Huatulco’s Santa Cruz Bay – great beaches & a cute harbor village – Paradise!

Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Santa Cruz Beach and anchorage in Huatulco set against the backdrop of Oaxaca’s mountains

Early December, 2012 – After our beautiful day in the tropical orchard of Hagia Sofia, we left Marina Chahué to anchor out once again.  There are a dozen or so anchorages to choose from in the Bays of Huatulco, and we decided to spend a while in Santa Cruz Bay where we found three beautiful beaches, a snug little harbor-side village, and easy access to the town of La Crucecita.

Santa Cruz Bay and Chahue Bay Huatulco Mexico

View across Santa Cruz Bay to Chahué Bay

s/v Groovy in Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Groovy finds its groove in Santa Cruz Bay

The roads along the bay are hilly, and we got a great feeling for the lay of the land on our many walks along the road that hugs the bay.

Various viewpoints give an awesome look down into the bay and across the little harbor and village. Groovy settled into a quiet spot right off a small beach.  The anchorage can hold about three or four cruising boats, but we were the only ones there for a long time.

Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

We had a great view of a tiny beach and two tempting beach bars

Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Looking out at the anchorage from the beach bars

The ospreys, pelicans and frigate birds circled in the air above us all day long, and the two beach bars on the little beach came alive at night.

After staring at those beach bars from the boat for a while, we just had to check out the view out into the bay from where they sat.  Not surprisingly, their view of us was just as appealing as our view of them!

Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco

We had our own nearly private beach

Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco

Pretty views everywhere


These were quiet days filled with simple pleasures.  Having easy access to activities on shore gave us the amusements of both surf and turf.  We could wander around on dry land whenever the mood struck us, but we could still take advantage of having a waterborne home.

The ocean was over 80 degrees, and the cabin temperatures were still frequently hitting 90 degrees in the late afternoons, so swimming became a natural part of every day.  Swimming off the boat is without doubt one of the greatest joys of living at anchor.  But being able to wade in from the beach and feel sand between our toes was just as nice.

Santa Cruz Harbor Huatulco sailing blog

Santa Cruz Harbor and Beach

The village of Santa Cruz surrounds a small harbor, and on the backside of town is Santa Cruz Beach, a slightly larger but wonderfully intimate little beach that soon became a frequent hangout for us.

Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco dinghy ride and groovy

Our dinghy got us everywhere in minutes

It was a five minute dinghy ride to get over there, and as soon as our feet hit the sand we instantly turned into beach bums.


Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco

Palm trees and a beach – perfection!

There are sweeping palm trees that reach for the sky alongside a small row of very inviting beachside restaurants and bars.  All you have to do is grab a table and stake a claim to your own piece of paradise.  Stay until you’ve had your fill.

Santa Cruz Beach Al Frente del Mar Restaurant

Have a seat…!

We kept pinching ourselves day after day, absolutely thrilled with life and amazed we could be living this way.  This was our third season of cruising Mexico, but it had never been anywhere near this good.

Like so many other hopeful cruisers, we had cast off the dock lines long ago to head to distant shores and “live the dream” of cruising.

Living the dream sailing blog in Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico

Living the dream!

But the challenges of that dream had too often made it far from dreamy.  Rolly anchorages and sleepless nights, red tide and cold water, exhausting 200 miles passages and frightening overnights at sea had all joined forces each season to make us question our sanity in wanting to live on a sailboat.

Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Santa Cruz Beach

However, this year, during these weeks, in this place, it all came together and we were in heaven. The bay stayed calm, the water was intoxicatingly clear and warm, and the gods smiled down on us day after day.

On Santa Cruz Beach happy vacationers and locals alike would just wade out into the water a bit, have a seat, and stay seated with the water up to their necks, until they were totally water logged.  Families, couples, groups of teenage friends and toddlers all immersed themselves in the lapping waves, swishing their hands around, chatting and laughing for hours.  We did too!

Underwater at Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco

A fish checks out our new camera

Under water the fish milled around the rocks, nibbling here and there, and watching the snorkelers with curiosity.  We’d never played around with an underwater camera before, and we soon learned that getting Jacques Cousteau shots is not so easy.  Nothing stays still!  Just as we’d get the shot lined up, the fish would wriggle away or a wave would pick us up and move us — and the camera — a few feet.  But it was so much fun trying.

Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco sailing blog

This is a wonderfully intimate little beach




On the beach the best entertainment was the little kids.  The small waves were just the right size for toddlers — big enough to lure them into the water but small enough not to be scary.  In and out they’d go, running, running, running.

Toddler on Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco sailing blog

The waves were just right for toddlers



Toddlers on Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

It’s so fun to watch the waves break in your lap!

A brother and sister sat mesmerized by the waves for a long time, letting the waves break right in their laps, wave after wave after wave.

Everyone wanted to get pics of each other to send home.  This is the kind of fun you just have to share, and we all knew we could make everyone back home incredibly jealous.

Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Friends posed for each other, getting the sand and water and blue sky lined up just right. Pairs of young girls did endless sexy poses for each other, each one showing off her assets while her friend clicked away.  After they’d do a few bikini model shots showing off the bathing suit from both the front and back, they’d suddenly lie down in the water to go for a curvaceous, alluring water shot. I suspect there are some lucky boyfriends out there!

Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

We all took pics of each other

Mark was only too happy to help out with these mini photo shoots, but the show always instantly became very G-rated!  The nice return was that we got some shots of ourselves to make our friends envious too.

Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco sailing blog



Up among the beach umbrellas where the margaritas and beers flowed with enthusiasm at every table, vendors wandered through selling their wares.  The usual stream of women passed through selling commercially made bead jewelry.

Japanese vendors on Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Cruising Mexico in a VW Microbus selling jewelry!

Far more intriguing was the young Japanese couple who stopped by.  Hailing from Kyoto, Japan, they were traveling across Mexico in a VW Microbus, funding their adventure with their own hand-made jewelry.

Vendor sells corn bread on the beach Huatulco

Corn bread for sale!

Another women sold bread that had the exact taste and texture of corn muffins — quite yummy.  And several women braided and beaded girls’ hair like Bo Derek.  One woman was very eager to do Mark’s hair. It is getting a little long, but I don’t think a head full of braids would be that becoming on him.

Lots of hair braiding on Santa Cruz Beach in Huatulco Mexico

A little girl gets her hair braided

Some guitarists meandered by strumming melodies and then an old man showed up pushing an ice cream cart through the sand.

Ice cream vendor Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco

An ice cream vendor rolls his cart through the sand

This beach was a great place to kick back and watch the world go by.

The little harbor village of Santa Cruz is filled with pangas, open outboard-driven skiffs.  Some offer tours of the bays to tourists and many others are fishing boats.  As we wandered back to get our dinghy one afternoon a pair of young fellows on a scooter showed off the fish they had just caught.

FIsh on a scooter - Santa Cruz Harbor Huatulco sailing blog

Catch of the day!

A few minutes later, on our way out to the boat, we spotted two fishermen in a panga at the dock carving up some fish they had just caught.

Santa Cruz Bay anchorage sailing blog Huatulco Mexico

Late afternoon view from our cockpit







A quick conversation and negotiation, and we were suddenly waving goodbye and motoring away with a fillet for dinner.

Fishing near Groovy in Santa Cruz Bay anchorage Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

Fishermen suddenly cast nets all around Groovy

Back at Groovy a bunch of fishermen had surrounded our boat and were casting nets into the water.  I don’t know what kind of fish had arrived, but the fishermen knew they were there.  We had always had peaceful sunsets to ourselves, but for three nights in a row we got caught up in a flurry of fishing activity.  The fish were so thick around our boat we could see them from the cockpit.  Then one day the fish were gone and the fishermen were gone too.

Santa Cruz Bay anchorage Huatulco Mexico full moon and frigate bird

These were beautiful days of seaside living that blended into each other in a blur of wonder.

Tuesday rolled into Saturday and then it was suddenly Wednesday, or was it Friday? Who knew, and who really cared?  Mid-December caught us by surprise.  Time disappeared in a delicious, unhurried way.

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if life were always like this?  It is a dream so many of us share… For a precious time, our lives were suspended in tropical perfection.

And then, to top it off completely, we were gifted with 24 hours in heaven at the exquisite Las Palmas Resort!

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Huatulco’s Hagia Sofia (2) – Hammocks, hills, waterfalls and a Oaxacan feast

Hagia Sofia Huatulco has wonderful riverside hammocks

Mark gets a little hammock time

Thanksgiving, 2012 – Our walk through the exotic tropical flowers at Hagia Sofia had been exciting, but when our host Armando led us to a group of hammocks hung from trees by the riverside, they looked so inviting we just had to lie down awhile.  What a spot!

Armando has rigged these hammocks up with pull-strings, so as you lie on your back you can lightly tug on the string to get yourself rocking a little.  Such bliss.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco leaf in river




The river lazily trickled by us as we rocked in the hammocks.  One day there will be cabins near this part of the property where guests can overnight on these lush grounds.  I can imagine many a happy afternoon spent lolling in those hammocks by the river.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco dragonfly

Armando even had a little table set out with fresh, chilled juice-water ready and waiting for us. This water is lightly spritzed with juices from mangos and limes and sweetened with honey, all from his orchard. It was so refreshing in the heat of the day.

Mark spotted a leaf catching a ride downriver, and a dragonfly alighted nearby on a twig.  There was a peacefulness here that warmed our souls.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco orchard views

We stroll among the fruit trees on the hills

Refreshed from our rest in the hammocks, Armando led us out onto the crest of a hill where many of the fruit trees grow.  Groups of papayas, avocados, and other fruit trees we’d never heard of before studded the hillside.  Similar fruits were being grown together, but rather than being lined up in GPS-perfect rows, as we’ve seen so often on large commercial farms, the trees were scattered about.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco orchards

Views from the orchard

Of course, different fruits grow at different times of the year, but a bunch of pineapples that looked ready for picking caught our eyes.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco potted plants sailing blog

Potted plants waiting for transplanting

Hagia Sofia Huatulco pineapple

A pineapple ready for picking

Hagia Sofia Huatulco tunnel of tress sailing blog

A tunnel of trees

Off to one side there were rows of potted baby plants.  Over the years Armando brought bags of seeds back to Mexico with him from his many trips to Asia, and he carefully planted and nurtured them.  As we walked along he would proudly point out, “I grew that tree from seed, and that one and that one too.”  We said he must have a green thumb, a phrase that didn’t seem to have an equivalent in Spanish, but when he caught our meaning he gave all the credit to the men who work his land.

He has often consulted a Zapotec farmer (from the local indigenous culture) for his wisdom about the natural world and his great skill with plants.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco waterfall (sailing blog)

The waterfall was cool and inviting

At one point we passed a group of bee huts where he keeps his own bees for pollination.

Hagia Sofia waterfall

The rushing water gives a great massage

Hopping into his truck once again, he drove us to a spot in the river where there is a beautiful waterfall.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco outdoor kitchen in the woods

The outdoor kitchen in the woods is a delight

The water was cooler than the ocean water we’d been swimming in lately, but it felt really good on our hot feet.  There are changing rooms for visitors to change into swimsuits, but we had forgotten to bring ours (darn!).

Armando dove in with gusto and got a massage on his back from the rushing water.

As we drove back towards the flower trail we stopped at the plateau where the cabins will one day welcome guests.  What a beautiful view they will have, overlooking the orchard and the distant mountains beyond.

Back at the beginning of the flower trail, Armando’s chef Blanca had been busy all morning preparing a Oaxacan feast for us.  Working in a fabulous outdoor kitchen under a palapa in the cool shade of the woods, she made tortillas, fried up prickly pear cactus leaves and made some wonderful hot sauces.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco fruits for breakfast

The fruits and fruit-waters were delicious


To one side a spread of exotic fruits lay waiting, each labeled in Spanish and English so we’d know what we were eating.  Some of these things, like kumquats, we recognized but had never tried.  But the plate of bananas — tiny ones just the length of a ballpoint pen — really surprised us.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco bananas

We’ve never tasted such sweet, tangy bananas

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Oaxacan feast

Blanca prepares a feast for us on an outdoor wood-fired stove


There were three different varieties, one quite red, but the bright yellow “apple bananas” had a sweetness and tanginess that was intoxicating.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco (sailing blog) Oaxacan meal preparation

Our plates are filled with exotic, yummy goodies

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Oaxacan brunch at darling outdoor tables

We sit at a log table under the trees

We sat down for our meal in the outdoor dining room, a charming group of tables and chairs hewn from tree trunks and shaded by tall trees.  It was the day before Thanksgiving, and what a feast we had.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco ceiba tree

Tree Hugger

At the end of this magical day we made one final stop with Armando as we were leaving.  The biggest tree on the property is a Ceiba tree, an ancient wonder that is covered with spikes.  Armando gave it a big hug, showing us just how big around the trunk was.  The branches soared into the sky.

Hagia Sofia ceiba tree

The branches seem to reach the sky





Hagia Sofia Huatulco (sailing blog) ceiba tree thorns

Young ceiba trees have thorns

When these trees are young they are covered with thorns, making them extremely difficult to climb.  But as they age they have fewer and fewer thorns, and this big old guy was very huggable.

We left Hagia Sofia in high spirits after an inspiring day close to nature.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Oaxacan Kiss Ice Cream (sailing blog)

We stop for a Oaxacan kiss snow cone

We weren’t sure if the better part of the day was the scenery and our wanderings among the tropical plants or our time spent with such a fascinating entrepreneur whose a beautiful vision for profitable farming and eco-tourism in the hills of Oaxaca resonated so deeply within us.

On our drive back to the marina, Armando made a quick stop in the small town of Santa María de Huatulco for an “ice cream” sold from a cart in the street.  This tasty treat is called a nieve (snow) and is something like a snow cone but made with natural flavors.  The one I got was very milky and was topped with shavings of carrots and nuts. It was called Beso Oaxaqueño or Oaxacan Kiss.

Our few days of land-based living in the marina had come to an end, and we soon sailed out into the Bays of Huatulco once again, this time anchoring alongside the little village of Santa Cruz.

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Huatulco’s Hagia Sofia (1) – Exotic fruits and tropical flowers in a lush garden oasis

Armando Canavati Nader host and creator of Hagia Sofia in Huatulco Mexico

Armando Canavati Nader, host and creator of Hagia Sofia

Late November, 2012 – While staying at Marina Chahué in Huatulco, we took a day trip to nearby Hagia Sofia, a 350 acre fruit orchard and tropical flower garden.  Every so often in this life we are blessed with a day that is an utter delight from start to finish, and that was the kind of day we had at Hagia Sofia.

Tagamia Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery


Armando Canavati Nader, the owner and visionary behind this orchard, picked us up at the marina and drove us an hour and a half out to his stunning property.  It turned out that we were the sole visitors that day, and he gave us a tour we will never forget.

Armando is a man who is living his dream to the fullest.  There is something enchanting and greatly inspiring about those fortunate folks whose passion has become their life.  Armando radiates enthusiasm for his orchard and his vision for Oaxaca’s ranchers.

She Kong Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

“She Kong” – hangs down about six feet!

He has been fascinated by agriculture since he was very young, and he has a deep love of plant life and the earth.  His dream is to develop his orchard and flower garden to be self-sustaining and to become a model for other Oaxaca farmers.

Cuna de Moises - Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

“Moses’ Cradle”

Armando’s life wasn’t always about encouraging beautiful plants to thrive, however.  His grandfathers came from Lebanon and Bethlehem, respectively, at the turn of the last century.  One was just sixteen at the time — with a fourteen year old wife — and they worked their way across the ocean aboard ship.

As his grandfather later told him, he left his war-ravaged country only to arrive in Mexico on the eve of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.  Sometimes the grass isn’t really greener on the other side!

Anturio Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery


Armando’s granddad started a shirt factory in his new homeland, but it was Armando’s father, a truly gifted entrepreneur, who grew the enterprise, Grupo Manchester, to where it stands at the heights of international business today.

Regina Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery


Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Everywhere we turned something lovely was in bloom




Despite being a Mexican corporation, it was so named because Manchester (England) was the very heart of the world’s textile industry at the time.  The company now employs 1,000 workers in Monterrey, Mexico.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Some flowers almost didn’t seem real

Bridesmaids Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

The little flowers at the base are the “bridesmaids”











Beautiful flower - Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Each flower we saw seemed more exotic than the last

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery Bridge

Walk two steps, take ten photos!

Specializing in men’s clothing, they manufacture some of the world’s biggest designer brands and export their products to Central and South America.

Although he wanted to study agriculture in college, Armando grew up supporting his father’s dream instead, becoming Manchester’s lead fashion designer.  He traveled internationally for decades in search of the best fabrics and to find inspiration for new fashion designs.

For twenty years he spent several months a year traveling in Thailand and the Pacific Rim.  One day, after admiring the basket of exotic fruits in his hotel room, he asked the owner of a Thai fabric factory to drive him out to a local orchard where he spoke at length with the orchard’s proprietor, learning about the climate, fruits and flowers.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery Rooster Tails

“Rooster Tails”

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery Cat Tails cola de gato

“Cat tails”

This encounter initiated his personal study of tropical agriculture, which burgeoned as the years went by.  Although his work kept him based in Monterrey, Mexico, his favorite state was Oaxaca, and he began to study which of the wonderful, exotic plants he saw in his world travels would do best in Oaxaca’s low hills.

Dreaming of a way to give back some of the good fortune he had enjoyed in the apparel industry, he began developing the idea of creating an orchard and flower garden — a Garden of Eden — where visitors could find respite from the workaday world in its lovely cabins and the harvest would support operations.

After visiting many, many properties in Oaxaca, he came across a former German coffee plantation that had long been in decline, and set about reworking the land in the early 2000’s to support as many varieties of fruits and flowers as possible.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Many flowers had this type of overall shape

Germans had flocked to this area 100 years ago to develop coffee plantations, but when the coffee market crashed in the late 1950’s, many of them closed, among them this ranch.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

The flowers were big with sturdy petals

Armando named his new property “Hagia Sofia,” which means, roughly, “Holy Wisdom,” and is also the name of the eastern Christian mother church that was built in Constantinople (Instanbul, Turkey) in 537 AD (it was converted to a mosque in 1453, is now a museum).  Armando has a daughter Sofia, as well, which also inspired the name.

“Oaxaca is naturally a very rich state,” he said to us as we drove onto the gorgeous, hilly, verdant property.  “But its people are so poor.  I want to teach them how to use this beautiful land in the most productive way possible.”

He went on to explain that most local ranchers grow corn, only because their fathers grew corn.  Two acres of corn can produce $500 per year in profits for these farmers.

Butterfly Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Thousands of butterflies flutter between the flowers

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery Hooked Leaf

A flower catches a falling leaf…

In startling contrast, they could be growing mangosteen fruit trees instead.  Two acres of land will support 200 trees which can produce 150-300 kg of fruit per year.  “That’s $40,000 in profits!” he said excitedly.

Mangosteen is a fruit native to Central America that is far richer in anti-oxidants and other healthful properties than just about any other fruit available.  An ounce or two a day of mangosteen juice is said to give radiant health and to fix all manner of ills.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Often sold in the US in multi-level marketing schemes structured like Amway, I remember seeing mangosteen juice for sale for $60 a liter at the fitness studio where I worked.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery Indonesian Button

“Indonesian Button”

Armando’s not kidding that mangosteen fruit is far more valuable than corn!

“But changing the way people farm takes time,” he went on.  “They have their corn fields in place already.  A mangosteen tree won’t produce fruit for 8 years after it’s planted and doesn’t reach maturity until 20 years of age.”  That is a long wait in a region where most people live from hand to mouth.

“This is a business that a rancher sets up for his children and grandchildren.  That’s why I am doing it.  I will have something beautiful and productive for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to inherit.  If a rancher plants his land with the right trees and flowers now, his grandchildren will be very wealthy from the harvest.”

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

Armando’s orchard is getting noticed, and the town leaders all around Oaxaca are recognizing his wisdom.  When I asked him if the farmers hear him when he tells them to consider farming differently, he laughed.  “The town leaders all say ‘We need more Armandos!'”

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery



The 500 mangosteen trees Armando planted 6 years ago aren’t the only exotic fruit he is cultivating in his orchard.  He has reforested his property with 15,000 trees, among them teak trees, bamboo and molina trees (which produce a medicinally valuable bark).  He has 20,000 plants in the flower nursery, raises 9 kinds of mangos, has 7 different types of bananas and 6 varieties of avocados.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

These leaves were two feet long

But the 500 meter long flower trail (signed in the local Zaptoec language, “Nesa Sti Guie,” in recognition of their culture and agricultural knowledge) was our first introduction to the property.

As we started on the path, surrounded on all sides by thick greenery and unique, brilliantly colored flowers, Armando joked that he is often asked how long a walk on the flower trail takes.  “I tell them, ‘For me, two months!  But for most people, a few hours.'”

We ended up spending the better part of a day wandering down this trail, marveling at the flowers.  “They look like they’re plastic, don’t they?” Armando said.  It was true, many of them were sturdy, thick and shiny, and we felt tempted to touch each one to verify it was real.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

The insects buzzed all around us and a river accompanied us on most of our walk.  Lots of trees had symbiotic vines that wound around their trunks, and we strolled under a shaded canopy of greenery the whole way.  At one point we came across a stand of cactus (“So people can see what the desert is like”) and at another stop we saw a hillside of coffee plants.

Hagia Sofia Huatulco Mexico Flower Nursery

As we walked among at the immense variety of trees, ferns, shrubs and flowers that grew so harmoniously with each other, it was impossible to imagine that the entire property was once filled with coffee plants and nothing else.  We were enveloped in a thick blanket of green, dotted with vibrant red, pink and yellow flowers.

When we finally emerged from this beautiful trail of flowers, Armando took us to the wide open crests of the hills where the views reached far into the distance. Hagia Sofia’s fruit trees were sprinkled across the hillsides, eagerly soaking up the sun on their way to maturity.

Next up on our tour’s agenda was a walk among the fruit trees, a drive to the locations where the visitors’ cabins will soon stand, and a memorable day-before-Thanksgiving feast.

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Huatulco’s Marina Chahué – Landlubbing with parrots!

Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

Marina Chahue at the golden hour

Mid-November, 2012 – The great thing about this beautiful little cruising ground among the Bays of Huatulco is that when it gets gnarly out in the bays, you can run for cover in the shelter of the marina.  We left Tangolunda Bay after two days of swinging back and forth like a church bell gone wild, and instantly relaxed as the boat steadied and then went into a wonderful, motionless torpor in the marina.

Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

We were gifted with some pretty sunsets

We were treated to lovely afternoon sunsets that lit the sky in shades of gold and pink and orange, and we walked and walked and walked, thrilled to be back on terra firma.  We had been loving swimming off the back of the boat, but the newfound pleasure of stepping off the boat onto dry land was equally thrilling.

Unfortunately, Huatulco’s Marina Chahué (pronounce Cha-WAY) is a poorly appointed little marina that is hopelessly overpriced.  Run by the government, our jaws dropped when we were told the fee would $30 USD a night without hookups to electricity and water!! (those luxuries would have been $5 more).

Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

Cold water outdoor showers – without privacy!!

The one amenity on offer for visiting boaters is a cold water outdoor shower that doesn’t even have a curtain or door!  Needless to say, there is never a line for the shower!!

By comparison, for the same price, Paradise Village Marina, a resort marina in Puerto Vallarta, offers swimming pools, hot tubs (including a an indoor candle-lit hot tub for the gals), a spa, a beautifully appointed gym with all the latest equipment, a pretty and meticulously groomed beach that goes for miles, and walking access to all the restaurants and boutiques a tourist could ever hope for.  It is no wonder that Marina Chahué is nearly vacant while Paradise Village has lots of boats, especially given the hundreds of miles and several overnights at sea required to get here.

Legacy Westport 164 at Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

Our new neighbor “Legacy” arrives

What could be a fabulous cruising destination is just a brief stopover point for the handful of boats that pass through.

One such transient boat pulled in during our stay.  The neat thing about megayachts is that you can often look them up online and get a tantalizing peek at what lurks behind the tinted windows.  This one, “Legacy,” is 164′ long and is listed on Charter World as having been launched in December, 2011.  It’s basically brand new!

Cruising friends Colleen and Mark

Young cruisers Colleen and Mark from s/v Mer-Sea

The photos of the interior are lovely, but we had to satisfy ourselves with taking photos of the outside and dreaming.  Other than seeing the scurrying hands while the boat was docking, we never saw a soul on deck!

Even more fun than the exotic super yachts, though, are some of the unusual cruisers we meet along the way.  As we pulled in, we were greeted by Colleen and Marc of the Catalina 27 Mer-Sea.  They had recently sold their boat to our friend Arturo of Macaw Tours Tapachula to be used for daysailing tours around Puerto Chiapas.  We had known only that “a young couple sailed the boat down from California and then sold it to Arturo over the summer.”

Mer-Sea at Marina Chiapas Mexico

After an exciting cruise south, Colleen and Marc’s boat is ready to take visitors daysailing in Chiapas.


What fun it was to meet them and their dog Torch as they got ready to pile into their pickup-conversion-camper and drive home to Texas after an adventurous cruise down the Mexican coast.

Donzi at Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

A true chick-magnet





It is common for retirees to set sail on a boat after years of dreaming and planning.  Their boats are solid and decked out in the latest gear to make living aboard as comfortable and as safe as possible.  Their boats are ready for all that the sea might dish out.  Old folks have the money and the time to do these things, and 95% of cruisers in Pacific Mexico are over 50.

Pura Vida at Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

All boats need regular scrub downs

How refreshing and inspiring it is, then, to meet a couple in their twenties who threw caution to the wind, bought a small 1970’s vintage boat, and took off down the scary coast, latest fancy gear be damned.  The boat sailed well, what more could you want?  Now, with one big cruise in their back pockets, they are off to make a little money in Texas and then do it all again — in the Caribbean.

anchor chain and Ultra anchor

The anchor chain is laid out on the dock. The more frequently used end near the anchor is rusted.

Old or new, big or small, if you want your boat to be a chick magnet — or at least to look its best — you gotta work at it.  When the 100 footer Pura Vida pulled in, within moments of tying up, the crew went to work cleaning, polishing and waxing.  At least a few hours of work on a boat each day is just part of the boating life, whether you are paid crew or a grubby cruiser living the Life of Riley.

Mark had a long list of things to do on the boat and we jumped right in.  Most were mundane, like fixing a leak in the kayak (again! but darn, we love that little boat anyway…), and polishing away the various rust stains that had appeared on parts of the hull.  But most interesting was swapping the anchor chain end-for-end.

end for end anchor chain on the dock

Mark puts new tie-wraps at 30′ intervals

After 550 days of anchoring out, the link holding the anchor had been startlingly eaten away by rust, while the opposite end of the chain was still bright silver.

A few of the tie-wraps marking the distances had come off too, so Mark had a chance to put new ones on at 30′ intervals.  That way he has some idea of how much chain he has let out in the water — the deeper the water (or more stormy the situation), the more chain you want to let out.

Marinas are always lively places that are full of action, even little-used ones like Marina Chahué.  One afternoon a TV crew showed up at the mansion on the end of the point.  We discovered the Mexican TV mass media company “Televisa” was doing a segment on Huatulco for a show that highlights cool spots around Mexico.

Sailboat regatta Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

A little sailboat race makes a perfect backdrop for the TV cameras

Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

Palm at sunset

Very conveniently, the local kids’ racing fleet had a small regatta that day, right out front.  They zig-zagged back and forth as the TV cameras rolled.  They were very cute.

During our brief stay, Marina Chahué was loaded with birdlife.  We were woken in the mornings with the calls of great kiskadees, which sound just like their name, “kis-ka-dee.”  Grackles made themselves at home in our cockpit at times, squeaking at each other and peering at us to see just how much intrusion they could get away with before we shooed them off.

A grackle sits on our outboard in Marina Chahue Huatulco Mexico

A cheeky grackle makes himself at home on our outboard

One morning Mark popped his head out the companionway and saw a row of birds sitting on the dock line of the boat next to us.  There is quite a bit of surge in this marina, and the boats move around a lot.  As the neighboring boat swung around in its slip, the dock line rose up and down.  The birds didn’t seem to mind one bit as their perch soared and then fell.

Swallows on the dock lines in Marina Chahue Huatulco Mexico

A flock of small birds rides the dock lines

Great egret Marina Chahue Huatulco Mexico

A great egret stares us down in the kayak


Taking the kayak out to explore the estuary in the back of the marina, we came across a rather stern looking great egret.  He kept a close eye on us and our bright yellow boat as we drifted past him.  But other than annoying him enough for him to lower one foot for a moment, just in case, he seemed okay with us coming quite close.

The prize bird sighting came on land about a quarter mile from the marina, though.  Just outside the busy supermarket, we heard the unmistakeable squeals of a flock of parrots.  They were perched on every available branch of a tree, almost within arm’s reach.  Unfortunately, the wide angle lens I’d brought with me couldn’t quite capture them… And why hadn’t I brought my telephoto lens to the supermarket??  I’m beginning to learn:  take all the camera stuff everywhere!


half moon conures in Huatulco Mexico

Half moon conures flirt at sunset

half moon conures bahias de huatulco mexico

A little kiss

We hurried home, teased most of the way by this exuberant flock as it zoomed every which way in the sky, buzzing us repeatedly and landing in trees and chattering at us all along our route home.  Why, oh, why didn’t I have that long lens?  I looked them up online later and found out they were half-moon conures.

We had planned to leave the marina the next morning, but Mark gave me a smirk when I said something about staying one more day — we both knew why.  The next afternoon I ran over to the supermarket, this time with the long lens and fully charged battery, all ready to roll.  I could hear the parrots in the distance.  Suddenly, there they were, landing in the tree right above me at a hopelessly busy street corner.

Half moon conures La Crucecita Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

“Pssst — I think you’re really cute”

I snapped some shots.  Wrong settings — all dark.  I snapped some more — better, but blurry.  Oh gosh, Don’t fly away!!!  I kept thinking.  Then I remembered the settings Mark had recommended as I leapt off the boat a few minutes ago, and I punched the buttons as the buses and taxis whipped around the corner at rush hour speeds.

half moon conures La Crucecita Huatulco Mexico

“Aaaah — that feels so good!!”

Half moon conures Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

“Can we snuggle just a little closer?”

Camera finally set, the birds began to settle down too.  Little pairs sidled up to each other at the ends of each of the branches.  They all flirted with each other shamelessly, clucking, preening, smooching and all.

One pair just above me put on a wonderful show, nuzzling together like the happiest of lovers, all beneath a single heart shaped leaf.

When they finally finished snuggling with each other and got down to serious preening, two birds were back-to-back.  They craned their necks towards each other, forming a perfect heart shape.

half moon conures La Crucecita Huatulco Mexico


What a beautiful few moments.  Eventually the parrot noises in the tree quieted down to a low murmur as the sun stole out of the sky.  I left the birds to their romantic starlit night and wandered home to my own love, totally happy inside.

The incredible charms of the Huatulco area continued to enchant us when we visited the tropical fruit and flower orchard of Hagia Sofia.

half moon conures Marina Chahue Bahias de Huatulco Mexico










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Huatulco’s Tangolunda Bay – Anchored inside a ring of luxurious tropical resorts!

Sunrise in Tangolunda Bay in Huatulco, Mexico

Sunrise in Tangolunda Bay

Early November, 2012 – After the thrill of crossing the dreaded Gulf of Tehuantepec, it was a relief to wake up to a stunning sunrise in calm, picturesque Tangolunda Bay.  As we watched that sunrise, it felt like our cruising season had begun at last.

 Tangolunda Bay in Huatulco, Mexico

Resorts line the bay.

Las Bahías de Huatulco is made up of seven bays tucked into a ten mile stretch of coast, an ideal little cruising ground.  Tangolunda Bay is at the southern end, and it’s the “party bay,” rimmed by ten or so high-end resorts.  They all slowly came to life as the day progressed.

Tangolunda Bay in Huatulco, Mexico

A great scene to wake up to…

The air temperature here was just a little bit cooler and drier than Puerto Chiapas, but the water was still warm and clear.  In no time we had donned masks, snorkels and fins and begun paddling around the boat.

Of course, in the cruising life you are never far from boat maintenance work, and before we could check out the colorful fish swimming around the rocks nearby, we had to clean the bottom of the boat!

Terry cloth towels in hand, we swished and swiped the bottom of the hull, creating great swirling clouds in the water as the resident algae was brushed away.

Tangolunda Bay in Huatulco, Mexico, relaxing on a sailboat

Just chillin’

Tangolunda Bay in Huatulco, Mexico, relaxing on a sailboat

Savoring these precious days.




An hour later, with that chore finally out of the way (phew!), we swam off to visit the angel fish and other critters hiding underwater in the rocks near the shore.

Tangolunda Bay Huatulco Mexico Barcelo Resort jet skis

Huatulco is a favorite weekend getaway for people from Oaxaca City

Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco, Mexico, Barcelo Resort

Banana boats zoomed past us.

Large blue angel fish, each sporting a yellow vertical stripe and yellow tail, were the prize sightings, but there were lots of smaller, plainer fish too.  What I liked, though, were the waves of warm and cool water that caressed our bodies as we swam.  The cooler waters of the approaching winter were starting to sweep in, but bathwater warm pools of summer still enveloped us here and there.

Bahias de Huatulco Tangolunda Bay relaxing on a sailboat

Mark unwinds with some tunes in the cockpit.

Above water, the vacationers at the resorts zoomed past on jet skis, in sailing catamarans and on banana boats.  All were Mexican, and all seemed to hail from Oaxaca City.  This is the perfect weekend getaway place for them, as it is just an hour’s flight.

Bahias de Huatulco Tangolunda Bay tern

A tern checks us out.

Tangolunda Bay Huatulco jet ski

Mark practiced getting action photos on the water.

The long 8-hour drive over the speed-bump ridden mountain roads from Oaxaca will soon be replaced by a freeway that will get the tourists here in just three hours by car.  The jet skis will be swarming in droves then!!

Several dads with kids sitting in their laps paddled and drifted by us in kayaks and sailboats.  Each was curious about where we were from and what life afloat was like.  “Do you have a kitchen on your boat?” One kayaker asked.  Another guy on a catamaran called out, “I’m going to be doing what you’re doing in a few years!”

Bahias de Huatulco Tangolunda Bay jet ski rental

We got lots of waves — both kinds!

For us, this was the ideal place to relax for a while and regroup.  We took the kayak out and paddled around the bay one afternoon.  As we passed the resorts on shore, it seemed each one had its own flavor.

Tangolunda Bay, Bahias de Huatulco, kayaking

We took the kayak out exploring…

There’s the romantic getaway, Camino Real Zaashila, tucked into the far corner of the beach.  At the opposite end of the beach, swank Quinta Real dominates the scene with its two big exotic looking domes.  I suspect vacationers there enjoy the beach “sand free,” from a distance, with room service on their balconies!  In the middle there’s the party hardy resorts, Barceló and Dreams, where loud music plays at the water’s edge, kids splash in the waves, and undoubtedly Margaritas flow freely.

Huatulco Tangolunda Bay Dreams Resort with Sailboat

Groovy poses against the fantastic backdrop of Quinta Real

It seems that vacationers of every kind can find their tropical paradise here.  When we got back to the boat, the afternoon entertainment had begun poolside at the Las Brisas resort next to us.  A woman on a loudspeaker was conducting a contest among the kids to see who could recognize the most Disney movie and cartoon theme songs.

Bahias de Huatulco Tangolunda Bay

Snippets of Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid wafted past us while we imagined a very lively scene at the resort’s swimming pool which was hidden from us by a row of bushes.

Tangolunda Bay Bahias de Huatulco Mexico

Tangolunda’s main beach is a long sweeping crescent

How funny it was to hear this very American contest all afternoon after they had played hours of Mexican music over their sound system all morning. Needless to say, we knew all the answers, but not all the kids did!!

Huatulco Mexico Tangolunda Bay wedding fireworks

Wedding fireworks!

One evening a lucky couple got married on the beach right in front of our boat.  Suddenly the black night sky was split by a huge colorful explosion above us.  After yelling, “No no, not on our boat!” as we panicked that falling embers would land on us, we ran for our cameras to catch the fireworks show.

Tangolunda Bay Huatulco great place for relaxing


It didn’t last long — the couple had ordered only three fireworks — but Mark got a terrific shot of one of them.

Our days and nights melted into the sweet oblivion of doing nothing but basking in this beautiful setting.  This was the life!!  I think most cruisers take off on their voyages with something like this in mind.  But boatloads of boat work, endless challenging passages, and the frequent cranky moods of Mother Nature all stand like steep hurdles blocking the way between cruisers and the heavenly, bucolic days they seek.  We savored each hour of each day as the happy blessing that it was.

Tangolunda Bay Huatulco Camino Real Zaashila Resort

Romantic Camino Real Zaashila is tucked into a quiet corner of Tangolunda bay

This season, unlike the previous two, we don’t plan to travel a long distance, so there is nothing prodding us to move on or do anything in particular.  Perhaps we have finally “slowed down” in our cruising lifestyle the way we did in our RVing lifestyle.

Tangolunda Bay Huatulco catamaran sailing

Catamarans sailed around us in Tangolunda

Our “to-do” list of chores for the boat got pushed aside to the far corner of the nav station desk (I think I even flipped it over for a few days so I didn’t have to look at it!).  “Having fun” became the top priority for a while.  Mark’s guitar came out, our cameras went into overdrive as we tried to capture happy vacationers having a ball all around us, and we spent many hours in the cockpit scanning the scene saying to each other, “What a totally cool life!”

Bahias de Huatulco Tangolunda Bay sailboat

Groovy sits happily by the beach

But Mother Nature’s mood swings finally caught up with us and forced us to raise the anchor.  Tangolunda Bay is wide open to the swell coming in from the Pacific, and after a few very calm nights, the Pacific began to roll and Groovy rolled right along with it.

Huatulco sunrise at Tangolunda Bay

Sunrise in Huatulco

A few rolls overnight isn’t bad, but when the boat starts swinging and jerking like a bucking bronco, tossing its occupants and their stuff around like ping-pong balls all night long while the hull creaks and groans in noisy agony, it’s time to seek new shelter!

After a beautiful sunrise one morning, we headed out on a daysail.  What fun it was to sail whichever way the wind was best, not trying to reach a particular destination.  After a few hours, we ultimately pointed the bow towards Marina Chahué in the next bay over from Tangolunda, where sweet nights of flat calm awaited us.


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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

to see more cruising posts from this area!