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By Barbara Schaffer

San Agustinillo - a mere 40 miles southeast of Puerto Escondido - is the European-baby beach: not babes, but little creatures that suckle and toddle about, whose model-slim parents tend to be French or Spanish. Unlike Mazunte or Zipolite, which are on the same road, it is a family beach and, even though most of the families are Mexican, it has an international vibe. It's my favorite place to splash in the surf, read and eat.

San Agustinillo is not for everyone. There are restaurants, small hotels and palapas on the beach, but there is no music - recorded or live. The restaurants serve alcohol, but there are no bars per se. And there are always more children in the water than adults. The surf varies from swimming pool calm to lots of waves - depending on the vagaries of the sea, but there are no riptides or undertows. If you feel more comfortable in a (small) crowd you can find it here; if you'd rather be by yourself, that works too. Since I received a strict summer camp education based on the buddy system of water safety, I cannot enter the water alone. Even if I am technically without a buddy, I feel that someone will notice if I drown when I body surf amongst the other bathers in San Agustinillo.

My favorite hangout is México Qué Lindo Qué Rico!, a restaurant cum small hotel owned by a young couple from Mexico City. Among its other charms is the cleanliness of its bathrooms. Typically, I choose a table on the beach and leave my possessions on a chair and trot into the water. The very handsome waiter keeps a close eye on everything and would never dream of offering you a menu before you were ready to order. There are also hammocks for those so inclined. Unfortunately, the place is not open all year.

Not to worry, there are other restaurants on the beach which are equally accommodating. I am extremely near sighted, so I usually tell the manager my name and instruct her to call it out if I blindly walk by after my swim.

The only drawback to San Agustinillo is that with its long stretch of mostly empty beach and coconut palms it looks too much like a movie-image of a tropical paradise. On the other hand, no matter how rotten my mood, I always feel better for having spent the day there.

To drive to San Agustinillo, take the Coastal Highway (200) towards Huatulco. The Mazunte/Zipolite turnoff is 35miles from Puerto Escondido. (The turnoff is just after a Pemex station.) Continue for five miles; San Agustinillo is the town after Mazunte. Turn right onto the first dirt road (the sign reads Bienvenido a San Agustinillo). That will lead you to the parking lot behind México Qué Lindo Qué Rico.

Sol de la Costa, February 2008


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