Huatulco Mexico: 10 of the Best Things to Do In This Lesser-Known Gem
Sunny warm weather year-round, gorgeous Pacific Coast beaches, a National Park, luxury resorts, no crowds, outstanding food, and an authentic cultural experience can all be found in one place: Huatulco, Mexico.
This fantastic coastal destination in the state of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico is known for beautiful nature, crystal clear waters for snorkeling and diving, whale watching in winter, delicious Oaxacan food, surfing, and welcoming, friendly people. So while you might have to take a connecting flight to this off-the-beaten-path location, you’ll be rewarded with a quiet and safe Mexico coastal vacation.
Besides that, Huatulco has an international Green Globe Certification and more protected space than any other Mexico travel destination. This means you’ll not only have a fantastic vacation, but you can feel good about traveling to Huatulco Mexico.
Though Huatulco is one of the best beaches in Oaxaca Mexico, you have plenty of other options for things to do in Huatulco. There are canyons, rivers, hot springs, waterfalls, cooking classes, Spanish classes, and ancient ruins. Ready to discover all the fantastic sites in Huatulco Mexico? Let’s get to it!
Where is Huatulco Mexico?
Huatulco is located in southeastern Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca (pronounced waa-ha-kah). It is located on the Pacific Ocean, about six hours by car from Oaxaca City’s capital — famed for hosting Day of the Dead in Oaxaca. Its southern location means 330 days of sunshine, on average.
How to Get to Huatulco Mexico
You can sometimes find direct flights into Bahías de Huatulco International Airport (code: HUX), though not always. If not, you can connect through nearly all major airports in Mexico. For those coming from the capital, there are several Oaxaca City to Huatulco transport options.
Book the window seat when you fly into Huatulco because the views from the air are stunning! You’ll see the 36 beaches and nine bays that Huatulco Mexico has to offer. The airport is just outside of town so that you can hit the beach in no time after landing.
1. Laze on the Best Beaches in Huatulco Mexico
There are 36 Huatulco beaches and nine bays to choose from — so you could spend a month in Huatulco Mexico and still not run out of places to explore. The main beach is Playa Principal, but some other visitor favorites include Playa Maguey, Playa Organo and Playa la Entrega.
At Playa la Bocana, you can get a mud bath massage! The mud on this beach is good for the skin and provides a nice exfoliant massage. Locals on the beach offer this service for about $100 MXN pesos ($5USD), which is very popular with Huatulco visitors.
The bays of Huatulco Mexico are picturesque and worth checking out — though many are smaller than the beaches and don’t always offer services or restaurants. Some of the best bays in Huatulco are Bahía Tangolunda, Bahía Conejos and Bahía San Agustín.
Fans of the beloved Mexican film Y Tu Mamá También will love seeing Bahía de Cacaluta in person. Many scenes in this movie were filmed at this beautiful. Huatulco Bay.
2. Visit Bahías de Huatulco National Park
Huatulco National Park is a massive 29,000-acre land and water park. The “water” part is because one of the main attractions of this park is the healthy bays located just offshore, teeming with marine life.
Huatulco was declared a national park in 1998, though in 2019, the Mexican government declared its waters a national whale watching zone.
During the winter months, you’ll likely see several species of whales — namely the Pacific gray whale. Though you can sometimes see them breaching the water from the shore, there are also boat trips and tours which go into the ocean so you can get a much better view.
Huatulco National Park is also a RAMSAR site, with protected wetlands and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. At this park, three ecosystems converge tropical forest, dry forest, and of course, marine. On land, there’s bird watching, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.
3. Explore Neighboring La Crucecita, Mexico
When it’s time for escaping the crowds in magical Huatulco Mexico, head to the next town over, called La Crucecita. This is a small pueblo, named for a crucecita, or “little cross,” high atop one of the hills in town.
While Huatulco Mexico is decidedly a resort town, visitors who want to see the more cultural side of Oaxaca will love La Crucecita. It is known to have the best Mexican street food near Huatulco and colorful local mercados (markets) to shop for souvenirs and artisan handicrafts.
4. Release Baby Turtles in Mazunte
Located about one hour by rental car or taxi from Huatulco Mexico, you’ll be in the pueblo mágico (magic town) of Mazunte. Pueblos mágicos are towns recognized by the Mexican Tourism Secretary for their outstanding value for visitors.
Mazunte is known to have the best beach in Oaxaca, called Playa Mermejita. Many hike up to Punta Cometa, which overlooks the beach, for epic views of the sunset. Just before sunset, there is one other popular activity in Mazunte — the turtle release.
The National Mexican Turtle Center in Mazunte is a leader in conservation efforts. They offer tours, and at the end, visitors are allowed to release a baby turtle back into the Pacific Ocean. As this involves live animals, it’s not always available, so contact them before going.
5. Check out the Neighboring Beach Towns of San Agustinillo, Zipolite and Puerto Angel
While there’s no shortage of beaches in Huatulco Mexico, you can also check out the neighboring beach towns on what’s called the Riviera Oaxaqueña (Oaxacan Riviera). These towns include the pueblos of San Agustinillo, Zipolite, Puerto Angel, and Mazunte.
- San Agustinillo is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in all Oaxaca. It is a laid back town, popular with travelers seeking a nice mix of posh accommodations and near-empty beaches.
- Zipolite is famous, perhaps infamous, as the only legal clothing optional beach in Mexico. However, there are plenty of gorgeous clothed beaches in Zipolite, and in fact, only one of its beaches is reserved for nudists.
- Puerto Angel is like stepping back in time! It is an old school fishing village town, with gorgeous beaches and bays. You can also enjoy an amazing, cheap fresh seafood meal at one of its numerous beachfront restaurants.
6. See the Ruins at Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park
Located inside Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park, you’ll see the only ancient ruins in Huatulco Mexico. The Bocana del Río Copalita Archaeological Zone is a smaller site, but it does have two temples and ball courts to see.
Excavations have confirmed that Copalita was used in centuries past as a ceremonial center for the Zapotec and Mazatec peoples. During its excavation, archaeologists uncovered two tombs, which they determined to house the elite ruling class members.
7. Take a Street Food Cooking Class
While many think Mexican food is just tacos, burritos, and nachos, but Oaxaca food is totally different. In fact, the state’s capital of Oaxaca City is known as the Foodie Capital of Mexico because this cuisine is so beloved and incredibly delicious.
The best way to learn about Oaxacan food is to first cook it and then eat it! There are numerous Huatulco cooking classes available in town and the nearby town of La Crucecita. You can expect to prepare things like mole, tlayudas, tamales, memelas, and empanadas in classes.
8. Hike to the Cascadas Mágicas Waterfalls
The hike to Cascadas Magicas de Copalitilla (Copalitilla Waterfalls Park) is of medium difficulty, but it’s one of the things you won’t want to miss while in Huatulco Mexico. There are about 30 waterfalls in the park, the tallest, which is 65-feet-tall, and waterfalls with pools you can swim in.
The park is located in the small town of San Miguel del Puerto, about one hour from Huatulco Mexico. Once you arrive, you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise, surrounded by lush vegetation and natural pools. You can visit with a tour, or on your own if you have a rental car.
9. Visit Hagia Sofia Ecological Park
Hagia Sofia Park near Huatulco Mexico has the best of both worlds: nature activities and adventure activities. Their Exotic Flower Trail showcases more than 100,000 plants, including 60 species of rare, exotic flowers.
In the springtime, there are seasonal fruit tastings from trees within the gardens. The park has more than 80 tropical and exotic fruits growing, including the rambutan and mangosteen. Such an extensive collection attracts butterflies and birds throughout the year.
For Huatulco travelers seeking adventure, Hagia Sofia Ecological Park has a zipline that takes you on a 1.25-mile journey over the gardens below. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the biodiversity of fauna in this park from a maximum height of 325-feet in the air.
10. Tour the Coffee Plantations of Huatulco Mexico
While Oaxaca is known as a foodie state, it also produces some of the best coffee in Mexico. Located in the areas surrounding Huatulco, you can tour the fincas or coffee farms and sample the product. Some of the best fincas near Huatulco include La Gloria and El Pacifico.
They usually don’t allow walk-ins, so you’ll want to book a tour to the coffee plantations. Most tours from Huatulco combine the finca tours with a stop at some of the other places mentioned on this list, so you get two great experiences in one day.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.