Sunday, May 26, 2024

Want to unplug? The perfect trip awaits you in San Agustinillo

Every summer of my childhood, my extended family got together to spend a full week at the beach. We’d sit on the sand for hours, catching up on life, reading books, eating our prepacked sandwiches and fruit when we got hungry. Then we’d go back to our book until we were ready for a swim or a good boogie board session. 

At night, the adults would have a glass of wine on the terrace, talking and laughing before everyone finally went to bed, sun-kissed and satisfied after yet another full day of doing absolutely nothing of true importance. 

A group of fishing boats and fishermen on the shore in San Agustinillo, Oaxaca.
Like many towns on Oaxaca’s coast, San Agustinillo has traditionally been a fishing community. (Adam Jones/Wikimedia Commons)

There was no planning, sightseeing or doing any tourist stuff. Just relaxing and living without an agenda.

It’s almost impossible to find that anymore. Wherever you go these days, there’s a “restaurant you HAVE to try” or a “museum you CANNOT miss.” We arrive at our dreamy beach getaway fully equipped with lists upon lists of activities with which we absolutely must jam-pack our open schedules. 

But maybe, just maybe, you WANT to skip the museum. Maybe you don’t want to hike to the top of Mount So-and-So. Maybe you don’t really care how good the tacos al pastor are at María’s streetside stand.

Maybe you want to simply be. 

A woman surfs in Mazunte, Oaxaca.
Oaxaca’s Pacific coast is renowned for the size of its waves, attracting surfers from around the world. But San Agustinillo’s are minor in comparison to its neighbors, making it a good place to learn. (pueblosmagicos.mexicodesconocido.com)

With a book, a beer and the beach. (And probably an umbrella).

Have I got the place for you.

Sandwiched between Mazunte to the west and Zipolite a bit further to the east, San Agustinillo is a digital detoxer’s paradise. Its beach clocks in at a mere 1,300 meters in length. Its waves are minor in comparison to those of its neighbors, making them simply perfecto for beginner wannabe surfers — or for watching beginner wannabe surfers from your lounge chair while sipping on a spicy margarita and snacking on guacamole; because what else are vacations in Mexico really for?

My recent solo trip to the absolutely-breathtaking coast of Oaxaca was centered around the Airbnb I rented in the town of Mazunte. 

I appreciated three things about Mazunte:

  • Watching the sunset with hoards of French, German, Mexican and American tourists from Punta Cometa. (Pro tip: Want a slightly more solitary experience? When trekking to the lookout point, there will come a fork in the road. Everyone will go left. You will go right.)
  • The outdoor produce & flower market, which sold not only ripe and juicy guavas (to which I am unabashedly addicted) but also tacos, chilaquiles, and pozole. Bring your own bag.
  • The light and not-too-sweet homemade vegan ice cream at CocoMiel.
A terrace in Mazunte, Oaxaca, overlooks the ocean at night.
An ocean overlook in Mazunte, where the author stayed on her trip to San Agustinillo. (pueblosmagicos.mexicodesconocido.com)

And while I do love myself a good kundalini yoga class, I personally drew the line at “womb healing” and “yoni massage” ceremonies, available on a much more frequent basis than at even the most hippie of California communes.

Crowds of barefoot tourists in colorful elephant-print pants poured into Mazunte’s tiny, dusty streets to stock up on cold-pressed juices and fair-trade drip coffee. And while there is nothing wrong with any of that, it’s just not quite what I was in the mood for.

Which is why I found myself walking westward toward San Agustinillo each morning. Apart from the heart-tickling, thunderous waves of the Pacific, San Agustinillo is relatively quiet. There is almost nothing to do in this tiny town of 267 people outside of beach strolls and fish tacos. 

But that’s the point. 

The beach itself is divided into three sections, separated by rock formations. To the west is a fisherman’s beach, and to the east is Playa Aragon. When the tide is high, Playa Aragon is only accessible via the main street, meaning you’ll have to walk a solid 20 minutes uphill and another 10 down a dirt path to reach it. But boy, is it worth your while. 

The rocks that encase tiny Playa Aragon are chock full of tiny coves to snuggle in and watch the waves. (Please only do so when the tide is low. Please.) Since this section of the beach is so secluded, you’re guaranteed few visitors, but half of those who do show up will likely be naked. There are no umbrellas for rent, no restaurants, no shops. What you will get is rocks, sand, sea and your book, if you brought one.

But I get it. You’ve made it this far into the article because you want some guidance. Read on for all the things that I thought made San Agustinillo beautiful.

Sea turtle swimming.
Mazunte is known as a nesting ground for sea turtles and is home to the Mexican Center for the Turtle. (pueblosmagicos.mexicodesconocido.com)

If you’re looking for…

…things to do:

…places to eat:

  • La Mora Cafe (a buzzing brunch spot with ocean views AND rooms for rent)
  • El Sueño de Frida (a quieter yet popular breakfast alternative)
  • El Navegante (highly rated Mexican seafood restaurant)
  • Temporada Oaxaca (higher-end creative farm-to-table establishment)
  • La Termita (where you can rent a room or just get some pizza!)
  • Luz del Sol (vegetarian menu with an organic market and holistic center) 

…a market:

  • If the 15-minute walk to Mazunte feels too far (or hot), there is a family that sells fresh fruits and veggies in an alley that leads to the beach. I can’t tell you where it is exactly but it’s hard to miss. Get there before 1 p.m. My personal shopping experience here was made unforgettable by an adorable 9-year-old boss lady who barked out pricing to customers and assistance requests to her father with a confidence I’ve yet to find in most adults.

…a place to sit all day with a drink and an umbrella 

  • Casa Corazon. I’ll be straight up: aside from the guacamole, the food here leaves a bit to be desired. The friendly, welcoming staff, however, more than makes up for that. I sat here staring at the sea from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., nursing fresh juices in the morning and margaritas in the afternoon, and not one server pressured me to do anything more than that.

…transportation to neighboring towns

  • When walking is not an option, there are many colectivos (shared vans) that you can hop on to and travel up and down the coast. Taxis are also available. Uber does not exist here.

…places to stay

  • Casa Pan de Miel (this is technically in Mazunte, but borders San Agustinillo. It’s highly rated, it’s beachfront, it’s elegant, it’s boutique.)
  • Casa la Ola (considered the top hotel in town according to Booking.com.)
  • Casa Cometa (totally 5-star with sweeping views. As tucked away from the “action” of San Agustinillo as one can be.)
  • Casa Bagus (Watch out, as you might not ever want to leave the property. Offers a private beach and activities like surfing and whale-watching.)
  • Cabañas Punta Placer (Affordable, highly-ranked beach bungalows.)

Just writing this makes me want to go back — immediately. And I think I will. So here’s to crossing paths (or not) on an ideal solo getaway in San Agustinillo.

Bethany Platanella is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Mexico City. With her company, Active Escapes International, she plans and leads private and small-group active retreats. She loves Mexico’s local markets, Mexican slang, practicing yoga and fresh tortillas.  Sign up for her (almost) weekly love letters or follow her Instagram account, @a.e.i.wellness

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