On Avenida Culiacan in Mexico City you’ll find the offices of Canana Films, the production company run by Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, two of Mexico’s most popular young actors. The pair became international stars after Alfonso Cuarón’s hit, ‘Y Tu Mamá Tambien,’ a film that itself begins in Mexico City. Part coming of age story and part quest of Mexican identity, Cuarón’s film follows a pair of teenage boys and an older woman embark on a road trip to find the secret beach Boca del Cielo, the Mouth of Heaven. What they end up discovering is the beauty of the state of Oaxaca.
Take a tip from Tenoch and Julio — the movie’s main characters — and explore Mexico’s pristine Pacific coast by car. You won’t find Heaven’s Mouth, but you will find Huatulco and Puerto Escondido, both featured in the film. To get to Huatulco from the capital takes about 10 hours by car, or a 1-hour flight, but the southwest drive offers the chance to see the “real” Mexico depicted in the film.
At the end of your drive you’ll reach the resorts of Huatulco, centered around nine beautiful bays. As a Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo project, much of the area — including four bays — have been designated as ecological preserves.
While you could spend your entire stay in Huatulco soaking up the natural beauty of this tropical paradise, don’t forget that Oaxaca is a great place to sample Mexican culture, crafts and cuisine. In fact, the state is known as “the land of seven moles” because of the wide variety of flavors brought by its diverse inhabitants.
Puerto Escondido is perhaps the better-known of the towns in the film, and it can be reached by a 12-hour bus ride from Mexico City, with a stop in Acapulco. If you’re brave enough to do the drive yourself, be warned, the roads from Acapulco and Oaxaca are serpentine and narrow, cutting through the isolated Western Sierra Madre.
Puerto Escondido is known for its big waves and great surfing, so be sure to stop by Playa Zicatela to catch some waves. Don’t know how to surf? Then take a lesson or just sit back with a beer and watch the pros. The town is a traditional fishing village, so there is plenty of fresh and delicious seafood.
The city also has a reputation as a bit of a hippie getaway. Oaxaca has a long tradition of shamanism, and is home to two famous psychedelics — Psilocybe mushrooms and Salvia divornum. Rumor has it that in the 1960s, rock stars like Bob Dylan and John Lennon would come to Oaxaca to meet its most famous shaman, María Sabina.