system can get you all around for only 5 pesos, and for a little bit more, you can take another bus to San Antonio or Pochutla as a jumping off point to another beach town.
From Pochutla, you can find a ride to central coastline towns of Puerto Angel, Zipolite, San Augustinillo, and Mazunte. Each town is about a 20-40 minute ride, and features its own unique flavors. Puerto Angel is known as the fishing port but also offers deep dives. Zipolite is a nude beach with a main strip that gives it the feeling of a hippy haven. San Augustinillo is a tiny village town offering clean accommodations, restaurants, and art galleries, and mellow waves, perfect for bodyboarding. Just around the corner is Mazunte, another vortex offering everything from boat trips for snorkeling and swimming with seaturtles, to yoga classes, beach vendors, and unforgettable sunsets at Punta Cometa. Fifty kilometers east of Potchula lies las Bahias de Huatulco (the bays of Huatulco), a more high-end resort style and luxury option.
Huatulco harbors a slew of beautiful bays that stretch 10km east and west from its main harbor at Santa Cruz Hualtulco. If you don't have a car, a taxi will be necessary to get from one bay to another leaving this side of the Pacific an unattractive option for budget travelers.
Whether your travels take you to the east or the west of the Pacific coast, you can find everything from spiritual retreats to horseback riding, West-African dance classes, breathtaking sunsets, Spanish courses, and plenty of swimming and good seafood. There seems to be no shortage of reasons to go, and once there, no logical reason to leave.