Travel | 7 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Charming Mexican town in Huatulco area
La Crucecita is a marvelous small town which you have to visit if you’re visiting the bays of Huatulco. From the coastal highway 200, beautiful wide Boulevard with 3 lanes in each direction and a green grass median, lead us to La Crucecita. This is charming Mexican town with a traditional central square bounded by shops and patio restaurants.
There is an amazing selection of goods and souvenirs. You’ll find a large market that sells silver, pottery, souvenirs, clothing and crafts. In addition to the market, there are stores around the plaza that all sell similar merchandise.
Huatulco refers to the resort area Bahías de Huatulco or the bays of Huatulco. The four main parts of Huatulco are Tangolunda, the area where the more upscale resorts are located, Santa Cruz, a small town with more hotels, the marina and Santa Cruz beach, Chahué, an area between Santa Cruz and Tangolunda and La Crucecita, another small town just inland from the beach area having a more genuine Mexican ambiance.
The modern Cathedral in Crucecita has magnificent murals – the biggest mural of La Virgin de la Guadeloupe. La Crucecita church is often referred to as El Templo de Guadalupe. It is located in the center of town surrounded by shops and a Zocalo park. The church is dedicated to the Patron of Mexico, the Virgin Mary. The interior of the church is covered with several frescoes and on the ceiling is a fresco of what locals claim to be the largest painting of the Virgin de Guadalupe in Mexico. Make sure you hear the birds at dusk in the plaza!
Since we were there in December, the processions were coming to the church every evening, which was a nice entertainment for tourists like us.
Zocalo in La Crucecita
Vera and Zdenko on Zocalo in La Crucecita
Nightlife is more or less restricted to the bars and discos of the major hotels, although the nightlife scene in La Crucieta, has improved to the point of becoming worth a look. Shopping, banking facilities and the many reasonably priced restaurants make spending a late afternoon or extended evening, in La Crucieta, a possible alternative to the hotel disco scene of Huatulco. You must go and sit in the square in the evening. The Mexican families gather here every evening, so many people. Total joy to watch these families… very safe.
At Mexican side street restaurants in La Crucecita, tacos are less than a buck, and beer $1. You could probably get a good meal and a beer for about $6 but the same would cost more in tourist oriented venues around the square.
Tostado’s Grill: nice ambiance, but food was not so good
In our opinion the best restaurant in La Crucecita was Terra-Cotta, just across the street from Flamboyant hotel. Terra Cotta, part of Hotel Mision de los Arcos in La Crucecita, Huatulco is very popular with locals and tourists. They have a lot of Mexican and Oaxacan specialties but they also have baguettes, salads and really good pizzas. They have AC but if you prefer to sit outside, they also have a terrace.
From their menu we tasted “Tampiquena” and “Fajitas le Pollo” meals – they were delicious. This is an upscale place with reasonable prices, good service and English speaking personal and guests. Adjacent coffee-bar/ice-cream place at the front also has great big size ice-creams. We played it safe at Tostado’s Grill on Zocalo square where we liked the location and their out-front patio. The food was so-so… nothing special.
Il Giardino del Papa serves authentic Italian cuisine. L’echalote is the other restaurant which I consider the two top restaurants in Huatulco. We visit both places but I have set my mind on simple rule: if there are no other guests inside, I am not entering, no matter how good the place might be. Both Italian restaurants were empty at the time we looked inside so we didn’t try their food.
Restaurants around Zocalo
Frente al Mar restaurant on Santa Clara beach is very good. The waiter Fidel, was very friendly and the food was good. We ordered “Tampiquena” and “seafood pasta” dishes. Mexican steak was also good. They sure make a good pina colada/huacoco drinks there. After couple of days, Fidel remembered our faces, so we felt he treated us really special as returning customers.
Tampiquena steak I had at Terra-Cotta restaurant
Try some food that peddlers bring on the beach: empanadas with pineapple or milk on weekends only, fried plantanos with/out condensed Carnation milk, tamales (black mole not a favorite), fresh raw oysters, scallops with a dash of lime and hot sauce.
Street food vendors offer plenty of food
Mescal degustation shop, Casa de los Albrejitos (nice choice and quality differ). Albrejitos vendors sell some good quality only there on Thursdays. There is no museum of the Artinisat as advertised on some Huatulco tourism website – the address was a chic shop in front of Los Arcos B’n'B which sells top quality barra negra, alebrejites, but pricey even when/if they bargain it down. There’s a shop – always on Bugambilla with a pushy saleman Leonardo’s trying to sell painted wooden bowls- the bowls are pretty – quality differs. Bargain not so much of a deal.
Boutique shops in La Crucecita
Good quality shopping can be had in Santa Cruz for real alejrites, barra negra pottery, and jewelry. Avoid on days when cruise liners invade them. The Santa Cruz market has cheap stuff. Few places sell the Mayordomo orange-flavoured Mescal. I liked the promotional degustation place better. We didn’t go to Museum of Mezcal under papaya club. Maderno shopping centre isn’t really for tourists except department store, movies, Z bar and grill, Jacky’s sandwich shop, new sushi Don Wilo chain, but worth a visit a nice pastry shop.
Typical colorful houses in La Crucecita
Parents waiting for their children at th school entrance
Flamboyant hotel on Zocalo
The climate here suited us perfectly. It was 29/30 degrees all week, with big blue skies. The locals say it doesn’t rain there until April or so and then only at night. An average daytime winter temperature is about 28C (82F) and spring/summer maximums are about 38C (100F). The hottest time is from late April to the end of May, when the humidity is building up prior to the rains. The winter evenings are pleasantly cool but never below 15C (60F). The Pacific coast is mountainous and the breezes from both the sea and the mountains go a long way toward keeping the climate comfortable. Every evening Vera needed her vest just to cover shoulders. I was O.K. with short sleeves.
Unlike many parts of the Pacific coast the ocean in Huatulco is sufficiently warm to swim almost every day of the year but from May to November it can be like a tepid bathtub.
Kids dressed up for celebrations
Mexicans like to party
Tours and activities in Santa Cruz Bay.
Having a car was again our advantage that saved us lot of money, as we could take all the tours on our own. We just need brochures or access to the internet… and we had both. There are some very interesting tours and activities here and in the nearby mountains. One of the tours takes you to a forest where you can swing like Tarzan into a lagoon and swim through a waterfall. The more adventurous may enjoy rappelling down a 100-foot waterfall and during the rainy season white water rafting is available from levels 1 to 5. Coffee growing was once a major industry in the nearby mountains and naturally grown Oaxacan coffee can be found at many gourmet coffee shops around the world. We brought home with us two kilos and it really is a good coffee. It is possible to combine a trip to one of the coffee “fincas” with a swim in a waterfall.
Kids dressed up for celebrations
Water sports will occupy much of your time in Huatulco and there is certainly no lack of water related activities here. Great scuba diving and sport fishing is relatively close to shore and all of the other water sports you would expect at a world class resort exist here. Snorkeling in some of the more protected bays can be downright incredible. A glass-bottom boat tour to each of the bays is a must, if you have enough time. If not, you can arrange to visit only the beaches you choose. Horseback riding is offered on a few of the beaches and extended rides into the jungle can be arranged and provide an interesting alternative to spending the entire day at the beach or in the water.
Local girls working in a restaurant
If you golf, you are sure to enjoy the beautiful Tangolunda Golf Course, an 18 hole (72 par), championship course, designed by Mario Schjetnan, which is beautifully blended into the surrounding jungle. The course features a spectacular waterfront green on the 13th hole. Many people are delighted to discover that this golf course is so under utilized that you can practically name your tee time.
The Tangolunda Golf Course also has some very nice tennis facilities which, like the golf course, are open to the public. Most of the hotels in Huatulco also have tennis courts, but as a general rule they are for the exclusive use of their guests. The numerous hills make bicycling a bit too strenuous for beginners ability (if I had a bike with me, it would be enjoyable), but Huatulco has hosted a 1/2 Iron Man Competition for three consecutive years and there are those who enjoy the challenge.
Old style loom – machine for weaving cloth in La Crucecita
Safety concerns in Huatulco
Go to Huatulco without scare, because we have not experienced (nor even seen) any problems, violent crime or something else. Mischievous kids and loud arguments between neighbors, maybe, but hey, you see that everywhere. Aggressive vendors around the beaches (in Santa Cruz) was the biggest issue we had in Huatulco.
That said, and in no particular order, here are our top ten safety concerns in and around Huatulco:
1) Not drinking enough water on those 85-90 degree days
2) Forgetting how to tie our shoe laces (after not wearing shoes for weeks)
3) Forgetting to turn off the BBQ as we finish one meal and immediately start planning the next
5) Losing track of the days of the week with the possibility of missing our flights
6) Too much sun
7) Losing our bathing suits in the surf at Chahue
8) Spending too much money on local crafts
9) Falling asleep on the beach with a rising tide
10) Deciding to stay in Huatulco (with all the violence everywhere else in world, who in their right mind would want to leave?)
It seems inevitable that Huatulco will, in time, become a success, given the natural beauty that the project had to start with. For those seeking an, as yet, undiscovered beach paradise, this just might be the place you have been searching for. If we do visit Huatulco ever again, we wouldn’t hesitate twice to come here and to recommend this hotel to friends. But it’s unlikely we will, as we prefer changing scenery every year and visit other real and non-commercialized destinations like Costa Rica or Belize.
This review is a bit long, but I hope it will help someone who is planning to come here. Our next stop is Puerto Escondido, on our way to Acapulco, so please come back to read my future blogs…
THE TOWN – HUATULCO
Follow Zdenko’s Corner on Facebook !