Few Americans have heard of Huatulco on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, though it is better known with Canadians thanks to more direct flight connections from there; planeloads of Canadian expats spend the winter in the region each year. Many of the Huatulco hotels and resorts are geared more to Mexican families than foreign vacationers though. So I’m going to highlight the best hotels in Huatulco for foreign vacations, based on a week I spent in the region recently touring around and staying at three different properties.
The area by the sea is technically called Bahias de Huatulco because there’s another inland town called Santa Maria de Huatulco that has led many drivers using Google Maps astray. (Put in your actual hotel name or “La Crucita” or “Santa Cruz” in if you’re arriving by car.) It is a purpose-built resort area funded by the government, akin to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Ixtapa. Like the latter though, it ended up appealing more to domestic visitors than foreign ones.
Now the place has a rather strange busy season pattern, being packed around Christmas, Easter, and the summer school break of July/August rather than the steady foreign high season of January through April. This presents a nice opportunity for those looking for an alternative to high season prices you normally see in Mexico.
It’s an attractive beach area with nine bays and a lot more nature than you find elsewhere where big resorts are clustered. If you go on a boat trip in the area, you’ve visit some beaches with no hotels on them that are pristine.
In general, rates here are much more reasonable than you’ll find in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico and less than half what you would spend for something comparable in Los Cabos. There are only a few luxury hotels to choose from and only one of those is all-inclusive, but once you go down a notch there is a long list of Huatulco hotels to choose from. We’re going to narrow it down for you here.
Huatulco All-inclusive Resorts
This area of nine different bays is like a more laid-back, spread-out, and nature-focused resort area than you’ll find in most of Mexico. So many vacationers like to unpack at an all-inclusive resort and only venture out now and then for an excursion. There’s not much of a strip or party zone like you will find in Cancun or Cabo. Three of these five Huatulco resorts are on the same Tangolunda Bay, however, where there are the most properties and people.
Las Brisas Huatulco
This is one of the original Huatulco hotels and is still owned and managed by a Mexican company that has properties in a few scattered locations around the country. It has six buildings of rooms plus some other shared structures, so bring some good walking shoes to get to restaurants and one of the three beaches—or be ready to call for a golf cart a lot.
Since this one has been here for decades, there are some complaints about the 487 rooms being dated, but they’re all good-sized: nearly 400 square feet for the standards and double that for the many suites. Overall it’s a good value for couples or families who want to take advantage of the all-inclusive plan and not worry about charges adding up, with rates starting below $400 double all-inclusive, less in summer. Other plans are available though if you will be exploring the area more. Check rates here.
Secrets and Dreams Huatulco
I’m putting these two together because they’re part of the same chain and are really just two sides of the same coin. The Secrets chain is adults-only, while Dreams is for families.
The good news is, Hyatt bought up this company not too long ago after a few years of decline while owned by Apple Vacations previously. While there are still some integration issues here and there, you should be able to cash in or earn Hyatt loyalty points for your vacation in Huatulco by the ocean.
They’re both your typical upper-mid-range all-inclusive resorts that sprawl around a big pool complex and have nice stretches of beachfront. You can expect enough variety in the dining choices that you won’t get bored, a range of the most famous liquor brands at the bar, and plenty of show and activities to keep you occupied. Complimentary room service is always nice.
These two are real crowd-pleasers with both foreign and domestic tourists. Dreams is on the main strip near the other all-inclusive options, while Secrets is more secluded, on Playa Conejos and near Playa Magueyito. Check rates here for Dreams or Secrets.
Part of the Spanish chain that is ubiquitous in Mexican and Caribbean beach resort areas, Barcelo offers a typical mid-range all-inclusive experience that covers all the basics. Don’t expect a lot in the way of fine dining or top-shelf liquor, but if you’re just looking for a fun getaway without a bunch of daily bills to sign, this is a solid choice. If you have children along, they’ll have a blast: this resort not only has the usual kids club and a mini golf course, but also its own water park.
The Barcelo Huatulco has 351 rooms to fill every night, so you can often find a great deal here, especially outside of Mexican holiday seasons. Pull up your dates here.
Park Royal Beach Resort
Some friends of mine were staying at this resort above the most popular beach in the area, Tangolunda. They liked the pool complex and friendly staffers and said that while the food won’t wow you, it was tasty.
Rooms here are rather minimalist, but you won’t get lost in this complex since there are 133 rooms. Most have a terrific hillside view looking out at the ocean and prices here tend to be lower than the ones above. See rates for your dates.
Binniguenda All Inclusive
If you’re on a budget but still want an all-inclusive place, Binniguenda is the compromise option. It’s actually located inland a bit, not on the beach, but they run a free shuttle back and forth to the closest beach so you can get there easily. Or you can walk a few blocks.
If you’re the type that spends more time drinking cocktails by the pool then with toes in the sand, this could be worth the step down. Check rates for your dates here.
Huatulco Hotels for Luxury Travelers
For now, there are only really two luxury hotels in Huatulco unless you add Secrets from the list above to that list. Whether it fits your criteria for that word or not is going to be up to you. Go check out the reviews from real guests and see what you think.
The most conveniently located option, and one with full amenities and services, is the long-standing Quinta Real Huatulco on Tangolunda Beach. This is part of a Mexican chain that’s a household name in Mexico but is little-known outside the country. They do almost no advertising or PR in English, so it’s almost a mistake when foreign tourists book here.
No worries about the language though if you don’t speak Spanish. They get the cream of the crop for staffers, so plenty of them are bilingual.
This resort has stunning views, a gorgeous pool complex, and several restaurants, plus it’s located next to a forest. It’s also one of the closest resorts to the golf course if you’re into that. Despite its impressive architecture spilling down the mountain and large suites, Quinta Real Huatulco only has 28 rooms.
The other top hotel is Casa Bocana, located at the end of Huatulco’s beaches. It’s worth the trip out to Bocana Beach for a variety of reasons though. First of all, the beach is practically empty most of the time apart from a few surfers and if you walk down to the end of it, an estuary hosts a veritable nature reserve of sea birds and those who like wetlands.
The hotels itself is not right on the beach, but is a few minutes’ walk away. It has what many consider to be the best restaurant in the whole region, with interesting takes on some Mexican classics, plenty of fresh ingredients, and lots of options that appeal to vegetarians and the health-conscious. There’s an inviting pool to relax by, several rooftop lounging spots, and rooms that are filled with natural materials. See a full review of Casa Bocana from our sister site Luxury Latin America.
Beachfront Huatualco Hotels on Other Bays
While many of the big branded resorts are clustered together, there are some nice independent options scattered up and down the coast.
Celeste Beach Residences
This condo-style hotel on secluded Tejoncito Beach gives you the multi-bedroom and kitchen advantages of renting an apartment, but it is a staffed property run by Mexico’s largest hotel chain, the one behind the Fiesta Americana and Live Aqua brands. It is popular with families who arrive by car, those who want to do a bit of their own cooking and have some quality time away from the crowds.
Rates top $500 per night, but that’s for large units of two or three bedrooms, with terrific views from many rooms and a large furnished balcony. There’s a swimming pool and full restaurant on site.
This resort often has the highest ratings score on Booking.com. See more here.
Camino Real Zaashila Huatulco
Camino Real is part of a large Mexican chain, with the brand being one step down from the Quinta Real mentioned in the luxury section. This one is nearby though, also on Tangolunda Bay, and has its own beach chairs set up for guests to use. There’s also a large swimming pool complex, four restaurants, several bars, a fitness center, and watersports rentals.
Most rooms have an ocean view and average between $200 and $300 per night double after taxes, including some of the suites. Get a quote here.
The Best Huatulco Hotels Off the Beach
You can save a good bit of money by walking to the beach each day from your hotel rather than staying at one that’s right on the water. The Binniguenda hotel mentioned above under the all-inclusive section will even shuttle you there. In most cases, we’re talking a few blocks, not a mile, so consider it a way to get some steps in.
One strategy that can give you a beachfront experience with a terrific pool, but without the oceanfront hotel rate, is to take some of the savings and spend the day at Sea Soul Beach Club. That’s what we did when we stayed at the Holiday Inn. We had lunch there to meet the minimum spend, lounged around, and walked on the mostly empty beach—the one shared with Hotel Quinta Bella below. Here’s what it looked like:
These properties are the least likely to have staffers who are fluent in English and the furniture may be looking tired, but they’re all relatively quiet by Mexican standards: there’s not much traffic in this town.
Holiday Inn Huatulco
Apart from Barcelo and Hyatt, there aren’t a lot of chain hotel options in this region. If you are sitting on some IHG points you want to cash in, Holiday Inn Huatulco is a pleasant enough choice facing a marina, just a few blocks away from Santa Cruz beach.
I had a bit of an issue where they told me breakfast was included when I checked in (because of my loyalty status level) then tried to charge me for it when I checked out, but other than that it was a smooth experience and the Wi-Fi worked better than at the next one on this list. See more at the IHG website.
Hotel Santa Cruz
I got put up here while attending a tourism conference in town and while it’s on the budget end of the scale, starting at around $60 a night double, it has a great swimming pool complex and is in a location where you can walk to two beaches and multiple restaurants. There’s a good coffee shop in the area, a rental car place, and small grocery stores.
The room was comfortable and there weren’t any issues with things going wrong. Just don’t come here to get work done: the Wi-Fi is achingly slow. See more info here.
Hotel Quinta Bella
This independent hotel has one of the best reputations in the area and it is know as the best foodie spot thanks to its variety of good restaurants. Everything is centered around a large pool complex but then it all spills down to a beach club with lounge chairs, a bar, and volleyball. Room conditions and Wi-Fi come up a lot as lacking though, so this is best for guests who won’t be hanging around in the room—or those willing to upgrade to one of the suites.
This is one of of the most attractive beaches in the area, Chahue, though when you venture down a ways from the hotel it can get a little rough for swimming. See the details here.
There are plenty of other options outside of these best hotels in Huatulco, of course, including family-run places that require a taxi ride but are in the lively downtown Crucecita area with lots of bars and restaurants. Many of these go for less than $60 per night.
Huatulco lodging round-up article and photos by editor Tim Leffel. He was hosted by two of the properties included here but as usual, all opinions are his own.