Where to Go in Mexico That is Not Cabo


In November, my favorite, adventurous LA aunt and uncle planned a trip to the beach town called San Agustinillo in the state of Oaxaca. We flew into Huatulco and it was about an hour drive to our house rental which sat on a hill, or mountain if you rather, overlooking the entire beach and surf town. Most people think of Oaxaca City when you say Oaxaca, but this little region on the coast of Mexico reminded me a lot of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica actually. Right on the beach, fresh fish, ceviche, guacamole, vegan food, early mornings, early evenings, a town full of yoga and smoothies, and the simple life. 


The sunsets over the ocean from the rooftop (3rd floor) on the house and from the narrow pool (2nd floor) were unreal each day. It’s a very low key home called Casa Alegria with no AC, airy rooms with a bed and doors facing the ocean. The owner, Michael, who is French and grew up in San Diego, lives there, and we were his first guests. He showed us around, and even had dinner with us a few nights which was fun! I doubt he will be there if you book to stay yourself now, I think he just stayed since we were the guinea pigs and we didn’t mind. You don’t really need a car here as we walked to the small town for meals and took a taxi to and from the airport. However, you might want one for a few excursions, but could spend the time relaxing in this area and just walk to the beach and such. Once you see the town on your first day, that’s all there really is to it! 


My cousin had a friend who lived here, and his family owned a restaurant on the beach one town over called Puerto Angel. He graciously picked us up to take us on their Playa Panteon fishing boat at 5 a.m. so we could see the sun rise. We drove around for an hour or so with a heaping amount of dolphins fluttering and flirting with us all along the way. I’ve never seen so many dolphins up close! It was the cutest morning greeting. 

The following day was an excursion to the Cascadas Magicas de Copalitilla that I will NEVER forget. This was one of the scariest and most thrilling adventures I’ve ever experienced, and really tested our emotions. We packed the small car with the 5 of us and within 20 minutes on our way to the waterfall, our driver’s car light came on for coolant. We had a LONG way to go, so he just kept adding water. He didn’t speak English, and my cousin was a great translator, but as we kept getting farther and farther away from our town and going through mud and tiny roads to get to this water escape, we were all a little nervy!!! Welp, emotions aside, I decided there was nothing I could do so we were just going to have to make it and have a lovely day. WE MADE IT to the magical waterfalls, and boy, even after all that, you HAVE to go. The seafoam green turquoise water awaits you at the end of the little 10 minute dirt trail and flows heavily. The pool’s beauty creates immediate serenity, and is probably just as cold as Barton Springs. We crawled up the natural cave and dove in what felt like a pure treasure. I’ve never been inside something like this. Then we went down and swam behind the waterfall which was a rush of adrenaline going under there. 

The second best part was finding this “restaurant” on the side of the road after which was really just this incredible man’s outdoor kitchen in the middle of nowhere. He had an open air grill in this little shack, and is actually on Facebook here. He asked us what we wanted to eat – Fish, Meat, Beans, Vegetarian, you name it. We had mole, some special lemon sugar water, and honestly who knows what else this man was cooking up. He was a hoot and a joy! Connecting with the locals, natural terrain, and all the confusion and discovery is what makes traveling so much fun!


A few restaurants we ate at in San Agustinillo and Mazunte (which is the town it bleeds into) are:

  • Comedor Los Traviesos—full of guacamole, ceviche, fresh fish with dried chili oil which you’ll see everywhere called Al Ajillo, tlayudas (everything is in Spanish here)
  • Arena Negra—This is a little trendier feeling than Los Traviesos, but nothing here is upscale as we are still at the beach flip flop style. You walk up this spiral staircase off the main street and immediately order yourself a mezcal cocktail. Order the mushroom tacos (this made us scream it was so surprisingly good!), vegetarian spring rolls with tofu, and Al Ajillo Fish again! We then walked by a little ice cream and popsicle spot and had the best oreo paleta I’ve ever had!
  • El-Alquimista—We took cabs to this fancy candle lit dinner on the beach in Zipolite where I couldn’t see my food, but I could see the stars! I didn’t love the food here and it did make me giggle to see pizza and pasta along with all the traditional Mexican dishes. I’d say come here during the day when you can see the nice space instead of dinner.
  • La Mora Posada Café (breakfast) Frittatas, Chilaquiles Verde, Rancheros Divorciados, Waffles with Ice Cream and Chocolate, Sandwiches, Juices, Smoothies

  • Umami (breakfast) This spot reminded me of all the cafés in Bali: full of acai bowls, healthy egg and toast options, coffee, and a juice bar. I loved the Napolitano breakfast omelet with Oaxaca string cheese served open with tomato slices, pesto, and sweet potatoes. They have yummy looking bowls with falafel, fish, leafy greens, and more for lunch.
  • Street Stand in Mazunte called La Baguette—I found a bakery with amazing chocolate babka style bread (in Mexico!) 

I bought the holy oil they sell around here called Copal at this cute apothecary down the road in a roll on form. It’s tree resin and smells earthy and is meant to make you feel calm, relaxed, and at peace. They also sell it for cheaper at one of the little grocery, spice, and nut markets where I got some trail mix and raw vegan desserts. I spent 4 nights here and I’d say 3 would be just fine if you are looking for something quick or want to combine with Oaxaca City.



Mayakoba is an excluded resort beach area in the heart of Riviera Maya right outside of the Playa Del Carmen airport. Banyan Tree Hotel is a true sanctuary filled with different restaurants, water activities, a pool, nice beach service, and nearby golf. You don’t even have to leave, and won’t feel trapped! I visited for a friend’s bachelorette party which was SO much fun as it felt like my own personal vacation as well as a celebration for her. We stayed in the Three-Bedroom Family Residence that had a rooftop lounge deck and pool overlooking the golf course, complimentary bikes, and a fully equipped kitchen where we had a private chef cook for us one night.  


  • One day we rented a little snorkeling dingy through the hotel and had a nice excursion where we saw colorful fish and coral. It was a little choppy on the waters though, and the bride got sick haha!
  • Banyan Tree Mayakoba is known for their incredible spa with Mexican and Asian traditions and has a package for groups like ours to experience “The Rainforest” privately in a complete package with each girl getting a spa treatment after. We were able to essentially rent out the hydrothermal experience which has hot and cold pools, different rooms with a rain mist shower, and the staff walks you through each step before we got to hang out at the end and eat fruit after our little spa morning. Then we got to pick between a massage or a facial for our individual treatments. I chose the massage which came with a Turmeric Honey Cleanser. They offer all kinds of body treatments from Indonesian, Indian, Thai, to Chinese traditions.


Banyan Tree has over 10 different style restaurants and dining options on the property. While Oriente was a cute spot floating in the water, the Thai food which as you know is my favorite cuisine didn’t do it for me. However, the Mayan Dinner experience is an experience I think one would say “you never forget your first time.” WOW this was like Jumanji meets White Lotus. You have NO idea what you are getting yourself into as it’s called HAAB and says a “three hour deep-in the-jungle dinner featuring the four sacred elements of water, earth, wind, and fire.” The Mayans dressed up in their costumes scoop you up and take you through a theatrical ride where you start with them painting your face and then sitting around a beautiful table with 10 guests and lavish plants all around. The performance is incredible, jumpy, unlike any other, and this also happened to be the best food we had at the resort which we got to see them make on the open fire behind us. Mini empanadas, Octopus Tostada, Lime Soup (WOW!), Fish wrapped in Chaya Leaves, Pickled Stew Chicken, a dessert AND S’mores. What a cool show!

P.S. The morning brunch buffet is ideal with unlimited fresh tropical fruits, yogurt, eggs any style, cheeses, breads, etc.



Todos Santos is a beach and surf town that just gained popularity over the last few years and is an easy drive from the Cabo airport. It’s laid back, nothing fancy to see, and was probably made a little more popular due to when Liz Lambert opened Hotel San Cristóbal there with Bunkhouse. In January 2021, I gifted myself a yoga retreat with a group of people I didn’t know except my mentor, and good friend, Randee (read about it here). We stayed at Tribu, formerly known as Pachamama, which has a yoga shala, reiki and massage options, a pool overlooking the walkable beach, and even tepee-style rooms if you are into that. While we ate most of our meals at the retreat, which was incredible vegan and seafood by the way, we did trek out to a few good restaurants, bakeries, and rug spots.


  • Boho shops: ZÓCALO & Nomad Chic
  • Mexican tourist shops– for gorgeous ceramics (definitely go for a tequila bottle holder or coffee mugs).
  • The Blanket Factory– well-made Mexican blankets and table runners.


  • Baja Tasty– Try the mint chocolate ice cream, and (if you are extra like me) get the chocolate cake slice too.
  • Pura Playa You can reserve bonfires on the beach, and all the fresh seafood and cocktails come out of a little shed/bar. We shared the best fish tacos I’ve ever had, enormous glass coupes of ceviche, and giant tuna tostadas washing it down with Hibiscus Mezcal drinks called Jaguar.
  • Baja Beans– For coffee and a massive blueberry scone that tasted more like a biscuit-meets-muffin. Yum!
  • Plaza Amigos– Fish tacos and mezcalitos at Pacifica Cantina. I like the grilled fish tacos over the shrimp. They have live music here on Friday’s, and it was super hip. This is def going to be THE PLACE.
  • Taller 17Outstanding bakery with fluffy chocolate chip cookies, ooey gooey blondies, and coffee. They close at 3 p.m.