Oaxaca is the most diverse state in Mexico, full of overwhelming richness where the eye (and palate!) can see. We have put together a list that was difficult to create, as we believe there are plenty more reasons to do so. However, in an effort to look forward to the days of safe travels, here are our top reasons to visit Oaxaca, in case you are not convinced yet, and what it has to offer:
Oaxaca really does have everything to offer. Its diversity includes breathtaking destinations for all tastes that range from colorful celebrations to relaxing settings.
Beaches: Lying along the Pacific Ocean coastline, Oaxacan beaches have long been renowned for their beauty. If you are looking for the striking contrast between pearly white sand, blue water, and jungle mountains, look no further than Huatulco Bays. A popular tourist destination with resorts along the bays and swathes of forests protected by the National Park. However, if you are looking for a more laid back, bohemian, and surfer vibe, Puerto Escondido is the beach for you; a top-rated destination for its waves and beautiful golden sand. Near Puerto Escondido and with similar surfer vibes, the beaches of Zipolite and Mazunte are ideal for those looking for a relaxing and quiet getaway where you can lay in a hammock next to huts and thatched roofs.
Photo by Lorraine Thomas, Unsplashed
City: Oaxaca City, the state capital, stands out as a favorite destination to all of Mexico. The beauty of its colonial and colorful architecture does not make justice to the array of art, cuisine, history, and culture that this wonderful city has to offer. A simple walk along the town center, will be enough for you to fall in love and never want to leave. Walking down the main street, Andador Macedonio Alcalá, you will be able to visit outstanding restaurants and museums or go down one of its connecting streets to visit the breathtaking Templo de Santo Domingo and its neighboring Jardín Etnobotánico. Here you might run into a Calenda, which is a street celebration for special occasions such as a weddings, baptisms, or birthdays that happens almost daily. You can also go to a market to fill your eyes with the artisanal splendors and delicious food. Lastly, Oaxaca city is located near many other worth-visiting destinations such as Hierve el Agua, a collection of rock formations made of petrified minerals over a cliff; Santa María del Tule, where the widest tree in the world is located.
Photo by Manuel Saidi, Personal Files
Historical Sites: Oaxaca is site for many remains of Zapotec and Mixtec pre-colonial culture that are still standing. Monte Albán is first on the list; only a 15-minute drive from Oaxaca city, this well-preserved archaeological site of scattered temples, ball courts, and buildings sits on top of a mountain surrounded by valleys. Also 25 miles away from Oaxaca City is San Pablo Villa de Mitla, where the Mitla archaeological ruins are located. Famous for its stone “mosaics” and geometric designs, this site was probably the most important Zapotec religious center at that time. Yagul is the last site on our list as we believe it is one that reflects the might of the Zapotec civilization with its vast ball court and fort-like structure.
The assortment of gifts that Oaxaca has to offer is definitely not limited to its geographic location and beautiful landscapes. Within these destinations, you can find the most luscious and highly acclaimed dishes.
Oaxaca is known by some as the land of the seven moles, colorado, negro, manchamanteles, verde, amarillo, chichilo and coloradito and one cannot claim to have visited Oaxaca until you have tried them all.
A popular and iconic Oaxacan street food are tlayudas (what we like to refer to as “the Mexican pizza”). Tlayudas are a dinner-sized tortilla seared in a comal with refried beans, lard, vegetables (usually lettuce and/or cabbage), meat (usually tasajo, Cecina, and chorizo) and salsa. Tlayudas are a shareable dish usually presented uncut; one simply pulls apart pieces and eats it flat or folded, depending on the size.
"Open Tlayuda at Mercado 20 de Noviembre" Photo by Matthew Delgado, Unsplashed
Quesillo, or Queso Oaxaca as it is known throughout the rest of Mexico, is a delicious treat native to Oaxaca where you will be able to find it as fresh as it comes. This cheese is made into a ball, as if it were yarn, and can be eaten in many different ways such as in quesadillas, inside a torta, or by itself pulling each string. If you have never had quesillo, this is a staple of Mexican culture and there is a reason for this as it is a delightful, creamy treat!
Mezcal, oh the pleasures of mezcal… Although tequila and mezcal are wrongfully assumed as something to drink as a shot, mezcal is a fine and flavorful drink that have recently gained popularity. Mezcal tasting is famous across Oaxaca and one can even find places dedicated to the teachings of mezcal that are suitable for individual palates, like wine.
Oaxaca is also renowned for its perfect chocolate and coffee. Made with water, making a Oaxacan chocolate drink takes some skill, but once your wrist learns how to blend the flavors together—as native Oaxacans know how to—you will be tasting unmatched hot chocolate that you will crave for the rest of your life. In those same lines, Oaxacan coffee is highly sought-after and is characterized for its mild, dry flavor.
We have reached the heart of this blog as we want to emphasize how much we love and appreciate the artwork from Oaxaca talented hands. From pottery, to textiles, and woodwork, the gifted artisan in Oaxaca have reached perfection in their artisanal products that are created by passing down techniques from generation to generation, which makes every cent asked for worth it as it supports many families in Oaxacan villages.
Pottery is a staple of Oaxaca artisan communities, with many creating their unique pieces of art. Its most renowned and unique variation its barro negro or black clay, native to San Bartolo Coyotepec and unique for its shiny and polished finish, as well as delicate carved details, making a piece of barro negro a treasure to display.
Textiles in Oaxaca are as diverse as Oaxacan culture itself. One can find handwoven and natural dyed wool tapetes (rugs), table runners, sashes, belts and many other accessories made out by a technique called “telar de cintura,” which consist on weaving threads on a loom with a fixed anchorage at the belt of the weaver.
"Detailed Embroidery on Masks" Photo by Lolo Team, Personal Files
Lastly, the magical and skilled hands of Oaxacan women artisans have carried on a beautiful tradition with their embroidery pieces. From north to south, one can find the varieties in the intricate designs, such as delicate flowers and the famous “Hazme Si Puedes” stitching, which literally translates to “Make me if you can” for its difficulty in replicating.
There is no denying that Oaxaca is a Mexican gem that we wish to return every time we get a chance. Our love for Oaxaca is so big, that Manuel, one of the owners and founders of Lolo and his wife held their wedding there for their love of calendas, tlayudas, and Oaxacan coffee. So, once COVID is over and is safe to travel, you can be sure that we will be there to provide you all with more gifts from there and, well, you know where to find us!
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