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Huatulco Oaxaca, ultimate travel guide

Huatulco Oaxaca, formally known as Bahías de Huatulco Oaxaca, is one of Mexico’s best-hidden gems from the Pacific Coast.

This beautiful area has everything that you can ask for: quiet golden beaches, jungle, plenty of waterfalls,  friendly locals, coffee plantations, and a lot of things to explore.

It is a family-friendly destination with many beautiful resorts, delicious seafood, and stunning beaches.

Huatulco is not a city itself; it is a small region with a few beautiful communities like Santa Cruz, La Crucecita and Santa Maria Huatulco.

The region is located in the state of Oaxaca, spanning over the southwestern coast of Mexico.

One thing I can tell you for sure! This stunning area is packed with amazing beaches.

The most popular area is the nine bays with its 30 beaches.

Besides these fantastic beaches, there are plenty of other things to do in the area, about I will discuss later in this article.

Huatulco is a safe destination, not yet hit by mass tourism, so you can still have the opportunity to feel the Mexican vibe and be among the first who enjoy the beauty of the area.

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Where is Huatulco Mexico

As I mentioned earlier, Bahias de Huatulco Oaxaca is not a town but a small region in Mexico.

It is located along the southwestern coast of Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca on the Pacific Ocean.

From the Oaxaca city, capital city of Oaxaca to the heart of Huatulco is around 230 km, and from here to Guatemala, the neighboring country, is about 12-hour drive.

map of huatulco in mexico
map of huatulco in mexico

Actually, this region of Mexico will be developed for tourism.

Many experts say about Huatulco that is exactly how Cancun was in the early 90s.

How to get to Huatulco Oaxaca

Huatulco airport

This small region of Mexico has a small palapa-style airport, your starting point when exploring the area.

The airport operates mostly domestic flights, and from the airport to the beach, there is about 30 minutes drive.

Buses to Huatulco

The good news is that the bus system in Mexico is cheap and quite well-developed.

The main bus station is Huatulco is ADO Huatulco, in La Crucecita, and from here, there are buses to the major cities of Mexico.

You can easily can get to Huatulco from Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido or Puerto Angel.

Hualtulco bay
Huatulco bay

Car rental to Huatulco

Don’t worry about driving in Mexico, because it is easier than you thing, as long as you follow some common sense rules.

A rented car gives you the freedom and mobility you need to explore this beautiful part of Mexico.

We rented a car and explore the area on our own, and it was a fantastic experience.

Get the best price for your car rental today

Getting around Huatulco

Once you reach Huatulco, moving around is quite easy and cheap.

If you have a rented car, you don’t have to worry about bus timetables or directions, as you are free to go wherever you want, at what hour you want.

If you don’t want to rent a car, then you can take a taxi to go where you want. Taxis are quite cheap as most of the beaches are located less than 5 US one way. 

The difficulty might appear when you want to find a taxi to come back, so we recommend you negotiate with the taxi driver to way for you the whole day.

Of course, this comes with an extra cost, but at least you are sure you have a car to return to your accommodation.

Bahias de Huatulco
Bahias de Huatulco

Is Huatulco Oaxaca safe for tourists?

Yes, Huatulco is perfectly safe for tourists.

As a less-visited part of Mexico, this small region has a minimal list of dangerous activities.

This rural area with friendly locals has a friendly, laid-back atmosphere with fewer dangerous activities than in touristic areas.

Best time to visit Huatulco Oaxaca Mexico

Actually, there is no bad time to explore Huatulco Oaxaca Mexico.

The dry season lasts from October to February; the days are sunny and quite hot, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The rainy season is from June to September, and the humidity is high during this period. This makes it harder, especially for those who don’t like hot days.

The wettest month is September.

The crowded period is from December to April, in November during the Dia de los Muertos and during the holidays like Semana Santa, which is the week preceding Easter.

During these periods, the hotel prices and the flights are higher as the demand increase.

For these reasons, we recommend you explore Huatulco any time of year except for September and legal holidays.

What’s the weather like in Huatulco Mexico?

Weather in high season

Strictly, from the weather perspective, November to March is the best time to go to Huatulco.

The days are sunny and warm, but beware of the sun’s rays; they are very powerful. We strongly recommend using a sun cream with high SPF.

Weather in low season

The rainy season is from June to September, with September being the rainiest month.

During these months, the quantity of rain is significant, but don’t expect to rain the whole day.

Most of the days are sunny with scattered showers.

boat trip on Bahias de Huatulco
boat trip on Bahias de Huatulco

Best Huatulco beaches

Huatulco Oaxaca Playa, which spans along the beautiful bays, is the main attraction of this small but beautiful area.

These beaches come with shallow water and weak currents, which makes them good for swimming and snorkeling.

Bays of Huatulco Mexixo Map
Bays of Huatulco Mexixo Map

I drop below a list of my favorite beaches from the area.

Playa Maguey

Closely located to La Crucerita, this beautiful beach located inside a great bay is the perfect family destination.

You can go swimming and snorkeling, and there are plenty of beach restaurants to choose from.

The best time to visit this beach is in the morning as during the afternoon, it might become quite crowded due to boat tours.

Playa Santa Cruz

Located 2 km from La Crucecita, Playa Santa Cruz is a popular and crowded beach packed with bars, restaurants, tours, and water activity rentals.

We recommend this beach only if you like crowds and animated beaches.

Puerto Escondido

Located on the northern side of Huatulco, about 2.5 hour drive is one of my favorite beaches.

It has a laid-back atmosphere, a beautiful panorama, and is not very crowded.

It is extremely popular among surfers and backpackers, so it is a great place to go if you want to take some surfing lessons.

The beach is also perfect for swimming and for a family getaway.

Puerto Escondido Huatulco
Puerto Escondido Huatulco

La Bocana

The interesting thing about La Bocana Beach is the mud bath that is available in the area.

Besides swimming and sunbathing, you can also try the mud baths.

For less than 10 USD, you can get mud applied all over your body.

Wash it off in the ocean, and you will end up with soft skin and a fun experience.

San Augustin, Huatulco Oaxaca

Another beautiful beach preferred by locals and tourists is San Agustín Beach.

The easiest way to get to the beach is with a rented car, and the drive last for about 45 minutes from La Crucecita.

You can also get to the beach by boat.

The area has plenty of restaurants and bars, and the place is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Hualtulco Oaxana ocean view
Huatulco Oaxana ocean view

Playa Cacaluta

If you ask me, Playa Cacaluta is the most beautiful beach in Huatulco.

It is easily accessible by boat and it is located inside the Huatulco National Park.

In the vicinity of the area is Cacaluta Island, one of the best spots for scuba diving because of its impressive coral reefs and underwater formations.

Hotels en Huatulco Oaxaca

Depending on the length of your stay, you can pick one or more accommodations located in different Bays of Huatulco, all-inclusive resorts, hotels or guesthouses.

Huatulco on map of mexico
Huatulco on map of mexico

I drop below a list with the best hotels in the most popular and beautiful bays of Huatulco.

Bahia Santa Cruz & La Crucecita

This is a ship port packed with restaurants and shops.

The area has three beaches with shallow and calm water, perfect for swimming: Santa Cruz, La Entrega, and Yerbabuena.

Santa Cruz offers plenty of options when talking about accommodation, suitable for every budget.

Holiday Inn Huatulco – a budget-friendly hotel closely located to the marina and offering a pool and a bar.

Hotel Castillo Huatulco– a family-friendly hotel with restaurants, pools, and a nearby beach club.

Hotel Castillo Huatulco
Hotel Castillo Huatulco

Bahia Chahue

Next to Santa Cruz is the bay known as Bahia Chahue with 3 beautiful beaches: Esperanza, Tejon, Chahue.

All these beaches have strong currents so go here for swimming only if you are an advanced swimmer.

The area has plenty of shops and restaurants and many accommodation options.

A dive center is open at the marina, and you can also book tours from the hotels and street shops. 

Xquenda Huatulco Spa –  an inexpensive hotel with a pool, spa service, and gym

Quinta Bella Huatulco – located right on Playa Chahue with spacious and clean rooms, a fantastic restaurant, and a pool.

Quinta Bella Huatulco
Quinta Bella Huatulco

Bahia Tangolunda

This is the most developed bay, packed with a lot of beautiful beaches perfect for watersports and swimming.

You can find one of the best snorkel areas in the region, the coral reefs from Tangolunda’s western beach.

The most popular beaches from the bay are Playa Tornillo, Playa Ventura, and Playa Manzanilla.

Tangolunda has a golf course and many secluded, luxurious restaurants and resorts.

Quinta Real Huatulco – a modern resort located on Playa Tangolunda with stunning views, good restaurants and large pools

Las Brisas Huatulco – a high-end resort with pools, fantastic services, and delicious food located right on snorkeling beaches

Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa – a world-class resort with many restaurants and bars, infinity pools, and perfect services located right on the beach

Dreams Huatulco Resort
Dreams Huatulco Resort

Bahia Conejo

Conejo Bay is one of the least developed bays with resorts in Huatulco. There are three beaches in the bay, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and another beach, Punta Arena, accessible only by boat.

Celeste Beach Residences & Spa – offering private terraces and stunning views, these modern apartments are located near Tejoncito Beach.

Secrets Huatulco – an adults-only luxurious hotel with a private beach, spa, pool, gym, bars, and restaurants. Actually, this is one of the best resorts in Huatulco and one of the largest.

Secrets Huatulco Resort
Secrets Huatulco Resort

15 things to do in Huatulco 

1.Explore La Crucerita

This small town with a charming and calm vibe is definitely something you must see in Huatulco. 

 La Crucerita is packed with shops and restaurants and the main attraction point is the beautiful church located in the city square.

2. Take a boat tour of the bays

One of the most popular tours in the area is to take a boat tour of the bays.

We took the tour from Puerto Escondido and visited all the seven bays.

Huatulco 7 Bays Tour last for about 10 hours and is the best way to see all the 7 bays. The first bay you will visit is Santa Cruz Bay, where you will board a boat. We then passed Chahue Bay, Cacaluta Bay, La Entrega Bay, and the rest.

From Puerto Escondido Huatulco 7 Bays Tour guide
From Puerto Escondido Huatulco 7 Bays Tour guide

Cacaluta Bay appears in many Mexican movies.

Later that day, we returned to Santa Cruz, where a van waited for us and took us to the village of La Crucerita.

There we visited the church and tried mezcal, chapulines and quesillo.

In the end, the van returned us to Puerto Escondido.

3. Explore the ruins of Copalita

The best way to discover more about loca history and culture is to pay a visit to the ruins of Copalita.

This is an ancient site with ruins from a settlement in 500 BC.

The site is quite small, but the landscape is fantastic.

It is located 16 km away from Huatulco, easily to reach by taxi or with a rented car.

Copalita ruins Huatulco
Copalita ruins Huatulco

4. Visit a coffee plantation

Many tour operators sell such excursions, and this is definitely something you should take advantage of.

Generally, the tour lasts the whole day, and you will visit a family-run plantation.

They will show you how the coffee beans grow, how they roast them and then package them for selling.

Of course, the tour is only complete with tasting a delicious cup of coffee.

We booked Huatulco Coffee Flavor Waterfall Tour with Local Lunch, an 8-hour tour that leads us to the coffee plantation around the village of Llano Grande. 

We learned a lot of new and interesting things about coffee, and in the end, we tasted local coffee, chocolate, and Mezcal.

Then we continued our tour, visited some beautiful waterfalls, and had a delicious lunch with traditional Mexican food.

Huatulco Coffee Flavor Waterfall Tour with Local Lunch guide
Huatulco Coffee Flavor Waterfall Tour with Local Lunch guide

5. Explore the underwater world

Huatulco is a great place for snorkeling, so don’t forget home your snorkeling mask.

There are many places perfect for snorkeling, some of them being located close to resorts.

Others are further into the sea, but there are plenty of snorkeling tours available.

Huatulco: Premium Boat Tour with snorkel experience is a 7 hours tour that stops at two beautiful bays famous for their snorkeling places.

Hotel pick-up, peer taxes, and drinks are included in the tour price, while snorkeling equipment cost 10 USD per person.

Huatulco Premium Boat Tour with snorkel experience guide
Huatulco Premium Boat Tour with snorkel experience guide

6. Observe sea turtles at the National Mexican Turtle Center

Nothing is more beautiful than seeing baby turtles finding their way to the ocean.

We are nature lovers and we cannot miss the experience of releasing these tiny little creatures into the ocean.

So we booked Turtle Release & Bioluminescent Plankton tour to connect with nature and have the unique opportunity to touch these cute creatures.

The tour last for about 9 hours and include two fantastic activities: releasing the turtles into the ocean and swim in the glow of bioluminescent plankton.

From La Crucecita Turtle Release and Bioluminescent Plankton guide
From La Crucecita Turtle Release and Bioluminescent Plankton guide

7. Take a cooking class

You can learn to cook Mexican food in many places, but the best of all is Chiles & Chocolate.

They offer cooking classes where you will cook a whole menu, like handmade tortillas, Oaxaca black mole with chicken, and rise.

The cost for a cooking class is around 100 USD per person and it wil take you about 4 hours for the whole menu.

You have included the recipe manual to take home and transportation at this price.

8. Visit a jungle waterfall

Huatulco is about more than just beaches. There are also stunning waterfalls hidden inside the jungle.

Our favorite waterfall is Cascadas Magicas de Copalitilla, hidden in the Sierra Madre del Sur forest.

You can get to it with a guided tour or on your own, like we did, with a local guide and a rented car.

Huatulco waterfall
Huatulco waterfall

9. Taste mezcal

I talked a lot in this article about mezcal; now it’s time to tell you what it is.

Mezcal is a local drink made from agave that is quite similar to tequila.

The best mezcal I drunk during my holiday was from Mezaleria Gota Gorda, located about one hour drive from La Crucecita in Playa Zipolite.

10. Buy some Oaxacan textiles

The Oaxacan textiles are colorful and with bold patterns, so you will love them from the first moment.

Many artisans create beautiful textiles like clothing, rugs or tapestries using traditional methods.

By buying these textiles from locals, you support them and help them continue these traditions from generation to generation.

11. Find the Secret Natural Jacuzzi Bath

While exploring Huatulco, I discovered this beautiful, hidden lagoon that is a stunning natural hot tub.

This lagoon is located at the end of the beach where Huatulco Secrets Hotel is.

The lagoon is also accessible from the public trail.

If you are standing on the beach facing the ocean, look to the right, and you will spot some big rock formations.

Climb a few rocks, and you will discover this beautiful natural pool.

The shallow water is warm, perfect for a bath.

Huatulco golden beach
Huatulco golden beach

12. Visit Hagia Sofia Ecological Park

Hagia Sofia Ecological Park is a botanic garden hidden up in the mountains.

You will see here an impressive collection of flowers and plants from the area, and a beautiful panorama opens in from of your eyes.

There are plenty of trails to follow and explore the area, trails leading to many different gardens.

13. Hop on a tour to see crocodiles and turtles

Huatulco Crocodile & Turtles Ecotour is an 8-hour tour that takes you to the Ventanilla community, a protected Natural Reserve. 

Huatulco Crocodile and Turtle Ecotour guide
Huatulco Crocodile and Turtle Ecotour guide

Discover the beauty of the area with a 15-minute nature walking hour. You will take a boat and explore the mangroves in the area and spot crocodiles and birds that inhabit this beautiful ecosystem.

Then you will visit the town of Mazunte, famous for its blue crabs, and then head to Zipolite beach.

14. Get a mud bath at La Bocana Beach

Playa La Bocana is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, and the only place where you can enjoy some mud baths.

You can reach this beach by taxi or renting a car, but definitely worth the whole effort.

Once you get to the beach, you will be greeted by the mud bath ladies, descendants of the Zapotec people.

Zapotec people are the ones who created this ancient healing method.

For about 100 pesos per person, the ladies will cover you with mud using a massage-like technique.

As it dries, it acts like a natural suncream.

When the clay is dry, the mud ladies rub it off. After that, you enter the ocean to clean yourself perfectly.

sunrise at Zipolite beach
sunrise at Zipolite beach

15. Explore Santa Maria Huatulco Oaxaca Mexico

Don’t leave Huatulco without visiting the beautiful town of Santa Maria.

It is located in the southern part of Oaxaca state and is famous for its hispanic ruins.

The town is closely located to Parque Eco-Arqueologico Copalita, consisting of a ceremonial center and a ball court.

Where to eat in Oaxaca Huatulco

There are plenty of options in Huatulco when speaking about food, but some restaurants really stands out and definitely worth a visit.

Alfredo’s

Alfredo’s is located in Crucecita and it was open in 2005.

Along the years, it changed its name for several times, but not the owner.

Chef Alfredo Patino Ramirez owns the restaurant, and it is one of the best places where you can eat tacos, the catch of the day, pasta, Camarones de la jefa and other local dishes.

Tacos El Padrino

Located in Santa Maria Huatulco, Tacos El Padrino is a family-owned taqueria featuring a large variety of stewed tacos and other local dishes.

It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and here I ate one of the best tacos from Huatulco.

Ve El Mar

Vel El Mar translates into “ see the sea”.

It is a restaurant that opened 35 years ago right near Santa Cruz beach, offering unique views of the ocean and the cruise ships that pull into port.

Try their chilaquiles and enmoladas for breakfast, and go with seafood stuffed pineapple or lobster Ve El Mar for lunch and dinner.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.