March 30, 2011

Pristine Huatulco: The Pacific's Last Frontier

So much of Mexico's tourism focuses upon the 20 and 30 somethings, those looking for a party and stock souvenirs to spend their disposable income upon. Beyond that, it's the backpackers, the hikers and the bikers, who have a a vast wilderness of wonders to explore. Mexico has all of this and more. Yet there is another category of vacationers that has come under the spotlight of the National Trust Fund for Tourism Development: families. Beautiful Huatulco has been attracting parents, with younger children, for years. Now it is receiving the funding to encourage that.


Huatulco (pronounced wah-TOOL-co), in Mexico's deepest south, is about as far away from the violence of the US border towns as it is possible to get. It is down in the state of Oaxaca, right on the Pacific coast. In Mexico, it has a reputation as a quiet resort, which is none the less filled with fun. Its headlines are more to do with rare marine creatures glimpsed from the shore, than anything to do with crime.

While checking the news archives, for the purposes of writing this blog, I discovered a human interest comment. A Canadian man had been swimming in the ocean and had got into difficulties. Very quickly, two local men dived in after him and brought him safely to shore. That's about as dramatic as it gets in Huatulco.



Its official name, Bahías de Huatulco, refers to the fact that this resort is clustered around nine bays. (But you really would sound like a tourist, if you added the 'Bahías de' part. Huatulco will do.) Dotted amongst the bays are dozens of tiny, protected coves. There are over 30 glorious beaches, each with relaxing areas to lounge about, enjoying the sunshine in paradise.

There is the occasional group of Spring Breakers, but these tend to be those adventurous enough to break away from the hordes heading towards Cancun. Mostly your fellow vacationers will be parents with young families. This is a popular location for home-grown holiday-makers, so many of these will be escapees from the city, treating their children to some sublime beach action. Huatulco is full of child-friendly deals, including places where kids stay or eat free of charge.


Huatulco's ecological credentials are also very much intact. The original resort plans, dating from the 1980s, planned for accommodation for 10,000 tourists. Environmental groups immediately protested how this might damage the landscape. The architects heard their arguments and scaled back to cater for just 4,000. Keeping the population down, in an area that has historically had few human living upon it, has retained the pristine landscape and maintained a crystal clear ocean.

In addition to this, the environmentalists stayed on board to advise on other features. The result is that 70% of the resort is actually a nature reserve, while the developments within are eco-friendly. Huatulco was amongst the Mexican cities which switched its lights off for an hour, last Saturday, to mark Earth Hour. The event raised awareness of sustainability.


Huatulco, with all its local attractions and fun for all the family, is certainly a place to watch out for. Once the Cancun rites of passage are over, then the holiday romances will inevitably lead across the country onto the shores of the Pacific.

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