Huatulco, Mexico – Paradise on the cliffs

Huatulco, Mexico sign overlooking ocean
  • Post category:Travel

When we decided to take our first trip to Mexico in 2015, we knew that we wanted to go to a place that was relatively undiscovered.  We wanted to be able to take in the culture, the surroundings, and be able to go at a slower pace, without all the crowds and partiers that most Mexican tourist destinations are known for.

After some research, we stumbled upon a small, relatively unknown part of Mexico called Huatulco.  At the time, Huatulco was still in its infancy and had not yet been discovered by many people.  Most of the people that we met while there had booked their trips through online discount sites that were working with the Mexico tourism agency to promote the new destination.

View of Barcelo Huatulco resort from vista on cliffs overlooking Pacific Ocean

Most people have not heard of Huatulco as it’s one of those up-and-coming resort areas.  The area was called Bahias de Huatulco but recently shortened the name to help drive the tourism business, which is the primary source of income for the locals in the area.  Located in the state of Oaxaca, Huatulco sits where the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains meet the Pacific Ocean.

View of Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico from fishing boat on Pacific Ocean at sunrise

Until resort development began in the 1980s, Huatulco was little known except as a coffee-growing area.  In 1984, FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Turismo), a government agency dedicated to the development of tourism in Mexico, acquired 21,000 hectares of land to develop a tourism center, similar to that in Cancún. The plan resulted in the improvement of roadways and other infrastructure.

Huatulco Airport

Once we landed at the airport in Huatulco, we were whisked off to our hotel, the Barcelo Huatulco, by the shuttle service that we booked as part of the trip.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when the shuttle arrived as it was a very well-appointed, roomy van that was plenty big enough for all of us to head to the resort.

Our room was beautiful and on the ground floor, which was a win for us.  Since we chose a “superior” room, we had an ocean view, and since our room was on the very end of the building, we only had neighbors on one side, which was another bonus.  The view from the patio was breathtaking and allowed us to sit and watch the beautiful Pacific sunset every night before bed, and wake up to the peaceful sounds of the ocean while having that morning cup of Mexican coffee.

View of Pacific Ocean from room at Barcelo Huatulco

Whenever we were hungry, there were plenty of options to choose from for food.   In addition to 2 buffets, there are four a-la-carte restaurants, including Italian, local authentic Mexican, and Sushi.

Swimming pool and bar overlooking beach at Barcelo Huatulco resort in Mexico

Despite being right on the Pacific, the Barcelo boasts three swimming pools, including an adults-only pool with a swim-up bar.  There is also a pool just for the kiddos and one that for fun activities like water polo, volleyball, and some spirit team games.

Small islands off the coast at the Barcelo Huatulco resort in Mexico

Of course, with the Pacific ocean just steps from the resort, the pools pale in comparison.  The only drawback we found is that the beach is a bit steep, so taking a leisurely walk down the beach was a bit challenging.  Also, because we were traveling during October, the winds were quite high, and there were red flag warnings for most of our trip, so we didn’t spend much time in the ocean.  Regardless, we did get a chance to walk down the beach and see some of the beautiful rock formations.

Waves crashing into cliffs on coast of Mexico

The Barcelo has a helpful events desk where you can sign up for dinner reservations, tours, just about anything you want.  Since the resort is a bit removed from “downtown” Huatulco, we wanted to take a tour and visit local shops and take in some of the stunning scenery.  The trip was $50 for the two of us and scheduled to last 6 hours.  We met our tour guide at the front of the hotel, and, to our surprise, we were the only people scheduled, so we got to enjoy the tour all to ourselves.

Mexican painted "Day of the Dead" skeleton sitting on stool outside of bar in Huatulco, Mexico

Our guide took us on not only a tour of the quaint little town of  La Cruceta but also explained to us what Bahias de Huatulco meant, which is nine bays meaning there are nine bays, and each one has its own name and meaning.  The Bahias de Huatulco is a series of nine bays and numerous small coves stretching along 16 miles of jagged coastline, including 36 white sandy beaches.

Cliffs and Pacific Ocean along coast of Huatulco, Mexico

The town of La Crucita is not large and, from what our guide told us, has little to no crime.  Because the area was built for tourism, the locals work hard to ensure tourists feel safe and have no issues.   We wandered around the quaint small town visiting a textile factory where the ladies were weaving handmade rugs on centuries-old hand weaving machines as well as spinning yarn for the carpets. It was amazing to watch the skill involved in creating such beautiful textiles.

Another stop on our tour was a Mezcal factory where we got to sample different ages of Mezcal, learn about the process of making it, and sample some Mexican chocolate.  It was surprising to us how much smoother the taste got, with each age.  Of course, we came home with a bottle of Mezcal, and it is chocolate flavored, go figure!

Fresco ceiling inside ancient church in Huatulco, Mexico.

After we toured some of the shops in town, our guide took us to one of the oldest churches in Mexico.  It’s a small building, very unassuming, but when we stepped inside and looked up, we were mesmerized.  On the ceiling of the church is the largest painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe in the world, and it is breathtaking.

Charlie and Lynn standing on cliffs overlooking Pacific Ocean in Huatulco, Mexico

As we made our way back to the resort, our guide stopped at several of the vistas overlooking the Bahias de Huatulco.  The cliffs, with the ocean crashing up against them, were stunning, and the views were truly breathtaking.

Charlie and Lynn standing on cliff with cactus overlooking Pacific Ocean in Huatulco, MexicoWith each stop, the guide told us the name of the bay and what it meant.  He also shared the history of the areas and what the government was planning to revitalize the areas that had been vandalized or abandoned.

Charlie and Lynn standing next to Huatulco, Mexico sign with Pacific Ocean in backround.

Because the area was developed with more of an ecological focus, high-rise buildings are not allowed.  Most resort buildings are not higher than 3 stories and have extensive recycling programs and strict guidelines they must follow.

The fact that the area was developed with the environment in mind was a plus for us.  We like to support areas that are doing all they can to help protect ecosystems and green spaces and Huatulco is one of those areas.  Through conservation and regulation, they have found a beautiful balance between tourism and ecology.

If you are looking for a more laid-back Mexican destination, Huatulco may be the answer.  I’m sure it’s grown considerably since our first trip there in 2015, but hopefully, it’s still as charming and quaint as when we visited.

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Susan Pazera

    Very nice post! Years ago when we were sailing in Mexico aboard our sailboat, we visited Huatulco. Nice to see this land-based perspective. I love that part of Mexico.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Susan! Thanks for stopping in and checking out our blog. Huatulco is such a gem and so beautiful. Visiting all 9 of the bays was such a treat, it is definitely one of the best kept secrets of Mexico. I can only imagine how stunning it was from your sailboat. We did some offshore fishing and the view was gorgeous.

  2. Phoebe

    It looks like you found a perfect combination of relaxing resort with interesting culture and nature. A gem indeed.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hey Phoebe! Thanks for stopping by. It’s definitely a more laid back area and perfect for anyone not wanting to rush around or be overrun by crowds. We’re hoping to get back and see how it’s developed, but we hear it’s still quaint which is great.

  3. What a perfect laid back area without a lot of tourists. Thank you for sharing, although I hope it stays quiet and doesn’t get overrun. It is nice to see an area focus on nature instead of buildings.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Heather! Thanks for stopping by, we’re glad you enjoyed the post. We have kept in touch with a few of the locals and they tell us that the area has not been overcrowded yet. Mostly because it’s focused on surfing and more yoga and holistic healing, etc. That keeps the partiers out and lends to a more laid back visitor which is nice. They have done it right in this area by controlling the development and protecting the environment for sure.

  4. Paula Morgan

    The pool looks amazing! We have not made it to Mexico yet but we really want to.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hey Paula! We’re glad you stopped in. Mexico has so many fantastic places to visit and Huatulco should definitely be one, especially if you’re craving a more laid back spot. Hopefully, you’ll get to visit the country soon.

  5. Anita

    Huatulco looks like a perfect holiday spot with great hotels and awesome Pacific ocean views. It sounds that you had a great guide adding lots of useful information to your experience. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Anita! Huatulco is a great place to vacation, especially if you love a more laid back atmosphere. The history surrounding the area is so interesting and the fact that the crime rate is next to nothing makes it an ideal place to take the family.

  6. Tanya Korteling

    Great post, this looks like somewhere we’d love. We spent 4 months in Mexico in 2017 but didn’t make it to Huatulco sadly. Maybe next time 🙂

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Tanya! Thanks so much for stopping in. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Hopefully, you’ll get to visit the area someday. If you love laid back and relaxing, Huatulco is your place.

  7. Eliab

    Thanks for the blog, we plan on visiting Huatulco this October for our annual trip to Mexico through our AM Resorts membership. But now that is a big question with this uncertain travel issues due to COVID-19 and your post made more feel sad. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hi Eliab! Thank you for stopping by. Hopefully, you’ll be able to still make your trip to Huatulco. I don’t want you to be sad, hopefully the post gave you some ideas for things to do when you do go. A lot can happen between now and October and I know more and more of Mexico is opening up. We’ll keep positive vibes going for you so you can go and experience the area.

  8. Dhara

    We haven’t ventured south of the border yet, but Huatulco certainly looks interesting for when we do! Hopefully when things open up again!

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hello Dhara! We’re so glad you stopped by. Huatulco would be a quick jump from California for sure and so much less crowded than Cabo or some of the other Pacific destinations. Let’s hope that things settle down soon and we can start hitting the skies again.

  9. Laureen Lund

    Great information and I sure wish I could jump on a plane and go there tomorrow! We have Mexico on our list, have spent only a tiny bit of time there. Hope to get there in 2021. Saving to refer to then.

    1. Lynnette Vyles

      Hey Laureen! I’m so glad you found the post informative. I think we are all hoping that 2021 will be a much more travel-friendly year. We moved our October trip to 2021 just out of an abundance of caution. It was disappointing but we didn’t want to risk our health or the health of others around us. Let’s all hope that we see Covid start subsiding and things getting back to some sort of normal very soon.