Oaxaca's Tourist Guide
Oaxaca's Tourist Guide


HOME » Oaxaca in Brief »


(Click to enlarge)

Zicatela Beach
Marinero Beach
Mazunte Beach
Horse Ride at Puerto Escondido
Herons at Chacahua
Mexican Center of the Turtle
Puerto Angel Bay
Prez Gasca Walkway in Puerto Escondido

The Coast of Life "Virgin Beaches, Luxury Hotels and Ecological Refuges"

40 kbps | 100 kbps | 182 kbps

Nine of the eleven sea turtle species in the world arrive to the Mexican coasts and the destination of four of those is the Oaxaca littoral where they nest and reproduce. Located there is the only research, preservation, and supervisor centre of sea turtles in the world.

Sea turtles know how to choose. The Coast of Oaxaca is a paradise with unexplored bays, luxurious hotels, mangrove lagoons, sport beaches, idyllic anglers towns, and golf courses. In these coasts, long ago driven by ships looking for gold from Peru, or silks from China, loaded with legends and treasures, tourism has but prospered. The last of the Pacifics paradises is found from Bahias de Huatulco (Bays of Huatulco), to Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port), ready to welcome those who want to discover it.

The Oaxacan littoral is ferocious and prodigious. The Sierra Madre del Sur (a mountain chain) reaches the sea and produces a unique coastline of impressive cliffs and placid bays. Rivers and streams descend from the mountains to confuse the beaches and palm groves with lagoons, brooks, and mangroves. The beaches, dozens of mostly unexplored beaches, are surrounded by tropical vegetation. The inland forests protect small villages established on the plains, or atop small hills, where life proceeds unperturbed by the tourists that have recently discovered Bahias de Huatulco, Puerto Angel (Port Angel), and Puerto Escondido, and justly enjoy one of the last calm and peaceful paradises of the Mexican Pacific coast.

Huatulco could have been the American key to the real Indies. When the Spaniards arrived in this place that had once been a crossroad in the road that connected the wealthy Zapotecs of Zaachila with Tehuantepec, Corts thought, first, that Huatulco was a good base to reach the treasures of Peru, and when he abandoned the idea, that Huatulco could be the best port of the New Spain to reach the Orient. Between 1526 and 1560, Huatulco lived off that dream. The cocoas commercial success and the commercial traffic with Peru, and the capital city of the Viceroyalty, via Miahuatlan, Oaxaca and Tehuacan, turned Huatulco in a flourishing and prosperous empire, never lacking residents, merchants, artisans, and shipbuilders.

In 1560, Huatulcos success moved to its neighbor Acapulco, the definite base for the ships that would connect the New Spain with the Orient for centuries. Huatulco, much to its chagrin, became a place almost completely forgotten by everyone, with the unfortunate exception of the pirates. In 1579, Francis Drake pillaged what was left, and in 1587, the Thomas Cavendish incursions where equally devastating, though today he is remembered for his contribution to the Cruz de Huatulco (Huatulcos Cross) legend.

Cavendish ordered that the wooden cross in front of the port of Huatulco be destroyed. The axes broke, saws lost their edges, several cables snapped, and not even fire was able to down the cross. The episode was promptly considered a miracle. Where had that cross come from? A new surprise: indigenous people attributed the cross arrival to a white, bearded man, dressed in a tunic, that had come from the sea carrying the cross centuries before the Spaniards arrival. In fact, Aztecs had named the place Cuauhtolco, which means the place where hardwood is adored.

The Cruz de Huatulco also resisted the loss of dozens of pieces, which became relics in churches throughout the country. However, while the fame of the Cross increased, Huatulco lost all option for development. In 1848, Benito Jurez asked for funds to open a road that would connect Oaxaca to Huatulco, but it would be over century before Huatulco was again inundated with merchants, artisans, ships owners, and people from all over the world. In 1984, the Federal Government began working on the construction of the tourist complex, Bahias de Huatulco, that thanks to the efforts of the National Fund for Development of Tourism (FONATUR) would transform in a few years what was once " because of its economic underdevelopment", a virgin paradise.

Today, the nine warm Bahias de Huatulco, that include not less than 36 beaches in addition to inlets, coves, and other smaller refuges, where there is no lack of international conglomerate presence. Pools, underwater expeditions, sport fishing, yachts, a great golf course and the peacefulness of the beach shelters (Palapas in Mexico), dispute over the guests interest who have at night a modern and safe access to boutiques, restaurants, seafood eateries, discos (La Crucecita), and the possibility of traveling toward inland villages, or continuing exploration of the other paradises found along the coast.

Close to Huatulco is the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga (Mexican Tortoise Center), the only one of its kind in the world. Located next to the Mazunte beach from the Nahuatl word Maxontetia, meaning "I ask you to please lay your eggs", as the residents used to beg the turtles the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga performs the triple task of investigating sea turtles, welcoming visitors interested in observing the miracle of turtle life on the beach, and attempting new growth plans for the economic development of the Coastal villages. These villages used to live off turtle exploitation before the advent of industrial procedures for their capture and its subsequent ban. Mazunte has a Museo Vivo de la Tortuga Marina (Live Sea Turtle Museum) and administers several bungalows for those who desire to witness the reproduction of thousands of sea turtles in the beaches of Oaxaca.

To the East of Mazunte is Puerto Angel (Port Angel), home of the Universidad del Mar (Ocean University), and the starting point to visit the beautiful and hidden nudist colony of Zipolite. As soon as the peacefulness of Zipolite is left, civilization is back. There is Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port), whose development international surfing championships, big hotels is balanced by the proximity of Manialtepec lagoons, and Lagunas de Chacahua National Park, where three types of mangroves, and the rare black iris grow, albatross and the pink spoonbill nest, and in a week, up to 155 bird species have been sighted, and the celebration of the Festival Costeo de la Danza (Coast Dance Festival) in Puerto Escondido, reminds us, with its rhythms, "jarabes", and popular rituals, that we are sill in Oaxaca.