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“Huatulco: Fonatur vs. Nature. Fonatur wins!”
Review of Huatulco

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Jackson, Wyoming
Level 5 Contributor
38 reviews
55 helpful votes
“Huatulco: Fonatur vs. Nature. Fonatur wins!”
Reviewed 14 April 2009

Warning: this review was written by someone who visited Huatulco in the two weeks leading up to Easter. I have been to Akumal, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, (and several Caribbean islands) but not Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. Your results may vary.

Tourism is big government business in Mexico. I've finally figured that out after 5-6 trips there. Huatulco is touted as this "less-developed" more sleepy alternative to the other places Fonatur has really screwed up, like Cancun. I guess Huatulco is undeveloped compared to Cancun like Des Moines is undeveloped compared to New York. It still ain't Mayberry. There are hundreds of workers busily painting the curbs white, trimming the grass and bushes on the endless medians. Massive viaducts await the rainy season's effluence. Impressive infrastructure is evident everywhere, limiting any sense of quaintness or wildness, but providing easy-driving roads and clean water. While the resorts are limited to one bay, any other one you can drive to is lined with palapa restaurants and teeming with people. If you want a beach with few people, you have to hire a boat (at least if Easter weekend is upon you) There is a supermarket that is often jammed with people. You sense that Huatulco was ramping up for another big development push just before the global economic crash. It is a one-hour plane ride from the most populous city on the planet Earth. Just a fact.

Things we loved:

The variety of beaches.
The general friendliness of the locals.
(the cultural interest of) being vastly outnumbered by locals on most beaches.
The easy access to a great variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The beautiful backdrop of mountain scenery.

Things we didn't love:

The cruise ship dock and it's resulting impact.
(the crowds of people when) being vastly outnumbered by locals on most beaches. I know that by Waikiki and Cancun standards these beaches are not crowded. By my standards many are.
The chillier Pacific waters.
The often green, low-visiblity waters.
The non-english-speaking panga drivers. We generally liked being surrounded by the different culture and language, but when you're working as a guide in Mexico, you should pick up at least a little English. (It goes both ways. We regret not having more Spanish)

Observations:

Was Huatulco created as part of NAFTA? There are more Canadians down there than Americans. (not that there's anything wrong with that.) Of course, most of them are too busy reserving lounge chairs by the pools at the Tangolunda resorts to get in your way at the more remote beaches.

What's with the endless median strips? I'm sure it keeps drunk drivers from running into eachother, but it's irritating to have to drive a quarter mile past your destination if it's on your left, then make a u-turn. I won't even get into the hybrid roundabout intersections designed by an engineer with a tequila dependency.

La Crucecita is a nice town where you can get a nick-nack or some really cheap fresh produce, or a good fish dinner.

If you want to see a recreation operation in a country with evidently very little concern for safety or liability, go to Rancho Tangolunda, where you can ride a zip-line (where the bus ride up is scarier than the tyrolean traverse) Go paintballing or romp around on an ATV. And when it's all over, check out the dust bowl campground, the strange little captive while boars, or pet the way-overhandled, near-death puppies trying to hide in the stack of old tires. Fun!

Where can I buy stock in the company that sells Fonatur its white paint? Every day there are dozens of dudes breaking their backs painting the curbs white. It's impressive.

The beaches we visited, in order of preference (and the beaches all are truly nice) :

1) Playa Riscalillo. Nice little beach. Best snorkeling we did.
2) Playa India. Most picturesque and nice swimming.
3) La Bocana. Best waves, cool rocks, broad and beautiful, dramatic river mouth. Some surfing, good boogie boarding.
4) Playa Entrega. Friendly locals, easy access, solid snorkeling.
5) Conejos Bay. Nice hike in, broad and beautiful.
6) Playa San Augustin. BIG. Many palapas. Probably great if it's not the day before Easter.
7) Tangolunda. Land of the resorts, where the white people live (along with the rich Mexicans down from DF), sitting perched on coveted lounge chairs at the edge of the infinity pools overlooking the bay. (Salt water and sand are yucky, and the waves are scary!)

Huatulco was probably a really cool place 15-20 years ago. Even now, if you had a panga captain you could communicate with and a few days, knowing the lay of the land, it could live up to it's eco-oriented propoganda.

Helpful?
2 Thank GOWYO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
1 helpful vote
“Where to go in Huatulco! Best Undiscovered City in Mexico”
Reviewed 14 February 2009

If your thinking about Mexico you have to check out Huatulco. I sailed my boat from San Diego to Huatulco Mexico and it is by far my favorite spot! Great Night life and unbelievably beautiful bays, great fishing and in general very cool atmosphere! For the coolest English speaking bar in mexico with food check out the Tipsy Blow Fish with a very cool band playing classic English music. Only thing I would stay away from would be Onyx restaurant. After eating there I got very, very sick and the staff was rather rood and service was not up to what I was use to in Huatulco. Other then the two days I was sick from Onyx food, it has been a great trip.

Helpful?
1 Thank Cybersailer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Grande Prairie, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
1 helpful vote
“Huatulco, Mexico - In a Condo !”
Reviewed 8 June 2008

We stayed here in a friends condo and was wonderful. When you stepped off the condo grounds you were right there with the locals - not alot of tourism but there is some. Very relaxing and safe feeling we were 4 girls and never felt scared of the location or people. There is lots of shopping and things to see. It is a beautiful place!

Helpful?
1 Thank luv2trvl08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canada
1 review
7 helpful votes
“Viva Huatulco”
Reviewed 29 March 2008

My wife and I have been escaping to Huatulco on the pacific coast of Mexico since 1989 when the resort was new. The one quality that draws us back almost every year is the all day sunshine, guaranteed. If you like hot and dry weather this is the place for you.

The resort hotels are gathered around Tangolunda Bay which nestles at the foot of the Sierra Madres del Sur. The white surf speaks to a pretty steep shoreline in this rugged area. it's certainly enough to deter all but the most foolhardy of swimmers. Fortunately the constant pacific tide has carved several spectacular bays, woven into the mountainous coastline, complete with protected white sand beaches where you can bathe and snorkel in comparative safety.

The nearby small town of La Crucecita is charming. Life revolves around the zocola or central square. A green canopy of luxuriant trees umbrella the square. They come alive every evening with the chatter of painted birds. The northern side of the square is dominated by a beautiful little church. It's worth spending a few minutes in the cool interior and putting some pesos in the box. On the opposite side of the square a bustling market offers shady avenues tightly packed with stalls of local fruits and vegetables, salty cheeses from the region, obscure liquors, exotic candies, raw chocolate and, wait for it, fried grasshoppers, a local delicacy. Don't miss the ice cream store on the square and catch up with your email at the same time in the internet cafe if you must. The zocola is flanked by restaurants, bars and specialty shops which cater for tourists for the most part. Nearby a rather gloomy miniature air conditioned shopping mall tries to compete. If you wander the streets adjoining the square there are numerous artisan workshops to intrigue you.

Between Tangolunda Bay and La Crucecita lies the ancient port of Santa Cruz which, according to local legend, was used as a safe haven by Sir Francis Drake and Sir William Cavendish as they plied the pacific coast looking for Spanish bullion.

If you like golf Huatulco boasts an excellent course. Go at 6.30 in the morning, watch the sun come up over the first hole with the blue and hazy mountains in the distance and experience the wildlife as you play a leisurely 18 in the cool morning air. Hole thirteen is played to the shoreline of Tangolunda Bay so don't overshoot the green.

Over the years my wife and I have watched Huatulco adapt to new demands. Cruise ships deliver hundreds of passengers to Santa Cruz twice a week. The precious bays are now visited by catamarans full of tourists, sometimes three at a time, almost every day. Condos are springing up on the fragile hilltops. One gets the feeling that local resources are stretched to meet these demands. As charming and friendly as the local people are, especially the hotel staff, the hotel buildings are a little tired. After nearly twenty years they need a re-fit which we hear they are getting.

But in the meantime the costs have remained low. Huatulco offers excellent value for money. You can still go deep sea fishing and catch a 44 pound mahi-mahi and have it prepared at the hotel to feed the whole family as I did this year. You can still get lost in a pod of five hundred dolphins as they spin out of the water in a dance of pure joy as I did this year. You can still go surfing at Bara, twenty minutes south in a taxi, or just sip a cold one and watch the crazed surfers who gather here for the big cahunas as I did this year. You can still sip a refreshing cold beer under a shade tree in Santa Cruz as I did this year. It cost eighty cents at the corner store. Wow! You can still snorkel in the smaller bays, a ten minute taxi ride away, and see spectacular coral and fish. You can still get locally woven high quality cotton goods and excellent jewelery in Santa Cruz. You can still taste world famous chicken mole at El Sabor in Crucecita. Or you can do nothing. Sit by the pool and watch the world go by as I did this year.

No wonder I keep going back!

Helpful?
7 Thank JohnOCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canmore
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 helpful votes
“Feb. 08 trip to Huatulco”
Reviewed 21 February 2008

My wife and I just returned from Huatulco. Booked a last minute charter through SunWing and then booked the Villa Blanca Hotel online through Orbitz. Huatulco is a beautiful location, people are very friendly, we were happy with the food and prices and can't really complain about much at all. Saw most of the area but did not get to Tangolunda since we did not do the all-inclusive and since there are no services there except for the AI hotels didn't see much point. Villa Blanca is a nice hotel, good breakfast, pool, rooms are nice. (Beds are hard as rock though!), and staff were friendly. Location is only 5 minutes to Chahue Beach. Suggest you go to the beach club associated with Castillo Huatulco Hotel to get a palapa and chairs. Cost is 30 Pesos per person but includes a beer each. Cheap! Hotel is a 10 minute walk from Santa Cruz which is pretty but we didn't spend too much time there. Nice beachfront restaurants for evening dinner though. Hotel is also 10-15 minute walk from La Crucecita town centre which is worth going to often or as a place to stay.
Did the 7 Bay tour which was a disapointment. Definitely visit Playa La Entrega for snorkelling. It is great. You can rent gear if you don't have any and there are lots of beach restaurants.
Things to note about Huatulco: safe to walk the streets at night, taxis are cheap, lots of Mexican families on the weekends especially, prices are reasonably good, beaches are beautiful and clean, not a big night life scene, locals are friendly, not much English spoken. Collectivos are available from the airport for 87 pesos. Since we booked a roundtrip shuttle through Orbitz for $15 per person each way, I don't know how you would go about getting the collectivo for the return to the airport. (Our shuttle wasn't waiting for us at the airport and we had to pay for the collectivo anyway. If you do book this, best to phone ahead instead of emailing!) We have been to many Mexican beaches and would go here again for sure.

Helpful?
3 Thank toklas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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