Mazunte Oaxaca is a beach town and ecological jewel on the southern Mexican Pacific coast.
This Magical Town sits in the municipality of San Pedro Pochutla and is 22 km from the municipal seat of the same name.
The town is named after the red and blue crab that inhabits the coast.
Mazunte is a short distance from other important destinations on the Oaxacan coast, located a few kilometers from San Agustinillo, Zipolite Beach, Punta Cometa, and Puerto Angel.
Mazunte Oaxaca History
The pre-Hispanic name Mazunte means “I see you lay eggs” in the Nahua language due to the many turtles that lay their eggs on its beaches.
The Zapotecs founded the original town in 1600, and the modern town received an economic boost in the 1960s through the indiscriminate exploitation of sea turtles.
In the 1990s, the town was redirected towards more self-sustaining economic activities, such as tourism and environmental projects.
In 2015, Mazunte was incorporated into the Pueblos Mágicos system to stimulate the tourist use of its beauty and ecological activities.
How to get to Mazunte Oaxaca
Getting to Mazunte is relatively easy. There are three main routes from the closest and most popular cities and towns.
The first option is to arrive from Oaxaca City, which is about a four-hour drive.
The second option is to arrive from one of Oaxaca’s two main beach towns: Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.
Unfortunately, there is no airport in Mazunte, so it is not easy to get to this place directly from the country’s major cities.
So, in this case, the best way to get to Mazunte is to fly to Huatulco or Puerto Escondido and then take a short road trip. Here’s the breakdown for you:
From Huatulco to Mazunte
From Huatulco to Mazunte by Bus: Cost (round trip): 400 pesos
To get from Huatulco to Mazunte, take a bus on the bus line ADO to Pochutla, the head of the municipality.
The ticket will cost approximately 100 pesos, and the duration will be one hour.
Once in Pochutla, you can take the local transportation (known as Colectivo) or a Taxi.
The best option if you want to save money is the colectivo. The Taxi will charge you 100 pesos.
From Huatulco to Mazunte by Taxi: Cost (round trip): 400 to 500 pesos
Traveling by Taxi is the most comfortable way to go from Huatulco to Mazunte if you don’t have your own car.
You can take a cab at your hotel or the town’s streets. The cost will be 200 pesos to 250 pesos, and the trip duration will be 50 min.
From Huatulco to Mazunte by Car: Cost (round trip): 260 pesos
Having a car is the best option as it gives you the flexibility to arrive in Mazunte when you decide and return to Huatulco as late as you want.
You must take the 61 km Santiago Pinotepa Nacional – Salina Cruz road to get there by car.
The trip will take a maximum of 50 minutes, and gas will cost approximately 130 pesos.
From Puerto Escondido to Mazunte
From Puerto Escondido to Mazunte by Bus: Cost (round trip): 400 – 500 pesos
To travel to Mazunte, you must take a bus from Puerto Escondido to Pochutla.
The ADO bus line is the best option to travel comfortably, but if you don’t mind sacrificing a little comfort, you can choose the Alta Mar line, which offers less than 100 pesos trips.
Once in Pochutla, you must take a cab to Mazunte beach.
From Puerto Escondido to Mazunte by Car: Cost (round trip): 300 – 400
Traveling by car to Mazunte is one of the most practical alternatives since you can travel comfortably in your own vehicle, and the travel time will be just over an hour.
The cost of gas per trip will be approximately 150 to 190 pesos.
From Puerto Escondido to Mazunte by Taxi: Cost (round trip): 1300 – 1600 pesos
If you don’t have a car and want to travel privately, the best way is to take a cab in Puerto Escondido.
You can take the cab anywhere in town but agree on the price before boarding the vehicle.
From Oaxaca City to Mazunte
Oaxaca to Mazunte by Bus: Cost (round trip): 1300 pesos
The trip from Oaxaca to Mazunte by land is heavy and long, the approximate duration is about 7 hours, and the cost is 600 pesos.
To get to Mazunte, you must take a bus from the Oaxaca de Juarez bus terminal to San Pedro Pochutla.
Once at the bus terminal in Pochutla, you must take a cab or colectivo to the small town of Mazunte.
From Oaxaca to Mazunte by Car: Cost (round trip): 1400 pesos
The drive from the capital of Oaxaca to Mazunte takes about four hours, and the cost of expenses is around 800 pesos.
To get to Mazunte, you must take the highway from Oaxaca de Juarez towards Puerto Angel.
Once you get to Pochutla, take the detour to Mazunte beach.
What is the weather like in Mazunte?
The beautiful and warm beach of Mazunte sits in a tropical region, so the heat is predominant in the area.
The average temperature is 21ºC, and the rainfall is 599 mm per year. The rainy season is during the summer months, from May to October.
If you are considering visiting Mazunte, the best time to do so is from November to April. During these periods, you will find warm weather with no tropical storms.
In April, the weather in Mazunte is fine for a vacation, but it will be very crowded for the festivities. The same is the case for September (although September has some of the worst weather).
October is still risky. You may find rain and bad weather, so it is better to wait a few more days and plan your visit in November, December, or January.
Best things to do in Mazunte Oaxaca
Mazunte and its surroundings have beaches that are among the most welcoming and naturally well-endowed on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca.
The town has a long history with sea turtles, leaving them on the brink of extinction and then recovering them through formidable ecological work. The Mexican Turtle Center stands out.
Mazunte hosts several annual tourist and cultural interest festivals, which attract thousands of visitors to the town, including the International Jazz Festival, the International Circus Festival, and other important events.
A few kilometers from Mazunte are charming beaches and places of cultural interest, such as Punta Cometa, Playa Zipolite, San Agustinillo, and Puerto Angel.
Stroll through Mazunte’s streets and beaches
Mazunte is a picturesque beachfront town at the foot of the Sierra Madre del Sur.
Between the city and the beach is the Avenida or Paseo de Mazunte, the main street from a commercial point of view.
By governmental disposition, the residential houses and other establishments in Mazunte must be built harmoniously with the environment.
Mazunte has a wide beach and a cove to the west, where comfortable hotels have been installed to provide all the services for visitors to have an unforgettable stay.
You can organize your trips by sea or land from the main beach to visit other beaches and places of interest in the surroundings.
What is the history of the turtles?
The olive ridley turtle uses the beaches of Mazunte, the smallest marine chelonians, to lay their eggs.
Hundreds of turtles arrive on the beaches at night and lay their eggs in concert with certain lunar stages. These arrivals are known locally as “morriñas.”
The massacre of olive ridley turtles began in Mazunte on the beach of San Agustinillo in the 1960s, when a Spanish businessman moved in to get rich by selling their meat, shells, bones, and eggs.
The slaughter of turtles lasted more than 30 years and reached 2,000 turtles per day until environmental awareness was raised and the slaughterhouse was closed.
After closing the slaughterhouse, in the search for sustainable alternatives for the maintenance of the community, one of the projects developed in the early ’90s was the creation of the Mexican Turtle Center.
It opened its doors in Mazunte, next to the beach, in 1994, as an aquarium and sea turtle research center.
In the incubators, the eggs collected on the beaches are protected until the turtles are hatching, which are released once they reach the correct size.
When are the International Jazz and Circus Festivals?
This musical gathering takes place in Mazunte during the last weekend of November, from Friday to Sunday, as part of National Conservation Week.
This nationwide event is coordinated by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas to promote ecology and environmental preservation.
In Mazunte, apart from the jazz festival with the participation of nationally and internationally renowned bands, there are music clinics, art exhibitions, gastronomic and handicraft fairs, and the release of turtles.
Another event gaining momentum to promote Mazunte as a tourist destination is the International Circus Festival.
It takes place between the end of February and March and brings together circus specialists from different parts of the world.
In the five editions of the festival that have been held up to 2016, circus characters and circuses from Mexico, the United States, South America, and Europe have participated, presenting shows of illusionism, acrobatics, and other circus acts.
Visit Zipolite nude beach near Mazunte Oaxaca
This beach is located 6 km east of Mazunte, within the municipal limits of San Pedro Pochutla.
“Zipolite” means “beach of the dead” in the Zapotec language since, according to the legend, these people used to bury their corpses on the beach.
Another version says that the name means “Place of snails.”
The sand at Zipolite Beach is fine-grained, and the coastline defines a crescent profile along its length.
The swell is moderate to intense throughout the year, and there are also somewhat strong underwater currents, particularly during the rainy season.
Zipolite is one of the few Mexican nude beaches with optional clothing and has hosted an international festival on this practice.
What is the nude festival like?
Maybe Zipolite Beach was the “beach of the dead” for the Zapotecs, but now the sandy beach is very much alive.
So much so that it is the only one in Mexico where you are allowed to be around naked.
Between February 3 and 5, 2017, Zipolite hosted a festival, an event called Encuentro Latinoamericano, organized for the enjoyment of “nudists” and to make the beautiful Mexican beach known to the world.
Participants included Argentines, Brazilians, Mexicans, Uruguayans and other Latin American countries.
The festival rotates among the countries. There is also yoga, theater, concerts, dances, and other activities.
If you like beautiful beaches, you should watch for upcoming events in Zipolite.
What is the interest of Punta Cometa?
3.3 km from the town of Mazunte is Punta Cometa, the most salient point of the country in the South Pacific, which makes it a geographical reference point, especially for navigation.
Punta Cometa is a sacred hill and ceremonial center considered a place of healing since pre-Hispanic times.
Many Mexicans and foreign tourists travel to Punta Cometa in search of cures, and spiritual world personalities, such as the Dalai Lama, have been interested in the place, sending offerings.
From Punta Cometa, you have a fantastic ocean view, and it is the best spot to observe humpback whales.
The humpback whales
The humpback whale is one of the largest cetaceans in nature, reaching 16 meters in length and around 27 tons in weight.
It has a peculiar shape and two long fins, and is a very acrobatic animal, so watching it swim is a delight.
They migrate from the polar zones to the tropics in search of warm waters to reproduce, traveling up to 25,000 km.
Punta Cometa is a geomagnetic landmark used by the natural “GPS” of humpback whales on their route south between December and March and is the best place in the South Pacific to observe them a few dozen meters from the coast.
Visit San Agustinillo beach
The small community of San Agustinillo is located one kilometer from Mazunte, in the municipality of Santa María Tonameca.
The town was founded in the 1960s, and for three decades, the main activity of its inhabitants was working in the turtle slaughterhouse.
San Agustinillo has three small coves one kilometer long and borders Mazunte to the west. The beaches are used for surfing.
Hotels, restaurants, and tour operators on its shores offer trips to observe marine biodiversity and rafting in the nearby rivers.
What is the attraction of Puerto Angel?
Puerto Angel is a small and beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay located 10 km east of Mazunte, where the town and two beaches are located.
The beaches, Principal and Panteón, are flanked by rocks and boulders that protect them from the open sea currents, making them ideal for safe swimming.
In Puerto Angel, there is an intense artisanal fishing activity.
The waters are greenish and bluish tones and rich in marine fauna, to the delight of scuba divers and snorkelers.
The inlet is usually dotted with fishing boats that bring the fresh seafood consumed in many restaurants to the mainland.
What are the main celebrations in Mazunte Oaxaca?
The population of Mazunte venerates the Patron Saint of Esquipulas, whose festivities are on January 15.
There are, among other activities, musical concerts, folkloric dances, a profusion of fireworks, a regional gastronomic festival, and handicraft exhibitions during the celebrations.
Mazunte also organizes the Spring Equinox Festival, a cultural event with pre-Hispanic reminiscences.
It takes place around March 21 or 22 and stands out for its display of dances of all types, such as pre-Hispanic, folkloric, belly dance, and breakdance.
Local handicrafts and gastronomy
The main handicrafts in Mazunte Oaxaca are necklaces, bracelets, and other ornaments made with beach shells, and they also carve wooden pieces.
Local gastronomy revolves around fish, shellfish, mollusks, and other oceanic species, caught by artisan fishermen and divers.
However, if you are in the mood for traditional Oaxacan food from inland, such as mole negro, tlayudas, caldo de piedra, or chapulines, the good restaurants along the coast will surely be able to please you.
Although hot chocolate is not a beach drink, you won’t miss it in Mazunte, accompanied by delicious pastries.
Lodging in Mazunte
The choice of hotels on the Oaxacan coast is vast, and it isn’t easy to select. However, here are the most popular ones with good reviews. I personally enjoyed Casa Pan de Miel.
- Hotel Casa Pan de Miel, near the Mexican Turtle Center, has a beautiful view and excellent service
- OcéanoMar, on Mermejita Beach, has spacious, comfortable rooms and warm service
- ZOA Hotel, on the main beach, has nice rooms, a beautiful pool, and exquisite food
- Other good hotel selections in Mazunte Oaxaca are Posada Ziga, El Copal, and Altamira
- Estrella Fugaz has a Mexican, seafood, and international menu and is praised for its seafood broths, ceviches, and fish fillets
- Siddhartha serves seafood, Italian and international cuisine, and its customers rave about the garlic fish
- Alessandro offers Italian dishes and Mediterranean food on a small menu but with delicious dishes
- You can also eat at La Cuisine, La Empanada, and Lon Tou