Relax in the beautiful beaches of Huatulco, Mexico
Huatulco (wa-TOOL-co) is located along the Pacific coast in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca and is a delightful, if somewhat undiscovered, beach vacation destination. Once a tranquil fishing village nestled among coffee jungles, today this bustling development boasts upscale resorts, all-inclusive hotels and some of Mexico’s most stunning beaches. The lack of an international airport has limited Huatulco’s accessibility somewhat and only about 20% of tourists are foreign, but for those that do make their way here, 26 miles of pristine white Huatulco beaches and unspoiled coastline await.
Huatulco’s rise as a major resort began in 1984, and today the development is divided into four areas. Tangolunda is the resort area. Santa Cruz and La Crucecita are two small towns, and Chahue is the area between Tangolunda and Santa Cruz. There are the 9 bays (Bahias de Huatulco), dozens of smaller coves, and, perhaps most importantly, 36 clean, gleaming Huatulco beaches that call out for vacationers to come enjoy them (although quite a few are only accessible by boat).
Bahia de Santa Cruz, with a large docking pier, is the main bay and it is the center of tourist activity with lots of hotels, bars, shops and restaurants. It is also the site of Huatulco’s most popular beach, Playa Santa Cruz, home to coral, quiet waters, an underwater cave and a wide variety of fish. Restaurants and rental water gear are available on this Huatulco beach.
Those in search of empty Huatulco beaches should head west of Santa Cruz where much of the land is owned by the National Park (Parque Nacional). This pristine area, consisting of lowland jungle and 5 beautiful bays, is federally protected and is home to some of Mexico’s most important coral reefs and animal species (more than 700 of them). Sunbathing, swimming, SCUBA diving and hiking are allowed, but several of these bays are only accessible by boat. When reached, however, virgin beaches and mesmerizing turquoise waters await.
To the east of Santa Cruz, there are 3 bays (Bahía Chahué, Bahía Tangolunda and Bahía Conejos), and here Hualulco’s beaches are a bit more crowded but still not overwhelmed with tourists. Bahía Tangolunda, where most of the upscale resorts and oceanfront villas are located, has 6 beaches and water that is tranquil and multi-hued, from azure to deep emerald green.
Of Bahia Tangolunda’s beaches, Playa Tangolunda has moderate waves with swimming, snorkeling and diving available. Playa Consuelo is a small Huatulco beach, about 250 feet long, and has moderate waves but is only accessible by boat. Play Ventura, Play Tornillo and Playa la Manzanilla are 3 beaches along the western edge of Bahia Tangolunda at Club Med. Here, swimming, snorkeling and diving are enjoyed. The area’s golf course is also found along this bay.
Bahía Conejos has private homes and a long stretch of beach. Playa Arena, accessible by boat, is a long, sloping stretch of sand with large swells. Playa Tejoncito has gentle surf, and it, too, is only accessible by boat. And beyond this bay and up towards the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are some of the best surfing beaches in all of Mexico.
Bahía Chahué has 3 wide beaches with modest surf, and the main beach, Playa Chahue, is recommended for experienced swimmers only.