Have Baby, Will Travel: Playa Mazunte, Mexico
After a stellar trip to Lake Atitlan, we made the 12 hour journey over the boarder back home to San Cristobal with heavy hearts. It was the first time that I had so much help with Luna, and coming home to an empty house was even less exciting than it sounds.
Luckily, my good friend, Sara, was in town and offered us a ride to Mazunte with her a few days after we returned. Having nothing holding us in San Cris, we gladly jumped at the opportunity to take the trip with her.
Mazunte is a sleepy hippy beach town along the coast of Oaxaca, the next state up from us. Mexico is much larger in real time than it looks on a map. The drive to Mazunte is 8-10 hours and 12 by bus. Just to get to the good part of the next state over!
We took off late from town, hoping to get on the road for 8am, but after breakfast and baby time, we ended up leaving around 11am. The drive was great! Luna was a dream in the car and we stopped along the way for treats and lunch. The last two hours loomed heavily as we arrived after dark, eyes very heavy, ready to check into our hotel. Because of our late arrival, we didn’t want to take any chances and split on a room booked online at a new hotel development.
The next day, we moved into a locally run space with 6 rooms including private bathroom, a stone’s throw from the beach. Each room contained a double bed and bath for 300 pesos a night, 350 for two people (works out to about $20 CAD).
The vibe in Mazunte is lovely. It’s a beautifully tranquil part of the Pacific ocean, with several cafes and restaurants along the road leading to the beach. There is a big circus arts community due to a long-running, annual circus festival in town. There’s also a very big yoga community, with several classes at Alchemist and Hridaya to choose from.
The story is that Puerto Escondido (the nearest town with an airport), about an hour away, was a surf town through the 90s and into the early 00’s. As it expanded, the people from the fringes, moved out further. The basics are as follows: La Punta, is a family-oriented community in Puerto Escondido, but just a ten minute cab from downtown where there are restaurants, yoga and a little nightlife. Next it’s Zipolite, the party beach with a thriving circus school and a nudist beach that attracts sketchy day drinkers, naked older Europeans and those who are really enthusiastic about circus arts. Then you have Mazunte, the very chill hippy town with lovely little expat restaurants, and more of a live music scene at night that closes early.
Of the three beaches, my thoughts are this: Zipolite is good for backpackers and vacationers, La Punta is for long stays and those who want to live beach life year round and Mazunte is the hippy town.
We are always on the hunt for our next home and plan to return to La Punta sometime in the rainy season to see it at it’s worst and figure out if it’s for us. But as far as vacation’s go, Mazunte was the best for me.
I loved the laid back lifestyle at the beach, the Italian gelato shop (I went there twice a day cause: breastfeeding). There is a good cafe on the corner called Fugez Estrella that had the decent internet and a good Americano plus beautiful views of the ocean. We also ate at a Japanese infusion space right next door almost every single night. Raw fish on rice is something I have missed dearly since leaving Canada and I eat it every chance I get. Oaxaca is known for its mezcal (like tequila but better) so each and every place from the bakery to juice bar, restaurants to hostels, sells homemade mezcal. Pro tip: Mexicans sip it out of a 2oz shot glass – if you treat it like a shot, it will bite you in the ass.
Next door to Mazunte is a little town called San Augustinillo where the water was so calm it was almost Caribbean and where I introduced Luna to the ocean for the first time (spoiler alert: it was too cold and she cried). I loved the even slower, family friendly feel of San Augustinillo and would return for a vacation any time.
Getting Around/What to Expect With A Baby:
To get to the beach, take a flight to Puerto Escondido then drive an hour out -a taxi will take you there for 600 Pesos (40 CAD). It’s very baby friendly and I had no problem roping in locals to help me with Luna. Using my fail safe travel tip of staying in a locally run place, I was able to leave her with the woman who ran the place of a half hour each day in order to get a quick dip in the ocean – she even offered to keep her for the day if I was willing to let her formula feed her.
During the day, there are pick up trucks that run between beaches for a few pesos a ride that come every 10 minutes – you just hop in the back and pay at your destination. This is also how you get to the main road if you want to take a bus to Puerto. From the main road, you flag down busses which are 35 pesos to Puerto. There are also cabs that run in the day time that are much harder to get at night.
Best part about beach life is that the social scene is in the day. There were plenty of people for us to meet and hang out with on our baby schedule and I even got my first night off – a whole two hours to go dancing. I saw a grew Cumbia band play at a spot up the street, had three entire beers and was home and asleep with Luna before midnight. It was glorious.
My overall impression is that it’s a seasonal place. November – March seems like the right look for Mazunte, any later and it gets too hot to bear and the boredom would probably kill you.