The state of Oaxaca (wah-HA-kah) is as magical as its name, blessed as it is with a stunning coastline, home to the breathtaking beach resorts of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido, but the centerpiece of the state is the romantic and alluring Oaxaca City (pop. about 300,000), one of Mexico’s premier colonial gems. Mexico for living in Oaxaca delivers on Mexico’s (former) promotional slogan of “A world of its own”, a quality that brings international visitors for short and long-term stays.
One could argue, Oaxaca is the world’s most unique landscape of ancient culture and biodiversity. It is in many ways the center of the western hemisphere’s very own “fertile crescent”, having been occupied for thousands of years and displaying more mega-diversity of ecological assets than any part of the Americas.
Many Mexico travelers identify Oaxaca as the city that they like the best and for good reason. Living here means a tropical highland climate, year ‘round outdoor living, lower cost of living, extraordinary gastronomy, Mexico’s most colorful markets, and artisans villages of world renown.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the sizeable historical town center retains an authentic colonial-era presence along with a culture that embraces the Indigenous people of the area. Its clean streets reflect the exquisite, Baroque colonial architecture of the 16th century, with an astonishing cathedral and perfectly preserved religious and municipal buildings, excellent museums, and unique art galleries.
Most of the city can be explored on foot. with many parks and cafe’s where visitors can sit, rest and soak up the culture. The food of Oaxaca utilizing many spices and recipes that are a combination of pre-Hispanic traditions and the elaborate concoctions of the colonial table. Known as the “Land of the Seven Moles,” Oaxaca not only features many versions of this famous sauce, but it also treats every dish as a work of art.
The city is also a significant folk-art center, particularly for textiles. Open-air and indoor markets offer a wide variety and the best prices for the shopper. and quite a bit of the art is exported internationally. Much of the work is produced in the small surrounding villages where you can go on day-trips to buy goods directly from the artisans: San Bartolo Coyotepec for black pottery, San Martin Tilcajete for the famous alebrijes (colorful hand-carved animals) and Teotitlan del Valle for Zapotec textiles.
Lodging in town offers a wide range of accommodations-including beautiful boutique hotels in colonial buildings-but the more popular spots fill up early, especially during the holidays such as the Day of the Dead celebration in early November. Foreign-born residents cluster in the city center and it outlying gated communities. Tesoros Experiences is now offering overnight lodging packages that include engagement with the cuisine and culture of Oaxaca.
The region to the south and the east of Oaxaca City had long been an important cultural and historical center since the 7th century B.C. The ruins of Monte Alban, Mitla and Yagul-all UNESCO World Heritage Sites-stand in mute testimony to the origins of the Mixtec and Zapotec cultures.
Thanks to a soft, temperate climate and a spectacular piece of Pacific-front real estate, Oaxaca is an ecotourism paradise as well. A new (2023) highway will finally make the trip from Oaxaca City to the coast a pleasant 2.5 hour drive.
Each year, thousands of sea turtles make their way to its balmy shores to deposit their eggs; the area is now protected to ensure the turtle populations stay strong. Here visitors will also find the impressive Bahias de Huatulco 20,972-acre (8,487-ha) development-with 70% of its land set aside for ecological preserves.
At the center of it all are a series of nine spectacular bays notched into 21 miles (34 km) of shoreline with 36 beaches, countless inlets, and coves, and some of the most fantastic coastline on the Pacific. The crystal clear water and usually isolated golden-sand beaches somehow feel more secluded and private than most of Mexico’s known beach resort areas. And since some of the bays and beaches are accessible only by boat, everything remains pristine. Beachcombers wanting seaside living are finding the Oaxaca coast their new home.
While there is some development, Oaxaca’s off-thebeaten-path remoteness keeps it under most many expat’s radars. Of the nine bays that were slated for development. only six have visitor facilities. The main areas include Tangolunda Bay, home to big five-star resorts and villas, an 18-hole golf course, a smattering of nightlife and a little resort shopping; the bay of Santa Cruz, with a good-sized marina, an intimate village with beachside restaurants and bars. plenty of shops and a cruise ship dock: and Chahue Bay, located between the former two. with another marina. lots of high-end condo projects and villas, and a public beach.
About a mile inland, the charming little town of La Crucecita is Mexico at its best. It has a colorful and quaint town square. with plenty of inviting restaurants and bars. plus a few excellent seafood stalls to pick up the daily catch.
Tiny Puerto Escondido (pop. about 45,000). meanwhile, is best known for that surfer’s dream-the Mexican Pipeline on Zicatela Beach-and is also popular for its cool beach vibe and incredible seafood (restaurants are everywhere)’ You won’t find big resorts here. but there are plenty of accommodations. from camping to a fivestar. private palapa bungalow boutique hotel.
While the beaches are the primary source of entertainment for young and old, there are also whalewatching tours (in season). fishing charters available, horseback riding tours. the Manialtepec Lagoon for kayaking and markets and shops for browsing.
In Oaxaca, it’s easy to combine a colonial cultural stay with a beach getaway-all within the same state. Air travel is generally via CDMX and there are frequent connections to Oaxaca City and coastal locations.
If you’d like to explore Mexico for living in a Oaxaca setting, our 2023 “Bootcamp” package can show you the realities (truths and myths) of Oaxaca living. Learn more at www.tesorosexperiences.com/mexicoforliving