Getaway to Huatulco

About a month into our 7-week stay in Puerto Escondido, Chad and I started to get a little bored. We’d had some fabulous experiences – the Fiestas de Noviembre, a surf competition, releasing baby sea turtles at Playa Bacocho, releasing more babies before seeing mama-turtles nest on an unforgettable overnight trip to Playa Escobilla, and of course plenty of snorkeling and even some hiking. We learned on this trip that we are not really “beach people” and that even going to the beach just an hour a day (our typical practice) gets kind of old after a while.

So, I had a brainstorm to take a little mid-week getaway to the nearby resort town of Huatulco. I’d been intrigued by Huatulco as the only other main flight destination from Oaxaca and did a little research into the region. We were well under-budget for our time in Puerto Escondido (especially after Chad was sick for a week following Thanksgiving, first with a bad sunburn that led to “devil’s itch” and then with a stomach bug) so I felt confident we could afford a couple nights in a hotel there. After a little searching, I found a decent choice, figured out our bus options and had us all set for a mini-break. We scheduled it for just after my grades were due for the college course I was teaching online, making it a bit of a celebration (my course ends with a 10-page paper, so the semester always ends with a ton of grading to get through).

Arriving in Huatulco

We purchased second-class bus tickets a few days before our trip at the main Puerto Escondido bus terminal and traveled backpacks-only, even leaving our computers behind at our Airbnb apartment. This was a no-work mini-break! The bus was very comfortable and not at all crowded. We had reserved seats and room to store our backpacks at our feet. I highly recommend bus travel in Mexico, especially traveling one of the major lines that are considered first- or second-class. The brand we traveled was called Sur and we were pleased with the service.

We arrived at the Bahias de Huatulco bus station, about a 2 kilometer walk through town (though there were plenty of taxis around) to our hotel, which was closer to the beach area. Huatulco is actually the name of this region in Mexico and it consists of three main towns. We chose to stay in La Crucecita because that is where the bus station is.

I think there was more green in this square than all of Puerto Escondido (no disrespect to PE, it has many other charms)!

After exploring the town a bit and getting some ice cream, we checked into our hotel and then hit up the nearby Super Che supermarket to pick up some snacks to enjoy. We considered some tour options to maximize our time of seeing beaches and snorkeling but ultimately decided we’d just rely on taxis to explore, which was the right decision.

We tried to dine our first night at the very highly rated restaurant near our hotel, but they were fully booked for the night. So we made a dinner reservation for the following night and enjoyed a light meal at a tlayudas place that was also nearby.

Secluded Beaches and Spectacular Snorkeling

The next morning we woke up fairly early and caught a taxi, asking the driver to take us to the trailhead for the path to Cacaluta Bay. There were security personnel at the drop off point to direct us down the road (also offering a ride at a low price for those not wanting to walk, which was helpful because the path is not well-marked and there were a couple of confusing turns. Though this was after my three weeks of Spanish lessons, we still needed a friendly local English speaker who happened to be near to translate the instructions.

We enjoyed the 1-mile (my estimate) hike immensely, which was very jungle-y and cool. The beach was virtually deserted except for a family-run eatery that must be somewhat new, since several of the blogs I read about this beach mentioned it had no amenities. We weren’t able to find any great snorkeling and the water was kind of cold for swimming, but we enjoyed our time on this lonely beach before walking back. We were lucky to be picked up by a group of guys who manage a horse camp in the area, saving us some time and effort getting back up to the trailhead. From there we walked up to the highway and were able to flag a taxi to Playa La Entrega beach.

This beach was the polar opposite of the one we just left, crowded with families and pleasure-seekers, most of whom seemed to be domestic tourists. As we walked down the crowded beach we were repeatedly offered the rental of snorkel gear, but we came with our own. However, just as we were trying to figure out where on the beach might be safest to leave our stuff, we were offered a locker rental by the facility at the end of the beach. The price (50 pesos, or $2.50) was fair, so we gladly accepted. After locking up our stuff, we waded out past the young kids and beginner snorkelers and swam into some of our favorite snorkeling we’ve ever experienced. The reef was lovely and very colorful and there were many kinds of fish, including big schools. We tried to get some underwater photos but none turned out well. One of the neatest parts was how many people of varying levels of experience were all out in the water together. But, when you put your head down and look through your mask, you also had the pleasure of feeling completely isolated.

After a great time snorkeling and drying off a bit, we caught a taxi to our hotel for a bit of a rest and clean up before our dinner reservation.

Food and drink

Our meal at Rocoto that night did not disappoint and was worth the 24-hour wait. The service was fantastic, they offered a nice selection of wines (sometimes rare in Mexico) and we both enjoyed our meals. Other highlights for us from Huatulco were pre-dinner drinks at La Mezcala, where I got a great mezcal and Chad a frozen mango drink, and a lunch-time visit to the Irish pub where we got draft beer for the first time in weeks (I think there is one bar in PE with a tap!). We also had a nice time when we arrived with a beer on the roof of our hotel looking out at the lovely bay.

ocean view from our hotel roof
Lovely Christmas decorations
a last morning walk before catching the bus back to PE

Summary

We had a fantastic time in Huatulco. It was the perfect getaway from Puerto Escondido, just a short bus ride away but a completely different feel to the town. It was more touristy with its resorts and cruise port, but also more upscale, greener and way less dusty. Although more spread out, taxi rides were still reasonable (about double what we typically paid in PE, so $4 rather than $2) and it wasn’t at all difficult to get around. Our time in Huatulco epitomized for me the super-easy Mexican way of life that Americans love to vacation in. I highly recommend it for a couple days or even longer. I hope that someday we’ll be back.

Review of Hotel Casa Danna Huatulco

We chose this hotel for the location and the pool, though we enjoyed the beach so much we never used the pool! The location was definitely exactly where we wanted to be. Our deluxe room was nice and large and it was great to have a small fridge. We didn’t mind being on the 4th floor with no elevator – the stairs weren’t bad. Room was clean and the shower had about the best water pressure I’ve ever experienced in Mexico. There wasn’t much (if any) hot water the first night we were there, but it was better the next day. It would be a great addition to have an electric kettle to the room for coffee (just a suggestion). We’re early risers and the breakfast downstairs didn’t start until 8 a.m., so both mornings we went to a cafe instead (Cafe Icacos – I highly recommend it for both the coffee and great food).

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