I roll the taxi window down and let the warm, humid air blow across my face, the road straightens through the lush flat farmland growing mangoes and papayas and then winds upwards towards the coast. My first glimpse of the water is always a welcoming sign. Almost home again. Just 45 mins north from the Huatulco Airport, the small seaside communities of Ventanilla, Mazunte and San Agustinillo shine like diamonds along the Oaxacan coast. Three years ago we took the leap, having fallen head over heels in love with the area, and built a home in San Agustinillo. This quaint coastal village with it’s picture perfect bay and warm wide golden beaches is safe, warm and inviting. If you are searching for a tranquil vacation with just enough amenities to satisfy your cappuccino cravings or a cool handmade Italian Gelado midday, then San Agustinillo is waiting for you.
Here are my top three things to do when you can drag your feet from the ridiculously warm water of the Pacific .
Hike to Punta Cometa
Walk up the hill from San Agustinillo into neighbouring Mazunte and follow the main road to the beach. Just before you see the beach, the road branches to the right. During the rainy season this road is prone to wash outs and despite paving it each year, the water always wins, washing all the hard work away. The road runs by the cemetery with its pots of artificial flowers and crumbling headstones . Keep going and watch for the wooden markers saying simply -Punta Cometa.
This trail offers spectacular vistas of Playa Mermejita and the rolling Pacific Ocean from the unique perspective of a peninsula jutting into the water. Punta Cometa is the most southern peninsula on the Pacific side of the North American continent. Local history tells a story of a treasure hidden by the Aztecs somewhere on Punta Cometa. It is considered by many to be a magical and healing spot. Many searching sacred wisdom visit Punta Cometa on their journey of self discovery. A gigantic towering cactus was living on the point, but the last hurricane toppled the succulent. New, younger offspring are flourishing and if your visit is in the spring, they will delight you with a bounty of yellow blooms. Once you have walked the circular route and appreciated the Pacific from the various vantage points, take the trail back and savour sunset from Playa Mermejita, the perfect vantage point to watch the orange fireball sun melt like ice cream into the Pacific.
Monday market in Pochutla
Rise early on Monday and hop on the back one of the many white and blue collectivos that provide cheap quick transport into Pochutla. You will bounce along on two wooden benches rubbing elbows with children in school uniforms, moms holding babies, farmers with their sacks of coffee and locals on their way to work. Monday is market day and Pochutla won’t disappoint. The white canvas awnings filter the sun and vendors line the streets that are closed to traffic, selling everything from mole to pirated DVDs. I buy red leaf lettuce straight from the farm, white Calla Lillies picked from the highlands, a loaf of bread still warm from the oven and hiding under a red checkered cloth and six ripe red tomatoes taking care not to topple the perfectly balanced display. Take time to people watch at the new outdoor cafe right on the square where they serve authentic Oaxacan hot chocolate in a ceramic bowl.
Whale and Dolphin Boat Ride
Wake early and catch a ride on one of the four boats Captain Beto Fajardo has waiting on the beach of San Agustinillo. His parents were one of the two founding families of San Agustinillo and for generations have been fishing these waters. The powerful motor quickly cuts through the waves and out to the open ocean where you will squeal with delight as Humpback Whales breach right beside you in perfect synchronicity. Three pods of school aged dolphins cavort for my camera but I’m not quick enough to catch the sailfish in flight. We stop and snorkel in a secluded bay where a momma Manta Ray and her two babies swim by. Yellow Parrot fish and tiny iridescent blue ones are spotted feeding on the coral. I bob up, just in time to see a large turtle swim by. These gentle creatures were once slaughtered all along this coast but now are protected and a government funded rehabilitation / education centre in Mazunte explains the tragic history and new focus on preservation. The ride culminates in a rapid run for the beach which Beto navigates with precision and years of practise . We land high on the sand as the hull sails over the two logs placed there to help with our assent, and pulls the motor up , just in time.
Leigh Morrow is a Vancouver writer. You can rent her home in San Agustinillo during times when she is back in Canada. www.gosanagustinillo.com.
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