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Bahías de Huatulco (pronounced Wha-TOOL-Co), is a destination resort area on Mexico's Pacific Coast in its most southern state of Oaxaca. More commonly known to outsiders as just Huatulco, the area is locally referred to as "Bahias" to distinguish it from the original, further-inland town of Santa María Huatulco. Huatulco's tourism industry is centered around its nine bays, four of which have been designated as ecological preserves where no development is permitted. The bays of Huatulco and adjacent dry tropical forest are a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Because of the sheltered nature of Huatulco's bays, its white sand beaches are a great place for wading or swimming in calm waters, and it's also the main place along the Oaxaca coast for snorkeling, though most of the coral died in the marine heat wave of 2023.



The name Huatulco historically refers to the lively (but decidedly non-touristy) town of Santa María Huatulco, located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur a number of kilometers inland from the beaches. However, the Huatulco tourist area is centered on the small towns of La Crucecita, Santa Cruz, Chahué, and Tangolunda, officially considered outlying villages of the Santa María Huatulco municipality, which are gradually merging into one bigger population center. The area is a FONATUR ('Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo') project, developed deliberately from the ground up as a resort area within the last few decades, and has been a major success in that regard. FONATUR is also responsible for the resorts in Cancun, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos and Loreto Bay. Compared to nearby backpacker haven Mazunte or small beach town Zipolite, Huatulco's vibe is more about Mexican families on vacation.

Approximately 1/3 of the land area of Huatulco is part of the Huatulco National Park (Parque Nacional Huatulco), managed by CONANP. The national park is charged with preserving the ecosystems of the region, especially lowland tropical deciduous forest, coral reefs, mangroves and flooded forests. Huatulco National Park includes more than 6,000 hectares of land area and more than 5,000 hectares of marine environment in the nine bays of Huatulco. The park is home to a great diversity of flora and fauna species; many are endemic to the region and at risk of extinction.

Bahia de Tangolunda

Huatulco has a wide variety of accommodations to suit various budgets. From rooms for rent, small economy hotels, vacation condominiums and luxury villas, along with several (all-inclusive) resorts standing on the shores of Tangolunda Bay. Las Brisas (which used to be the world's largest Club Med), the Dreams Resort (which used to be the Gala Hotel), the Barceló, Crown Pacific and the Camino Real Zaashila are examples of the most popular larger resorts in the area.

Huatulco's main attraction are its nine bays and 36 beaches, some of which are pristine and undeveloped, and accessible only by boat. With the help of local guides and tour operators, one can explore the beaches and bays in relative privacy, or if you choose you can scuba dive or snorkel to see the abundant tropical fish on the once-thriving coral reefs (most of the coral itself died in the marine heat wave of 2023 - as of 2024, there are still a lot of fish, and some hope that the coral might recover over the next 10-20 years).

In addition to the beautiful bays and beaches, you can explore and shop in the small communities of the Huatulco area, such as La Crucecita, Santa Cruz or old Santa Maria Huatulco (the district's municipal center).

Bahía Tangolunda

When doing so, you can travel between the communities by bus or taxi. The entire area has a "small town" feel about it and is rarely crowded with tourists with the exception of the Christmas and Semana Santa (Easter) holiday periods. Approximately 80% of all tourism in Huatulco is domestic in nature and only about 20% of Huatulco's tourism is foreign, perhaps because direct international air access is limited to flights from several Canadian cities, Chicago and Houston all others having to make connections through Mexico City.

Huatulco has a small but very attractive international airport 10 min from the main commercial center, La Crucecita and 20 min from the large resort hotels in Tangolunda Bay. The peak season for foreign tourism is typically December through April.

The numerous small towns making up Huatulco such as Santa Cruz, La Crucecita, Chahue and Tangolunda are located in an "ecological zone" with some of the area being protected from future development. All of these areas are serviced by modern water and sewage treatment systems so that you can actually drink the water from the tap (unheard of in most Mexican resorts) and no sewage waste goes into its pristine bays.

Get in


Huatulco is a 10-hour drive or a 1-hour flight from Mexico City, or a 6-hour drive or very short flight from the city of Oaxaca.

By air

  • 1 Bahías de Huatulco International Airport (HUX  IATA). Has flights from Mexico City and Oaxaca City. There is also a daily flight on Aeortucan from Huatulco to Puerto Escondido. Also there are numerous charter flights in the winter months from major cities in the US and Canada, and the number of charter flights is growing every year as Huatulco grows in popularity. Bahías de Huatulco International Airport (Q2901831) on Wikidata Bahías de Huatulco International Airport on Wikipedia

The Huatulco International Airport is small but very pretty with its large open air palapa buildings. It is a 10- to 20-minute drive to the areas of La Crucecita, Santa Cruz and Tangolunda, where the majority of the hotels and other types of accommodations are located.

If you have an air/hotel package, your bus transfer may be included; if not, you can take an "authorized taxi" from the airport or purchase a ticket (one way or round trip) on an "authorized shuttle" at a stand in the airport arrival area, or prearranged shuttle transport. The "authorized" transportation from the airport are priced higher than other taxis in the area, so be prepared. An alternative is to walk a short distance, about 500 meters, out to the main road and catch a much cheaper non-airport taxi for a few hundred pesos (which won't be air-conditioned, except maybe for an extra fee), or even a local bus for just 20 pesos as of 2024 (the latter will not have room for your baggage, so it's best if you are traveling light). White "Rapidos de Pochutla" vans running between Puchutla and La Crucecita also pass outside the airport, and may be willing to put your lugging in the back compartment. They probably charge a similar amount to the bus.

If you have a farther distance to travel (Puerto Escondido, Puerto Angel, San Augustinillo, Mazunte, etc.) then you may want to take a taxi to the bus station in La Crucecita, which is in the opposite direction, and take a first class bus from there. Or walk to the highway from the airport (about 1 block) and catch a white "Rapidos de Pochutla" van or second-class Sur bus to Pochutla. There may also be collectivo taxis (regular taxis that shared with strangers) cruising by which charge a little more than the bus.

By bus


Buses from Oaxaca City have historically run daily and overnight and taken around 8 hours. This may have changed since the opening of the new Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido freeway in February 2024.

By colectivo


There are at least three shared van services traveling from Oaxaca city to either Huatulco or Pochutla, not far west of Huatulco (from which you can get other transport to your destination). Locals in Oaxaca call them "suburban". They run large, air-conditioned vans, though sometimes the AC is broken, and make multiple stops. The trip is supposed to be about six hours, and should cost about MXN$300-400.

Oaxaca to Huatulco

  • Huatulco 2000, +525655750389. This is the only van service that goes directly to Huatulco, dropping off passengers in the town center of La Crucecita. It seems to be the most well-established company, and is located just west of the Oaxaca town center. There may be only two departures per day, both in the morning, but they do take reservations in advance.

Oaxaca to Pochutla

  • Líneas Unidas. This company, which goes from Oaxaca to Pochutla, is very organized, and is located just southeast of the Oaxaca city center, with scheduled departures throughout the day. It seems to have a reputation for crazy drivers, but it's not clear if they're actually worse than the other companies. Luggage is generally stored in the trunk.
  • Eclipse 70. Another company running to Pochutla, located near Líneas Unidas in Oaxaca, with a bit more of a casual vibe. They may refuse to make a reservation, especially more than a day in advance, but "guarantee" departures about every 45 minutes throughout the day (presumably meaning they won't be canceled or delayed if not enough people show up, though they have been known to cancel all departures without warning on some holidays). Luggage is generally strapped to the top of the van.

After arriving in Pochutla, you can then take either a white "Rapidos de Pochutla" van to the Estrella Blanca station on the northern edge of La Crucecita (50 pesos in 2024, 40-60 minutes, frequent departures) or a bus to the ADO station closer to downtown Crucecita (first-class ADO buses leave only a couple times a day and cost around 160 pesos in 2024, which second-class Sur buses leave every hour during the day and are probably less than half the price of the ADO). $300.

By boat


You could also visit by cruise ship, as Santa Cruz Bay has a pier for cruise ships, and you may spot one in port some days.

Get around


The Bahías de Huatulco tourist area revolves around a few town centers:

  • La Crucecita is the biggest town center, where vacationers and local tourism workers mix freely. Though it's largely a normal Mexican town, it does have a high number of cute restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops, especially in the central area near the zócalo. A bit more inland, it's at least a 30 minute walk to the nearest beach (Santa Cruz).
  • Santa Cruz Huatulco is the mega-tourist village centered around the cruise ship terminal. It has a decent beach, a big marina for boat trips, and lots of tourist-oriented businesses.
  • Chahué is another beach village to the east of Santa Cruz
  • Tangolunda is a beach hotel area even further to the east
  • San Agustín is a remote village to the west of the main tourist centers on the far side of the national park, accessible only by boat or a long (but well-graded) dirt road from a junction near the airport. Known as a relatively chill and less-crowded beach hangout spot, but still crowded with restaurants, smaller accommodations, and something of a local village.

Various outlying beaches are accessible beyond Santa Cruz and San Agustín by paved road (La Entrega and Maguey), dirt road (Riscalillo), hiking trail (Cacaluta, Violín, Órgano), or only by boat (Chachacual, La India, etc.).

By taxi


Taxis are the most transport method for visitors, and the area is extremely easy to get around if you can afford paying 35-100 pesos for a ride (depending on how far you're going). Taxis are color coded for different home base areas, but in generally any taxi will take you anywhere "especial" (paying the entire fare).

It is best to verify the price before getting into a taxi. Locals do not tip taxi drivers, although tourists may be expected to. There are some signs around which have posted prices to certain beaches or towns. Another option is to rent a driver for the day if you want to go farther afield, to Puerto Escondido for example.

Between the major town centers, it is possible to find "colectivo" taxis (normal taxi cabs that put strangers together in the car) at certain waiting areas. Ask working class locals where to wait. To get a colectivo taxi from La Crucecita to Santa Cruz (the tourist village by the cruise ship terminal), the waiting area is right outside the northern entrance of the Plaza El Madero shopping center. As of 2024 the taxis charge 10 pesos per passenger, and leave only when there are at least 4 passengers (or if someone else pays extra to reach the private taxi price of 35 pesos). This makes it possible to travel a bit faster than on a local bus (which is the same price), but only if you happen to arrive when there are enough other passengers. Returning from Santa Cruz to La Crucecita, colectivo taxis leave from the corner of the main boulevard and the street that runs by the entrance to the tourist boat pier.

Outlying beaches (such as La Entrega and Maguey) have no public transit, but you may be able to find a colectivo taxi on the way back to town at certain times of the day. If going to the much-farther beach area of San Augustín, you can take a local bus (20 pesos in 2024) to the big highway junction ("crucero") west of the airport and then catch a colectivo taxi the rest of the way (30 pesos per person from the dirt parking lot at the southeast corner of the junction. You may have to wait awhile. Be careful - San Agustín is much too far to walk from the other parts of Huatulco if you get stuck there in the evening (though there are accomodations to stay at). If you make it back to the junction, there are also colectivo taxis back to La Crucecita (30 pesos per person) that run later into the evening than the buses, checking for passengers on the west side of the intersection under the flyover.

By local bus


Huatulco has a system of local public buses (called "camiones", not "autobuses") painted blue and white. There area few different routes, not always marked on the outside of the bus, so double check that it's going where you think it is. Most of them run either between La Crucecita and Santa Cruz (10 pesos in 2024) or between La Crucecita and the inland town center of Santa María Huatulco (25 pesos in 2024, passing the long-distance bus stations, the airport entrance, and the junction to San Agustín - see above). The main stops for boarding buses between La Crucecita and Santa Cruz are the same as for colectivo taxis (and the price, 10 pesos, is the same too as of 2024). From La Crucecita to Santa Cruz, the waiting area is right outside the northern entrance of the Plaza El Madero shopping center, and from Santa Cruz to La Crucecita, it's common to wait on corner of the main boulevard and the street that runs by the entrance to the tourist boat pier. You can probably flag down one of these buses at any point along its route.

By boat


Small boats ("lanchas") and catamarans are available for hire to take you just about anywhere in the area, generally for prices in the thousands of pesos for a whole boat. "Colectivo" boats (shared with strangers) do day trips from Santa Cruz that visit several different bays in the national park, with stops that depend on the operators, for about 600 pesos per person in April 2024.

By rental car


Renting a car is not necessary as cabs are plentiful and fairly cheap, and where the shopping, restaurants, hotels and many beaches are concentrated is not a huge area. If you do prefer to rent a car, Budget, Avis, and Advantage are companies located there, among others. It is best to reserve a car in advance to get the best rates.



The "Bays of Huatulco" are the main sightseeing attraction, with daily boat trips (550-600 pesos per person for a "colectivo" boat) visiting multiple sheltered beaches, letting passengers step on the beach or snorkel at certain ones, often including remote beaches in the national park without any buildings or access by road. As of April 2024, one promoter claimed that dolphins, turtles, and whales are also seen on every trip.

There is also a waterfall somewhere in the area.



The main activity here is hanging out on the beach. Major tourist beaches (Santa Cruz, Chahué, Tangolunda, La Entrega, Maguey, San Agustín) are lined with seafood restaurants and bars, where you can generally enjoy shade, a relatively safe place to put your belongings, and sometimes wifi, as long as you're "consuming". The water is generally calm and safe to play or swim in, with large areas of each bay roped off with buoys to protect from boat traffic (though life guards, where present, don't seem to enforce any rules on where or when you swim).

If that sounds boring to you, the national park also offers decent snorkeling, diving, hiking, birdwatching, and mountain biking.\

If you enjoy shopping for souvenirs, there are plenty of places to do it, particularly in Santa Cruz and the La Crucecita town center.

If you want to feel really local, there's a low-budget amusement park in La Crucecita, at the corner of Av. Santa Cruz and Flamboyán, with carnival rides and games (free entry - pay as you go).





The serious nightlife scene is two hours away in Puerto Escondido, but Huatulco does have a lot of small bars, especially in the Crucecita town center (and of course inside beach resorts). In the daytime, most beaches have multiple restaurants right on the sand with beer service, and possibly drinks. Be aware that "cocteles" here usually means seafood salads (like shrimp cocktail), not mixed drinks.


  • Hostal Azul y Blanco. By far the cheapest place for a solo traveler to stay, with a nine-bed shared dorm, kitchen, and rooftop with hammocks. The dorm is air conditioned at night when at least half occupied. The hostel can get too hot to hang out at during the day, but that doesn't matter if you're at the beach all day anyway. Fairly basic as backpacker hostels go, but clean and well-maintained. Located near the Crucecita town center and next to the tourist path to Santa Cruz (25 minute walk). 280 pesos (dorm bed).
  • Best Western Posada Chahué, Mixie y Mixteco, Bahía de Chahué Bahías de Huatulco, +52 958 710 78 89. It offers 29 air-conditioned rooms, all of which have cable television, Internet connection, mini-bar, and electronic locks and safe. Some of its amenities include Chahué Beach Club, swimming pool, fitness gym, and free airport transfer via bus. Best rates on official website start at US$69.
  • Flamboyant Hotel, Gardenia 508, La Crucecita, +52 958 5870113. Flamboyant Hotel is in front of a park in La Crucecita, Huatulco. It is 5 minutes from the beach, 20 minutes from Huatulco Airport, and a few blocks from the ADO bus terminal and Columbus. The rooms are adorned with traditional Mexican motifs and boast cozy beddings. They are equipped with air-conditioning, a private toilet and bath, cable television, and telephone. You can also lounge at own balcony/ deck, and breathe in the air coming from the bays of Huatulco.
  • Quinta Alegria, Lote 15, Calle Acantilado, Residencial Conejos. Luxurious ocean-front villa with exclusive beach, 4 suites + 5 baths (sleeps 2-10). At 930 m2 (10,000 square feet) Quinta Alegria will easily accommodate up to ten adults very comfortably. Included in the rate is a continental breakfast and daily maid service. Laundry service is also available. Quinta Alegria has consistently been selected as the premiere location for destination weddings in Huatulco. (No smoking is permitted in the enclosed areas of this villa. Smoking is however permitted outdoors.) From US$92.75/nt per person, based upon maximum occupancy of 10 for a one week stay. Contact or for reservations.
  • My Huatulco Vacation, Blvd. Benito Juárez Manzana 2-Lote 7, P Chahue, +1 226-979-0769. Vacation rental option with the zocalo of La Crucecita and the playa of Chahue not far away.
  • Agua Azul la Villa B&B, Res. Conejos, +52 958 5810265. Check-in: 15:00 (flexible), check-out: 12:00. An oceanview Bed and Breakfast exclusively for adults. It is a 3-minute drive from the 5-star hotel zone and 8-10 minutes from Chahue, Santa Cruz and la Crucecita where there are several excellent restaurants. The villa is a 3-minute walk to a sheltered sandy cove which is perfect for swimming and a 10-minute walk to another long, virgin beach. The villa was designed as a B&B with six guestrooms cascading down the side of a hill. Each room has a queen size bed with a top quality mattress, private bathroom, A/C and fan, and spacious ocean view terraza. The two-tiered pool is set in a lush tropical garden. Canadian hosts live on site year round and are available to recommend beaches, tours and restaurants. The entire villa is non-smoking and a continental breakfast is included. Reservations required. US$119-139+tax.

Stay safe


The Huatulco area seems to be very safe in terms of crime. Maybe consider inquiring locally before wandering dark parts of Crucecita at night.

Swimming here is generally safer than other places because of the calm, sheltered water in the bays, but you should still be cautious - never underestimate the ocean. Jellyfish can sometimes show up, but they don't seem to be the dangerous kind. Crocodiles are theoretically present in wetlands in the national park, but shouldn't be an issue on sandy beaches.

Go next


Zipolite The next beach village to the east, about 45 km. Relaxed vibe, growing tourist destination, already popular on the Pacific Coast Backpacker Route. A beach where you lose track of time, also Mexico's only official nude beach.

Mazunte 12 km from Zipolite. Vibe is more "foreign backpacker haven" compared to Huatulco's "vacation resort for Mexican families", but it also has international tourists of all budgets, and even a few Mexicans. Famous for its National Sea Turtle Museum and Natural Cosmetics center.

San Pedro Pochutla - Regional market and travel hub for the Pacific coast. Lots of good street food, but not much else to do. Catch a bus here to Oaxaca City, and pretty much anywhere in Mexico.

San Cristobal de las Casas Colonial town in Chiapas, which can be reached by bus along the coast without having to return to Oaxaca city. Firmly established stop for international backpackers.

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