Huatulco’s nine bays are a main attraction. // © 2012 CPTM: Photo / Ricardo Espinosa-reo
After just two days in Huatulco, my children had learned to count in Spanish — well, sort of. Our family was staying in a small Mexican hotel where very few of the staff can speak or understand English. Whenever we exited the hotel, we were asked to leave our keys at the front desk. Upon return, we would give the front desk staff our room number in order to retrieve them. Out of necessity, we had all learned to say our room numbers in Spanish.
Although some travelers find language barriers frustrating, it’s one of the things I like best about Huatulco (pronounced wha-tool-koh). Unlike many Mexico beach destinations where English-speaking Americans and Canadians outnumber locals, Huatulco is a relatively undiscovered gem that is more popular with Mexican vacationers than it is with other North Americans. Indeed, there’s no mistaking which country you are in when you visit this destination.
Part of the reason this idyllic spot on the far south of Mexico’s Pacific Coast remains relatively unknown is the fact that it has only existed as a resort destination for a little more than 20 years. The pristine area surrounding Huatulco’s nine bays and 22 miles of golden-sand beaches is being developed as an eco-friendly resort destination. Estimates prior to the recession put completion of the development at around 2020. For the time being, Huatulco remains less developed than the other popular beach destinations in Mexico.
If your clients enjoy a quieter resort locale with beautiful beaches, snorkeling, diving, fishing, boat cruises and small-town shopping, Huatulco might be the right destination for them. Below are some activities and sights to recommend to clients visiting the region.
The Nine Bays
Huatulco’s bays and beaches are the biggest attraction in this area of Mexico, and only a few of them are actually developed. Tangolunda, Chahue and Santa Cruz bays are home to the five-star resort hotels, championship golf course, restaurants and key shopping areas. Visitors to the area can ferry over to La Entrega Beach in Santa Cruz Bay or Chahue Bay where clients will find beachfront restaurants and beach clubs with oceanfront palapas and beach chairs. Alternatively, they can rent a car or catch a ferry or water taxi to get to some of the undeveloped bays and play Robinson Crusoe for a morning or afternoon. For a more secluded dining experience, visitors can follow the steps down the mountainside to a small beachfront restaurant located on Conejos Bay.
Small Town Mexican Life
The Mexican town of La Crucecita was created to provide services to the resort area, but it is also a nice little town to explore. The restaurants and shops are built around a typical Mexican zocalo — a park in the center of the town. Just off the park is a church called the Iglesia de Guadalupe, which has a large mural of Mexico’s patron saint gracing the entire ceiling. The mural sets the Virgin against a starry blue night sky. At the Crucieta Market, visitors will find typical Mexican handicrafts and tourist collectibles. Good souvenirs include regional specialty items such as Oaxacan-embroidered blouses, pottery made from the dark clay found exclusively in this region and Oaxacan chocolate.
Snorkeling and Fishing
The best way to really appreciate the beauty of this area is to see it from the water. Boats can be hired for fishing or private day tours at the boat owners’ cooperative near the entrance to the marina area. Prices are posted and vary depending upon the activity or destination. Good snorkeling can be found at La Entrega and San Augustin, and there are restaurants and other facilities at these beaches. Some other beaches are completely undeveloped, so it is necessary to carry provisions and arrange a pickup time. It will cost $25 for a trip to La Entrega, $50 to Mauey or Orango Bay and $100 to San Augustin, the farthest bay from the marina.