The nine azure Bays of Huatulco (ooah-TOOL-koh) decorate a couple dozen miles of acacia-plumed rocky coastline east of Puerto Ángel . Between the bays, the ocean joins in battle with jutting, rocky headlands, while in their inner reaches the ocean calms, caressing diminutive crescents of coral sand. Inland, a thick hardwood forest seems to stretch in a continuous carpet to the Sierra.
Ecologists shivered when they heard that these bays were going to be developed. Fonatur, the government tourism development agency, says it has a plan, however. Relatively few (but all upscale) hotels will occupy the beaches; other development will be confined to a few inland centers. The remaining 70 percent of the land will be kept as pristine ecological zones and study areas.
Although this story sounds sadly familiar, Fonatur, which developed Ixtapa and Cancún , seems to have learned from its experience. Up-to-date sewage treatment was installed ahead of time; logging and homesteading were halted; and soldiers patrol the beaches, stopping turtle poachers. If all goes according to the plan, the nine Bahías de Huatulco and their 100,000-acre forest hinterland will be both a tourist and ecological paradise, in addition to employing thousands of local people, when complete in 2020. If this Huatulco dream ends as well as it has started, Mexico should take pride while the rest of the world should take heed.
By Air: The Huatulco airport (officially the Aeropuerto Internacional Bahías de Huatulco, code-designated HUX) is just off Highway 200, eight miles (13 km) west of Crucecita  and 19 miles (31 km) east of Puerto Ángel . The terminal is small, with a pair of snack bars, a few handicrafts and trinket shops and a small book and magazine store, with some English-language paperback novels, and an ATM.
Huatulco air arrival is simple and straightforward. Nevertheless, since the terminal has no hotel booking agency or money-exchange counter (although there is an ATM), come with a hotel reservation and sufficient pesos to last until you can get to the bank in Santa Cruz or Crucecita.
A number of scheduled air carriers connect with Mexican and international destinations: Continental Airlines (toll-free Mexico tel. 800/900-5000, at airport tel. 958/581-9103); Mexicana Airlines affiliate Click (958/581-9007 or toll-free in Mexico tel. 800/502-2000); Magnicharter (tel. 958/587-1435, 958/587-1436, or 958/587-1112); and Aerotucan(toll-free 800/640-4148, Huatulco local tel. 958/587-2427, Oaxaca City 951/501-0530 or 951/501-0532, www.aero-tucan.com ).
Highway 200, the east–west route, runs an easy 100 miles (161 km) to Tehuántepec, where it connects with Highway 190. From there, it continues northwest to Oaxaca City  or east to Chiapas  and Guatemala . (A new $2 toll cutoff, fork left about five miles west of, before, Salina Cruz, cuts the time to Tehuántepec and, thence Oaxaca City, by at least half an hour.)
In the opposite direction, the Highway 200 route is equally smooth, connecting with Pochutla  (Puerto Ángel ), 25 miles (40 km) west, and Puerto Escondido , 70 miles (113 km), continuing to Acapulco in a long 322 miles (519 km). Allow about three hours to Tehuántepec, 1.5 hours to Puerto Escondido, and to Acapulco, a full nine hours’ driving time, either direction.
Highway 175, the cross-Sierra connection north with the city of Oaxaca , although paved, is narrow, winding, and oft-potholed, with few services in the 80-mile high Sierra stretch between its junction with Highway 200 at Pochutla  (22 miles west of Crucecita ) and Miahuatlán in the Valley of Oaxaca . The road climbs to 9,000 feet into pine-tufted, winter-chilly Chatino and Zapotec country.
Be prepared for emergencies. Allow eight hours northbound, seven hours southbound, for the entire 175-mile (282-km) Huatulco–Oaxaca trip. (You can save an hour by road Huatulco–Oaxaca by taking the new shortcut, from Highway 200, a couple of miles west of the Huatulco airport, via Santa Cruz de Huatulco  and Pluma Hidalgo , to Highway 175 and thence to Oaxaca City.)
By Bus: At least six long-distance bus lines connect Huatulco with destinations east, west, and north. They depart from three separate terminals in Crucecita : First-class carriers Omnibus Cristóbal Colón (OCC), Autobuses del Oriente (ADO) and second-class SUR share a new terminal (Rescadillo 108, corner Blv. Chahue, tel. 958/582-0259, toll-free Mex. tel. 800/702-8000, www.ticketbus.com.mx ); Estrella Blanca affiliate, first-class Elite (corner of Palma Real, five blocks north of the Crucecita plaza, tel. 958/587-0680); and second- and first-class Estrella del Valle and Autobuses Oaxaca Pacífico(Calle Jazmin, at the corner of Sabali, tel. 958/587-0354).