HUATULCO TRAVEL GUIDE
Places to Stay - Click here for price key
For more information on area lodgings, see the website or call the Asociación de Hoteles y Moteles de Bahías de Huatulco (Blvd. Benito Juárez Villa Mar Chahúe, tel. 958/581-0486, www.huatulcohost.com).
We always stay at Misión de los Arcos (Avenida Gardenia #902, La Crucecita; tel. 958/587-0165; www.misiondelosarcos.com) which offers comfortable rooms, a/c, and Wi-Fi. The gym is gone, but the attached restaurant, café, and ice cream parlor are more popular than ever. Be aware that La Crucecita is not right at the beach, but you get more bang for your buck here, and it’s really the only place at the destination, apart from all-inclusive resorts on Tangolunda, with any there there.
If you insist on luxury and being right on the beach, Hotel Quinta Real ($$$$, Bahía Tangolunda, tel. 800/728-9098 in Canada, U.S.; 01800/508-7923 in Mexico; www.quintareal.com) is upscale and sometimes uppity, but beautiful. The boutique hotel has a beach club, gourmet dining, and two beautiful swimming pools.
Places to Eat - Click here for price key
On our last visit, our favorite meal was at L’Echalote ($$--$$$, Calle Zapoteco #26, near the Super Che supermarket, Chahué, tel. 958/587-2480; closed Monday). Thierry, a French chef, creates yummy international dishes using local ingredients, with a hint of an Asian influence. We had the daily lunch special: a super bargain, and delicious.
For expensive but high-quality burgers and sports on large-screen TVs, head to Señor Pucks (Blvd. Benito Juarez, in the Marina Park Plaza, tel. 958/583-4881). They also have pools tables and dart boards. It’s a refrigerated setting, or sit on the outdoor patio. Open noon to midnight every day.
Wildly popular for homemade croissants, cinnamon rolls, and good coffee, as well as lunch, is West Park Café ($$--$$$, Calle Gardenias near Calle Ocotillo, La Crucecita). Service is slow but people still pack the joint as soon as it opens at 9AM. They close by 4pm, and 2 on Sundays.
At Hotel Misión de los Arcos’, Restaurant Terra-Cotta ($$$, Calle Gardenia #902, La Crucecita, tel. 958/587-0165; www.misiondelosarcos.com) is open daily and has a little bit of everything, including ice cream.
Locals who want to eat on the beach often go to Ve el Mar ($$$,Bahía Santa Cruz next door to the church, tel. 958/587-0364), which has been around forever.
If you visit Parque Eco-Arqueológico de Bocana Coplita, we suggest that afterwards you have a meal at La Palapa de Andrés ($$, Barra de Copalita, San Miguel del Puerto, cel. tel. 958/111-1482). We did, and it was worth asking around to find. (Head away from Huatulco on the highway, go over the white bridge and dip down into the town, on your right. You’ll probably need to ask …) Under a big palapa roof, it’s family-style, charming, inexpensive, and yummy. If you don’t have your own car, you’ll need to go by taxi. (Closed Tuesdays.)
Things to Do
Worth a visit is the new Eco-Arqueológico Parque Río Copalita, about 15 minutes outside of town toward Salina Cruz. If you don’t have a car, go with one of the area tour operators. The park has a few small restored pre-Hispanic structures, several walks along tree-lined lanes, a small but nice museum (signed in Spanish only, but with some very nice pre-Hispanic artifacts), and views of the beach.
Designed by Mario Schetjnan, 18-hole Tangolunda Golf Course (next to Hotel Barceló, tel. 958/581-0059) offers an air-conditioned clubhouse with bar, restaurant, pro shop, lighted tennis courts, and a swimming pool.
It’s great to spend a day away from coastal heat and humidity in the lovely foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur. The all-day Finca la Gloria coffee plantation tour stops at several points along the Copalita River for swimming. These river beaches are lovely, surrounded by boulders and big trees; there are waterfalls, deep pools, and places where the water rushes over rocks. A big family-style lunch is included in the van tour; afterwards, tour the plantation to see how the coffee beans are processed. Several tour companies in town offer them.
Xquenda Spa (Bahía Chahué, tel. 958/583-4448, http://huatulcospa.com) offers facials, massage, and body treatments as well as a few tennis courts, a lap pool, gym, and indigenous steam lodge. Day passes are available, and they now have three full-service guest rooms for those who want to stay. The semi-circle lap pool is a plus!
Travel agencies and tour operators sell inexpensive bay cruises. There’s beach time and lunch at a restaurant on the sand (snorkel gear and meal costs extra); soft drinks, beer, and national brands of liquor on board are included. A state tourism representative recommended Bahia Plus (Av. Carrizal #704, La Crucecita, tel. 958/587-0932, www.bahiasplus.com).
Out of the harbor at Santa Cruz, Sociedad Cooperativa de Tangolunda (Bahía Santa Cruz; tel. 958/587-0081) operates full- and half-day fishing boats. Anglers can hook tuna, snapper, marlin, and dorado.
Centro de Buceo Sotavento (Avenida Flamboyant #310, Plaza Oaxaca, La Crucecita, tel. 958/587-2166) teaches diving, arranges day trips for snorkeling and diving, and rents equipment.
Outside of Huatulco, Hagia Sofia (Office on Calle Mitla #402, Bahía Santa Cruz, tel. 958/587-0871) is a new botanical garden worth checking out. A 6-hour tour includes transportation, guide, breakfast and lunch.
The market on Avenida Guamuchil about a block and a half from the main plaza offers the usual suspects: imprinted mugs, T-shirts, key chains, and other souvenirs.
Museo de Artesanías Oaxaqueñas (Calle Flamboyan #216, La Crucecita; tel. 958/587-1513) has about the best assortment of regional crafts from the interior, including black pottery, mezcal, and rugs from Teotitlán del Valle.
La Crema (Calle Gardenia Altos #311, La Crucecita; tel. 958/587-0702, www.lacremahuatulco.com) offers lots of great tunes and a friendly ambiance. Good pizza and other eats available, too. Open daily.
Hemingway’s (Avenidas Palma Real and Gardenia, La Crucecita, tel. cel. 958/109-6489) is currently in vogue for drinks and sometimes live music, as well as food.
Getting Here, Getting Around, Going Away
Puerto Escondido is 265 km (165 mi) south of the state capital, Oaxaca (in the state also named Oaxaca). It’s 5--6 hours by car on highway 131 via Sola de Vega. The two-lane, undivided road is older but serviceable. Or take the somewhat less lonely but equally windy road from Oaxaca to Pochutla, Highway 175 via Miahuatlán, which takes about the same amount of time. You can also arrive via Highway 200 from the north (it’s 400 km from Acapulco) or from the south via Tehuantepec, Salina Cruz, and other Isthmus de Tehuantepec towns.
The main bus station in Huatulco is in La Crucecita, at Av. Riscalillo #102 at the corner of Blvd. Chahué. ADO and OCC serve Mexico City, Puebla, Tuxtla Gutiérrez as well as Oaxaca City and many Oaxaca state destinations. Their website is www.ado.com.mx.
About a block away from the main bus terminal on Calle Gardenias, Expressos Colombo mini vans go six or seven times a day to Oaxaca City. They charge slightly less and go faster (that can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about windy mountain roads).
Huatulco’s international airport (tel. 958/581-9004) is served by a number of national and international carriers, although not as many or as frequently as larger destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. International carriers include United and Magnicharters; Mexican airlines are Aeroméxico, Aeromar, VivaAerobus, Interjet, and Aerotucán. The latter offers service from Oaxaca City in small airplanes.
Rental Cars and Taxis
Rent a car at the Huatulco airport through Hertz (tel. 958/585-4502) or Europcar (tel. 958/581-9094. Or call a taxi at 958/587-1666 or 958/583-4353. For a radio taxi, call 958/583-4353.
For more info before you go, visit the Oaxaca State Tourism Office in downtown Oaxaca City at Avenida Juárez 703, tel. 951/502-1200 or visit their website at www.oaxaca.travel. The Huatulco tourism office is on Avenida Guamuchil, in La Crucecita,