The glorious surfing waves still pound the beaches at Playa Principal and Playa Zicatela

In an attempt to relive my backpacking days and catch some rays, I'd decided to follow the trail of small beach resorts that dot the Mexican Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca.

Arriving in Puerto Escondido, almost 20 years after my first visit, I had no idea what might be awaiting me. Had the years been kind? As it was, the sleepy-looking resort of the early 1990s had turned into quite a hub, slightly ramshackle and less refined than I remembered, but at least the glorious surfing waves still pounded the beaches at Playa Principal and Playa Zicatela. Much to my surprise, Monday night is a great night to party here, down at Cabo Blanco bar in Calle del Morro, where mezcal, that most vicious of tipples, rules the day (and night).

Just a tiny bit worse for wear, I headed south the following day, past Puerto Angel, to Zipolite. This beach haven was discovered by the hippies many moons ago and some have clearly never left.

It's chilled, man ... or as the owner of my hostel put it: "If you're gonna smoke pot, could ya do it on the terrace?"

Actually I was just aiming for a beach amble and a swim. In Zipolite nudity is positively encouraged, but mostly indulged in by ageing Western males, letting it all hang out in strange yoga positions. Perhaps this wasn't quite the place for me after all. A night of scratching also led to the conclusion that a mozzie net might have been useful. Time to move south.

Waving briefly to San Agustinillo, still quiet, but with that up-and-coming buzz, I plonked myself down in Mazunte, which attracts a similar crowd to Zipolite, but without the drugs and rowdier parties. Instead it's the place to sample Mexican vegetarian and organic food, try alternative therapies and of course, chill out on the beach. I'd found my spot for reliving those sunny backpacking days at last.

Footprint's Mexico Handbook is out now (£16.99).