Complete Guide to Secrets Huatulco: Excursions, Rooms, Food

Thinking about a visit to Secrets Huatulco Resort and Spa for your next vacation in Mexico? Trying to decide whether it’s worth it to upgrade to a swim-out room? Wondering about things to do on this fantastic stretch of Pacific coastline? We’ve got the answers for you.

I’ve stayed at Secrets Resort Huatulco, as well as all of the major resorts in the Bahias de Huatulco area — from more expensive Huatulco all-inclusive luxury resorts to budget hotels — and here’s what you need to know before booking. Read on for our complete review and guide to planning a perfect vacation at the all-inclusive Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa:

Where is Huatulco?

The Bahias de Huatulco are located in the state of Oaxaca on Mexico’s west coast facing the Pacific Ocean. It’s important not to confuse Santa Maria de Huatulco with the resort destination of Huatulco (officially known as Bahias de Huatulco) where Secrets and the other major beach resorts and hotels are  located. The city of Santa Maria de Huatulco, while nearby and well worth visiting for its rich history, is located inland in the lowlands of the Sierra Madre Sur mountains beyond the Bahias de Huatulco International Airport (HUX).

Is Huatulco Mexico Safe?

Is it safe to travel to Huatulco Mexico? As recently as August 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of State gives Mexico overall a Travel Advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.  The state of Oaxaca is a Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution ( which is the same as Quintana Roo and better than Jalisco or Nayarit other popular resort destinations). There are NO restrictions for government employees or the general public for transit between the airport in Huatulco to hotels in Puerto Escondido or Huatulco.

In my experience, Huatulco is a very safe destination for visitors. Crime in Huatulco is lower than in other resort destinations as the Bahias de Huatulco area is much smaller than other resort destinations and has one of the highest IDH Índice de Desarrollo Humano ( Human Development Index)  in Mexico when it comes to employment, education and salaries (which means crime such as robberies, assaults and street gangs are lower). Its tourism  infrastructure was built by and is maintained by FONATUR so visitors and local residents enjoy excellent roads, lighting and tourism police security.

Secrets Huatulco Weather

Beautiful coast of Oaxaca

View of Conejos Bay in Huatulco

If you’re planning a beach getaway and trying to decide between Secrets in Huatulco or a  Secrets Resort in Cancun or Riviera Maya, one of the first things to consider is the weather. Huatulco is located on Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast and receives more sunshine and warmer weather than the Riviera Maya. So, if you’re planning to vacation between November and March, you’re more likely to get reliably sunny skies in Huatulco than  anywhere along the Cancun-Riviera Maya coast.

Let’s take a closer look at Holiday Weather in January, February and March. The average temperature in Huatulco is generally 3-5 degrees higher than in Cancun-Riviera Maya. In January you can expect 26 C (79 F) vs  an average temperature of 23 C (73) in Cancun.

Another important consideration is rain. Huatulco is located within a dry tropical climate which means it’s drier than other beach destinations in Mexico such as Puerto Vallarta or Cancun Riviera-Maya.  There is less precipitation overall and the average number of days with rain in Huatulco between January and March is 3 while Cancun-Riviera Maya is 16.   The wettest month in Huatulco is June while Cancun-Riviera Maya it’s September.

Huatulco’s temperature doesn’t vary much throughout the year and you can expect consistently hot weather and sunshine.

Secrets Huatulco Beach

Secrets Huatulco beach on Conejos Bay

Secrets Huatulco beach on Conejos Bay

Which has better beaches? Huatulco or Cancun-Riviera Maya? The sand on the beaches on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is golden rather than white,  coarser and has a steeper slope to the water than those on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.  In Huatulco, the beaches are smaller and while they are less crowded and more private, they are not ideal for long walks.

The longest beach with hotel accommodation in Huatulco is Tangolunda Bay where Dreams Resort and the Barcelo (both are family-friendly unlike Secrets which is adults-only) are located. Secrets Huatulco is located on Conejos Bay, a small crescent shaped beach that is quite private ( although not completely private — all beaches in Mexico are public) and beautiful.

Unlike east-facing Mayan Riviera and Cancun, much of the Caribbean and Florida, Huatulco is free of sargassum seaweed so you will not encounter problems with smelly, rotting seaweed in the water or along the shoreline. There is also no beach erosion. The beaches in Huatulco are wide and spacious.

How swimmable are the waters? This varies daily and seasonally. Huatulco’s waters can be rough with strong rip currents so it’s important to heed the advice of lifeguards and safety flags. At low tide, you can cross by foot into a neighbouring bay where there is calm water for snorkeling.

The other good news about the beaches in Huatulco is that they consistently receive high marks for cleanliness by SEMARNAT, the government agency responsible for monitoring the water quality of the beaches in Mexico. Three times a year they  publish  water quality results measuring the enterrococcus fecal bacteria levels. Scores of more than 200 per 100 milliliters of water means swimming is unsafe for human health.

Under its Clean Beaches Program, the agency monitors 15  beaches and 17 sites within the three main tourism areas of Oaxaca and while the beach at Conejos Bay isn’t specifically listed, all six beaches in Huatulco reported within the  June 23, 2018 report received APTA scores — from a low of 10 in Playa Chahue to a high of 29 at Playa la Bocana so it’s safe to assume Conejos Bay has an equally low level of pollution.

 

Secrets Huatulco Preferred Club: Is It Worth It?

Buildings 1 and 3 Secrets Huatulco

Buildings 1 and 3 Secrets Huatulco

The architecture of Secrets Huatulco features 399 suites in six buildings terraced on a hill rising from the beach at Conejos Bay. This means that while every guest room has a great view, the higher up you go, the better the view. Each of the suites includes a balcony as well as my personal favourite — the Secrets Box for private 24-hour room service delivery.

The Preferred  Club Category comes with extra amenities that include:

  • access to the Preferred Club 7 am to 11 pm
  • appetizers and premium liquors
  • services of a concierge
  • upgraded mini-bar (M & M’s Pringles and liquors – regular mini bar includes soft drinks, water and beer)
  • pillow menu
  • upgraded bath toiletries such as sunscreen, body lotion etc.

Preferred Club guests also enjoy private check-in and check-out within the Preferred Club lounge. This is an important benefit if you happen to be arriving the same time as a large group or a charter flight. Beyond that, I’ve never used the Preferred Club lounge at Secrets Huatulco as there are so many other beautiful bars, lounges and restaurants to choose from.

Secrets Huatulco Preferred Club suites may also be selected for their terrace whirlpool or swim-out rooms.

Swim out rooms at Secrets Huatulco

Swim out rooms at Secrets Huatulco

 

Click here to check prices for Preferred Club suites at Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, on Hotelscombined.com a free search engine that compares prices on Booking.com, Expedia and other hotel booking sites to find you the lowest rate and save time searching.

Secrets Huatulco Preferred Club Swim-out and Terrace Whirlpool

View of swim-out suites in Building 5 from Castaways restaurant Secrets Huatulco

View of swim-out suites in Building 5 from Castaways restaurant Secrets Huatulco

When choosing whether to pay extra for a swim-out suite at Secrets Huatulco, it’s important to consider the climate. While the sizzling hot weather is ideal for a beach vacation, the swim-out rooms at Secrets Huatulco have limited shade which means the terraces get sweltering hot at midday. However in the evening and early morning, they are quite spectacular.

If privacy is important to you, you need to consider that you are sharing the pool with other guests and they are ground level which means you give up some of the ocean views available at the higher levels. If you’re travelling with another couple or in a group, booking neighbouring swim-out suites is a fun option.

For the quietest suites, opt for a swim-out room in Building 5 which is to the east of the Sky Bar.

Secrets Huatulco Map – Resort Layout of Swimming Pools, Swim-out Rooms and Restaurants

Secrets Huatulco map rooms restaruants and pools

Secrets Huatulco map of rooms restaurants and pools

The quietest swimming pool area is shown at #21 on the left hand side of the above map and is pictured below. The liveliest zone of the resort  is the pool area shown at #22 on the Secrets Huatulco map as it’s where the Swim-Up bar and pool aerobics are located. It also offers access to the beach which are at a lower elevation than the pool area. This is the toughest section of the resort to find loungers.

Swimming pool at Secrets Huatulco

Secrets Huatulco Food, Restaurants and Bars

The cuisine of Oaxaca is deservedly famous for its diversity, complexity of flavours, the craftsmanship of its preparation and unique ingredients such as chapulines (toasted spicy grasshoppers), mezcal, nopal and moles. You can read more about Oaxaca’s unique cuisine in our post on Must-Try Food and Drink in Oaxaca.

Food at Secrets Huatulco

Expect lots of local ingredients — such as this appetizer featuring nopal

 

At Secrets Huatulco you can select from nine restaurants, including seven with gourmet à la carte menus, one international buffet and a cafe plus there’s 24-hour room service with the Secret Box where your food will be dropped into a pass-through so you’re not disturbed.

The Secrets Huatulco menu offers many opportunities to sample Oaxacan fare, especially within its Tamarindo Mexican restaurant. However I’ve also discovered that you’ll often taste dishes from other parts of Mexico that are authentically and deliciously prepared.

For example, on a recent visit I enjoyed a bowl of birria, a beef stew most often found in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. It was equally as good as many of the ones I tasted while researching recipes for the Pacific Coast chapter of From the Source – Mexico: Authentic Recipes From the People That Know Them the Best (Lonely Planet)

Much like other all-inclusive resorts, not every restaurant is open every day. So it’s worth planning ahead to decide where you want to eat. Equally importantly, the fact that no-reservations are ever needed at any Secrets Resort means you can always opt to dine at a restaurant with no dress code, such as the World Cafe buffet or within your room.

Click here to check prices on the Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa 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.

Secrets Huatulco Dress Code: What to Pack

Sky Bar and outdoor dining at Secrets Huatulco

Secrets Huatulco offers a glamorous setting especially at nightfall

Much like other upscale resorts in Huatulco ( such as the Barcelo Resort & Spa) there is a dress code at Secrets Huatulco  at dinnertime at certain restaurants. Men are required to wear long pants and shirts with collars and sleeves. Women it’s a bit more flexible as dresses are interpreted more loosely. The Secrets Huatulco brochure specifies “dress shoes” for both men and women which generally means “close-toed” but can be safely interpreted to mean no ratty looking running shoes or flip flops.

Thankfully, the dress code is enforced so you’re not going to see people in  bathing suits dining inside the fancy dining spots such as Bordeaux, the French restaurant. At Secrets Huatulco, I noticed that the hostess would often find them a seat on the outdoor terrace rather than turn them away as I’ve witnessed at other resorts.

To avoid disappointment, it’s wise to pack resort wear (check our post on men’s summer fashion essentials for some stylish suggestions).

Choosing the Best Secrets Huatulco Excursions and Tours

From visiting coffee plantations to touring Huatulco’s beautiful seven bays, there are so many tempting options for things to do during a stay at Secrets Huatulco, it can be hard to decide which ones to choose. Never fear. We’ve done the research for you and sifted out the too-expensive and the disappointing to come up with the absolutely worth-it excursions to invest your vacation dollars in.

Whether you’re staying at Secrets or Dreams or the Barcelo, each of these Huatulco excursions includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. That’s especially  important if you’re staying at Secrets.

Marina Santa Cruz Huatulco

View of the Marina at Santa Cruz Huatulco

Unlike other resorts in Huatulco that are closer to La Crucecita or Santa Cruz marina, Secrets Huatulco is located at the very outer edges of  the string of hotels dotted along the Bahias de Huatulco. This means you can’t just walk to the marina and book a sightseeing tour of the seven bays or visit Puerto Escondido by bus for a few days.

The good news is that Secrets partners with Amstar DMC for transfers and destination experiences so this means there is an Amstar desk conveniently located within the Secrets Huatulco lobby where you can browse brochures and register for tours.

You do have other options beyond Amstar though. While it’s not recommended to book tours from vendors on the beach, there are several  local excursions and accredited tours that are safe, high quality and well worth booking independently.

Here are our top choices for the best excursions and tours to take at Secrets Huatulco:

1. Sightseeing Tour of the Seven Bays

No trip to Huatulco is complete without getting on the water and exploring the seven bays and 36 beaches of this stunning coastline. 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. Both Amstar and Viator offer superior quality tours.

Chachacual_Bay_Huatulco

Secluded Chachacual Bay, accessible only by boat, is considered one of the most beautiful bays

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

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.

Mural depicting the history of Santa Maria Oaxaca Huatulco

Mural depicting the history of Santa Maria Huatulco

3. 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 during a stay at Secrets 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.

4. Chiles & Chocolate Cooking Classes Huatulco

Cooking Class 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 Secrets Huatulco. 

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. Secrets Huatulco is a five minute taxi ride to this site so it’s possible to visit independently.

6. Huatulco 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. The town of La Crucecita is just a 10-minute taxi ride from Secrets Huatulco and the main attractions 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 and Sea Turtles in Huatulco

Sea Turtle Arribada in Oaxaca credit WildCoast

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. Its important to know that the 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.

8. Explore Puerto Escondido on a Day or Overnight Day Trip

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.

 

TAR Airlines will begin direct flights from Queretaro to Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Mexico

Explore the beaches of Puerto Escondido

It’s best to stay overnight to soak up its many charms 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 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.

Summary of Our Review of Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa

  • Beautiful secluded setting with exceptional views from everywhere on the property
  • Reliably, sunny skies with little rain for much of the year
  • Hot temperatures will please pool lovers but makes outdoor explorations challenging
  • No seaweed but the Pacific Ocean waters on this beach can be rough for swimming
  • Beach has a steep slope so not the best for walking
  • Superior all-inclusive cuisine and service
  • Vast and uncrowded swimming pool zones are sparkling clean
  • Distance from town means evening entertainment options are limited to the resort
  • Onsite spa is one of Mexico’s best
  • Wide variety of excursions are available for full and half day

If you’re undecided about booking an overnight, it’s worth looking into a Day Pass at Secrets Huatulco 

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Disclosure:  By providing handy links to affiliates such as Amazon and hotel booking sites, we may earn a small referral commission and you don’t pay anything extra. All opinions are 100% our own and we only link to products  we think readers will enjoy. Read more on our Disclosure Page.  

Click here to check prices on the Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa 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.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

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 

Save it to Pinterest! 

Tucked in a secluded bay at the end of a string of resorts in Huatulco Mexico, this luxury all-inclusive resort will make you swoon with its stunning views and dramatic architecture. Our insiders guide will give you tips on the best rooms, advice on swim-up suites, food and best things to do. Find out if Secrets Huatulco is for you! #Mexico

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 7 comments
  • Carol Colborn
    Reply

    Your post comes at the right time. I am deciding on Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. I didn’t know there’s Huatulco! Looks and sounds so luxurious and interesting, especially the turtles!

    • Michele Peterson
      Reply

      Definitely check Huatulco out Carol! It’s much smaller than Puerto Vallarta but has lots to offer!

  • Lori
    Reply

    I love the amount of detail you included in this. I also love Mexico and the Pacific coast but have never been to Huatulco. Chiles & chocolate is a perfect cooking combo so that tour sounds tempting, and it’s nice to see tortuga eco opportunities too. Saving this for our next trip!

  • Michelle da Silva Richmond
    Reply

    I haven’t been to Huatulco in many years and it looks like it’s grown a lot since then. I may have to go and check it out again!. Muchas gracias!

  • Suzanne Fluhr
    Reply

    I just saved this post to my Mexico Pinterest board. Now that our son has moved to Mexico City and we can now fly there non-stop of our home city, Philadelphia, I suspect we’ll be visiting our southern neighbor more often. On our last trip to Mexico, we visited Oaxaca City and some of the surrounding countryside. However, we never made it to the Pacific coast and I keep reading about the Huatulco area. Thanks to you, I now have information to consult when we’re ready to make that trip.

  • Doreen Pendgracs
    Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Michele. Huatulco is a destination that has so far alluded me. But learning all about Secrets really makes me want to explore further.

  • Cathy Sweeney
    Reply

    Although I’ve been to Mexico numerous times, I’ve never visited the state of Oaxaca. Secrets Huatulco Resort and Spa looks like a great place to explore the area of Huatulco and beyond. I love the photo of the resort at nightfall — very glamorous and romantic.

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