bahia cacaluta in huatulco mexico

Huatulco Mexico in 2022: Ultimate Travel Guide for Visitors

Planning a trip to Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico?

Bahías de Huatulco, usually just called Huatulco, is a beautiful coastal town in Oaxaca state. 🗣 Wondering about the Huatulco Mexico pronunciation? Huatulco is pronounced wah-tool-co.

Huatulco Mexico is known for gorgeous beaches with turquoise water, snorkeling and diving, whale watching in winter, delicious Oaxacan food, all-inclusive resorts, and friendly locals.

Book the window seat for your Huatulco flight, because the views from the air will leave you speechless. While descending, you’ll see the 36 beaches and 9 bays of Huatulco Mexico.

The airport is just outside of town, so after landing, you’ll be enjoying them in no time.

Though Huatulco is one of the best beach towns 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, shopping in local mercados (markets), and even some ancient ruins.

Ready to discover everything you need to plan the ultimate Huatulco Mexico trip?

Let’s get to it, starting with the basics about getting to Huatulco, where to stay in Huatulco, things to see and do, and a Huatulco travel FAQ at the end — basically everything you’d need to know!

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Where is Huatulco Mexico located?

Huatulco is located in southern Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca.

Huatulco Mexico is located on the Pacific Ocean, about six hours by car from the state’s capital, Oaxaca de Juarez (AKA Oaxaca City).

If you’re wondering, How do you pronounce Oaxaca?, you’re not alone! Let’s actually clear up the Oaxaca pronunciation before we go any further — Oaxaca is pronounced waa-haa-kah.

You can easily travel from Oaxaca City to Huatulco by private shuttle, plane, rental car or bus; but we’ll get into Huatulco transportation later.

Huatulco Map

☀️🏨 Need a place to stay? Check out all the best Huatulco Mexico resorts and best hotels in Huatulco!

How to Get to Huatulco Mexico

What’s the best airport for Huatulco?

There is a Huatulco airport, located about 20-30 minutes from the beaches, called Bahías de Huatulco International Airport (code: HUX).

It is a small airport, and very easy to navigate. If you’re booking a flight to Huatulco, make sure you’re flying into HUX Airport.

Huatulco Airport Shuttle

Mexico City to Huatulco

Mexico City is about 435 miles (700 km) from Huatulco, and the drive takes 11-12 hours, without stops.

Personally, I think the flight is a much better option; it costs about the same as the bus, but only takes 1.5 hours. For the Mexico City to Huatulco flight, you’ll take TAR Airlines.

Oaxaca to Huatulco Mexico

I have a very detailed guide that outlines all your Oaxaca City to Huatulco transportation options, so head there for a longer explanation.

In short, you can book private transportation (I recommend this), take a flight, rent a car and drive, or take the ADO bus.

Puerto Escondido to Huatulco

Stairs leading down to a tropical beach in Mexico

☀️🏝 Also planning to visit Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca? Check out this Puerto Escondido Travel Guide to help you plan your trip.

The Huatulco to Puerto Escondido distance is about 75 miles (120 km), and the drive takes about two hours. If you don’t have a rental car, I recommend booking your private transportation shuttle or bus tickets through GuateGo — reserve here.

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Huatulco Mexico

When deciding on Huatulco accommodations, the first question you must ask is if you want to stay on the beach or in town.

If you want to stay right on the beach, there are a few distinct areas, but if you want to stay in town, opt for a place in La Crucecita.

Staying on Huatulco Beach

There are a few areas on Huatulco Beach where you can stay.

These include Bahía Tangolunda, where you’ll find most of the Huatulco all-inclusive resorts, Bahía Santa Cruz, the central area for all the beaches, and Bahía Chahue, where all the best beach clubs are.

Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco Oaxaca

barcelo hotel pool in huatulco mexico, oaxaca state
Barcelo is an upscale chain of Mexico all inclusive resorts, perfect for splurging in Tangolunda Bay. (Photo: Expedia, Huatulco, Oaxaca Oax.)

If you want to stay at an all inclusive Huatulco resort, this is the place. In my opinion, Tangolunda is also one of the most beautiful and best beaches in Huatulco. If you want to stay in this area, opt for any of these great places:

Bahía Conejos, Huatulco Oaxaca

secrets hotel pool in huatulco mexico, oaxaca state
Secrets isn’t a Huatulco all inclusive resort, but it does offer an all inclusive upgrade package. (Photo: Expedia, Huatulco hotels on the beach)

Literally meaning “Bunny Bay,” Bahia Conejos Beach is a beautiful and secluded beach. Here, you’ll find Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, an adults only resort that’s perfect for a honeymoon in Huatulco or a romantic getaway.

Bahía Santa Cruz, Huatulco Oaxaca

hotel pool in huatulco mexico, oaxaca state
Castillo is one of the best budget-friendly Huatulco hotels, located only a few minutes’ walk from the beach. (Photo: Expedia, Huatulco hotels on the beach)

While not in the exact center of town, Santa Cruz Huatulco is the center of activity among the beaches in Huatulco.

This is where the cruise ship docks, and there’s calm waters perfect for swimming. You can also find a lot of restaurants and tour operators here.

For hotels, opt for places near Playa La Entrega, on the west side of the bay — like Hotel Castillo Huatulco & Beach Club.

Bahía Santa Cruz is also where you’ll find the most Huatulco Airbnbs, condos and timeshares, with many located near El Faro (Huatulco Lighthouse).

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Staying in Downtown Huatulco

downtown huatulco mexico

There isn’t really a Huatulco Downtown area, per se, but the nearby small town of La Crucecita is usually known as Centro, or downtown. This is a pretty small area, subdivided by sectors. Sector H is downtown proper, right in the heart of all the action.

As one of the safest places in Mexico to travel, pretty much all of Huatulco’s sectors are safe, though Sector H3 isn’t the nicest.

Besides Sector H, the most expensive of them all, you’ll find some nice accommodations in Sector A, Sector E, Sector I, Sector M, Sector U and Sector U2.

11 Best Things to do in Huatulco

Head to the Best Beaches in Huatulco

Huatulco Oaxaca Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Pacific Coast. (Photo: Canva, Huatulco Oaxaca Beaches in Mexico)

Huatulco has 36 beaches and nine bays to choose from — so you could spend weeks there, and never run out of beaches to explore.

The main beach is Bahía Santa Cruz (Playa Principal), but visitors also love Playa Tangolunda, Playa la Entrega, Playa Maguey and Playa Organo.

Don’t miss Playa la Bocana, where you can get a mud bath massage.

The mud on this beach is good for the skin, with natural exfoliants. The locals at Playa la Bocana offer massages for about $100-200 MXN pesos ($5-10USD), which is a bargain for beachfront massages.

Personally, I find the bays of Huatulco Mexico even more picturesque than the beaches, though they are smaller and don’t usually have restaurants or services.

Still, don’t miss seeing the best bays in Huatulco, like Bahía Maguey, Bahía Conejos and Bahía San Agustín.

Fans of the 2001 Mexican film, Y Tu Mamá También, will love seeing Bahía de Cacaluta in person. Several scenes from the film were shot at this bay in Huatulco because it’s so beautiful; so even if you haven’t seen the film, you’ll love Cacaluta Bay.

Best Huatulco Boat Tours

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Visit Bahías de Huatulco National Park

bahias de huatulco national park
Bahias de Huatulco National Park is a 29,000-acre (116 km²) land and water park.

At 29,000-acres (116 km²), Huatulco National Park is massive. Unlike many parks, this is a land and water park. It was declared a national park in 1998, it’s also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a RAMSAR site with protected wetlands.

At Huatulco National Park, three ecosystems converge: tropical forest, dry forest, and of course, marine.

There is a lot to enjoy on dry land, like bird watching, hiking, biking and horseback riding, but take one of the Huatulco snorkeling tours to the healthy reefs just offshore.

The waters off Huatulco National Park are teeming with fish, turtles, coral and more. One of the more famous types of marine life here are the whales. In fact, the Mexican government declared this area a national whale watching zone in 2019.

In the winter months, you can see several species of whales in Huatulco, though the most common is the Pacific gray whale.

You can sometimes see the whales breaching the water from the shore, but take one of the boat tours in Huatulco to see them up close.

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Check out La Crucecita, Mexico

huatulco sign in oaxaca mexico
La Crucerita is just up the hill from the Huatulco beaches, and you’ll pass the Huatulco sign on the way.

When it’s time to escape the crowds in Huatulco, or if you want to do some shopping, head to La Crucecita, Oaxaca.

This is a small pueblo where many locals live. It’s named for a crucecita, or “little cross” that sits high atop one of the hills overlooking town.

Huatulco is a Mexico resort town, so La Crucecita is the place to experience the area’s cultural side.

It has the best authentic Mexican street food in Huatulco, and great shopping at colorful local mercados (markets), perfect for buying with artisan handicrafts and local souvenirs.

Best Huatulco City Tours

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Eat at the Best Restaurants in Huatulco

Mexican pizza
Tlayudas are also known as a Mexican pizza, for obvious reasons 🍕

Many don’t know this, but Mexico is not all tacos and burritos. In fact, the state’s capital of Oaxaca City is known as the Foodie Capital of Mexico, because this cuisine is so beloved and also incredibly delicious.

Mexican cuisine is very regional, and in fact, Oaxaca state has its own unique foods you don’t always find outside of the state.

While you’re in Huatulco, try some traditional Oaxacan food favorites, like tlayudas, tamales, memelas and mole (pronounced moe-lay).

One of the best places to try these, and more, is El Sabor de Oaxaca in La Crucecita, just off the beaches.

If you want to eat where the locals do, head to La Casa De Las Tlayudas Huatulco, Tlayudas Arely and Tlayudas Del-i-ciosas, to try their tlayudas.

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Take a Street Food Cooking Class

man preparing street food in oaxaca mexico
Street food in Oaxaca is serious business!

Not sure what a tlayuda is? Never heard of a memela? No worries, because the best way to learn about Oaxacan food is to cook it — and then eat it, of course!

There are numerous Huatulco cooking classes available in town, and in the nearby pueblo of La Crucecita.

In these classes, you can expect a fun and educational environment, as you learn to prepare things like mole, tlayudas and empanadas, and Mexican drinks like tejate.

Best Huatulco Cooking Classes

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Release Baby Turtles in Huatulco

woman holding baby turtle for release in oaxaca mexico

Oaxaca state is one of the best places to see turtles in Mexico. There are a few species that live in the waters off the coast, like the Hawksbill turtle, Green turtle, Leatherback turtle and Olive Ridley turtle.

🐢 The best time to see turtles in Oaxaca is from July to January.

In decades past, sea turtle numbers dwindled to the point of nearing extinction. However, conservation efforts are helping to change things. When you participate in a Huatulco turtle release, parts of the proceeds go to helping save the turtles.

With the Huatulco sea turtle release experiences, you get to hold a baby turtle and then place it in the sand and see it take its first steps into the Pacific Ocean.

The babies are adorable, and you will never forget your interaction with these amazing animals.

Best Huatulco Turtle Release Tours

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Take a Huatulco Day Trip (Mazunte, San Agustinillo, Zipolite & Puerto Angel)

While there’s no shortage of beaches in Huatulco Mexico, you can also check out its neighboring beach towns on the Riviera Oaxaqueña (Oaxacan Riviera).

These towns include the pueblos of Mazunte, San Agustinillo, Zipolite and Puerto Angel.

Mazunte, Oaxaca Pueblo Magico

playa mermejita in mazunte oaxaca mexico
Playa Mermejita Beach in Mazunte, one of the best pueblos magicos in Oaxaca.

Mazunte makes for one of the best day trips from Huatulco. It’s a quaint, laid back town, popular with bohemian types, backpackers, artists and yogis. In fact, I even did a 10 day silent meditation retreat in Mazunte 🧘‍♀️

It is located about one hour from Huatulco, and a Mexico pueblo mágico (magic town). Pueblos mágicos are towns recognized by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism for their outstanding value for visitors, and Mazunte does not disappoint.

Playa Mermejita in Mazunte is said to be the best beach in Oaxaca, and one of the best beaches in Mexico. If you’re staying there all day, hike up to Punta Cometa, which overlooks this beach for epic views of the sunset.

San Agustinillo, Oaxaca

san agustinillo beach in oaxaca mexico
Playa San Agustinillo, located about one hour from Huatulco. (Photo: Luis Gonzalez via Unsplash)

San Agustinillo has some of the best beaches in Oaxaca. It is a laid back town, popular with travelers who are seeking the posh accommodations and quiet beaches. The San Agustinillo beaches are famed for their large, unique rock formations.

zipolite, Oaxaca

Zipolite is famous, or maybe infamous, as the only nude beach in Mexico. There are other beaches which allow or tolerate nudity, but Zipolite is the only legal nude beach in Mexico.

However, nudity is only permitted in one area, so the majority of beaches in Zipolite require clothes. Zipolite attracts everyone from families to LGBTQ+ travelers.

Puerto Angel, Oaxaca

Visiting Puerto Angel is like going back in time. It’s a charming, old school fishing village that also has gorgeous beaches and bays, like Playa la Boquilla and Bahía Estacahuite.

You can also enjoy amazing, cheap and fresh seafood at one of the beachfront restaurants.

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

See the Ruins at Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park

ruins in oaxaca at Copalita Park, Huatulco Mexico
Visit the Huatulco Ruins of Copalita with a tour guide to really understand this ancient site. ▶︎ Book it here

Located inside Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park, don’t miss the chance to explore the only ruins in Huatulco Mexico.

The Bocana del Río Copalita Archaeological Zone is a smaller site, but this prehispanic ruins site does have two temples and ancient ball courts to see.

Copalita excavations have confirmed that both the Zapotec and Mazatec peoples used the site as a ceremonial center.

During digs, archaeologists uncovered two tombs at Copalita, which they say are the final resting places of elite members of the ruling class.

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Swim in the Cascadas Mágicas Waterfalls

waterfalls in the jungle in huatulco, oaxaca, mexico | Copalitilla Waterfalls | Best Oaxaca Beaches
One of many waterfalls at Copalitilla Huatulco Mx.

One of the can’t miss things to see in Huatulco is Cascadas Magicas de Copalitilla (Copalitilla Waterfalls Park).

There are about 30 waterfalls throughout the park, the highest of which is 65-feet-tall (20 m), and there’s also natural waterfall pools that you can swim in.

The park is about one hour from Huatulco, in the small pueblo of San Miguel del Puerto, Oaxaca.

This far from the Huatulco city limits, you’ll feel like you’re in a tropical paradise, surrounded by lush vegetation, wild nature and freshwater jungle pools.

Best Huatulco Waterfall Tours

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Visit Hagia Sofia Ecological Park

woman on zipline in huatulco mexico | hagia sofia eco park
Ride the zipline in Huatulco at Hagia Sofia Eco Park.

Hagia Sofia Park, located near Huatulco, offers visitors the best of both worlds — nature and adventure. On their famed Exotic Flower Trail you can see more than 100,000 plants, including 60 species of rare and exotic flowers.

In the spring, they host seasonal fruit tastings in the gardens. The park has more than 80 varieties of tropical and exotic fruit trees they sample from, including rambutan and mangosteen trees.

With such a large collection, the trees attract butterflies and birds all year.

For Huatulco adventure travelers, the Hagia Sofia zipline that takes you on a 1.25-mile journey (2 km) over the gardens below.

You get a bird’s eye view of the park’s impressive biodiversity, as you soar through the air from a maximum height of 325-feet (99 m).

Hagia Sofia Tours from Huatulco

Huatulco Mexico Travel Guide

Tour the Huatulco Coffee Plantations

coffee beans at a farm in oaxaca mexico

Oaxaca is known as a Mexico foodie destination, but it also produces some of the country’s best coffee. Head to the fincas (coffee farms) near Huatulco for a tour of the fields, and to sample their delicious product.

Many of the best fincas near Huatulco, like La Gloria and El Pacifico, don’t allow walk-ins, so you must book a tour (see below).

Most tours from Huatulco combine the finca with a stop at some of the other places mentioned on this list, so you get two tours in one.

Best Huatulco Coffee Tours & Tastings

Huatulco Mexico: Frequently Asked Questions

Huatulco vs Puerto Escondido: Which is better?

If you want a lot of nightlife options, nearby Puerto Escondido might work better.

While Huatulco is popular with honeymooners, families and the 30s-50s demographic, Puerto Escondido might be better for the 20s-30s crowd, and anyone who wants to surf 🏄‍♀️

If Puerto Escondido sounds like it’s more up your alley, check out this Puerto Escondido travel guide to help you plan your trip.

playa carrizalillo beach in puerto escondido mexico
Playa Carrizalillo beach in Puerto Escondido is one of the nicest

Is Huatulco safe for travelers?

Huatulco is one of the safest places to travel in Mexico. It has low crime rates, friendly locals, and even the taxi drivers treat tourists fairly (this is not always the case).

As far as Huatulco Mexico safety, just take the same measures here as you would when traveling anywhere else on Earth.

If you want to network with locals to get a better feel for Huatulco before and during your visit, join some Facebook groups, like these ⤵

Can you drink the water in Huatulco Mexico?

One of the most common questions I get is, Can I drink the water in Mexico? The answer is NO, unfiltered Mexico tap water isn’t safe for human consumption, not for locals and not for visitors.

For more info, head to Can You Drink the Water in Mexico? for a complete guided to this topic.

water bottles for oaxaca mexico with built in filter

What’s the best way to get around in Huatulco Mexico?

woman renting a car in oaxaca mexico
Need a rental car in Huatulco Mexico? I recommend, and also use, Discover Cars for all my Mexico car rentals.

Renting a Car in Huatulco Mexico

A Huatulco rental car is definitely the best way to get around because you’re not dependent on anyone, you just come and go as you please, staying anywhere you want for as long as you want.

As one of the safest cities in Mexico, you’ll be fine driving in Huatulco Mexico.

🚙💨 For more info, head to Renting a Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know.

When it comes to Mexico rental cars, I recommend and also use Discover Cars. Their search tool checks both international companies and local Mexican companies so you get the best rates.

Taxis in Huatulco Mexico

You might be wondering, Are taxis safe in Huatulco?

For the vast majority of travelers, yes, you will be safe using taxis in Huatulco. You can use them to get from Point A to Point B, but some drivers will also negotiate a day rate for you, and they will take you all over town for the day.

Is there Uber in Huatulco?

passenger calling uber in oaxaca from their cell phone

No — There’s no Uber in Huatulco, and there’s no Lyft in Huatulco. If you don’t have a rental car, you’ll have to use taxis or public transportation in Huatulco. Taxis will cost more than public transport, but they are also a lot more convenient.

Public Transportation in Huatulco Mexico

Huatulco public transportation is pretty good, though unlike taxis, don’t expect bus drivers to speak English.

If you do want to use public transport in Huatulco, make sure you have change and small bills to pay the driver; as many won’t make change for large bills.

Since I barely used the public transportation and buses in Huatulco, I’ll refer you to the best guide I’ve seen on the subject, How to Travel in Huatulco.

It was written by Shevaun (Shev for short), one of my fellow Mexico bloggers, who lives in Huatulco Mexico.

What’s the best time to visit Huatulco Mexico?

Weather-wise, the best time to visit Huatulco is from November to March. You’ll have no rain (or very little), low humidity, and no mosquitoes (or very few). With perfect weather, however, comes larger crowds and higher price tags.

beautiful blue water in a bay and beach cove in the small beach town of Bahias de Huatulco, Mexico, in Oaxaca state, a safe solo Mexico travel destination in southern Mexico on the Pacific Ocean
Enjoy the Sierra Madre Mountains to one side, and the beautiful Huatulco beaches on the other. (Photo: Canva, Huatulco Mexico beach)

🧳 Not sure what to pack for Huatulco Mexico? Check out this guide to Packing for Mexico, and for outfit inspiration, head to Cute Outfits for Mexico.

If you’re traveling to Huatulco on a budget, you’ll want to visit during the slow summer season.

For the best value, but still nice weather, plan your visit during what’s called the “shoulder season,” a magical time right in-between the high season and low season.

  • Huatulco Busy Season: November to March
  • Huatulco Slow Season: May to September
  • Huatulco Shoulder Season: October and April
  • Huatulco Rainy Season: April to September 
  • Huatulco Dry Season: October to March

Huatulco Weather: Yearly Averages

huatulco mexico weather chart

What’s the best time to see whales in Huatulco?

The Huatulco whale season runs from about November to April — but the best time to see them is from mid-December to March.

During this time, you can take a boat tour into the Pacific Ocean to (hopefully) see everything from Pacific gray whales to humpback whales.

whale breaching in huatulco mexico, oaxaca state

What’s the best time to see whales in Huatulco?

Yes — Huatulco Mexico is perfect for those who want to venture slightly off the beaten path in Mexico.

It has great resorts, similar to Cancun, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta, but without the large crowds. Huatulco also has great tourism infrastructure, and is safe for tourists.

I recommend Huatulco for those who want to enjoy the beaches, nature and relaxation.

It’s great for daytime activities, but limited in its nightlife. There are some bars in nearby La Crucecita, but even the bars at the best Huatulco resorts often close by 10pm.

Final Thoughts: Traveling to Huatulco Mexico

Huatulco is a very special place, and provides a very unique experience, as far as Mexico beach towns go. Its nature is very well preserved, yet there are beautiful accommodations; it’s a beach town, yet still maintains an authentic, cultural feel.

Huatulco also has an international Green Globe Certification, meaning it meets standards for Sustainable Tourism.

With more protected space than most other Mexico travel destinations and Mexico resort towns, you’ll have an amazing trip but also feel good about traveling to Huatulco Mexico.

Oaxaca Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance for Oaxaca?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Oaxaca?

No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling to Oaxaca. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Oaxaca?

Yes — Renting a car in Oaxaca is one of the best ways to see the state. I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Oaxacan companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Oaxaca?

Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book places to stay in Oaxaca?

For Oaxaca hotels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Oaxaca Airbnb, also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb. For the best Oaxaca hostels, use HostelWorld.

🧳 What do I pack for Oaxaca? Head to the Ultimate Mexico Packing List + FREE Checklist Download to get all the info you need on packing for Mexico.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Oaxaca flights? For finding cheap Oaxaca flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Oaxaca?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.