Mazunte, turtle center
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  Posted May 4th, 2015 by Zdenko  in Travel | 3 comments

Traveling Mexico

By: Zdenko Kahlina

The relaxed beach town of Mazunte
So, we left beautiful Huatulco early in the morning. Today we drove west to Puerto Escondido. After Pochutla driving west on a coastal highway 200, there was a turnoff for small beach town Mazunte at San Antonio intersection. Vera wanted to see the turtles, so I made the left turn.

Centro Mexicana de la Tortuga in Mazunte

Village Mazunte 

Only about seven or eight kilometers from the highway, further south was Mazunte, a quintessential beach resort, which is a bit basic and ramshackle, with buildings springing up rather haphazardly. There is only one paved street, the one that went straight through, on to the other beaches of San Agustinillo, Zipolite and Puerto Angel.

Arial map with nearby villages and beaches

Arial view of Mazunte and Playa San Agustinillo

In this small Mexican beach town, there aren’t any cruise ships calling, no college-age hooligans binge drinking and no towering hotels in all-inclusive resorts. No, none of that.

Instead, in this sunbathed town on the Pacific Coast of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, locals come to dip in the ocean. Fishermen unload cases of sharks in the morning. Kids play beach soccer, with sticks in the sand for goals. Locals lounge on hammocks, their houses a few hundred yards from the beach.

Only one road goes thru the village

Small B&B in the village

It is a beautiful place, surrounded by jungle hills, and of course the beach cove. This town has the lively vibe, yet relaxed without being decrepit. And it is a hippy paradise. But with the coming carretara, there is a building boom happening and now most of the streets in Mazunte are being paved in one way or another. The hostels that allow you to hang a hammock slowly giving way to more cabañas, and dare I say, buildings with honest to God walls. Change is underway, and there is even a new church.

Playa San Agustinillo

Walking on Playa San Agustinillo

The beach is on federal land and drug laws are strictly enforced; nude bathing is prohibited. The safest swimming is at either end of the bay. The hippies are still coming here – from Mexico City, Europe, the US. There are meditation centers, yoga workshops, and an incredible dedication to building green.

Topas are here to slow down motorists

While Mazunte is still home to fishermen, the town has been dramatically changed by a ban on hunting sea turtles and crocodiles enacted about 20 years ago. Now the former turtle hunters have turned to eco-tourism. The Mexican government runs the National Mexican Turtle Center, which features sea turtles in aquariums. Mazunte, once supplied the turtle meat market until turtle hunting was banned in 1990.

Turtle centre – entrance

In this Centro Mexicana de la Tortuga turtle center, a collection of tanks lets you get THIS CLOSE to a vast array of turtle types. Just look at my pictures…

The conservation center was divided into distinct small areas, with different types of turtles in each part. First, we saw some rescued land turtles. We headed over to the large tank in which a number of sea turtles were swimming.

The turtles were beautiful, and we stood in awe for a long time. Here is one that had light coloring. In another area, there were many of these turtles (I think they are pond sliders): There was an area with many baby sea turtles, and of course we “oooooh-ed” and “aaahhhh-ed” our way through.

Small turtle pond

Turtle pool

They have guided tours in Spanish and English (Wed-Sat 10 AM -16:30, Sun 10 AM – 14:30, US$15), crowded with tour buses from Huatulco during the high season.  This is a government institute that studies sea turtles and works to conserve these frequently endangered species, as well as to educate visitors and the local population. There are interesting viewing tanks to observe many species of turtles underwater.

Guided tours for tourists and kids

A trail leads from the west end of the beach to Punta Cometa, a spit of land with lovely views of the thundering breakers below, a popular spot to view the sunset and well worth the 30-minute walk. With its proximity to Zipolite, Mazunte is also attracting the alternative crowd and signs for yoga, massage, vegetarian and vegan food positively abound. It’s a good place to try local therapies; by the cemetery there’s a spiritual healer offering to treat everything from stress to insomnia; he also does ritual cleansings.

Walking on Playa San Agustinillo

We spent only couple of hours here, but it was enough to get the feel of this place. I would love to return one day and stay several days, maybe even the whole two weeks of vacation. But right now, we turned around and returned to the main highway to continue our journey towards Puerto Escondido.

 

Have a good and healthy season.

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3 comments to “Mazunte, turtle center”

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