Essential Guide to the Best Huatulco Beaches
Choosing a beach resort is an important step in planning a perfect vacation. While Huatulco is home to nine beautiful bays and 36 beaches, many of those bays don’t have hotels and some of those beaches are suitable for experienced swimmers only. I’ve been pulled out to sea in riptides, had my bathing suit ripped off in a powerful surf and had enough scary experiences on Mexico’s Pacific Coast that I’m now really careful about where I swim.
So here are my top three Huatulco beaches for swimming, taking long beach walks, exploring natural attractions or enjoying stunning views. These Huatulco hotels on the beach should definitely be on your radar when planning a vacation in the Bahias de Huatulco area:
1. Overview of Huatulco Beaches
Huatulco is one of the few places in the world with both Green Globe Certification and EarthCheck Gold Certification, the benchmark for recognizing sustainable tourism practices and environmental protection. The municipality’s state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant means Huatulco’s beaches are among the cleanest you’ll find anywhere in Mexico. It’s very easy (and inexpensive ) to hop in a taxi (or a boat) and get to any of the top beaches in the Bahias de Huatulco area.
Whether you’re on a family vacation, couples getaway, solo travel or traveling with disabilities, a top thing to do in Huatulco is take a Seven Huatulco Bays tours and get oriented to some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches you’ll ever see. You can book a Seven Huatulco Bays tour at the Santa Cruz Marina. You can also book an all-day tour of the Seven Huatulco Bays that includes snorkelling with a PADI-certified guide (and a gourmet picnic lunch) with Hurricane Divers located at the Santa Cruz marina. For underwater photography I travel with the easy-to-use and rugged Fujifilm FinePix XP80 Waterproof Digital Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD (Yellow)
Read more about taking a swimming and snorkelling tour with Hurricane Divers in Taking the Plunge in Huatulco
2. Playa Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz Beach
If you’re arriving in Huatulco by cruise ship, Playa Santa Cruz is the first of the Huatulco beaches you will see. Directly located at the Santa Cruz marina, it’s a small golden sand beach in Huatulco with calm waters suitable for families and children. You’ll often see small fish swimming in the shallows. The waters are surprisingly clear and clean considering that it’s so popular. At the east end of Playa Santa Cruz, the beach is roped off to protect swimmers from motorized water craft.
The only downside is that if you happen to arrive on a cruise ship day, the sight of a giant cruise ship on the cruise ship pier can overwhelm the view. For drinks and light lunches, get a lounger at La Playa restaurant and swim in the water directly in front of the Huatulco restaurant. Staying close to Bahia Santa Cruz means it’s also easy to rent a boat and explore one of the more remote beaches.
Recommended hotel at Santa Cruz Beach: Holiday Inn Huatulco
3. Huatulco Hotels on the Beach at Tangolunda Bay
When it comes to choosing a hotel, I like to stay in one of the Huatulco hotels on the beach. That way I can go for long morning walks or hang out on the beach and easily return to my room or the hotel’s restaurant whenever I want. There are also plenty of hotels in Huatulco to choose from if you are not a fan of the beach. The largest selection of budget hotels are located in the town of La Crucecita, a short taxi ride from Santa Cruz marina.
The 800 metre long Tangolunda Beach is located east of Santa Cruz and Playa Chahue. While many people recommend swimming at Chahue, for me, the strong waves, steep drop offs and rip currents can make for scary swimming if you’re not a strong swimmer. In-experienced swimmers will feel more comfortable at Playa Tangolunda. The beach at the east end of Tangolunda Bay near Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa is the best for families. Even the smallest toddlers will be able to spot schools of fish in the shallow waters near the rocky outcropping. Read our post on Bring the Kids to Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa for more.
While the waves can sometimes be strong depending upon the tides and do pick up in the afternoon, the waters at Playa Tangolunda are generally easy to swim in. The sand at Tangolunda beach is golden brown and not too coarse. The beaches on Tangolunda Bay have a moderate slope to the water and the sand is firm so it’s a good beach for people who like to take long morning or afternoon beach walks.
4. Conejos Bay – Bahia Conejos
Located east of Tangolunda Bay, just before La Bocana at the mouth of the Copalita River, the beautiful crescent-shaped Conejos Bay is one of the most photogenic of the Huatulco beaches. It’s also near Bocana del Rio Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park, an archeological zone featuring pyramids, ball courts and other ruins dating to 500 BC when the site was home to the ancient city of Copalitan. A small, but informative, museum is filled with ceremonial objects and other artifacts.
While the views are spectacular, the beach at Conejos Bay is not ideal for swimming. The water is often rough and the drop-offs can be steep. Secrets Resort is adults-only so this beach is perfect for couples without children.
Recommended hotel on Conejos Bay: Our top choice for an adults-only resort in Huatulco is Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa. The all-inclusive Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa is currently the only resort on Conejos Bay but this may soon change. In Spring 2017, the Governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat Hinojosa announced plans for the construction of a 761-room Nickelodean resort and water park on Bahia de Conejos.
Read more: Enjoy unlimited luxury with an all-inclusive Day-Pass to Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa
5. Huatulco Beaches to Visit on a Day Trip
The best beaches for a day trip include those at Playa San Agustin Bay (located at the bottom of a dirt road and home to a large coral reef), Maguey Bay, Organo Bay, La India (for its incredible white sand) at Chachacual Bay and many bays so remote they are accessible only by boat. It’s very easy (and inexpensive ) to hop in a taxi (or on a boat) and get to the beaches in the Bahias de Huatulco area. You can hire one of the small boats known as lanchas at the ticket office located on the east side of the Plaza in the Santa Cruz marina. There is a taxi stand and bus stop directly in front of the ticket office.
As well as scuba diving and swim snorkel adventures, it’s also possible to witness a sea turtle hatching or turtle nesting on the coast of Oaxaca. Be sure to include a visit to the Sea Turtle Centre in Mazunte. As well as being prime sea turtle nesting zones, many of these bays are accessible only by boat and play a role in the rich cultural traditions of Oaxaca.
These remote bays are the habitat for the tixinda snail, the rare purpura sea snail as a source for the “royal purple” dye used by Mixteco weavers.The women of the Tixinda Cooperative weavers create magic on their backstrap looms, weaving colourful huipils (tunic dresses), bed linens, table cloths and smaller items such as wallets, purses and pillows. It can take the milk from 1000 snails to dye one reboso (shawl). The weaving is rare, beautiful and highly-prized by collectors.
Read more: Quest for Oaxaca’s Sacred Sea Snail
Read more: Take a snorkelling tour with Hurricane Divers in Taking the Plunge in Huatulco Oaxaca
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If you are looking at more details on the hotels mentioned in this post, you can save money when booking by checking prices on Hotelscombined.com. This free search engine compares prices on Expedia, Hotels.com and other major hotel websites and shows you the best ( and lowest) prices.
And that’s not the end of things to do on the coast of Oaxaca! Read our Essential Puerto Escondido Travel Guide for more information on hotels, beaches, things to do, day trips and more in Puerto Escondido and Mazunte. Or go directly to these posts: