Early chroniclers wrote that Aztec Emperor Moctezuma employed a platoon of runners to bring fresh fish 300 miles (480 km) from the sea to his court every day. On the Oaxaca Pacific coast, fresh seafood is fortunately much more available from scores of shoreline establishments, ranging from thatched beach palapas to five-star hotel restaurants.
Oaxaca seafood is literally there for the taking. When strolling on the beach, I have seen well-fed, middle-class local vacationers breaking and eating oysters and mussels right off the rocks. Villagers up and down the coast use small nets (or bare hands) to retrieve a few fish for supper, while communal teams haul in big nets full of silvery, wriggling fish for sale right on the beach.
Despite the plenty, Oaxaca seafood prices reflect high worldwide demand, even at the humblest seaside palapa. The freshness and variety, however, make even the typical dishes seem bargains at any price.