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Huatulco (pronounced wah-TOOL-co) ("Bahías de Huatulco"), centered around
the town of La Crucecita, is a tourist development in Mexico. It is located
on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca. Huatulco's tourism industry is
centered around its nine bays thus the name Bahias de Huatulco but has since
been unofficially shortened to simply Huatulco. You will find a wide variety
of accommodations from rooms for rent, small economy hotels, luxury
oceanfront villas, vacation condominiums, bed and breakfasts, along with
several luxury resorts standing on or near the shores of Tangolunda Bay. The
Camino Real Zaashila, Quinta Real Huatulco, Las Brisas, Dreams Resort & Spa
(Formerly the Gala hotel) and the Barceló are examples of the most popular
larger resorts in the area.
Huatulco is located in the state of Oaxaca where the foothills of the Sierra
Madre del Sur Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean approximately 500 km south of
Acapulco, Guerrero. Huatulco is divided into four main districts. Tangolunda
is the area where the upscale resorts are located; Santa Cruz is a small
town with the main marina and Santa Cruz beach; La Crucecita, is another
small town just inland from the beach area that provides support services to
the resort, and Chahué is an area between Santa Cruz and Tangolunda.
The Bahias de Huatulco, (Bays of Huatulco) are actually made up of a series
of nine bays and numerous small coves stretching along 26 kilometers of
jagged coastline, including 36 white sandy beaches. The most centrally
located bay is Bahía de Santa Cruz, which is just south La Crucecita. It is
also the center of commercial and tourist activities, with a large pier
where yachts and cruise ships dock. Many resort offerings are found here
such as hotels, craft shops, discothèques, bars, restaurants, excursion
agencies, sailboat excursions as well as scuba diving, snorkeling and jet
skis for rent. The Capilla de Santa Cruz is where many weddings and baptisms
are celebrated next to the sea. Playa Santa Cruz, is the best known of the
beaches here. It is 250 meters long, with soft white sand and turquoise blue
Heading east from Santa Cruz are the bays of Bahía Chahué, Bahía Tangolunda
and Bahía Conejos. These are the more developed areas of Huatulco. Bahía
Chahué is 2 km east of Santa Cruz and its name means "fertile or moist land"
in Zapotec. It has a marina for yachts and 3 principal beaches; Chahué,
Esperanza and Tejón. Even though these are wide beaches, their moderate surf
makes them less-visited than those in Santa Cruz. Three km east of Chahué is
Bahía Tangolunda, which has 5 beaches; Ventura, Manzanillo, Tornillo,
Tangolunda and Rincón Sabroso. Here the water varies between cobalt blue and
emerald green. Most of the better hotels are on this bay. Bahía Conejos is 4
km east of Tangolunda and has various residential complexes. The mouth of
the Río (River) Copalita is here and alongside of it is a long zone of
beaches. To the east of this bay are beaches stretching all the way to the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Some of the best surf waves in Mexico are to be
found from these point breaks. Playa El Mojon and Barra de la Cruz are two
of the best and easiest to access. Playa El Mojon has some gorgeous
residences that can be rented out, a great location to explore the surf
breaks further East.
To the west of Santa Cruz, the beaches are less developed; in fact most of
this area belongs to the Parque Nacional (National Park) Huatulco. This is a
protected area (Área Natural Protegida) created in 1998. It contains 6,375
hectares of lowland jungle and 5,516 hectares of marine areas, encompassing
the bays of Bahía Maguey, Bahía Órgano, Bahía Cacaluta, Bahía Chachacual and
Bahía San Agustín. In these bays live the most important coral communities
of the Mexican Pacific. 723 species of animals live in the park as well as a
number of species of colorful fish, and it is open to scuba diving,
bird-watching and hiking. In 2006, the park received certification from
Green Globe, mostly due to it management of potable and waste water, the
first resort in the Americas to do so, and the third in the world. Bahía
Órgano is named for the cacti that grow there. It is 240 meters long and
only accessible by boat. Bahía Maguey is about 1/2 km long and is accessible
by car. Both these bays have fine, white sand and waters of various colors
of blue and green. Bahía Cacaluta and Bahía Chachacual are only accessible
by boat, but there are absolutely no human constructions of any kind. Bahía
San Agustín is the furthest west and the largest of all the bays. It has 1
km of beaches between 20 and 80 meters wide. There are also small islets
inside the bay itself.
Sunshine can be expected about 330 days a year with the average temperature
of 28C. The dry season extends from December to May and the rainy season is
from June to November. The amount of precipitation has a definite effect on
the local vegetation, being brownish in the dry season and very green in the
Development of the resort area
In 1984, FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Turismo), a government agency dedicated
to the development of tourism in Mexico, acquired 21,000 hectares of land to
develop a tourism center, similar to that in Cancun. The existing population
was relocated to Santa María Huatulco. The plan resulted in the improvement
of roadways and other infrastructure. It also has populated areas mixed with
"green zones" to make the area more ecologically-friendly. In fact, this is
one of the cleanest developments in Mexico.
In addition to the beaches, one can explore and shop in the small
communities of Bahias de Huatulco, such as Santa Cruz, La Crucecita, or old
Santa María Huatulco (the municipal seat). When doing so, one can travel
between the communities by bus or taxi. The entire area has a "small town"
feel about it and is rarely crowded with tourists with the exception of the
Christmas and Semana Santa holiday periods.
About 80% of all tourism in Bahias de Huatulco is domestic in nature. Only
about 20% of Huatulco's tourism is foreign, mainly because international air
access is limited. Bahias de Huatulco has a small international airport just
20 minutes from the main resorts in Tangolunda Bay. The peak season for
foreign tourism is typically from December through April.
Nearby coffee plantations
There are a number of coffee plantations which are still in operation and
give tours, including Finca (farm) Las Nieves, Finca Monte Carlos, Finca
Margaritas, Finca El Pacífico and Finca La Gloria. Finca El Pacífico is
known for the organic coffee it produces called "Pluma Hidalgo," and it is
surrounded by waterfalls and ravines. Finca La Gloria is known for the
butterfly sanctuary "Mariposorio Dain Biguid", where dozens of species of
butterflies can be seen and the "Llano Grande Falls". The Río Copalitilla
has its source here as well.
Despite the improvements in infrastructure, Bahias de Huatulco is not as
easy to get to as other resorts like Cancun. The drive south from Acapulco
on Federal Highway 200 has over 300 speed bumps (Topes). Driving from Oaxaca
city, the state capital is not any easier because Highway 135 is also full
of speed bumps. Highway 190 has fewer but it's a much longer road with many
curves due to the mountainous terrain.
Bahias de Huatulco has an airport, the Bahías de Huatulco International
Airport, which is served nationally by Mexicana, Interjet, and Magnicharters
from other Mexican airports. Internationally , , and First Choice fly here
from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Large portions of the Bahias de Huatulco resort area are located within an
ecological zone"; much of the area is protected from future development, and
the area is serviced by modern water and sewage treatment plants so that no
waste goes into its pristine bays. Huatulco has been awarded the Green Globe
certification, and it is the only resort in Mexico to receive this
prestigious award (Green Globe is the worldwide benchmarking and
certification system for the travel and tourism industry across the triple
bottom line of economic, social and environmental management).
Legends say the Toltecs and Quetzalcoátl came from this area. Quetzacoátl,
according to a later legend, set an enormous and indestructible cross, which
has never been found. Various people have passed through this area,
including the Chatmos, the Zapotecs and the Mexicas.
After the Spanish Conquest, Huatulco thrived as a port under Hernán Cortés'
control serving as a vantage point for Spanish galleons and a distribution
centre for supplies on the Pacific coast. The latter half of the 16th
Century saw Huatulco attacked by Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish - both
of whom left their prints on the region's history and legends that continue
to this day.
Vicente Guerrero was executed by firing squad here in 1831.
Until resort development began in the 1980s, Huatulco was little known except as a coffee-growing area.