We were very lucky again this year to escape to Mexico for a few weeks to visit family, re-immerse the boys in their long-distant roots and spend time together as a family away from the stresses of work and city life.
Despite media portrayals of Mexico as a dangerous destination riddled with innocent victims to the dark narcotics trade, with courage and determination to enjoy one of the most beautiful countries in the world and not be scared off by the multitude of stories, we continue to explore the wonders of Mexico with our young children and hope you will too!
This time after visiting family in Mexico City, we flew south and spent two weeks on the Oaxacan Pacific coast in the cute, relaxing village of San Agustinillo. Pre-kids we stayed in the neighbouring, very chilled, hippy Zipolite, (complete with wandering naked people). Along with Mazunte these are brilliant for younger/freer party animals but San Agustinillo is pretty quiet at night-time so suited us nicely!
There’s so much on offer for kids of all ages. In San Agustinillo alone, there are 3 beaches to explore and we often had the beach to ourselves. Snorkelling, swimming, rock climbing, catching crabs, pretending you’re a pirate hiding treasure in a secret cove… we kept making new discoveries every day.
Some days we ventured slightly further out and took a colectivo to neighbouring Mazunte, hippy central and home to the National Turtle Sanctuary. You can walk the 20 minutes but in the middle of the day it’s too hot and the little bus costs 70c.
So, Mazunte was actually the sea turtle hunting capital of Mexico in the 1970s when demand for turtle meat and eggs was at its global peak and locals were killing up to 2,000 turtles PER DAY. Banned in the 1990s locals have been encouraged to look after the turtles and other natural fauna with big eco-tourism initiatives and investment programmes put into place by government and private organisations.
Supporting locals by visiting the National Turtle Sanctuary and taking boat trips to whale-spot and swim with dolphins are some ways of ensuring this won’t happen again!
Another super natural tourism spot is the Laguna Ventanilla Wildlife reserve (a short drive from San Agustinillo) an incredible natural mangrove lagoon complete with wild crocs and magnificent array of bird species. Twenty five Zapotec families live in the area and are dedicated to preserving the ecology of the beach and the reserve. Guided tours are inexpensive and it’s so beautiful. The guides rehabilitate exotic animals who have been kept as pets and also look after the mangroves having replanted 30,000 after the 1997 hurricanes devastated the area.
We were so lucky we even witnessed a turtle laying her eggs in the sand. Our guide, Jesus, explained how their job was to move the eggs so poachers wouldn’t find them and showed us how they did it. We then saw wild horses. It is so beautiful here! Refreshing coconuts mid-tour are AMAZING.
Mazunte also offers fabulous sunset viewing from Punto Cometa, the most southern point of North America on the Pacific coast after a bit of a hike and passing secret beaches.
We’d mainly stay in San Agustinillo though. Beachside restaurants or palapas offer reasonably priced fresh fruit juices and cocktails, cold beer, fresh fish (you see the fishermen every morning bringing in their catch!), delicious ceviche, garlic prawns, prawn stuffed avocadoes, rice, oven baked potato chips, guacamole, chicken skewers, natural ice creams, or simple pasta in case you suffer from tourista stomach ache!
Come evening, we’d try body boarding, or would sip a cocktail and watch the surfers, kite-flyers, play football and watch the sun set together.
And the stars at night? Just spectacular!!! We’d nip down to the beach while the boys were sleeping (with the door locked!) just for a short romantic stroll and take in the beauty of the black sky filled with thousands of sparkling stars.
I’d recommend visiting San Agustinillo on the Oaxacan Coast with or without kids and you should definitely stay in the fabulous Un Sueño Cabañas del Pacifico run by frenchie Julien who moved here 13 years ago and now has a family with his lovely Mexican wife Cathy and 2 girls the same age as our boys. The rooms are rustic, comfortable, beautiful and on the beach! Eco-conscious and killer cocktails and not to mention the amazing breakfasts and lunches!
Take me back now!