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Snorkeling in Huatulco
In almost every Bay of Huatulco you will find coral and an abundance of fish and you´ll be able to explore interesting rock formations and some small caverns as well, all in relatively shallow water. This makes for a wide variety of ideal snorkeling and skin diving sites. Many of the sites you can only safely get to by boat, there are several though, that you can reach by land and enjoy simply going in off the beach. For information on what you can see, water temperature, visibility, etc., see below.
The three most interesting sites are probably the bay of San Augustin, the beach "La Entrega" and Cacaluta Island, more specifically the area on the inside, where sea turtles are regularly spotted. These sites all have big coral plates and a lot of aquatic life to offer and the depths range from 1 to 10 meters (3ft to 30ft). Although at Cacaluta you may get a slight current on the surface, in general the sites are well protected from waves and other water movement and are very calm. At La Entrega there´s even an area marked of by buoys so the boats and jet skies can´t disturb you. The easiest way to reach Cacaluta is by boat and La Entrega and San Augustin can either be reached by boat or by land, whereby the latter may be difficult to reach by land in the rainy season. Other bays and beaches that are interesting to snorkel include La India, Maguey, Violin, Arrocito and the inside of the island "La Montosa" in the bay of Tangolunda. For the location of the various sites see our map with dive and snorkel sites.
Sites Not Recommended
Less interesting in my humble opinion, but calm and certainly "snorkelable", would be for example beaches like Santa Cruz, Tejon, Tejoncito and Chachacual. Beaches you want to avoid snorkeling off because of the surf and/or currents are Chahué and Tangolunda and probably Cacaluta (the beach, not the island!) and Conejos. Besides the rough conditions there´s not much interesting stuff to see either.
If you´re into skin diving, and have the experience for it, you can pick almost any spot on the rocky coastline and just give it a go. Other good places are around the small islands like La Blanca or any other place you find rocks sticking out of the surface. You´ll be amazed by the rock formations at those places and it´s not uncommon to see big schools of fish and bigger fish like Amber Jacks or Eagle Rays swimming in the relative shallow water around the rocks. You could swim there from the coast, but with all the boat traffic in the area, it would be safer to go by boat.
What can you see?
Due to the amount of plankton in this side of the Pacific and its relative warm water, you will find an incredible diversity of life such as: hard and soft corals, a range of mollusks and nudibranches, sea urchins, starfish, octopi, lobsters, shrimps, crabs, sea horses, a wide variety of species of rays and sea turtles, moray eels and Snake Eels, and fish in a thousand forms, sizes and vibrant colors. Here are some examples: Parrotfish, Red Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Filefish, Porcupinefish, Pufferfish, Needlefish, Breem, Hamlet, Damselfish, Rainbow Wrasse, Cowfish, Stonefish, Scorpionfish, Amber Jack, Silver Jack, Surgeonfish, Sergeant Major, Spotted Drum, Trumpetfish, Cornetfish, Hogfish, Seabass, grouper, barracuda, goby, Goatfish, Butterflyfish, Rock Hind, Spadefish, Angelfish, etc., etc. For photos of the aquatic life in Huatulco go to our Photo Gallery.
The attraction here in Huatulco are the seven out nine excisting species of sea turtles, the amount of varios species of rays (Eagle Rays are very common here, for example) and the occasional presence of "big fish" and mammals like Nurse Sharks, White Tips, Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Bottlenose Dolphins, Pacific Spotted Dolphins, Spinners and Commerson Dolphins, Orcas, Humpback Whales and Pilot Whales. We even saw a "lost" seal here once, which normally don´t come this far south. The Humpback Whales you can see migrating by the thousands, going south in December and January and back north around March.
The water temperature in the months May through to November is normally at least 28ºC at depth and up to 32ºC (88ºF to 96ºF) on the surface. In other words, nice and warm! Some people don´t even use a suit but I personally use a 1.5mm or 3mm shorty. The end of November it starts cooling off and January to March is generally the coldest with temperatures on the surface between 22ºC and 26ºC (76ºF to 84ºF) on the surface. It can be a bit colder under the surface.
Visibility can be from 3m to 33m (10ft to 110ft). I´m afraid that´s no joke, you can never tell here what the visibility will be any given day. Obviously those numbers are extremes, we rarely get only 3m/10ft and it´s not that common either to have 33m/110ft of visibility. It really tends to go up and down every few days, having good viz for a few days, it´ll slowly get less and then get better again all depending on water movement, the weather, plancton blooms, etc. Sometimes it stays stable for a while and we have had months when the water was clear the whole time. All in all I would say on "average", if you can call it that, we have between 10m and 20m of visibility (30ft to 66ft). Outside of the hurricane season, which runs from June until the beginning of October, it is generally more stable and the visibility varies less.
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