If you are looking for a Mexican destination that is quiet, local, and peaceful, then you’ll love Huatulco. (For the record, it’s pronounced “Wa-Tool-Co”)
While not nearly as famous as party towns like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, or Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco is a laid back coastal town on the Pacific Side of Mexico.
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It was a 5-hour flight from Toronto, and though I’d never heard of this place before, after finding an unbelievably cheap last minute deal for a week-long all-inclusive at $600 a head, I jumped on the opportunity to see somewhere new in Mexico.
Huatulco is known for its nine beautiful bays that curve their way along the sprawling coastline. Half of the bays are accessible by car and have hotels, resorts, and small towns. The other half lay inside a protected national park, only accessible by boat, and popular with day trippers. It’s known for being a family-friendly eco-destination, and the most popular activities are snorkelling, whale watching, and visiting waterfalls. (For me, the most popular activities were lolling in the waves, drinking mojitos by the pool, and trying not to get sunburned to a crisp.)
We stayed in Tangolunda bay, a long sandy beach with a handful of hotels along the waterfront, and beautiful views of the ocean. The water is crystal clear and very warm for swimming, and only one day during the week was too rough to swim.
At the far end of the bay is a great snorkelling spot, and the stars of the show are a resident school of fish who swim around your ankles, waiting for tasty morsels that tourists give to them. They are there literally all the time, and are so accustomed to humans that they happily just mill around in the shallow surrounded by people.
What’s nice about Tangolunda compared to the other beaches is that there’s lots of space, and very few people walking the beaches trying to sell you souvenirs. Some of the other bays, such as Santa Cruz, where the cruise ships dock, have restaurants all along the waterfront taking up all the space, and people are constantly harassing you, trying to sell boat trips, excursions, and tourist crap. Tangolunda on the other hand was really peaceful and quiet — though we did give in and let a lady braid the kid’s hair one day.
There are lots of day trips you can go do, like whale watching and all-day tours, but we were lazy, so mostly just chilled on the beaches and snorkelled in the bays. The tours are a bit overpriced, anyway. At least for gringos, haha!
Review of Park Royal Huatulco
For readers who found this page because you’re looking for a review of the Park Royal Hotel, let me give you some info. And let me start off by saying that for CAD 600 a head for a week-long all inclusive package, this was a great catch.
Location: The Park Royal is a bit weird in that it has a beachfront pool, bar and restaurant, but all of the hotel rooms have been built on the other side of the road. To compensate for this, the hotel has an army of golf cart buggies that drive you from the hotel over to the beach side a million times a day. You can indeed walk, it only takes a few minutes, but most people jump in the cart if they have lots of bags.
This back-and-forth can be a bit of a pain in the rear if, say, you want to go take a quick shower before lunch, because it means going all the way back across the road and up the hill, and then back down to the beachfront again. Kids however love riding in the buggy.
There’s also a rooftop pool on the 7th floor, and a rooftop bar and patio with hammocks, which was really nice in the evenings when it was cool enough to sit and relax. The Italian restaurant at the 7th floor, however, was awful! So we ate at the beachfront restaurant all the time.
The food: The beachfront pool, bar and restaurant are lovely, if a bit small. The food is definitely good with so many fresh vegetables, fruits, and seafood, but since most of the patrons are local families it’s 99% Mexican food. That was fine for me — I love Mexican food. But sometimes a bit hard for the kids to find something they wanted to eat at dinner time.
They do try to mix it up, and one night they had a Oaxaca Menu with traditional food from the area. The kid, however, did not want to try the stir fried rice with crickets!
The Big Fail — No Kids Club!
The only true ‘fail’ for this trip was that the hotel’s Kids Club was non existent. The website SAYS it has a kids club, but it’s tiny, unsupervised, and only available for the suckers suffering through the timeshare presentations. So if you absolutely must have a proper Kids Club where you actually can leave your kid for an hour or two to do some activities, then Park Royal fails in this regard.
But hey, for less than $100 a day all inclusive, whose complaining??