Nestled along Mexico’s Southwest Pacific Coast, within the state of Oaxaca, Huatulco is one of Mexico’s most appealing and complete beach destinations. While it’s not as famous as the Riviera Maya, Huatulco boasts a heady mix of pristine beaches, exuberant tropical jungles and mountains and a wide array of activities, as well as excellent food. It was also the first Latin American destination (and remains to this day one of only four in Mexico) to be certified by the advisory group EarthCheck for its sustainable travel and tourism. The resort area’s full name is Bahías de Huatulco (Bays of Huatulco), for its nine distinct bays. Some are hotel hubs or are close to commerce, while others are remote and accessible only by water. All of them are worth exploring.
Santa Cruz Bay
Home to Huatulco’s central harbor and a variety of shops and restaurants, Santa Cruz is frequently used as a starting point for large boat tours and cruises. Alternately, book a lancha, or small fishing boat, to carry you to pristine, otherwise inaccessible beaches.
Chahué, which is Nahuatl for “humid place,” is one of Huatulco’s more recently developed bays and was designed with a yacht marina at one end of the beach. The other end is known for its interesting rock formations, which over the years have hosted several large rock concerts.
Tangolunda, which translates to “pretty woman” in Zapotec, is the largest of Huatulco’s bays and home to most of its luxury hotels. If you want exclusive beaches and an 18-hole golf course, this is the bahía for you.
San Agustín Bay
Scuba divers and snorkelers come San Agustín in part for its relative lack of crowds—the ride down includes a 10-mile dirt path—but mostly for its broad coral reef structures.
One of the larger bays of Huatulco, Cacaluta is also one of the least accessible, with a hike through the woods or a boat ride the only means of access. The area is known for appearing in the film Y Tu Mamá También, as well as for its seasonal birdwatching opportunities.
The most easterly bay in Huatulco is also the one that has remained the most untouched through the years. There are four beautiful beaches, all of which are relatively unfrequented but great for diving, swimming and snorkeling.
El Órgano and Maguey Bays
Despite being two individual bays, these are typically lumped together because of their proximity to one another. While both boast brilliant white sand and clear blue water, Magueys Bay is more easily accessible by road or boat.
If you’re looking for a bay with calm waters and lots of activity, try Riscalillo. The long single strip of beach, is popular among visitors for swimming, snorkeling and fishing.
Accessible only by boat, Chachacual Bay is perfect for visitors desiring seclusion and privacy. Fronted by two idyllic beaches, the bay is characterized by its large ecological reserve, which is home to many plants and animals.