Exploring the Bays of Huatulco
With no road to the outside world, the Bahías de Huatulco remained virtually uninhabited and undeveloped until 1982, about the time that coastal Highway 200 was pushed through. A few years later, Huatulco’s planned initial kernel of infrastructure was complete, centering on the brand-new residential service town, Crucecita (pop. 10,000), and nearby Santa Cruz de Huatulco boat harbor and hotel village on Bahía Santa Cruz.
Isolation has left the Huatulco waters blue and unpolluted, the beaches white and clean. Generally, the bays are all similar: tropical deciduous (green July–Jan.) forested rocky headlands enclosing yellow-white coral sand crescents. The water is clear and good for snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, and sailboarding during the often-calm weather. Beaches, however, are typically steep, causing waves to break quickly near the sand, generally unsuitable for bodysurfing, boogie boarding, or surfing.
Your preparations depend on which bays you plan to explore. The Bays of Huatulco decorate the coastline both east and west of Santa Cruz. To the east, a paved road links Bahías Chahue, Tangolunda, and Conejos. To the west lie Bahías El Organo and El Maguey. Though, only Bahía Maguey is accessible by paved road. For these, you’ll need nothing more than transportation, a hat, and sunscreen. Restaurants and stores can supply everything else.
By contrast, isolated farther west, the undeveloped Bahías Cacaluta, Chachacual and San Agustín, with no road from Santa Cruz (although a good dirt road runs to San Agustín from Highway 200 near the airport) have neither restaurants, stores, drinking water, nor lots of shade; they’re so pristine even coconut palms haven’t gotten around to sprouting there. When exploring, bring food, drinks, hats, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
Frequent public collective taxis connect Crucecita and Bahías Santa Cruz, Chahue, and Tangolunda. Find the terminal, on Guaumuchil, two blocks east of plaza. Taxis make the same trips for about $3 by day, $4 at night. No public transportation is available to the other bays. Taxi drivers are willing to drive you for a picnic to west-side bay El Maguey. For an extended day trip to all road-accessible bays, figure on about $20–30 for a taxi.
Another option is to go by boat. The local boat cooperative (Sociedad Cooperativa Turístico Tangolunda) runs a daily excursion on the 100-passeger catamaran Fiesta (around 10:30 a.m., $20 per person, kids 5–9 half price) to all nine bays, including soft drinks, bilingual guide, and snacks; snorkeling is $5 extra. Reserve directly through its dock office (tel. 958/587-0081). Alternatively, tour by the similarly big catamaran Tequila (from the same dock, tel. 958/587-2303), or contact a travel agent such as Paraíso Huatulco (tel. 958/587-0181) or Prometur (tel. 958/587-0413).
The cooperative also rents entire boats for all-day tours for up to 10 people for about $100. Drop-off runs to the nearest beach are about $10 per boat round-trip; to the more remote, around $20–30.
Another option is to get your own guide. An economical option is to hire an English-speaking taxi driver to take you wherever you want to go for several hours, or up to a whole day, for $30–50, depending on the season. Professional guides are another option.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition