Whilst planning our itinerary for the Oaxacan Coast, we heard good things about the quiet eco-tourism beach town of Mazunte. We came across a Spanish school there called El Instituto Iguana. So we decided to stay for two weeks to study and take a break from bicycle touring in the 35 degree heat (our new daily grind). We have concluded that Mazunte is a great escape from noisy Puerto Escondido to the northwest and the all-inclusive resort city of Huatulco to the northeast.
El Instituto Iguana Spanish School
Upon arriving in Mazunte, we met with Ana and she helped us decide on our class structure. We opted for two hour classes five days a week. We were visiting during the low-season, so the group classes were not available. However, this meant that we had our own private teachers at a reasonable rate of $145 pesos/hour. This might not be as cheap as the schools in Guatemala, but it’s less than what we found in Puerto Escondido, and with a nicer atmosphere. High season pricing is shown on the Instituto website here.
Rafting With Ola Verde Expediciones
Our spanish teachers Janet and Daniel offer fantastic river rafting at Ola Verde Expediciones and students of El Instituto receive 10% the normal prices. If you enjoy paddling rivers, this is definitely recommended! We did a half day on the Rio San Francisco, just north of Tonameca (link to our GPS route here). Rio San Francisco is home to an incredible variety of beautiful birds and trees. If you have more time, you can run a longer section of the river which includes a great canyon, also known as Daniel’s playground. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get any photos on the river because we don’t have a waterproof camera. However, there are plenty of other photos on their Facebook page.
Eat Oaxaqueña Style With Doña Sara
El Instituto Iguana has an arrangement with a local family who offer habitaciónes and comida de casa at very reasonable rates. Our room was $100 pesos per night and our food was $40 pesos each per meal. The rates may be different during the high season. We stayed with Doña Sara and her family whilst enjoying her traditional Oaxaqueñan cooking, eating two and sometimes three meals a day! Any time we got hungry, Doña Sara was quick to prepare hearty meals. We both put on some of the weight we had lost whilst staying there. She said that she was trying to make us mas gorditos (chubby) to prepare us for our trip! It definitely worked! Doña Sara and her husband Feriman have been living in Mazunte for over 30 years, in which time they have seen the end of the turtle hunting trade, the growth of eco-tourism and endured the destruction caused be Hurricane Pauline in 1997. Their storytelling was a great way for us to improve our Spanish comprehension.
Enjoy La Playa Rinconcito
La Playa Rinconcito, the main beach in Mazunte, has several restaurantes with WiFi and protected in the bay for nice swimming.
Walk To Punta Cometa
We met an interesting Hungarian/Austrian guy named Atilla who lived in Mazunte making and selling organic yoghurt. He guided us out to Punta Cometa, where you can get an amazing 210 degree panorama looking east and west, for amazing views of both sunrise and sunset. We posted some photos of Punta Cometa in our recent post here.
Visit Centro Mexicano De La Tortuga
Turtles are Jenny’s favourite animal, so this is something we had to see. The Centre has a huge variety of different species of sea turtles and a few land turtles as well. It’s great to see these little buddies being protected and appreciated. See our video post of some sea turtles at the Centre here.
Mountain Biking Near Mazunte
There is excellent off-road riding to be had near Mazunte, especially in the hills above Tonameca. It helps to talk to someone who knows the roads and bring a GPS if you have one! I wrote up a separate post about mountain biking in Mazunte here.