Overview

Map of Mexico

Bahias de Huatulco (pronounced Wa-TOOL-Ko) is located in Oaxaca Mexico, and is serviced by charter flights from several Canadian airports - Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver are but a few.  Or you can travel via Mexico City almost every day of the week.

The bays of Huatulco offer 35 kilometers of rugged cliff faces mixed with pristine bays, coves, and inlets.  There are 9 bays (or Bahias) that make up Mexico’s first ecotourism destination.  Here you will find 36 golden sandy beaches with crystal-clear water.  Each bay offers something different and thus can satisfy all tastes and desires.  One can surf, scuba dive, sail, fish or experience a multitude of other water based adventures. When exploring the bays one can often see pods of dolphins or sea turtles in addition to the vivacious fish of the area.

As all the bays are surrounded by the Bahias de Huatulco National Park they are protected and some are only accessible by boat. Several of the beaches (7 in fact) have paved access and offer excellent swimming, snorkeling, diving and sun bathing. The whole of the Huatulco area is separated by rocky cliffs that add to the rugged beauty of the Sierra Madre del Sur.

The Mexican government has developed Huatulco within strict environment standards.  As such it is considered Mexico’s first and only ecotourism zone.  The project was so successful that the area has earned a Green Globe certification.

Huatulco is 500 kilometers southeast of Acapulco and 112 km east of Puerto Escondido (a surfer’s paradise on the Southern Pacific Coast). It is 277 kms from Oaxaca and 50 minutes by plane from Mexico City. The quaint and spotless airport is a 20 minute drive from the Hacienda Real in Santa Cruz.

The average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius. Winter never dips below 14 degrees Celsius while the summer sometimes gets as hot as 38 degrees Celsius. Huatulco has a sunny and dry climate and it normally does not rain from October to June.  It can even have as much as 345 days without rain a year. Only one hurricane has hit the area in 80 years of record keeping (Paulina 1997), thanks to the fact that it’s location on the South coast of Mexico is quite protected.  Often storms pass further south heading west and north.

Oaxaca  State has a population of 3.5 million, and the population of Santa Cruz and La Crucecita is approximately 10,000.

Huatulco is still considered Mexico’s best kept secret and with more frequent and direct flights has become a more easily accessible paradise on earth. Even the streets of in this area are clean and well kept. You will find white-washed sidewalks and no unwanted smells in the market areas.  As a matter of fact the whole of the Bahias de Huatulco is almost spotlessly clean. With that said Huatulco also has a well functioning infrastructure and is connected by paved clean roadways.  In the market area you will find everything from fishmongers to sellers of Oaxacan art - which is famous for its wildly mystical wood carvings and its black pottery.

There are three main areas that make up Bahias de Huatulco and each has its own flavour and charm.  Even together, however, Huatulco is still very much sleepy Mexico – a small town at heart. You won’t get lost in the crowds of thousands of tourists here either (unless you hit the pier when the cruise ships pull in). Further not only are the people incredibly polite and approachable but it is a wonderfully safe place where walking on the streets late at night is just as comfortable as during the daytime.  It is a fabulous family destination, not “party” Mexico.  It has a feeling of community and safety, and for us a true feeling of home. You will definitely see the Federales and Tourist Police around … but they add to the feeling of security.  With miles of coast to patrol, the border to Guatemala just hours away, and a global drug problem, it is understandable that a military presence is necessary.

Casa de la Armonia is located in Santa Cruz near the marina where one can find boats to charter for fishing or touring. Its beach is one of the most important in the area as it is an ecological reserve due to it coral reefs.  For this reason it has an abundance of marine life and is an great spot to scuba dive and snorkel.  Further, it hosts the annual Torneo de Pesca de Pez Vela (Sailing Fishing Tournament) in April/May. There are many restaurants and shops in this marina area along with the local town square. The same area sports an outdoor market and colourful shops (please try to avoid town shopping on cruise ship days as prices can be as much as 25% to 30% more than normal).  You can also find Huatulco’s only open air church here.

La Crucecita (la cru-sa-see-ta) is the main town and is more residential in nature.  However here you will find the area’s main market and many other interesting shops, including a Mexican style mall. It also boasts a number of great affordable restaurants and a must see historical Church - be sure to look up as the ceiling is beautifully painted. All of the above are located on or just off of the town square (or zocalo) and are impossible to miss.

SANTA CRUZ IN DETAIL

Bahia de Santa Cruz has 3 beach areas called: Playa Santa Cruz, Playa Entrega and Playa Yerbabuena.  Playa Santa Cruz includes a large area for shopping and dining.  There is a plaza surrounding the beach area in which one can find a variety of shopping options and loads of dining options.  In the centre of the plaza is a small open air church (a must visit) that really seems like the focal point for the locals.  The Marina is also here and thus there are a lot of options for boat touring and fishing.  Captains are waiting and willing to take you out on a moments notice.  You will have to pay a slight fee to get into the marina proper, but normally it is then just a matter of mulling about until someone asks you if you would like a boat (often this happens outside the marina).

Santa Cruz BaySanta Cruz zocalo (town square)At night Santa Cruz is a bit more deserted than La Crucecita.  It is still safe and you can find nice restaurants to dine at, but the nightlife is limited.  The Zocalo (town square) is not as busy as La Crucecita but the Café Huatulco offers a nice way to wind down the evening. [see Restaurant reviews]

There is a small Mexican style mall on the north side of this area where one can find tourist knick-knacks and other things.  To the east of the Church is a quality jeweler [see Shopping under Travelers’ Advice].  If you need to split up for a time there is a gathering point just beside the church (sign and all).

Santa Cruz shopping and Marina Santa Cruz church

If you want to leave the area there are plenty of taxis in the area.  You can flag one down or wait at the taxi stop area near the marina.

LA CRUCECITA IN DETAIL

La Crucecita shoppingLa Crucecita offers a multitude of shopping and dining experiences.  Try one of the restaurants that we have recommended or strike out on your own.  There is plenty to choose from.  Shopping can be done around the perimeter of the zocalo or down any of the side streets. Between Guamachil and Guanacastle there is a Mexican style market where one can do some shopping and escape the heat.  For more options head north east on Bugambillia.  There are more shops and restaurants this way.  It may be a bit more “Mexican” in flavour this way but that is what makes it all the more quaint.  Do try to make it off the square for shopping and you may be rewarded with cheaper and more interesting shopping.  Take the time to watch vendors wrap fish or arrange flowers.  For instance we found a small shop just off of the zocalo to the north on Gardenia called the Paradise Gift Shop.  Here you can find interesting better quality gifts.

La Crucecita Zocalo (town square)There are also plenty of licenced restaurant and bar options available in La Crucecita (most of them around the zocalo area) and there is a lively atmosphere well into the evening.  The Zocalo is particularly alive on Friday and Saturday nights.  The locals (whole families!) come to the area and usually one can hear music and laughter.  It really is a nice experience for families and couples.  Remember that the Mexican routine/schedule is different than ours and the siesta allows for many families with young children to be out later than you would expect at home.

During the day one can make a visit to the Church on the zocalo.  It really is a must see as the art is spectacular and allows one a short reprieve from the sun.  Take a look inside but be respectful at all times.  Although we’re sure the locals see it all, we recommend no short shorts or tank tops.  If possible women should wear a longer skirt, walking shorts or slacks and cover their shoulders (You get the idea, avoid the “Daisy Duke” look).  Gentlemen, again no short shorts and a shirt with shoulders is preferred.  Remember to take off your sun hats.

The Crucecita zocalo really picks up in December. After the 15th and almost every night thereafter has something going on - go down ofter to take in the sights.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Although we have yet to visit it, the park at Chahue is apparently a nice place to sit and read or just to have a nice walk, as is the park just a few blocks north east of the La Crucecita zocalo.

La BocanaLa Bocana is the local surfing beach, but the more hardcore surfer may want to visit Puerto Escondido about 2 hours west of Huatulco.  Apparently the waves are world class here. There is also surfing closer to the mouth of the Copalita River just east of Huatulco.

The Tangolunda Golf Course has 18 holes, par 72.  Please heed the advice not to retrieve your balls from off the course … there may be some creepy crawlies that are best avoided.  You may want to take a caddie as they really do know the green. I believe that you will have to take a cart, but the rates (subject to change of course) are:

  • Green Fees for 18- holes: $650 pesos (about $65 CAD) from May 2, 2008 - Nov 15, 2008
  • Green Fees for 18- holes: $800 pesos (about $80 CAD) from Nov 16, 2008 - May 1, 2009
  • Shared Cart for 18- holes: $340 pesos (about $35 CAD)
  • Pull cart: $115 pesos (about $12 CAD)
  • Caddie: $200 - $300 pesos plus tip (about $20 - $30 CAD plus tip)
  • Club rental (Falcon) : $180 pesos (about $18 CAD)

I know you golfers like to see photos of the golf course — so the following is for you.

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