Playa Coyote is the best place to watch the sunset in Huatulco. Photo: Danielle Hyams

When people talk about Oaxaca’s coast, they’re usually referring to the surf-and-backpacker-mecca Puerto Escondido. Or the hippie town of Mazunte, or Zipolite, known as an LGBTQ haven. But often overlooked is Huatulco, which caters to an older crowd of tourists, particularly Canadian snowbirds. The city has an airport with direct flights from several cities in Canada, and is just an hour by plane from Mexico City. And it might be Oaxaca’s best-kept secret.

Photo: Hotel Quinta Bella

Where to stay
Hotel Quinta Bella is beachfront yet centrally located, features two pools and five restaurants, including Terraza del Mar, which is considered one of the city’s best restaurants and headed by Hugo Arnaud, formerly of Pujol. Rooms go for less than $200 per night. 

Photo: El Grillo Marinero 

Where to eat
Ask any local where to go for good seafood and they’ll tell you El Grillo Marinaro. They’re not wrong. It’s fresh, delicious, inexpensive (house mezcal goes for 50 pesos a shot) and no-frills. Order the pulpo (octopus), make a reservation and bring cash.

Playa Cacaluta Photo: Danielle Hyams

What do to
The best beaches in Huatulco are out of the city. If you don’t have a car you can rent a taxi driver for the day. (I highly recommend Aniseto who charged 1200 pesos for the day and can be reached via Whatsapp at +52 958 106 0438 — tell him Dani sent you). While the most famous beach is San Augustin, I preferred less-crowded Riscalillo, but no need to choose, they’re just a short drive apart.

Ocean-to-mouth oysters. Photo: Danielle Hyams

And if you see people selling fresh oysters on the beach, don’t be scared, order them.

Our “panga” boat. Photo: Danielle Hyams

Renting a boat and captain is another great way to spend a day in Huatulco, as several beaches aren’t accessible by car. We stopped at the famous Playa Indio, which has been ranked one of the world’s best best beaches, for snorkeling, and later Playa Cacaluta, which we practically had to ourselves. We also saw several whales, sea turtles, dolphins and rays. It was perfect. We paid 3,500 pesos (roughly $190) for five hours with Captain Isidro, who can be reached via Whatsapp at +52 958 106 1410 and also offers fishing trips.

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