Located on the"Emerald Coast" of the Pacífic in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico, the Bays of Huatulco is without doubt the "Paradise Found". On one side it has all the peace and tranquility to spend, for example, your honeymoon, relaxing every day on one of the unspoiled beaches we have in abundance and on the other side we have a wide variety of activities available for a more adventurous holiday. The area of Huatulco consists of 9 main bays with tropical blue water and 36 beautiful creamy beaches, spreading out over approximately 30 km or 18 miles. Besides this coastal area we have the terrestral part of Huatulco with the mountains close by with rivers, waterfalls, fresh water wells and pools, coffee plantations, the "Piedra de Moros" and lots more. In short, Huatulco is an enjoyable place for people of all tastes.
Because Huatulco is still relatively unknown, its a destination where you won´t get lost in the crowds of thousands of tourists. Here you will still find personal attention and a "village" atmosphere. This does not mean however, that there´s no development or infrastructure, on the contrary, with the help of Fonatur (National Trustfund for Tourist Development, a Mexican Government Agency) Huatulco has become a highly advanced tourist destination, practicing responsable and sustainable eco-tourism. We count with an International Airport, two marinas, Public and Navy Hospitals, an 18 Hole Golf Course, a network of well maintained roads, modern electricity and water supply, a garbage collection system, well maintained green areas, water treatment plants, etc. Above everything else, Huatulco is a clean and well organized place with all the services that one may need.
In and around Huatulco
The area of Huatulco consists of 3 main areas (see map on the right). Santa Cruz, where we are, is less than 10 minutes by car from Tangolunda Bay where the larger hotels are located. We are 10 to15 minutes walking from La Crucecita, the main village, or a few minutes by car. In the Huatulco area taxi's are abundant and cheap, or if you want to move around on your own you can rent a scooter or a car, the roads are very good and the traffic is pretty light.
We are located right on the beach of Santa Cruz, between the chapel and the open air theater. We are less then 50 meters from the marina, from which we depart on our dive trips. There are plenty of other trips offered in the marina, like deep sea fishing, sailing tours and tours of the bays with a variety of boats and yachts. You can also rent a small boat and spend the day on one of the unspoiled beaches completely on your own. On the Santa Cruz beach there are some restaurants and bars and there is the possibility to rent kayaks, jet ski's, etc. In the same Bay of Santa Cruz, a few minutes by boat, you can find "La Entrega" beach, which very nice for snorkeling with a huge amount of coral and aquatic life. Around the marina there are some smaller hotels and there is the open air café where you can enjoy the local grown coffee and pastries.
Around Huatulco there is, for example, Santa Maria Huatulco, a little town less then half an hour from Bahías de Huatulco or you can go up into the mountains. In the mountains you'll find little villages, coffee plantations and beautiful natural attractions like waterfalls. The small roads are unpaved and I wouldn't recommend going into the mountains without a four wheel drive car and the skill to use it. There are lots of organized guided tours available to the various attractions. La Bocana is not far from here, nice place to hang out or do some surfing. Puerto Angel, Zipolite and Mazunte are approx. an hour from Huatulco and Puerto Escondido up to 2 hours. From Pto. Escondido up to Acapulco is at least another 6 hours by car. Between all these places you travel easily and cheap by bus.
A website with much information on Huatulco is www.tomzap.com
The weather in Huatulco is really very pleasant the whole year round. How goes that song again?: "It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day....". Well, this surely applies to Huatulco with 345 sunny days in the year and most of those we have the sun the whole day. The average temperature over the year is 28°C with little variation between night and day, summer and winter. November through May is the dry season and that means no rain, not even a drop.
June through October is the Hurricane Season but don´t let that put you off, it´s not as bad as it sounds. It´s very rare that Huatulco actually gets hit by a hurricane. We are located in the area where most hurricanes of the East Pacific originate. They start as a tropical depression a few hundred kilometers off the coast and by the time they become tropical storms or hurricanes they have usually gone another few hundred kilometers to the West or North-West and are too far away to cause any mayhem here. It is, however, the season that is more humid, so it feels hotter than the dry season and we do get some rain now and then, normally in the evening or at night. When there´s a tropical depresion out there we can get some days with a little more rain and wind and the ocean may be a little rough. September is the peak of the hurricane season. Up to half of the dozen-or-so hurricanes there are in the season occur in this month. Therefore we get rain and wind more often and the ocean tends to be rougher, nevertheless it rarely gets to a stage that they close the marina and we can´t go out diving. The water temperature is 28°C to 30°C from April to December and on average around 23°C in the winter months. In short, Huatulco has a very stable and sunny climate with September being the only exception.
For up to date info about tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes in the area, go to the website of the National Hurricane Center.
Activities & Events
There are a wide variety of mainly outdoor activities you can do here in Huatulco for those who are looking for an unforgettable holiday filled with action and adventure. From Scuba Diving to Trekking, from ATV Tours to White Water Rafting, from Climbing to a Tour to the Mexican Turtle Center, we´ve got it all! Some you can do on your own or you can do them as an organized activity or tour through one of the many service providers, for a description of the various activities click on "Adventure Zone" below. With its varied geography Huatulco is an excellent area for the practice of almost any outdoor, eco and/or adventure activity. What better proof than the Mexican Championship of Extreme Sports being held here in 2000? It was a three day, kind of Eco-Challenge and a huge succes, they are actually planning to organize it again here in one of the coming years.
For more information on the various activities, tours and excursions you can do in and around Huatulco, go to the section "Adventure Zone Huatulco".
Most of the activities and tours you can actually book through us as part of an Adventure Package, for more information go to the chapter "Packages".
Every year there are a wide variety of national and international events. Over the last few years we had the National Championship of Extreme Sports (RETO 2000), the Celebrity Sports Invitational, the Half Iron Man, Power Boat Races for the "Nauticopa", the National Congress of Oceanography, the "Mareño de la Danza" Festival, the "Musica por la Tierra" Festival with bands from all over the world, the "Festival Internacional del Mar" and Golf and Fishing Tournaments just to give a few examples. Most of them are organized here on a yearly basis. We also have a variety of local cultural, sports and environmental events organized once or various times a year.
For a report on the Championship of Extreme Sports, go to the page "RETO 2000".
Hotels, Rest. and Bars
Statement by the writer: "In this part I am giving my personal opinion based on my personal experiences. I am not involved in any way with any of the businesses mentioned. I am aware that there are many other hotels, restaurants and bars that are good and worth a visit. I am merely giving the readers some idea´s of what is available in Huatulco."
There are some 25 hotels in Huatulco with a combined total of over 2,500 beds. The 5 star hotels are located in Tangolunda, they are the only hotels on the beach here in Huatulco. "Quinta Real" is probably the nicest and most luxurious, "Camino Real/Zaahshila" and "Crown Pacific" would be my other favorites. Not quite a 5 star but very comfortable and with beautiful views is "Casa del Mar". In Santa Cruz there are some 4 star hotels (not far from the beach) like "Hotel Marlin" and "Castillo" which is a good alternative if you´re looking for "all-inclusive". In La Crucecita and Chahué you´ll find the rest of the 3 and 4 star hotels as well as various "posadas" or boarding houses (literary posada means "inn" or "lodge"). In La Crucecita I would recommend "Mision de los Arcos" , very close to the central park, and in Chahué "Posada Chahué" and the "Costa Eden". There are also some B&B´s, "Agua Azul La Villa" in Conejos and "B&B Huatulco" in Chahué and a variety of condos and rental villas. A very nice complex of condos and villas with beautiful views is "Sueno Real" at Punta Santa Cruz and there various villas in Conejos like "Villa Pacífico" and "Azomalli" for example. A nice green appartment complex is "Betacentauro" in La Crucecita. We, Hurricane Divers, offer packages with Hotel Marlin in Santa Cruz, but we can also help you out if you prefer another hotel or another location or if you would like to rent an appartment, house or villa. For more information on our packages, go to the chapter "Packages".
There´s a wide range of restaurants in Huatulco most of which are located in La Crucecita, Santa Cruz and Tangolunda. The international cuisine includes Argentinian, Italian, Japanese, French and Spanish but the Oaxacan food is definitely worth a try. For that I would personally recommend the restaurant "Sabor de Oaxaca" in La Crucecita, opposite the market. They have a very extensive menu, service is good and the prices very reasonable. For a nice steak you may want to try "Tostados Grill", at the central park in La Crucecita. Try the "Arrachera", a typical Mexican Steak and very tender meat. The "Oasis", also in the center, are good as well and apart from the regular food they offer Japanese food. Another restaurant I like very much is "Terra Cotta", in the Hotel "Mision de los Arcos", delicious food, good service and incredible breakfasts! In their café they offer very nice sandwiches and baguettes. Throughout La Crucecita there are a lot of local little restaurants, most of them are simple, nicely priced and have daily menu´s for those of you on a tighter budget. In Chahué you´ll find "L´échalote" (formerly Mambo Cafe) with a varied menu and a Swiss Chef. It´s close to Posada Chahué which has a pretty good restaurant as well. In Chahué you´ll find a very pleasant place called "Café Vienna" run by two Austrians. In Santa Cruz there´s the "Jardín del Arte" located in Hotel Marlin which has a French style cuisine and on the beach you´ll find a variety of restaurants mainly known for their seafood. My favorite is "Ve el Mar". In Tangolunda the restaurant "Azul Profundo", on the beahc of the Hotel Camino Real/Zaashila is probably the most exquisite and romantic. Other places in Tangolunda to enjoy the view over a nice breakfast is Hotel Casa del Mar and the golf course.
If you´re willing to drive 45 minutes you should try "La Finca", on the road to Puerto Angel. It´s a simple straightforward place with a variety of grilled meats from the barbeque, draft beer and they may suprise you with a live musical performance by the staff. They´re open in the afternoons.
The latest additions: "Onix" in the center of La Crucecita, above "Los Portales". Excellent for a nice dinner and good service. Close by you'll find "El Agave", with some very nice Italian and Asian specialties on their menu, amongst other things.
If you´re looking for a Cancun style nightlife with wild parties going on all night, I´m afraid Huatulco is not the place for you. There´s the discotheque "La Papaya", close to Chahue Beach, and there are a few other disco-type places. There are a whole bunch of local little bars, mainly in La Crucecita. On a corner of the central park you´ll find good old "La Crema" with a more international atmosphere and their pizzas alone would be reason enough to pay them a visit. Another bar is the "Camelot" between Chahué and Santa Cruz, which is beautifully designed in medieval style. If you like a more European style bar or pub, go by my favorite: "Cafe Dublin", opposite La Crema. It´s owned by an Scott, from San Diego, and they usually have Guinness, good music and they serve a mean hamburger!
New: The beginning of 2007 a new bar opened at the central park: "The Tipsy Blowfish". You can sit inside or outside, they have a pool table and dart board and serve food as well. Joe and Courtney from Houston are the owners.
Huatulco supposedly comes from the word "Quauhtolco", from the Nahuatl language, a language spoken by the Aztecs. They named the place when they invaded the region. "Quautolco" means: "place where they worship wood", and the explanation for that name you´ll find in the following mysterious legend.
According to this legend, around 1500 years ago, an old white man with long hair and a long beard came from the sea with a huge wooden cross. He drove the cross deep into the sand of the beach of Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz means Holy Cross in English), so that it stood upright and and proclaimed: "I leave here the symbol for all your remedies. You must worship and respect it, for there will come a time when you will know the true God and Lord of Heaven and Earth". He stayed for a while with the Indians until one day he had to leave because "his presence was required in other places". During the centuries that passed the Indians worshipped the cross and never tried to move it, as the old man had indicated. They did use small splinters of the wood that had come off, in their medicinal brews, as a remedy for many diseases.
Some historians believe this old man must have been Saint Thomas, one of Christ´s apostles who crossed Asia to finally reach the Land of Anahuac, as this area was called back then. Another reference to Saint Thomas is a footprint left in a huge, round rock called "Piedra de Moros", near the village with the same name.
The Miraculous Cross
Attracted by the valuable cargo of the Chinese and Spanish ships sailing along the Mexican Coast, Huatulco had its share of pirates coming by. In the year 1579 the English pirate Fransisco Drake plundered Huatulco, at the time only inhabited by a few Indians and even fewer Spanish soldiers. He took what little cattle and food they had. In 1587 his countryman and collegue Thomas Cavendish came also to plunder Huatulco. Finding nothing of value he burned down the place and ordered the huge wooden cross, standing on the beach, to be destroyed. To everybody´s suprise they couldn´t even damage it, neither with axes nor with saws, even fire left it untouched. Finally he decided to tie his ship to the cross and sailed out to topple it, only to be left with broken ropes and the cross still intact. Just a few years later Cavendish died in a storm off the coast of Brazil.
Being told this story, the bishop of Oaxaca sent some of his ministers down to Huatulco to take care of the cross and make sure it was duly worshipped. From than on Huatulco became a place visited by the faithfull from many places to see the Holy Cross and take away a splinter of it. This went on untill the base of the cross was so narrow that it was feared it would fall over. In 1612 it was sent to the city of Oaxaca where it was broken up into pieces and several smaller crosses were made from its wood. One cross was sent to the Vatican, another one remained in the cathedral of Oaxaca and a third cross was placed in the church of Santa Maria Huatulco. The Puebla Chapel is said to also have one of the crosses in its possesion. Huatulco still celebrates the day of the Holy Cross every year on the 3rd of May.
Another interesting little story is how one of the most popular beaches in Huatulco, La Entrega, got its name. During the war for independence, in the 19th century, Mexican President General Vicente Guerrero was taken prisoner. For some reason they transported him by ship to Huatulco. This ship the "Colombo", arrived at Huatulco on 30 January 1831, at a beach in the Bay of Santa Cruz where the prisoner disembarked. From that moment on the beach was called La Entrega which means "the delivery". From there Vicente Guerrero was transported to Oaxaca where he was sentenced to death and executed on 14 February of the same year.
How to get here
Huatulco is located on the Emerald Coast of the Pacific Ocean, in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. We´re about 500 km (300 miles) or eight hours driving East-South-East of Acapulco.
Huatulco has an International Airport with a direct flight coming in from Houston and in the winter season there are charter flights from the US and Canada, to my knowledge from the following cities: Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. Continental offers direct flights from Houston. National flights come to Huatulco from Mexico City, although there is a company offering flights from Oaxaca City. You can fly directly to Mexico City from cities in Europe, South America and the US. If you´re driving down from the US, you´ll need at least two days (and probably more) from the border down to Huatulco. We are pretty close to the border with Guatamala, from Guatamala City it´s about 12 hours by car.
From Mexico City
Bahías de Huatulco is 1 hour flying from Mexico City and approximately 12 hours driving by car. By car you can choose between driving via Acapulco or via Oaxaca, the option via Oaxaca and Salina Cruz is generally preferred. By bus it is approximately 15 hours. From Mexico City there are regular flights to Huatulco 2 to 4 times a day.
From Oaxaca it is a short trip by plane to get to Bahías de Huatulco. By car you have 2 options: the scenic route through the mountains, via Pochutla or the more comfortable drive via Salina Cruz. The distance over Salina Cruz is longer but because the roads are so much better, it is the easiest option. Either way it´ll take about 6 to 7 hours. If you have the proper vehicle and you are a competent driver, not afraid of hundreds of bends or parts of the road missing, you may find it interesting taking the route through the mountains. Opinions vary if the spectacular views are worth the risks. By bus the travelling time either way is a few hours more.