The Best Things to Do in Huatulco, Mexico

You can't get much closer to sleeping on the sand at Secrets
You can't get much closer to sleeping on the sand at Secrets | Courtesy of Secrets Huatulco / Expedia
Photo of Richard Collett
21 September 2021

Tipped by many to be Mexico’s next big resort town; Huatulco still feels blissfully relaxed, if not entirely hidden. If you’re exploring the Oaxacan coastline, then read on and discover how you can spend your time here.

Overlooking no less than nine bays and with over 20km (12mi) of white sand and countless coves and beaches down on the Oaxacan coast, it’s a pleasant surprise that Huatulco isn’t the most popular beach resort in Mexico. It should be – but for now travellers can enjoy the luxurious refines of big name resorts such as Secrets or the Barcelo without the crowds.

Hagia Sofia

Botanical Garden

Zipline over the coast, reaching heights of up to 100m (328ft) as you soar through the forest canopy at Hagia Sofia before cooling off in plunge pools beneath tumbling waterfalls. This extensive botanical garden isn’t just for the thrill seekers, though, because at Hagia Sofia you can join gentler, guided walks along the Exotic Flower Trail, where 300 unique species of flora flourish in the subtropical climate. Along the way, guides invite travellers to pick and try the many seasonal fruits that grow in Hagia Sofia, including juicy mangosteen and plump mangoes.

Parque Nacional Huatulco

Natural Feature
Huatulco, Mexico, Bahia de Huatulco. 2AN3KH7
© Rosemarie Stennull / Alamy

Covering 120sqkm (46sqmi) of Oaxacan coastline in the lowlands of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, Parque Nacional Huatulco’s scenery is as diverse as the wildlife that call the national park home. Boat tours through the wetlands will bring you face to face with saltwater crocodiles in the mangroves – cruise into secluded bays in search of dolphins or encounter sea turtles on snorkelling trips to the offshore reefs. Parque Nacional Huatulco is a biodiverse paradise where hotels and resorts have been banned from development, so be prepared for an off-grid adventure.


Natural Feature

Get the boat ready – the smoothest way to arrive in Maguey Bay is on the water. Located on the eastern edge of Parque Nacional Huatulco, the lack of development here is welcoming, but it does mean that the roads to the beach are rough and ready. Hire a local boat or join a boat tour from Santa Cruz Huatulco, then cruise along the Oaxacan coast and forget about navigating the dusty roads of the national park. Maguey is a short strip of beach when you reach it, but given the calm waters in the protected bay, it’s easy to spend all day swimming and lazing on the sand.

Las Brisas

Las Brisas is the Huatulco_f5e68b8a
Courtesy of Las Brisas / Expedia

Las Brisas is the Huatulco resort where luxury and convenience collide with nature and the outdoors. Supremely located on Huatulco’s hilly coastline, Las Brisas is surrounded by the same green foliage and tall trees that are also found in the nearby Parque Nacional Huatulco. There are six restaurants to choose from, including the fresh grilled seafood and sea views enjoyed at Solarium and the Arabian inspired dishes of La Kasbah. Guests have access to no less than four private beaches, but that’s only if you can escape the comforts of the sun loungers and poolside cocktail service at the resort’s outdoor swimming pools.

El Zócalo

The small town square, or Zocalo, is the cultural center of the small town of La Crucecita, Mexico.
© Nick Suydam / Alamy

Experience a small taste of local life at El Zócalo in La Crucecita, a popular public park in one of Huatulco’s main towns. The park is surrounded by small shops and eateries, but the highlight is the local church. The church– named La Parroquia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y de la Santa Cruz – is famous for containing what’s supposedly the world’s largest image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. At 20m (66ft) in height, the religious image is quite the sight. Visit El Zócalo on weekends, when it’s always at its liveliest.

Barceló Huatulco

Barceló Huatulco_24e684f0
Courtesy of Barceló Huatulco / Expedia

With rolling, forested hills behind and the calm waters of Tangolunda Bay to the front, a stay at Barceló Huatulco is one for the luxury-seeking nature lovers. Start the day at this all-inclusive with a buffet breakfast before heading down to the beach for a morning under the palapas. Choose between sushi and ceviche for lunch, before lazing the afternoon away around the swimming pool with endless micheladas and ice cold margaritas. Dinner is a more formal affair, so swap the flip flops for shoes and shirts to enjoy Italian pasta at La Fontana, or delve into Oaxacan cuisine at the Agave Restaurant.

Secrets Huatulco

Secrets Huatulco_f6e63106
Courtesy of Secrets Huatulco / Expedia
Seclusion abounds at Secrets Huatulco, an adults-only all-inclusive that’s on the sands of Conejos Bay. Enjoy views of the Pacific from the infinity pool, before swimming up to the bar for your choice of premium international spirits and local Oaxacan mezcals. There are nine restaurants and cafes to choose from at Secrets Huatulco, with the highlight being the local Oaxacan tlayudas and chapulines at the Tamarindo. Guests can make the most of 24/7 room service from all the eateries too, making midnight seafood shrimp snacks very much a reality.

Santa María Huatulco

Architectural Landmark
View of Huatulco beach resort with speed boat, Mexico.
© Horizon International Images Limited / Alamy

To experience the best things to do in Huatulco, stay in the Santa María Huatulco district – the region’s main tourist hub. The area is split into three major zones, all centred around small towns with local cantinas, colourful churches and plenty of local tour operators. To the east, Tangolunda is where Huatulco’s luxury, all-inclusive hotels are found, including Secrets and the Barcelo. To the west, Santa Cruz is a fishing village where you can jump on boats and cruise into Parque Nacional Huatulco. In the middle, La Crucecita is the main port of call for travellers exploring Huatulco.

Playa Mazunte

Natural Feature
People Walking On The Beach Mazunte Oaxaca State Mexico
© Roger Cracknell 01/classic / Alamy

Travel west along the coast from Huatulco to Playa Mazunte, where bungalows, cabanas and treehouse glamping sites offer a rustic escape from the outside world. Playa Mazunte’s beach is beautiful, but the Pacific waves here are powerful. Join a snorkelling trip to calmer areas of the reef and you might spot dolphins en route. You’re almost guaranteed to spot sea turtles and that’s because Mazunte is home to the National Mexican Turtle Centre, where sea turtles are rehabilitated. You can visit the centre – located in what used to be Mazunte’s turtle slaughterhouse – to learn more about Olive Ridleys, Green Turtles and the many other species of sea turtles that live along the Oaxacan coast.

La Entrega

Natural Feature
Mexico, Oaxaca, Huatulco, Tour boats and beach side restaurants on sandy Playa La Entrega beach.
© Eye Ubiquitous / Alamy

Hop on a boat in Santa Cruz and cruise along Huatulco’s coast before jumping off onto the white sands of La Entrega beach. The boat ride takes just a few minutes and you’ll be deposited on a popular section of white sand in a protected bay that’s lined with palm trees and seafood shacks. Hire a palapa for the day then order up the freshest shrimp tacos and seafood grills as you bask in the bay. La Entrega gets busy on weekends, so visit the beach on weekdays to have the place to yourself.

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