close

Oaxaca

33 Things I Love About Mexico

chichen-itza-dani-jump-mexico

I spent around nine months in Mexico—a country I know I’ll visit over and over again. I have traveled along the Pacific Coast, done several road trips in the Yucatan, I’ve eaten my way around Mexico City, and visited more Maya ruins than I can remember. I have so much love for Mexico—and I’d like to share some of the things I love about Mexico with you:

things I love about mexico
1. Mexican Food – Mexican food is completely different to what we expected, but it turns out we love almost all of it! From Tlayudas and panuchos to bean quesadillas and potato tacos plus chilaquiles and tortas (filled sandwiches – Mexico City has the biggest ones) it has been amazing to discover the food here!
 
2. Driving golf carts around the island of Isla Mujeres. This little island in the Caribbean is one of the things I love about Mexico the most—one of my favorite places in the entire country.

isla mujeres mexico

3. Mexicans – Friendliest people on the planet!

4. Markets – Though at times they can be shocking (squealing pigs the minute before their eventual slaughter and large yellow chicken feet spring to mind) the markets in Mexico are amazing to explore. The 20 de Noviembre market in Oaxaca was our favorite for the best selection of food (including the hundreds of mounds of deep-fried grasshoppers!) and mezcal.

5. Huevos motuleños – Yes, yes, we already said we loved the food, but this all day breakfast food quickly became our favorite after we discovered them during a long wait in Palenque for a bus to Merida. Huevos motuleños involve a fried tortilla topped with black beans, fried eggs, sauce and plantains, plus ham for the meat-eaters out there. Heavenly!

6. Cenotes – considering we had never even heard of these underground waterholes, swimming in the cenotes on the Yucatan felt a bit daring and definitely refreshing.

cenote mexico

7. Victoria beer – There, we said it. We love Victoria beer!

8. Mexico City – It’s a magnificent mega-metropolis which requires some patience and understanding, but Mexico City is a hub of creative, forward-thinking groups and individuals with art, markets, and music everywhere you turn. Sure it has its problems, but what city doesn’t? It’s the combination of it all that makes the city so great: Posh areas like Polanco are offset charming bohemian areas like La Condesa and by more run-down parts of the Centro Historico where culture and tradition seep into your soul. How cool to see Mariachis and Mayans catching cabs, Mexican rock bands headbang on a plaza next to a salsa club, sleek and stylish club-goers passing by happy families in the park until the wee hours and openly gay men and women walking hand in hand with their partners more often than in any U.S. city we know of. Frida and Diego (Kahlo and Rivera that is) can be found everywhere, and there are hundred of art museums, exhibitions and co-operations with institutes world wide. Mexico City is chaotic, yet quaint, crazy and creative. We miss you Mexico City!

Mexico City

9. The Caribbean coast, especially Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, where you can walk 40 to 50 meters out into the crystal blue water and it only comes up to your knees… but there are so many beaches along the Caribbean coast that are stunning – including Tulum, Akumal, and our own private beach in Xcalak.. they all deserve their own spot in my list of things I love about Mexico, but I’ll try to keep this short 😉


10. Valladolid – we fell in love with this little Pueblo Magico (magic village) on the Yucatan, but we’d like you to please not visit Valladolid.

11. Mariachi Bands – always fun to listen to, even if they don’t quite hit the notes.

things I love about mexico

12. Agua fresca – We might actually be able to slowly wean ourselves off Diet Coke thanks to these giant one liter drinks of water blended with fruit. We especially like Cantaloupe and Guayaba ‘aguas’.

13. Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul – Stuffed with her art, personal belongings and pictures, it makes you feel like you really get to know her, plus the gardens are gorgeous.

14. The cattle in front of our house in San Luis Beltran, Oaxaca.

15. The colorful traditional clothes worn throughout Mexico, from the many wool variations to be found in Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas to the beautiful long white gowns embroidered with flowers that the woman of the Yucatan wear.  Oh, and real life cowboys!

Sure, we know this continues on from Guatemala down through South America, but there is also something so unifying about how even the non-indigenous men/women will wear very traditional Mexican clothing rather than identifying with global fashion. It seems like for many here, people are Mexican first, class/race/socioeconomic status comes second.

16. Diego Rivera Murals in Mexico City – The murals are so insightful into Mexican history and culture, and you could spend more than a day hunting them all down throughout Mexico City. Diego’s influence as an artist was enormous here.

17. San Cristobal de las Casas – the prettiest colonial town we have seen so far.

san cristobal de las casas

18. The tacos from the taco vendor in Calle Uruguay – Near the bakery Pasteleria Ideal in #74  in Mexico City, you’ll see the large group of people crowded around the vendor – that’s the spot. Try an agua fresca here too – delicious.

19. Lizards galore! Mexico is filled with lizards big and small, from our pet gecko in our apartment in Playa del Carmen (and its subsequent tiny tiny little babies), to the giant iguanas in Tulum, Valladolid, Isla Mujeres and Chichen Itza. Plus we have come within a few feet of countless crocodiles, something we never thought was possible!

20. The historical ruins – The Mayan and Aztec ruins in Mexico are so majestic! We visited Teotihuacan near Mexico City, Monte Alban near Oaxaca, Palenque in Chiapas, Tulum and Chichen Itza on the Yucatan.

palenque mexico

21. Mexican bakeries  – Even just window-shopping makes our (read: Dani’s) mouths water. Cakes, fresh fruit and yogurt parfaits, cupcakes, sweet breads and freshly baked rolls are all delicious. Special shout-out to Pasteleria Ideal in Mexico City!

22. Cheladas and Micheladas –Beer mixed with tomato juice, salt, pepper and hot sauce. This is basically like a Bloody Mary but beer replaces vodka. Genius!

23. The tuk-tuks in Oaxaca.

24. Mexican buses –  The buses in Mexico are top standard, reliable and clean. ADO, OCC and Oriente all provide great service, though ADO’s films and air-conditioning are good for longer trips (more expensive, though).

25. Hostal La Candelaria in Valladolid. The best hostel we stayed at in Mexico. Clean rooms, two kitchens (one outside), a gorgeous garden, and very friendly owners. Plus two of the cutest little Chihuahuas of all time.things i love about mexico

26. Free wi-fi – In any public park or square in even the smallest city/town, at least a dozen people can be found with their laptops, not only using the free wi-fi, but also charging their computers. The parks have outlets for charging! Who needs Starbucks, when you can have free wi-fi in the park!

27. Lucha Libre – Mexican Wrestling rocks. Yes, it’s fake, but the crowd goes crazy and we loved it!

28.  Policemen, on horses, preferably with sombreros.

29.  Fruit in a bag, freshly cut and topped with spices & lime, for $1.00. One of the things I love about Mexico most!

30. Getting our laundry professionally washed – For less than $4, a lady with a brand-new washer and dryer will scrub out stains, wash and dry your clothes and then iron them all down, flat as pancakes, leaving you with a stack of clothes a quarter of the size of the dirty, stinky ball you brought to her.

31. Mexican mannequins. How can you not love ‘em? 😉

things I love about mexico

32. The Beaches on Mexico’s Pacific Coast – the Riviera Nayarit is gorgeous!

33. Road tripping in the YucatanSpanish-colonial villages, fantastic food, beautiful Caribbean beaches, cenotes, Maya ruins galore, lush green jungle – the Yucatan is spectacular, and the roads there are in good condition, which makes it easy to drive there.

What are your favorite  things about Mexico?  Let’s reminisce together in the comments below!

read more

Mazunte, Mexico: As lazy as it gets

Mazunte Beach

Through a sweaty, Dramamine-induced stupor, Dani and I stood shocked at the derelict ‘private’ hostel room we had been so excited to reach after an nine-hour trip from the outskirts of Oaxaca to Mazunte which involved a bumpy ride in a tuktuk, a local city bus, a winding five-hour shuttle-colectivo and a forty-minute wait for a thirty-minute ride in the back of a pick-up truck. We had thought we were staying with a local character, Carlos Einstein, a self-proclaimed but friendly-looking shaman who had a hostel on a fairly remote beach in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. It turns out that shaman Einstein had abandoned his seaside hostel a few months earlier in favor of a place in town at the end of a lonely path.

MazunteThis was explained to us upon arrival at his former, run-down hostel by the friendly but very lazy Americans that have since taken over the place. On our way to check out his new hostel, in hopes that it would be nicer than this other option, we were met by locals who warned us not to stay there: Apparently, Carlos is more than a flirt and sexual assaults here have been reported by many female travelers.

We turned back around instantly and, with no alternative option as the sun set, headed back to the original beach-side hostel and set our packs down on its cement floor, careful to avoid the pools of water that had collected throughout the room. The shower was nothing but a hose in the wall, the toilet could only be flushed by pouring a bucket of water into it, and a very old, mildew-ridden pair of underwear was discovered in the bed as we attempted to hang our own mosquito net over the ripped and moldy one that came with the room.

worst hostel everThe next morning, we took a stroll through the village and looked at some other posadas and it turns out that right next door was the charming Posada Ziga, which is the last hotel on the beach before the Turtle Sanctuary. We moved in, cleaned up and as we laid in the hammocks on our own private terrace, we immediately felt more positive about this gorgeous Pacific coast beach village.

Mazunte: A sleepy beach village

With only 702 inhabitants, Mazunte is about as sleepy as a beach town can get. There is a lot of laying on the beach reading or just staring out at the incredible ocean view.  The town’s main (and only paved) street, Avenida Paseo del Mazunte, connects Mazunte to its neighbors. The street is lined with small shops and restaurants on either side – typical Mexican restaurants with ‘comida corriente’ and gringo-friendly spots including three pizza places and relaxed hang-out cafes. At our own Posada Ziga, the restaurant served strong coffee and standard fare along with perfect views of the entire Mazunte beach. It was the perfect place to celebrate our first 100 days on the road.

Posada Ziga terraceMazunte was essentially uninhabited until the mid 20th century when the market for sea turtle eggs and meat developed and the town became the center of sea turtle hunting, complete with its own turtle slaughterhouse. All that has changed with the prohibition of the turtle meat trade in the 1990’s and today the town survives on turtle conservation at the Mexican National Turtle Center and the small but steady trail of tourists to the area.

Mazunte MexicoWatch the sunset at Punta Cometa at least one night during a stay in Mazunte. ‘Comet Point’ is a short walk from Mazunte through the forest out onto some beautiful (safe) cliffs where beachgoers come to watch the sunset on the most southern part of the state of Oaxaca. This walk can also lead to the nearby black sand beach of Mermejita which seems almost completely uninhabited.

Mazunte Mexico

Where to stay in Mazunte

  • Posada del Arquitecto is one of a few quality hotels on the other end of the half-mile beach. Room rates range from MX$400 to MX$800 (US$18 – 35) per night.
  • Cabanas Miramar further up the hill on the way to Punta Cometa offers cabins from $30 USD per night, with a large terrace with hammocks to relax in.
  • Casa Mazunte Tierra Viva has lovely rooms and bungalows with a modern design and fantastic ocean views two minutes from the beach. Double rooms start at US$44, bungalows start at US$64 per night.
  • Posada Olivo is a small guesthouse with colorful rooms and a large shared terrace a short walk from the beach. There’s also a fully equipped kitchen. Rooms start at US$29 per night.
  • Posada Ziga has clean, comfortable rooms and free wi-fi from MX$800 – MX$1,680 (US$35 (shared bathrooms) – $75 USD (private bathroom) per night.
  • Cocolia Hotel – a bit further away from the beach, but set in a beautiful setting in the jungle, this design hotel offers beautifully decorated cabins (spaced out for privacy) and a small swimming pool. Rooms start at US$110 per night.
  • Casa Pan de Miel – an exclusive adults-only resort on top of a hill with a divine infinity pool overlooking Mazunte and the ocean. Rooms (with big balconies & hammocks) start at US$129 per night.
  • Casa Lu – Brand new small hotel (only 12 rooms, opened in 2019) with swimming pool right on the beach. Spacious, modern rooms. Rates start at US$169 per night.
  • Zoa Hotel – the most luxury hotel in Mazunte, sitting high on the cliffs overlooking the bay. There’s an infinity pool and an exquisite restaurant on-site. Rooms start at US$297, suites start at US$331 per night.

posada ziga view

Day Trips from Mazunte

  • Zipolite: The popular beachtown of Zipolite is situated three km from Mazunte, but we would recommend staying a few nights there rather than an day trip from Mazunte.
  • San Agustinillo: Between Mazunte and Zipolite the beach is nearly vacant,  except for the tiny fishing village of San Agustinillo (roughly 230 inhabitants). The beach in San Augustinillo is surrounded by such steep cliffs that large resorts and hotels are impossible to build. We did not stop here, but as it is right on the way between Mazunte and Zipolite, beachgoers in the area could easily spend a day at the here for a change of scenery.
  • La Ventanilla: From either Mazunte or Zipolite, make sure to hop on a camioneta to La Ventanilla beach, two kilometers west of Mazunte, for a wildlife tour of the lagoon. Ventanilla means small window, named after a rock formation of one of the nearby cliffs that looks like a small window out to sea.

Eco-Tourism in Ventanilla

The long stretch of undeveloped Ventanilla beach is home to twenty-five Zapotec families that are dedicated to preserving the ecology of the area and volunteer to protect the hundreds of sea turtles who lay their eggs here each year. The volunteers also serve as passionate and incredibly knowledgeable guides who offer two-hour tours of the lagoon for only $35 pesos or $3 USD. Thousands of acres of mangroves contain a wide variety of wildlife, including iguanas, turtles, herons, ducks, woodpeckers and crocodiles that will swim right up to the boat and even on to the guide’s paddle!

Mazunte MexicoAfter two lazy days in Mazunte, we headed down the main street to Zipolite – which, even though it’s just two miles down the road, had a completely different feel to it.

read more

Our journey through Mexico in pictures

chichen-itza-dani-jump-mexico

Mexico was  only the second country of our trip, but we (unexpectedly) fell in love with the country and extended our stay there again and again – in the end we spent 88 days there, and traveled more than 3600 kilometers (2370 miles) through the country.

Reminiscing (yes, again), we looked through our thousands of photos of Mexico and decided to take you on a photographic tour of our journey through this fabulous country:

Upon arrival in Mexico City, we were welcomed by Mariachi bands & folklore groups…

We discovered some great street art…

… and enjoyed the fantastic views from the Torre Latinoamericano.

In Xochimilco we enjoyed a ride in one of the famous trajinera boats…

… and in Coyoacan, we not only enjoyed the bohemian flair and the market, we also visited Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul.

photos of Mexico

The archeological site of the Aztec town of Teotihuacan was a Must on our list.

photos of Mexico

Soon after we headed to Puebla where  we were we discovered a town that had, until 2003, manufactured the famous VW Beetles…

… and we admired the many tiled houses throughout the city.

photos of Mexico

We got to Oaxaca in time for its famous Guelaguetza festivities in July…

photos of Mexico

… and spent a  great couple of weeks in this beautiful colonial town, not leaving without having visited the glorious Maya ruins of Monte Alban.

photos of Mexico

Our next stop was the sleepy beach village of Mazunte on Oaxaca’s Pacific coast, where we were met with a subtropical climate for the first time on our journey.

After a couple of relaxing days we moved on to neighboring Zipolite, before leaving the coast for our next colonial town: San Cristobal de las Casas.

Mexico photos

In San Cristobal we came across more fantastic street art…

Mexico photos

… and the large presence of Chiapas’ indigenous Maya people was noticeable throughout the entire town.

photos of Mexico

We visited the Mayan villages of Zinacantan and Chamula, where we were shown how the Mayan women weave their clothes and make their tortillas.

We visited Sumidero Canyon where we saw the breathtaking Christmas tree waterfall and dozens of crocodiles…

photos of Mexico

On our way to Merida we stopped at the beautiful waterfalls Agua Azul and Misol Ha:

… and one of our favourite Maya ruins: Palenque, tucked deep into the jungle.

photos of Mexico

In Merida we arrived in time for some heavy rains and floodings…

photos of Mexico

… but the August heat came back quickly and we enjoyed the town’s magnificent churches before…

photos of Mexico

… heading to Cazuma, where we explored our first of the many cenotes (underwater sinkholes) on the Yucatan peninsula.

Our next stop was Valladolid, which turned out to be our favorite town in all of Mexico:

We were intrigued by its friendly people…

Mexico photos

… and the mysterious hold that its charming architecture has over us…

Mexico photos

Chichen Itza was another impressive Maya ruin we visited…

Mexico photos

… and the Cenotes Xkeken and Samula are only a short bike ride from Valladolid.

Mexico photos

We settled for four weeks in Playa del Carmen, just up from the hoards of tourists where we had the beach practically to ourselves…

photos of Mexico

We did not leave Mexico before a visit to Isla Mujeres, a tiny, gorgeous island off the coast of Cancun, which had a great Caribbean feeling to it…

… although the cliffs on the southern end of the island reminded us more of Scotland and Ireland…

… and finally a stop in Tulum, maybe not the most amazing Mayan ruins, but definitely the ones in the most stunning setting, right by the turquoise Caribbean sea.Mexico photos

Our very last stop in Mexico was Chetumal on the border to Belize, where we took off in a speedboat to our next destination: Ambergris Caye, Belize.

read more

Hotel Tip Of The Week: Posada Ziga in Mazunte, Mexico

hotel tip of the week

Welcome to our weekly series Hotel Tip of The Week. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves to show you how budget travel can be possible as well as enjoyable. This week: Posada Ziga, a budget hotel in Mazunte, Mexico.

The night before we discovered Posada Ziga had been the most disgusting, dirty, dreadful night of our trip to date and at the break of dawn we left the makeshift ‘hostel’ in search of a better hotel in Mazunte. A quick trip up and down the beach and we had completed the survey of available hotels in this beach village.

Located 1 hour from the eco-resort town of Huatulco and 40 minutes from Puerto Escondido, Mazunte itself has only 700 inhabitants who share a few unpaved side streets running off of one main road with visitors. This charming little beach town has several nice hotels in the budget range, but none that swept us off our feet for the price. That is, until we discovered Posada Ziga, the very last hotel on the beach, and coincidentally right next to the hostel we were trying to escape.

budget hotel MazunteThese two Mazunte budget hotels may be neighbors, but they are worlds apart, in the way that Posada Ziga does just about everything right, and its neighbor, well… we won’t give names because it will probably have changed hands a few times before you get there anyway. Back to Posada Ziga. The small hotel has only 14 rooms at the time of our visit, 8 of which have private bathrooms, though builders were hard at work with at least six brand-new rooms that should open soon. The best feature of the hotel is that each room has a little terrace (see Stand Out Features) with views out over the Pacific. The rooms are clean, spacious and kept in top condition, each has a little table and wardrobe, is equipped with mosquito nets and a small in-room safe (rare in budget hotels!) are kept spotless by the cleaning ladies. Staying here also means contributing to the local economy, as Posada Ziga is run by a local Mexican family, contrary to most Mazunte hotels which are owned by foreigners who relocated to the area.

Room at Posada Ziga MazunteSituated high on the rocks that form the frame of the bay, Posada Ziga really offers unparalleled views of the beach, especially good from the restaurant. While the menu leaves a bit to be desired (see Room for Improvement below), the free wi-fi works best here, although attempting to concentrate on anything work-related can prove quite a challenge, especially with the set of stairs beckoning you to the beach straight from the restaurant. We did actually manage to write our First 100-days post from here, since Posada Ziga was the spot for our first 100 days’ celebration.

Our terrace at Posada Ziga Mazunte

Stand Out Feature: The Terraces

Each room shares a terrace with one other room and each one has ocean views, a table, chairs and a very sturdy hammock. The hammocks are new, well-maintained, and hang just right so there is no scraping the floor with your behind. The terraces are roofed, so that even if it rains, you can still sit outside and enjoy the breeze from the ocean.

budget hotel Mazunte

Room for improvement: The Restaurant

The staff at Posada Ziga does a fabulous job, and there is only one thing that could be improved: The restaurant – specifically the restaurant prices. The clientele at Posada Ziga are budget to mid-range travelers, but the prices seem to be inflated to squeeze too much out the guests. With the fantastic range of delicious restaurants on and off the beach, the hotel restaurant at Posada Ziga could probably compete much better if prices were lowered. The menu was also a boring selection of seafood and soup, managing to leave out most of the dishes that make Mexican food so delicious.

Posada Ziga Mazunte

Posada Ziga: Overall

Posada Ziga is a great budget hotel in Mazunte for the travelers who need a relaxing beach vacation. It is the perfect place to relax, swing in a hammock and enjoy a good read. The restaurant terrace offers tremendous views over the entire bay, and views can also be had from your very own terrace. This hotel is a clean, quiet place perfect to recharge and chill out for a few days.

Posada Ziga Mazunte – The details

Location: The last hotel on the beach (east end of the village)
Price:
Double rooms with private bathroom $34-$44, double rooms with shared bath room $25-$32.
LGBT Friendly:
We think so.
Amenities:
Wi-fi, mosquito nets, hammocks, restaurant, views
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes
You can book a room at Posada Ziga here.

read more

Zipolite: Backpackers, hippies and major waves

Zipolite Beach to the West

After a month of Mexico’s finest city life, overnight buses, and countless churches, it was time for a relaxing beach getaway. We headed from Oaxaca city to the Pacific Coast to spend a long weekend in the beach towns of Mazunte and Zipolite.

After the first couple of days spent in the sleepy beach town of Mazunte we moved on to Zipolite, a beach town with a rep as a hippie and backpacker mecca. We were dropped off at the edge of the village by a camioneta, or covered pick-up truck, which is the main mode of transport on this part of the coast). During the ten-minute walk to our hostel we spotted mainly abandoned or near-abandoned houses and hotels littered with For Rent and For Sale signs, and where were these hippies and backpackers we had been warned about?

We found out that the hostel we booked online sits on the half of the mile-long beach which is now nearly deserted. The hostel itself is a shadow of what it once was, a fact which was clearly visible as the paint chips fell from the once-proud sign which read ‘Lyoban Hotel 1988 – 2008’. This sign initially seemed a tombstone of sorts. However, though Lyoban is past its prime, it is a pleasant family-run hostel with large rooms and an upper floor with several hammocks as a cheap option for backpackers. Lyoban sits just ten paces from the water, right on the beach, and the powerful waves of the Pacific were exciting to hear as we fell asleep.

Zipolite

Zipolite: free love and counterculture

With a population of 931, Zipolite is only slightly larger than Mazunte, and has seen better days. During the 1960s and 1970s a hippie counterculture began to congregate on this isolated beach and, thanks in part to the limited law enforcement, Zipolite steadily gained a reputation in Mexico as a free love paradise.

Today Zipolite’s ‘center’ is located along one half of the mile-long beach, lined with a variety of newly-built hotels and quality restaurants filled with very, very relaxed tourists doing much the same thing as in nearby Mazunte (or any good beach for that matter): reading, drinking and sunbathing.

Beach of the Dead

The Pacific here is gorgeous in a way that begs you to stare out at it for hours. However, Zipolite is a ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ beach. The waves and current make swimming and surfing here impossible, like many beaches along the Mexican Pacific. Zipolite in particular is known as the ‘Beach of the Dead’ due to the number of drownings that occur here each year.Watch out for the waves and pay attention to the flags which indicate whether wading is accepted or not on a given day. Your best bet is to stay in the comfortable shelter of the beachside bar, beer and book in hand.

Au Natural and Swinging 60s

A residual aspect of its free-loving past, Zipolite is the only beach in Mexico where nude bathing is tolerated, although the locals frown upon the behaviour. The nudity is meant to be kept at this end of the beach, and it is centered down near the Ibiza-esque hotel and lounge bar appropriately named Nude, though very tan beach bums (literally) can be seen along the entire beach.

Nestled in the side of the mountain past Nude is Shambala, a new-age hotel/restaurant where the psychedelic 60s came to live on for eternity. There are cabanas for up to four people ($25 per cabana per night), dorms which start at $7 USD per night, which hammocks rent for $1 USD per night. Shambhala also has two restaurants, one downstairs nearer to the beach, and one upstairs which is 100% vegetarian. They serve delicious veggie breakfasts and good licuados. Those with a laptop can plug in at their seriously cool purpose-built outdoor laptop ‘bar’, which looks high out over the bay into the ocean and is built with two outlets next to every seat for maximum surfing (free wi-fi).

Zipolite is also known for its new-age community, and there are countless places to practice yoga, to pray, and to take part in a temescal experience. Shambala itself has a mediation area that is worth a visit, overlooking the cliffs and the ocean. Climb the stairs on the side of Shambala’s restaurant and follow the signs, set at a five-minute walk up a hill in the forest.

Travel Tip: Before you head to Mazunte or Zipolite, make sure to get all the cash you’ll need in Pochutla, as the only two ATMs in town, both operated by MULTIVA, often run out of cash. The nearest ATM is in Puerto Angel, about 3 miles east of Zipolite.Zipolite Mexico

Where to stay in Zipolite

Budget hotels

  • Castillo Oasis – Budget hotel right on the beach. Each room has a unique decor, there is a shared terrace with hammocks. Rooms start at US$21 per night.
  • Villa Escondida – Rooms and bungalows, 800 feet from the beach. There’s a shared lounge, a kitchen, a jacuzzi pool and a gym. Rooms start at US$25 per night.
  • La Loma Linda: Bungalows, Yoga and Feldenkrais – Small hotel in the hills above Zipolite. They offer yoga, retreats and Feldenkreis classes. Shared terrace with hammocks, sea views, rooms and bungalows. Rooms start at US$36 per night, bungalows start at US$54 per night.
  • Soiree apartment, loft & studio – new hotel with apartments, a loft and a studio. Centrally located, close to the beach. Every room / apartment has an industrial-chic look, there is a shared swimming pool. The loft starts at US$52 per night, the apartments start at US$67 per night.

Mid-range & splurge

  • Hotel Descalzo – Beautiful hotel designed to fit in its natural environment. There’s a swimming pool and an onsite restaurant & bar. Rooms start at US$90 per night.
  • El Alquimista Yoga Spa – Gorgeous hotel right on the beach. There’s a spa, daily yoga classes, an adults-only swimming pool and a restaurant featuring international cuisine. Rooms start at US$89 per night.
  • Hotel Noga – Small hotel with deluxe rooms and suites, some have balconies, some terraces with hammocks. Wonderful design. There is a bar on-site. Deluxe rooms start at US$89 per night.
  • Casa Kalmar – Fabulous intimate hotel in the hills with an infinite pool overlooking the ocean. Rooms from US$90 including breakfast.

Apartment for four

  • Jungla Zipolite Regina – Modern apartment with two bedrooms (sleeps four), a large terrace, flatscreen TV, and a fully equipped kitchen. The apartment starts at US$150 per night.

How to get to Zipolite and Mazunte

This area of Pacific coast is reached by camioneta from Pochutla, a town which is of no real interest to travelers and serves mainly as a transport hub for buses from all around the country. Coming from Oaxaca, we could have taken an OCC bus but instead chose to take a long-distance ‘colectivo’, a mini-bus or shuttle that takes three hours less than the buses and costs half the price. Here’s the catch – The shuttle’s shorter route winds through the mountainous terrain of the Oaxacan countryside for six straight hours. This fact, coupled with the…let’s call it ‘adventurous spirit’ of most Mexican drivers, means that these six, vomit inducing hours are beautiful but very tiring. The lumbering first class OCC buses take a much longer (nine hours), but straighter route to Pochutla for twice the price.

However you choose to arrive in Pochutla, getting to the beaches can be done by taxi or camioneta.  A taxi will cost around $100 pesos ($9 US), while a camioneta – a ride in the covered back of a pick-up truck with 10-20 others, no seat guaranteed – will run $10 pesos (US$ 0.90).  We say take the camioneta – leave the bus station on the main road in Pochutla and wait for the pick-up trucks to go by. Someone will be yelling out Zipolite or Mazunte, and if you’re not sure, just ask. It’s roughly a 30 minute ride to either beach.

read more

Polaroid of the week: Oaxaca’s Guelaguetza Parade

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

We were lucky to be in Oaxaca for the famous annual Guelaguetza celebrations, one of the main tourist attractions of the region. The word Guelaguetza is of Aztec origin and means ‘reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services’. The ceremony was originally held to reconcile the gods for rain and a rich harvest and is still very important for the region’s folk groups as the indigenous culture still plays a significant role in Oaxaca.

During the last two weeks of July, the different ethnic groups of the State of Oaxaca come to the city of Oaxaca to present the folklore dances that are typical for their region. Dances are performed in the traditional, colorful dresses in a specially built amphitheater which seats about 11,000 people and in various parades through the streets of the city.

read more

Why you need to see Mexico…now

no thumb

Surrealist painter Salvador Dali said he couldn’t live in Mexico because it was too surreal for him – a piece of information sure to stir up intrigue in anyone familiar with the artist’s work. But what made him say this? And why should you visit the very place this mind-bending artist couldn’t handle? Read on to find out why a holiday to Mexico could make you glad of the persistence of memory…

Mexico City Street ArtMexico’s weird and wonderful landscapes are one thing you are unlikely to forget once you’ve seen them, and the country’s views could well have inspired Dali’s ‘surreal’ label, with breath-taking mountain ranges, sprawling desserts and tropical rainforests all vying for attention. In fact, the second-largest remaining tropical rainforest in the Americas stretches through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and is home to equally enthralling creatures such as the white-lipped peccary, the tapir, the scarlet macaw, the harpy eagle and the howler monkey. Also, The Nature Conservancy reports that five large cat species live in the lush greenery there.

Tulum ruins But let’s take a step back and look at Mexico’s position on the map, and what this means for the holidaymaker. This stunning country is bordered by the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the US and Guatemala. While the majority of the Mexican northern and central territories are located at high altitudes, the yearly temperature average doesn’t normally fall below 20 °C, but does reach up to 28°C. In other words, Mexico is nestled in surroundings that make it a diverse and interesting landscape and it enjoys lovely weather that is not unbearably hot.

For those who want a holiday full of fantastic sights and activities, Mexico is perfect. Tourists can go diving to explore part of the world’s second largest coral reef at the Parque Marino Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel, or snorkel with whale sharks in Cancun. History buffs can enjoy the city’s rich selection of museums or visit the ancient empire of the pre-Hispanic Aztec capital – the ruins of which were found under the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral – and see two religious temples, pyramids, serpent carvings, and shrines.

Palenque ruinsIf you want to laze around on a stunning sun-kissed beach, Mexico can deliver the perfect backdrop to your holiday snaps with its 450 different beaches.

Food in Mexico is a vibrant melting pot of different influences from South America, the Caribbean and Africa, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its own clear identity too. Dishes based on corn and vibrant, spicy foods with tongue-tingling chilli flavours are available in abundance in Mexico, and a new and exciting food experience is always around the corner if you’re prepared to be adventurous!

Mexican Street FoodWithout wishing to argue with one the most famous artists of all time, thanks to it’s beautiful landscape, exciting and colourful food offerings and amazing history, perhaps there’s a better word to describe Mexico.

read more