Bahias de Huatulco, Mexico: The Very Best of Oaxaca’s Coastline
Somewhere along the sun-kissed shores of Mexico’s Pacific coast lies Bahias de Huatulco, a captivating destination that embodies the essence of Oaxaca’s coastal charm.
With its pristine beaches, crystalline waters, and lush greenery, Bahias de Huatulco beckons travelers to indulge in the unparalleled beauty and rich cultural tapestry of southern Mexico.
In today’s post, we’ll uncover the treasures of this coastal paradise, delving into its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant communities, and diverse array of activities that make it a quintessential gem of the Oaxacan coastline.
Join me as we dive into the very best that Bahias de Huatulco has to offer, where every moment is an invitation to immerse yourself in the allure of this enchanting destination.
What are the 9 Bays of Huatulco Mexico?
These 9 bays comprise 36 virgin beaches that make up a beautiful landscape over an extension of 33 km of coastline:
- San Agustín
- Órgano y Maguey
- Santa Cruz
Through various tours, you can get to know these natural wonders, the beauty of its beaches, the underwater parks, and the famous rock formations such as the “bufadero” and the “stone face” inside Organo Bay.
If you are interested in kayaking, sport fishing, diving, or snorkeling, this is the best place to do them.
1. San Agustin Bay
Located at the western end of Huatulco, San Agustin Bay is the last of the 9 bays, making it ideal for snorkeling and diving.
You can enjoy a peaceful stay in this bay since it has an atmosphere protected by rocks and cliffs.
And if you like to admire a beautiful sunset, you can do it from one of its beaches: El Coyote.
One of its main characteristics is that it has one of the largest coral plates in the Pacific Ocean and is the largest of all the bays; it also has two other beaches: Playa San Agustín and Playa Cacalutilla.
2. Chachacual Bay
If you are looking for more privacy and security, then Chachacual Bay is ideal.
It is characterized by a large ecological reserve with a National Park composed of an extensive area of mangroves and vegetation, with species such as acacia, ficus, and mangrove.
Access is only by boat, so a certain amount of effort is required to get there, and you will have to carry everything you need.
It is important to mention that this bay has two pristine beaches: Chachacual and La India, where you can enjoy an atmosphere of peace and tranquility with its calm waves and crystal clear waters.
3. Cacaluta Bay
Have you ever seen a Mexican movie called “Y tu mamá también”?
Well, it was filmed here, since it is one of the largest bays, which has been the scene not only in this movie but also in other films and TV shows.
This bay is home to the Laguna El Zanate, whose name comes from a type of mangrove with roots that grow around it.
It also has two beaches: Playa Cacaluta and Playa Arroyo.
It is important to highlight that it receives different migratory birds, which you will see during your visit year after year.
4. Santa Cruz Bay in Huatulco Mexico
Considered the main bay of the destination since it’s where the dock or pier is located, Santa Cruz Bay is where the boats and main tours depart.
It is also considered one of the most attractive bays due to its crystal clear water and calm waves, ideal for swimming with children.
It also has beaches such as La Entrega, La Yerbabuena, and Punta Santa Cruz.
During your visit, don’t forget to ask about the legendary cross of the Santa Cruz de Huatulco Mexico, found on its historic beach.
Currently, there is only a replica of this cross inside the local chapel.
5. Chahué Bay
Chahué is a Zapotec word that means “Fertile Land” or “WetLand.”
Here you’ll find a yacht marina and a diversity of services, among which stand out: beach clubs, nightclubs, bars, travel agencies, restaurants, shopping malls, a spa, and a bookstore, among many others.
This place is known yearly for the constant visit of pop and rock artists during the traditional festival “Música por la Tierra” (Music for the Land).
6. Tangolunda Bay
Another of Huatulco’s main bays is Tangolunda, whose name in Zapotec means “Pretty Woman.” It is home to large five-star hotels, a shopping center, and a professional 18-hole golf course.
On the other hand, in this place, you can practice water sports such as sea kayaking, sailing, jet-skiing, diving, and snorkeling, among others.
It also has areas for residential rooms and villas, as well as 5 beaches where you will spend an unforgettable sunny afternoon, such as Ventura, Manzanillo, Tornillo, Tangolunda, and Rincón Sabroso.
7. Conejos Bay
This bay is the first from east to west and is the second main hotel zone since it has four beautiful beaches: Punta Arenas, Conejos, Arena, and Tejoncito, where you can take a horseback riding tour.
In front of its main beach, villas and timeshares have been built where you can enjoy an excellent stay. If you are looking for activities, this bay is ideal for diving, fishing, and swimming.
8. Riscalillo Bay
Finally, if you are looking for a place with calm waves and shallow waters, Riscalillo Bay is the best option since it is formed by a single white sand beach that offers visitors a scenery of green waters and a great variety of fauna.
9. Organo and Maguey Bays
These two are practically bonded and form a landscape of crystalline waters with green and blue tonalities and beaches 240 meters long with fine sand and soft waves.
It has an area of palapas that offers typical gastronomy. It is also one of the safest beaches for beginners in water sports.
The 12 best things to do in Huatulco Mexico
1. Huatulco National Park
Covering around 11,500 hectares, the National Park is home to three of Huatulco’s nine bays in a deciduous forest landscape, mangroves, savannas, wetlands, thorn scrub, floodplains, and coral reefs.
This mosaic of ecosystems has incredible biodiversity, with more than 600 species of plants, 125 varieties of mammals, almost 400 bird species, and 90 types of amphibians and reptiles.
There are numerous marine and intertidal invertebrates in the ocean and over 110 reef and demersal fish.
There are many ways to experience this amazing environment, on boat trips to hard-to-reach bays, by bicycle, on hiking trails, or on off-road birding expeditions to see crane hawks, red-breasted chats, and Doubleday’s hummingbirds…
2. Magical Waterfalls in Huatulco Mexico
A half-day excursion to the Sierra Madre del Sur, Cascadas Magicas is a set of beautiful waterfalls on a tributary of the Copalita River.
The falls are located in a dense and remote jungle; you will travel in a 4×4 along a winding mountain road.
After paying the entrance fee and hiking through the lush jungle, you will forget all that effort as you face banks of dreamy waterfalls and emerald pools.
A trail goes up the side of the falls and through a cave, and you can snorkel in the clear water, which feels wonderfully cool after that jungle hike.
3. Bocana Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park
Only 8 kilometers from the bays of Huatulco is an archaeological site with remains dating between 900 BC and 1000 AD.
The grounds, built on the Copalita River’s alluvium and the coast’s igneous rock, have a jungle full of wildlife and are surrounded by well-paved and marked trails.
A tour of this immense site will take about two hours, and some of the monuments to visit are a large ball court, the main temple, a sequence of small plazas with dwellings, and a sacrificial stone on top of a cliff.
The site museum chronicles Oaxaca’s Zapotec and Mixtec cultures and has artifacts such as ceramic vessels, stelae, monumental sculptures, and figurines.
4. Hagia Sofia Botanical Garden
Another trip to the Sierra Madre del Sur will take you to this botanical garden and farm, where you can immerse yourself in Oaxaca’s natural landscape, flora, and agriculture.
Located on 130 hectares, Hagia Sofia sits on the Magdalena River and grows rare wood, fruits (80 varieties), and flowers native to Mexico and Southeast Asia.
As you will be spending a day, breakfast and lunch are included in the tour, including fresh fruit grown on the farm and Oaxacan quesadillas with homemade sauces.
One of the many highlights is walking along the Magdalena River to the impressive La Campana Waterfall.
5. La Bocana Beach
Below the archaeological site is a beach at one of the mouths of the Copalita River, which changes dramatically with the seasons and tides.
Sometimes there will only be a patch of sand, but usually, there is a large open space where a river branch meanders into the ocean, leaving a lagoon.
Surfers hit the waves, and while the currents are too strong for calm swimming, you can have a wild time bodyboarding.
The mud deposited by the river is rich in minerals, and you can ask for a head-to-toe bath, which will make your skin feel unusually soft for a few days.
There are a couple of beachside restaurants to grab a shrimp taco, fish burger, and cold beer while you watch the surfers in action.
6. Boat trips
Undoubtedly, if you want to get the best out of Huatulco Mexico, you must tour the bays.
You can do this on a private charter or opt for a group tour on a larger boat.
The theme of your trip will depend on your taste.
You may be willing to go snorkeling, bird watching, whale watching (December to March), or find the most deserted beach possible to feel like a castaway for a few hours.
Quiet and intimate is the best way to experience the national park’s unspoiled beauty.
You can pick up facts about this ecosystem from an experienced guide, who will point out stingrays and sea turtles and drop you off at the reefs.
Some boats allow you to catch fish, such as local snapper, that you can take to a restaurant to be cooked to your liking.
One thing to remember before coming to Huatulco is that Mexico’s Pacific coast is a different proposition than the popular Riviera Maya (the Caribbean side).
Sea temperatures fluctuate, and even during summer, currents can be strong, and visibility can change from site to site.
But if you are an advanced diver looking for unique wildlife encounters, Huatulco is everything you could want.
Along 40 kilometers of coastline, there are more than 90 sites on vibrant reefs, bizarre volcanic rock formations, and epic drop-offs.
Four of the seven known sea turtles inhabit these waters, along with four different species of dolphins, rays and white tip, and whale sharks.
As with diving, Oaxaca’s surf conditions can change daily, regardless of the season.
But when all is well, there are first-class breaks. The coast between Huatulco and Salina Cruz, 140 kilometers to the east, is heralded as one of the world’s next surf meccas.
Water temperatures are ideal, and there are strong beach breaks and point breaks caused by major rocky headlands.
Barra de la Cruz, 30 kilometers from Huatulco, sums up the region.
This has a perfect breakpoint and a low-key development that will make you feel like an explorer.
9. Coffee plantations
Before tourism came to these shores, coffee was Huatulco’s main income source, and several coffee farmers are happy to show you around.
You can also arrange a visit to Finca El Pacifico, located at the end of the mountain road. This massive plantation has about 190,000 coffee trees.
You can pick the bright red coffee berries, find out what happens on the plantation on a typical day, watch the beans steep, ferment, and then dry on a concrete surface the size of a soccer field.
You can also meet the owner, Mr. Gomez, and have an authentic Oaxacan meal in the family’s home.
Sportfishing is a big business in Huatulco, and at least ten fishing charter companies are operating out of the tourist marina.
These will take you out on pangas, small motorboats captained by someone with detailed knowledge of the coast and the behavior of Huatulco’s larger fish.
Most pangas will have heavy-duty rods and reels on board to catch giant yellowfin tuna, sailfish, dorado, snapper, marlin, and grouper.
Snorkeling equipment will also be available if you feel like exploring a reef or two.
Refreshments will be offered, and in the open sea, you will have the opportunity to see migrating humpback whales in the winter months, as well as sea turtles and pods of dolphins throughout the year.
11. Outdoor Activities
A vacation in Huatulco will require a lot of planning, as it will be challenging to pack all available activities.
At the resorts, adventure sports companies are ready to take you on ATV rides, white water rafting, snorkeling, canyoning, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, guided hikes in the national park, and canopy tours over canyons.
If a comfortable round of golf is more to your taste, Las Parotas is an 18-hole course named after the “parotas” that frame its fairways.
Sustainability is at the heart of the course design, including the layout’s natural hazards and existing forests.
12. Try the local food
Because many of the activities offered in Huatulco are organized day-long nature tours, you will have the opportunity to experience authentic Oaxacan cuisine.
There are also tropical plantations everywhere, which are incorporated into recipes such as pineapple stuffed with seafood.
A traditional way to prepare white fish such as snapper is “fish empapelado,” cooked on baking sheets or paper and served with lime, cilantro, chili, and rice.
Entomatadas, meanwhile, are corn tortillas fried in oil, filled with some combination of chicken, beef, beans, and cheese, and dipped in a tomato sauce with chili, onion, garlic, and oregano.
If you’re lucky, you may also find Tlayudas!
Try chilaquiles (corn tortillas cut into quarters in a mole sauce topped with white cheese), raw onion rings, avocado, and a fried egg for breakfast or lunch.
Huatulco, Mexico: Conclusion
In conclusion, Bahias de Huatulco stands out as a gem along Oaxaca’s coastline, offering an unparalleled blend of natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and vibrant culture.
Whether you’re seeking pristine beaches, thrilling outdoor adventures, or simply a tranquil escape, this destination has something to offer for every traveler.
From exploring the stunning bays to indulging in authentic cuisine and immersing yourself in the warmth of local hospitality, The Bays of Huatulco promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Mexico’s Pacific coast.