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Exploring The Bays Of Huatulco

Ben Hall

It’s a hot summer day, and on the bright white sand beach there are no footprints to be seen. There are no clouds overhead either, and the water’s an inviting deep blue colour as well as calm enough to allow a school of fish to be spotted. They’re being pursued by a pod of around 12 dolphins which herds the fish towards the shoreline to begin a mini-feast. This is a typical day in Bahias de Huatulco - the Bays of Huatulco - in southern Mexico on the Pacific Ocean side. A collection of nine bays and 36 beaches along a rugged 35 kilometre coastline, Huatulco (pronounced wa-TOOL-co) is a beach and ocean lovers’ paradise relatively unspoilt by modern commercial tourism. Pristine sandy beaches, stunning cliffs and a distinct absence of tourists is what makes this a rare resort area of Mexico an unexpected “find”.

Located about 600 kilometres south of Acapulco, Huatulco is a place where you can easily find a secluded white sandy beach and turquoise water, and if you’re lucky a pod of inquisitive dolphins can top off an impossibly perfect day. Out on the streets a sense of order seems to prevail. There’s very little traffic and the few cars driving around are more than happy to stop and let pedestrians cross the road - a very rare sight in Mexico. It’s that kind of place - even in the local markets and around taxi stands, normally a hawkers’ paradise in other parts of Mexico, a laid-back attitude prevails. It’s also easy to enjoy a taste of real Mexican village life -  La Crucecita is about two kilometres inland from Santa Cruz. It’s become the heart of Huatulco and features an authentic zocalo, or main town square, and is where many of the locals live and work.

La Crucecita 

La Crucecita is simple to negotiate - it features a grid system built around the zocalo which is dominated by the impressive church, the Parroquia De Nuestra Senora De Guadalupe. The church features some breathtaking murals, and is the focal point of local activity among the fiercely Roman Catholic community. The people themselves are friendly and have obviously not been exposed to mass tourism - they happily smile and wave at visitors and seem proud to have outsiders enjoy their village. Backed by the Sierra Madre mountains and lush tropical rainforests, Huatulco has been earmarked by the Mexican government as the next major resort area on the Pacific coast. 

Forget images of Acapulco’s anarchy or Cancun’s craziness, construction was always meant to be low-density and low-rise and limited to 30% of the area (mostly on the coastline), while 70% of the region was to remain a perpetual biological reserve to preserve the natural beauty of the area. The “eco-friendly” development also includes structured street planning, water treatment systems, public parks, marinas and ecological reserves. It’s a welcome departure from the high-rise mania that has plagued the western coastline, but undoubtedly Huatulco will change over time.

Huatulco is comprised basically of the village of La Crucecita with the nine bays along its coastline. From east to west they are: Conejos, Tangolunda, Chahue, Santa Cruz, Entrega, Maguey, Organo, Cacaluta and San Agustin. The Bays of Huatulco reveal the true essence of the region - tranquility and natural beauty. Chahue is an easy option in a central location, with a beautiful white sand beach and classic turquoise water, but each of the bays has its own charm and unique atmosphere.

The Bays

Most tourists head to Tangolunda which is the most heavily developed with around six five-star hotels set in a stunning landscape. The fishing village of Santa Cruz with its marina is also very pretty, and it has a beach of its own which is very popular with the locals. Just a short taxi ride from Santa Cruz is La Entrega, one of the best swimming beaches in the area and also a great snorkelling spot. Maguey is also a short ride from Santa Cruz and has a coral reef for snorkelling. 

Conejos on the far eastern end is a real get-away-from-it-all place with a lone seafood restaurant on the beach. The three westernmost bays - Organa, Cacaluta and San Agustin - are accessible only by boat which can be rented or chartered from Santa Cruz. It’s also possible to hike to these places if you’re feeling energetic. But after a couple of days of Huatulco’s “no rush” atmosphere, most people simply opt for a beach towel and a book on a secluded bay ahead of a sunset over the ocean. 

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  • Oaxaca

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