Huatulco - Mexican Paradise: On the Coast and Away from the Crowds
You've heard of Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel and Mazatlan. They're all great and they all have at least one thing in common. Mobs of tourists, especially on the days the cruise ships are in port.
If you'll just head a little further South along the Pacific Coast you'll discover what the rest of the crowd hasn't yet found. At least not in massive numbers. I'm talking about beautiful Huatulco with its expansive and uncrowded beaches.
The beauty of this gem is that while it is undiscovered by the masses, it has enough of a tourist base to merit the construction of some beautiful waterfront hotels. There are a few cruise ships from September to March and most of these are stopping as part of their Panama Canal crossing.
Huatulco is known for its nine bays that include 36 distinct beaches, each beautiful with tropical foliage. This is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the serenity in a warm, inviting climate that averages 82 degrees year round. They claim it never gets below 57 but it can get hot and humid in the summertime..
Sustainable CommunityHuatulco has been certified as the First Sustainable Community in the Americas and the third in the world. The area was developed by Fonatur during the 80s and when you compare it with other tourist areas around the globe you will appreciate the results of the careful planning involved. Rather than finding one long beach lined with high rise hotels you will find the many individual beaches with one or two hotels with large green spaces between and none of the buildings more than six stories high.
Camino Real ZaashilaMy stay was at the Camino Real Zaashila. My door opened to a small private pool that overlooked the beach and bay with the ocean beyond. I could sit in the evening and watch the moon reflected from the pool into my suite.
A delightful breakfast buffet in the morning in the Bel La Grill, lunch at the Beach Club and dinner at Chez Binni followed by cocktails in the Bitza Lounge will leave you fully satisfied. And, for a little more variety, perhaps you can try the Azul Profundo with its Thai-Mex fusion leaning toward traditional French cuisine. And all this without even leaving the hotel.
Tennis at Las Brisas Hotel and ResortOf course there is much more to do and see in Huatulco. If you're a serious tennis player you'll want to check out the Las Brisas Hotel and Resort. As a matter of fact, you can gather up all your tennis buddies and put together your own tennis tournament here. With twelve courts available the manager told me they would even help set up matches with local tennis players if you like. So call your tennis friends, figure out your schedule, call Las Brisas, head on down and have the tennis trip of a lifetime. Be sure and take along your wives/husbands/significant others because there is plenty more to do in addition to the tennis. From this hotel alone you can go kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, swimming and snorkeling. They even have a volleyball court, a basketball court and three squash courts. Would you believe a soccer field? And a botanical garden? Check it out.
Scuba, fishing, and more outdoor adventuresIf you're a scuba diver you'll be happy to learn that there are more than a dozen dive sites with coral reefs in the immediate area. There is a wide variety of colorful marine life to be found here. And just so you'll know they take the diving seriously here, there is a decompression chamber in the local Navy hospital. If you're not a diver, don't worry, there are plenty of good snorkeling opportunities as well.
If you'd rather catch and release or catch and eat your fish the water surrounding Huatulco is excellent for deep sea fishing. As a matter of fact you'll be amazed at the fish being caught from small boats just 30 yards off shore. I saw one of them bring in about a half-dozen two to three feet long tuna while I was eating at a great little beachfront café.
For other outdoor adventurers you can find rafting and kayaking in class III and IV rapids, zip lining, rappelling, rock climbing and terrific hiking possibilities. And, horse riding, of course.
Golfers will enjoy the 18 hole, par 72, 6,851 yard championship course with the spectacular view of Tangolunda Bay at hole 13.
You can take a tour of the bays by boat and you can rent a motorcycle if you want to tour the surrounding countryside. One of my favorites was the Turtles and Crocodiles tour at Mazunte and the Ventanilla Lagoon. Along the beach you can see protected areas where the sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. A canoe ride through the lagoon will get you as close as you want to get to crocodiles in the wild. You'll probably see some other critters as well, like ducks, iguanas, birds and maybe even a raccoon.
Strolling through the grounds at your favorite hotel you will likely come upon a large, colorful and quite beautiful iguana. Approach it slowly and it may not run away. Get the sun to your back, zoom in tight and take home a great photo reminder of this fine specimen.
Nudist BeachI have to confess that I missed the Zipolite Beach even though it is known worldwide in a certain community. If you go I strongly recommend taking a little extra sunscreen. You may need it - this beach has a section that is reportedly unique in the entire Mexican Pacific Coast. It has a special nudist section.
If you decide to enjoy the nude beach I would highly recommend taking along long trousers for the next adventure. Wander over to the Bay of Conejos and the Copalita River where you can find horses to ride. They'll take care of you regardless of your ability. This doesn't have to be a slow-poke trail ride. Just imagine the thrill and excitement of galloping along the edge of the surf. And, if it's summertime and hot, just slip out of the saddle and into the surf. Or, take a dip in the fresh water of the Copalita River.
If you venture further from the waterfront you can find waterfalls and coffee plantations in the nearby Sierra Madres.
Oaxaca CraftsAnd don't forget the crafts for which the state of Oaxaca is so famous. There is a folk art market close to Santa Cruz Bay where you can find the renowned black Oaxacan pottery, silver, beautiful weavings and "alebrijes" the colorful, hand carved figures made from the copal tree. Oaxacan alebrijes are brightly-colored folk art sculptures of fantastical animal-like creatures, originally created by the artist Pedro Linares.
Learn more about Oaxacan crafts before you go. Then you'll know to take an extra piece of luggage to hand-carry your treasures back home. If you visit the Museo de Artesanias Oaxaquenas you can watch weavers, carvers and potters at work.
Before you leave this Mexican paradise be sure to spend at least one evening at a folklorico show. You'll love the lively music, beautiful women and handsome men.
I've only scratched the surface of all the things you can do in Huatulco. Visit and discover the rest for yourself. And, one last word. You won't even have to worry about jet lag - Huatulco is in the Central Time Zone!
When You Go:
A former college professor, Robert Painter is author of one of the highest ranked Southwestern Art and Travel books on Amazon.com. He has traveled extensively throughout Indian country attending virtually every major American Indian art show in the Western U.S. and visiting Native American communities throughout the country. Robert has recently completed cruises on the Crown Odyssey, the Silver Cloud, the Silver Shadow, the Norwegian Dream, Seven Seas Navigator and the Windjammer S/V Mandalay. He has traveled to Italy, Greece, Barbados, Russia, Denmark and more countries than we have room to list. Story and photos by Robert Painter: email@example.com.