By Brooke Gazer
A major attraction in this region is El Parque Nacional de Huatulco which encompasses 11,890 hectares (or for those of us who have forgotten our table of measures, 26,750 football fields). About half of the reserve is forest; the other half is under water. This is one of only 10 Marine Parks within Mexico and the only one located on the Pacific coast. Two marine parks are in the Sea of Cortez and the other seven are in the Gulf and Caribbean. The park was founded in 1998 in order to protect both marine and wild life and we hope that this means that most of this coastline, which includes five Bays and 17 beaches, will remain virgin in years to come.
No visit to the coast is complete without a boat tour through the Marine Park. The Bays of Huatulco are separated by steep craggy cliffs and I challenge anyone to find a more picturesque coastline. From your boat you may see dolphin, manta rays, giant sea turtles or whales, in addition to a wide selection of sea birds. You can buy a ticket for one of the “party boats” for about $20.USD per person but hiring a “panga”, allows you to visit several of the beaches on your own. Bring along an umbrella and cooler to have a picnic on a virgin beach or stop at Maguey or San Agustin for lunch and a cold one under a palapa roof.
Some of the beaches, such as “la India” have terrific snorkeling right off the shore and equipment can be rented at the dock in Santa Cruz before you set out. There is a modest daily fee of 27 pesos (about $2.USD) per person to enter the park. This fee helps to support the conservation efforts. They provide you with a paper wrist band which has the price marked as proof of payment. Most people here are incredibly honest, but some enterprising individuals may try to sell you a bracelet for 100 pesos… don’t fall prey to this scam!