When Bahías de Huatulco was first conceived, it was a bit of an ugly duckling. Despite the beauty of its beaches, the resort destination was gawky. Rebar stuck out of the top of some buildings, others were abandoned mid-project. Stunning five-star hotels were separated by fields of weeds.
Today Huatulco (pronounced wah-TUL-co) has grown from an ugly duckling to, if not a swan, at least a cute little chick. It’s far from swank or sophisticated, but innocence has its own appeal. Backed by the blue southern Sierra, this resort on Mexico’s southern Pacific side has plenty of repeat visitors who appreciate the laid-back feel of the place and good deals on hotels and restaurants. An all-day bay cruise here goes for about US$25, while a similar jaunt in Cancún or Puerto Vallarta starts at around US$40.
Unlike Ixtapa, Cancun, or other resorts planned by Mexico’s tourism development department, FONATUR, Huatulco doesn’t have a hotel strip. Instead, accommodations have been built on or near some of the destinations nine lovely bays. The only ones right on the sand are at Bahía Tangolunda. These are the five-star resorts: Quinta Real, Camino Real Zaashila, and the all-inclusive Barceló. None is higher than six stories. Moderately priced hotels at Santa Cruz and Chahué bays are not right on the beach, so guests walk or take hotel shuttles to the beach club at Chahué Bay or to Santa Cruz’s popular La Entrega beach, which has an offshore reef. Or they strike out on their own in rented cars or taxis for one of Huatulco’s fabled coves, bays, and beaches---some deserted by design, others with Jet Skis and fried fish shacks.
Both named for cacti, bahías Organos and Maguey are twin bays that form a heart shape. The former is accessible only by boat or on a path that shoots off from the road from Santa Cruz. Both are beautiful and nice for swimming and snorkeling; Organos has no services at all but Maguey has beachfront eateries selling freshly grilled fish and cold beer, and sometimes has motorized water toys for rent. Never swim on a deserted beach because rip tides can be strong even in seemingly calm waters.
Tongue-twisting Cacaluta, Chachacual and San Agustín bays are most easily accessed by boat,
although locals can show you how to get to some of their beaches on foot or by jeep,
bike, or burro. (You can see trails and roads on our interactive map.) Cacaluta is a beautiful beach that’s good for shelling and has offshore reefs for diving. When conditions are right, Chachacual has great snorkeling at lovely Playa La India. Farthest west of the Huatulco beaches, San Agustín has eateries on the sand where you can rent a mask and fins or a hammock for a siesta or even an impromptu overnight stay. Divers head for the coral reef near the small offshore island and in deeper water, a sunken ship.
East of Tangolunda Bay, Bahía Conejos
(“Rabbits Bay”) has several pretty beaches ideal for
fishing or swimming; La Bocana, near the mouth of the Copalito River, has two beachfront restaurants and sometimes, surfable waves.
Besides swimming, sunning, snorkeling, and snoozing at Huatulco’s many beaches,
the destination offers the usual diversions such as bay cruises, ATVs, and Jet Skis. La Crucecita is a funky little town five minutes from the beach by car. Here you’ll find budget hotels, shops, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Catercorner from the leafy main plaza, Hotel Misión de los Arcos (Calles Guanacaxtle and Gardenias) has a neat cafe selling java and ice cream, a good restaurant, and a gym popular with serious bodybuilders.
For more things to do as well as hotels and restaurants, check out our Huatulco Travel Guide.