Huatulco – Pacific Mexico’s Best Cruising

Catamarans at Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico

Resort rides on Tangolunda Bay.

Fish in the clear waters of Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico

Fish swim around our legs.

Craggy rock outcroppings at Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico

Wonderful photo ops abound, but the little alcoves

aren't 100% private!

Beautiful Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico Resort living at Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico Kids play in the water at Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico Coast Guard visits the cruise ship dock at Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Mexico

Coast Guard cutter at Huatulco's cruise ship dock.

Cute harbor town of Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Mexico

Cute harbor town of Santa Cruz.

Boats lined up at Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Mexico Great dorado fishing at Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Mexico

Dorado! ("mahi-mahi").

Zapotec weaver displays his techniques at Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Mexico

Zapotec weaver Martín

Zapotecs were early settlers in the Huatulco area, Oaxaca, Mexico

Ledí says a few

Zapotec words to us.

La India cove, Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

La India cove is tucked behind some rocks.

Tourist boats offer a day on the water at Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

Tourists enjoy a day on the water.

Sea turtle tracks on the beach of Playa Chachacual in the Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

Turtle tracks in the sand.

Beach treasure at the Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

Beach treasure.

Jewel like waves at Playa Chachacual in Bays of Huatulco, Mexico Wide grass-lined sidewalks lead to the town of La Crucecita, Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

Wonderful walking path to town.

Picture perfect town square in La Crucecita, Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

La Crucecita was built to

resemble a classic Mexican


Brightly painted quaint buildings of La Crucecita in the Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

The buildings are brightly painted.

The town church in La Crucecita Bays of Huatulco, Mexico

Town church.

The vibe in La Crucecita is not as

welcoming as we expected.

Jungle vegetation in the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Thick green vegetation abounds.

Jungle trees in the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico Huanacaxtle hardwood was used in the construction of the Copalita Eco-Archaeological park headquarters.

Hardwood from the Huanacaxtle tree.

Zapotec artifact found in the Copalita ruins, the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Zapotec artifact found in the

Copalita ruins.

Artifact found in the Copalita ruins in Las Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Museum piece.

Small Zapotec pyramid temple in Copalita, las Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

A small Zapotec pyramid temple in Copalita.

Vines & trees in the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Mark loves these trees.

Viny trees in the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Could be Treebeard's buddy.

Stone path leads through the jungle to an ocean overlook in the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Beautiful stone walking path climbs

through the jungle to an overlook.

Vast ocean vista at the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

Looking down at the shore outside Tangolunda Bay.

Lily pads fill a pond at the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico Wide green leaves like doilies at the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico Exotic wildflower at the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico A brightly colored moth at the Copalita Eco-Archaeology park the Bahías de Huatulco, Mexico

A moth poses on a window at the

park's headquarters.

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,

mushrooms and

jalapeños.  On pizza?

The odd thing we

noticed in this self-

consciously picture

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.

Visit Anchorages on Mexico's Southern Pacific Coast

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