For me, here is no greater stretch of highway in Mexico (or the world, for that matter) than Highway 200. It has always been my gateway to adventure, along which I have learned not only about my beloved Mexico, but about myself. Along this coastal road that runs the entirety of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, I’ve found secret beaches, cliffside hikes, pristine water. I’ve found cities that have shaped me, forests to wander, and hotels to adore. I’ve found love, heartache, forgiveness, and compromise.
Most recently, I set off south from Puerto Escondido on said highway, in search of more tiny beach towns where life moves to a standstill and days are lived for sunsets and cold beer in hammocks. About an hour out from Puerto, 200 veers to the right, becoming Mexico 175, a smaller, single-lane highway that practically touches the water as it darts in and out of these secluded beach escapes. Here you’ll find three adjacent villages, which have gained a cult following of spirit chasers and free souls.
The first town you’ll hit, coming from the north, is Mazunte. Mazunte is heralded for its following of leathery yogis and sun worshippers who love to get off the grid with relatively shallow pockets. Cobalt and teal water touches honey-colored sand, as tattooed, dread-locked surfers and backpackers suck back Pacifico beers underneath shady, thatched palapas. The village is built around two beaches, Playa Rinconcito and Mermejita. But recently, Mazunte was listed as one of Mexico’s heralded Pueblo Magicos, towns that are given governmental distinction based on their character and charm. With that distinction comes the masses looking to escape their fast-paced jobs in search of the perfect vegan burrito. It’s only a matter of time before the luxury boutique hotels and straw fedora’d patrons follow.
Next up will be Playa San Agustinillo, an even smaller town, if you can believe it, that consists of just a single stretch of road flanked on either side with cafes and posadas (small hotels). It’s worth a stop for its epic, rugged coast pocketed with giant rock formations that jut out of the sea.
And last, but certainly not least, is Zipolite. Said to be a natural vortex of energy, Zipolite has been drawing hippies for decades, as they are drawn to its essentially ‘anything goes’ attitude. The perpetually sun-baked wander in their handmade, hemp clothing, lighting up joints wherever they please, or completely disrobing for a full-body tan. The policia is virtually non-existent in Zipolite, as the neighborhood is just that tranquilo. Zipolite is what Puerto Escondido must have looked like 20 years ago, with ramshackle beach huts, hammocks, street food, and not much else.
Some people search their whole lives for what makes their hearts beat. I’ve found my answers 10 times over. Always in Mexico, and always scattered along Highway 200.