Resort rides on Tangolunda Bay.
Fish swim around our legs.
Wonderful photo ops abound, but the little alcoves
aren't 100% private!
Coast Guard cutter at Huatulco's cruise ship dock.
Cute harbor town of Santa Cruz.
Zapotec weaver Martín
Ledí says a few
Zapotec words to us.
La India cove is tucked behind some rocks.
Tourists enjoy a day on the water.
Turtle tracks in the sand.
Wonderful walking path to town.
La Crucecita was built to
resemble a classic Mexican
The buildings are brightly painted.
The vibe in La Crucecita is not as
welcoming as we expected.
Thick green vegetation abounds.
Hardwood from the Huanacaxtle tree.
Zapotec artifact found in the
A small Zapotec pyramid temple in Copalita.
Mark loves these trees.
Could be Treebeard's buddy.
Beautiful stone walking path climbs
through the jungle to an overlook.
Looking down at the shore outside Tangolunda Bay.
A moth poses on a window at the
Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico
Early February - There are 7 main bays in Las Bahías de Huatulco and
an assortment of coves, making the total number of bays and coves
anywhere from 9 to 12, depending on what guide you read and who you
talk to. Each one is unique and has a charm of its own. Some are
protected as part of a national park, some are lined with a row of palapa
beach bars, and some have been developed for tourism.
Tangolunda Bay was set aside by Mexico's tourism
agency Fonatur for resort development, and we anchored
first at the west end of the bay and then moved down to
the east end where we found a little less swell and a lot
less noise from the resorts. There was lots of color and action on the beach, and even the fish made themselves readily
available for easy viewing if you stood in the water up to your knees.
This is a rocky and craggy coast, and we climbed over several rock
outcroppings to get from one part of Tangolunda's main beach to the next.
These rocks made perfect photo-ops for all of us tourists. One afternoon
we climbed around a corner to find a simmering scene: an amorous young
fellow was taking photos of his girlfriend nude in the sand. It wasn't quite as
private a spot as they'd thought!
These were quiet days that
rolled from one into the next
until we weren't quite sure
what day it was and couldn't
exactly recall what we had
done just two days prior.
Wandering the resort grounds
and watching the jet-skis and
catamarans zoom around while kids
played in the water were the simple
pleasures of our resort-side living.
One day we heard a very amusing
exchange on the radio between an
arriving US Coast Guard ship and
the Port Captain on shore. In
Spanish, the Coast Guard
announced their arrival and asked
permission to dock. The Port
Captain asked for
the name of the Coast Guard ship and the name of the captain.
The American speaker seemed to be confused by these questions
but when the Port Captain switched to perfect English he got no
response. Apparently the Coast Guard had gone in search of a
more fluent Spanish speaker on board and had left the mic
unattended. Finally a new Coast Guard voice began speaking in
rapid Spanish, and their business was completed. The Coast
Guard cutter made quite a sight at the cruise ship dock.
The charming waterfront harbor town at the heart of the Bays of
Huatulco is called Santa Cruz, or "Holy Cross." This cute
harbor is unlike any other we've seen on the Pacific Mexican
coast. Filled with small boats and surrounded by a tight ring of
condos, villas and restaurants, it is a great place to take a stroll.
This is a popular sport
fishing area, and a
guide had just finished
yet another successful
trip with a boatload of guests.
He was making quick work of
carving up three huge dorados to
send home with them.
Around the corner we met Martín, a Mexican of
Zapotec descent who is carrying on the weaving
tradition of his family. His parents, siblings,
cousins, aunts and uncles are all weavers in the
mountain town of Teotitlan del Valle 150 miles
inland. It is a place known for the colorful woolen
rugs the local families weave by hand. Bringing
his craft and his loom to the coast, he set up shop
in the artisan's area in Santa Cruz. We hadn't heard of these weavers and knew little
about Zapotecs, and were amazed to discover that not only was Zapotec a vibrant, living
language, but he could speak it. I asked if he'd been raised speaking Zapotec, and he
said that he'd learned it in school -- after he learned English!
As I struggle daily to converse in Spanish, speaking with less
fluency than a six-year-old, I am always impressed by anyone that
speaks a language other than their mother tongue. A young
Zapotec woman named Ledí whom we had met a few days earlier
agreed. Her parents and grandparents all spoke Zapotec, but had
never spoken it to her when she was growing up. She taught us
the few words that she did know. We later learned that Zapotec is
similar to Chinese in that it is a tonal language
where word meanings and tenses change with
After a few days of anchoring next to the little
harbor town of Santa Cruz and enjoying some
in-town activity, we went out to one of the more
remote bays in the National Park. La India cove
is a tiny nook tucked behind some rocks that
offers a calm refuge for two or three boats.
Every day the party boats would arrive from
town, bringing tourists out to walk on the golden sand beach and
snorkel the coral reefs.
They would disappear as the sun lowered in the sky and we would
have the cove to ourselves. Walking along the neighboring beach
Playa Chachacual one morning, we saw what looked like 4-wheeler
tracks running up and down the sand to the water's edge. On closer
inspection they were sea turtle tracks. At night the mother turtles
would paddle up through the sand to lay their eggs. One morning
some rangers with big sacks came to the beach to collect the eggs to
take them to a nearby turtle sanctuary.
The quiet and solitude of this pretty cove
made simple things seem very special.
Even the waves had a jewel like quality.
Before the string of bays was converted into
a tourism destination, the tiny harbor town of
Santa Cruz was just a fishing village and there was nothing else around. When the Mexican government
started their development project in the mid-80's, they relocated the villagers inland about a mile to a new town
they built called La Crucecita. This made way for resorts, condos and upscale living for tourists on the waterfront.
They also developed an estuary into a marina and built wide roads between the two towns and the marina. Along
the center of the roads there is a big grassy median with a
wonderful sidewalk that is shaded by rustling palms. We
moved Groovy into the marina for a few days and enjoyed
many walks into the two towns.
La Crucecita has been hailed by some tourists as "the
cleanest town in Mexico." It was built to look like a
traditional Mexican town, complete with a pretty town
square, band stand and park benches.
The buildings are cute and brightly painted, and every
restaurant has hamburgers and pizza on the menu.
Of course Mexicans love those foods too, although they
like them with a special flair. We had to laugh when we
read the ingredients for the "Kansas" pizza offered at one
shop: tuna, mushroom and onion. The "Arizona" pizza was
hardly better: ham, mushrooms & jalapeños. But it was the
"Texas" pizza that really
got our stomachs
rolling: bacon, beans,
jalapeños. On pizza?
The odd thing we
noticed in this self-
perfect little town was
that the people didn't
seem very happy or friendly. We have
grown used to the big smiles, warm
greetings and general contentment of the
Mexicans we meet on the street. It is a happy culture. But the towns in Huatulco didn't
seem so. Eyes were averted as we passed and greetings were non-existent. Too often
the mood was downright sullen. Fonatur built a town that has the right look, but a tourism
agency can't give a community soul.
However, although this
manufactured fantasy town is just a
few years old, it sits in a region whose roots go much further back. A few
miles out of town we found the Copalita Eco-Archaeolocal Park, a gem of
a park that features ancient Zapotec ruins and artifacts along with a terrific
jungle hike to some vast ocean views.
The vegetation here is
exotic and thick, and while
we waited for a taxi we
stared in wonder across
the street at the blanket of
green that lay in a thick
carpet over lumpy shapes.
The park's buildings and some walkways were
built using a local hardwood from the
Huanacaxtle tree -- the same tree for which the
very popular town among cruisers, "La Cruz de
Huanacaxtle" near Puerto Vallarta, is named.
The main building houses a small museum with
Zapotec artifacts that were dug up at the temple ruins
onsite as well as artifacts from Mixtec ruins nearby.
Outside we followed the walking path to the ruins of a
small pyramid-shaped temple.
Following the path further, it took us
through all kinds of crazy vegetation. Mark
is a born tree-hugger and a true man of the
woods, so he was in his element as he
stepped among the vines. Some of the
trees seemed worthy of J.R.R. Tolkien's
curious tree people, the ents.
Exotic bird calls accompanied us as we followed the elegant
stone path up and up and up until we came to a vast overlook
where the ocean crashed on the rocks below.
The path then took us back down into wetlands where we saw
huge, strange leaves, and tiny, colorful flowers.
Of all those beautiful wonders of nature,
my favorite sighting for the day was the
moth on the window back at the main park building.
Unlike all the gorgeous birds we had seen who refused to
stand still for the camera, this guy was totally relaxed on
his bit of window, and he stayed put for us.
After all of this low-key coastal activity, we tucked Groovy into her slip for a few days and
hopped on a bus to visit the dynamic inland city of Oaxaca.
Find Huatulco on Mexico Maps.
to see more cruising posts from this area!