10 Best Huatulco Excursions, Tours and Activities

From taking tours of coffee plantations to snorkeling excursions, there are many options for things to do in Huatulco, Mexico. If you’re planning a day trip or just have a few hours on a cruise, you don’t want to waste your time or money on disappointing Huatulco excursions.

I’ve personally done every major Huatulco tour and these are my top choices for the best excursions to invest your vacation dollars in.

1. Snorkeling and Diving Excursions

Snorkeling in Huatulco at San Agustin Bay Mexico

A trio of snorkellers readies to jump into the waters at San Agustin Bay

Whether you’re interested in Huatulco snorkeling from shore or on a boat excursion to one of its hidden bays, exploring the Pacific Coasts’s extraordinary underwater sea life is one of the top things to do in Huatulco.  Much of this coastline of Mexico is protected from development which helps support rich marine life and healthy reefs.

You can expect to see sea turtles, parrotfish,  needle fish, grouper, snapper, angelfish as well as manta rays and more.  Read our complete Guide to Snorkeling in Huatulco for tips on the best beaches for snorkeling from shore and the best (and safest) Huatulco snorkeling tours.

2. Sightseeing Tour of the Seven Bays

Marina Santa Cruz Huatulco

Take a sightseeing tour from the marina at Santa Cruz Huatulco

No trip to Huatulco is complete without exploring the seven bays and 36 beaches of the stunning coast of Oaxaca. Many of the golden sand beaches are accessible only by water so seeing them by boat is one of the top things to do in Huatulco.

For safety and comfort, it’s important to book a tour on a quality boat. While it’s certainly possible to charter a boat independently in Santa Cruz marina or join a group of tourists on a large party boat, it’s important to consider that a luxury water craft offers shade and superior comfort.

Read our guide to the best beaches in Huatulco for more information.

3. Three Levels Tour – Santa Cruz, Santa Maria Huatulco and Pluma Hidalgo

Santa Maria Huatulco in Oaxaca

Santa Maria Huatulco in Oaxaca

A great option for this tour is Homie Tours owned by Alberto Espana Chavez, a government-certified guide who works in collaboration with other certified guides.  Tomas Vicente Contreras led the Three Levels Tour featuring Pluma Hidalgo coffee country I participated in earlier this year. He is very knowledgable and speaks fluent Spanish, English, Zapotec and several other languages. This is not a trip to do independently.

4. Chiles & Chocolate Cooking Classes Huatulco

Cooking Class Excursion in Huatulco

Learn how to make cocktails, salsas and street food in this hands-on cooking class

The best way to experience a culture is to dive into its local cuisine. Chiles&Chocolate located in the pueblo of Zimitan on the outskirts of the Bahia de Huatulco’s hotel zone offers hands-on instruction on  Oaxacan cuisine. Learn about local indigenous Zapotec culture and how to use regional ingredients such as nopal, chapulines (toasted grasshoppers) and Pacific Coast shrimp to make street food, party fare and traditional main dishes. The reasonably-priced tuition includes pick up and drop off at Huatulco hotels.

5. Copalita Eco-park and Archeological Site

Copalita Archeological site in Huatulco

Explore archeological ruins in this fascinating and under-visited eco-park

Explore history carved in stone at Rio Copalita archeological site, a recently excavated site featuring a small  but top quality museum as well as a vast protected zone dotted with ruins of pyramids, a ball court and temples. The site was the ancient metropolis of Copalitan, occupied by the Zapotec and Mixtec people from 500 BC onward. It’s easy to visit this archeological site independently by taxi.

Check out a Day Pass to Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa for a family-friendly add-on to this excursion.

6. Huatulco Excursions – La Crucecita City Tour

Mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe in La Crucecita Huatulco

Don’t miss seeing the Mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe in La Crucecita

One of the top things to do in Huatulco whether you’re on a cruise ship excursion or staying at a resort, is to visit La Crucecita, the economic hub and cultural heart of Huatulco. Themain attractions in La Crucecita are within easy walking distance of the zocolo ( town square) so this excursion is easy to do independently, allowing you the most flexibility and saving you money.

The top things to do in La Crucecita include shopping for Pluma Hidalgo coffee, sampling mezcal and browsing artisanal crafts as well as visiting the Catholic Church, home to Mexico’s largest mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

7. Mazunte Turtle Center – Sea Turtles in Huatulco

Baby olive ridley turtles ready to be released

Baby olive ridley turtles ready to be released

If you’ve read my post  7 Reasons to Love Mazunte  you’ll already know I’m a big fan of this small, eco-friendly town. Most tours from Huatulco combine  a visit to the Mazunte Turtle Center  (located on the site of a former turtle processing factory) with a boat tour of the mangroves of  Ventanilla for some crocodile viewing and a stop at Zipolite beach as well as a quick stop for purchasing the natural cosmetics made by the Mazunte Natural Cosmetics Factory, a local women’s cooperative.

If you’re really interested in witnessing a sea turtle nesting or sea turtle release, you may be disappointed with the Mazunte Turtle Center which is more of a research and education facility.Sea turtle nesting period for olive ridley turtles  takes place between July and November, so if you’re visiting in January or February it’s very unlikely you’ll see any sea turtle nestings.

If you’re in Huatulco during the season the sea turtles lay their eggs, make a point to visit La Escobilla, one of the world’s most important nesting sites for olive ridley turtles. During an arribada, you can see up to 5,000 sea turtles nesting on this protected beach. Read our article on 8 Incredible Outdoor Adventures in Puerto Escondido for information on this incredible event. In fact there are so many sea turtles on this coast, I’ve actually seen nestings in front of hotels such as Secrets and Dreams.

Read my review of Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa 

8. Explore Puerto Escondido on a Day Trip or Overnight

Barrel Surfing at Puerto Escondido Credit Zicazteca

Go Barrel Surfing with lessons in Puerto Escondido Credit Zicazteca

The city of Puerto Escondido with its diverse beaches and famous surfing scene is located 2.5 hours northwest up the Pacific coast from Huatulco and is well worth visiting for its string of beaches, rich cultural scene and eclectic bars and restaurants.

It’s best to stay overnight but if you’re pressed for time, it’s possible get there and back on a day trip.  Read our complete Guide to Puerto Escondido for details about the city then consult our transportation guide for details on getting from Huatulco to Puerto Escondido by bus.

If you’d like to spend the night, you can’t go wrong with Hotel Santa Fe for its prime location on a quiet stretch of Zicatela Beach and superior service.  Click here to check prices on the Hotel Santa Fe in Puerto Escondido on Hotelscombined.com, a search engine that compares room rates on hotel booking sites such as Expedia and Booking.com to find you the lowest rate.

9. Swim Under a Jungle Waterfall

Huatulco excursion

Swim in a jungle waterfall

In the rainy seasons, dozens of misty waterfalls cascade through the jungle in the foothills above Huatulco National Park, a protected zone established in 1998. Even during the dry season, one of the best Huatulco excursions includes a hike to the Cascadas Magicas (Magic Waterfalls) where you’ll be rewarded with a refreshing swim in cool waters. Expect to spot iguanas, hummingbirds and orioles along the way.

10. Get Wet and Wild with Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting Huatulco Excursion Credit Aventura Mundo

Go whitewater rafting on this exciting Huatulco excursion Credit Aventura Mundo

Local tour operator Aventura Mundo provides certified guides who’ll lead you on a day outdoor adventure on the Copalita River, known for its steep drops and valleys. One of the best Huatulco excursions for adrenaline junkies, thrill seekers will want to opt for the upper section of the river, an adrenaline-pumping descent through 22 kilometres of Class III and IV rapids but other more leisurely options are available.

Their Floating Tour is ideal for birdwatchers as you’ll drift peacefully along the river, arriving at La Bocana beach where you can swim and chill out for a few hours.

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Complete Guide to Secrets Huatulco: Rooms, Excursions, Food 

How to Visit Pluma Hidalgo Coffee Country 

Don’t Miss These Top Outdoor Adventures in Puerto Escondido 

9 Tips For The Perfect Romantic Getaway in Puerto Escondido 

7 Reasons to Love Mazunte, Mexico 

Quick Tips: How to Take the Shuttle from Huatulco to Puerto Escondido Mexico 

Enjoy Unlimited Luxury with a Secrets Huatulco Day Pass 

TAR Airlines Offers New Discount Flights to Huatulco 

Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
Dividing her time between Toronto, Mexico and Guatemala (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is an award-winning writer, blogger, editor and publisher who specializes in travel, cuisine and luxury lifestyles.
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Showing 2 comments
  • Doreen Pendgracs

    What a wonderful post, Michele. Your love and enthusiasm for the area really are contagious. you’ve got me ready to pack my bags and come visit Huatulco and its world of natural wonders.

  • Irene S. Levine

    We loved Huatulco! Didn’t realize there was so much to see and do! Gotta go back!

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