city guides: mazunte, mexico

Famous for Mexico's foremost Turtle conservation centre, Mazunte is also home to some of Oaxaca's most beautiful beaches. For independent travellers who enjoy a small town vibe, lying back and watching the world go by, this sleepy beach town is a great spot.

Great for: Doing very little. As with the small neighbouring towns, Mazunte is a place to enjoy doing very little. And turtles.

Avoid if: Although charming and an ideal option for a few days R&R at the beach, we preferred to base ourselves in nearby Zipolite and enjoy Mazunte on a few day trips.

Must do: For anyone passing through or staying in Mazunte, a visit to the Turtle centre is a must. Here you have the opportunity to get up close to new hatchlings and observe various species – for tiddlers to giants – in aquariums. A cornerstone of this area's economy was turtle fishing, however the practice was made illegal in 1991. The centre is aimed at promoting education and awareness on the threats facing turtles and conservation efforts.

On our visit (July 2014), there was quite a lot of redevelopment of the outside tanks, which promises to make the Centre more immersive and interactive. 

Entry is $28 pesos for adults. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Opening times 10am - 4.30pm. Sunday 10am - 2.30pm.

Where to stay: The cheapest accommodations are found along the beach, with most of the sea-front comedors offering basic cabanas or hammocks. They also usually offer space to pitch a tent for a small fee.

Where to eat: The ocean side restaurants can work out a little pricy for budget backpackers with the average cost of a meal being $80-100 pesos. Cheaper eats can be found on the main road running parrallel to the beach, where a large traditional Mexican plate is a much more reasonable $50 pesos.

Getting there/away: If coming from the North or the East of Oaxaca, your first port of call will be Pochutla, from where it is easy to flag down a camioneta to Mazunte on the main road. The prices can vary a little depending on the driver, but the typical going rate is $10 pesos per person, for the 20 minute ride.

If arriving from Puerto Escondido, the cheaper and quicker option is to get dropped off at the San Antonio crossroads (look out for the Oxxo shop), and wait for a camioneta towards Zipolite or Mazunte. Cost is approx $8 pesos per person.

Camionetas also run frequently on the main road to/from Zipolite. Depending on how much the drivers likes you that day, the cost will be $5-6 pesos per person.

Budget-breaker or maker? As with the neighbouring towns of San Agustinillo and Zipolite, the abundance of cheap cabanas and the fact that time spent here often involves little more than lying on the beach with a cold beer in hand, Mazunte is an excellent option for budget backpackers looking to enjoy a mellow vibe.

If you're looking for chilled-out beaches and a few backpackers, whilst still having some of authentic Mexico around you, then this entire area should be your destination, rather than Puerto Escondido.