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Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
17,269 posts
70 reviews
148 helpful votes
Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Well we have been back for almost two weeks now so time to get this written up!

We (husband and I, 61 and 53) flew WestJet from Saskatoon to HUX, connecting in Calgary- our usual flight pattern when going to both Huatulco or Zihuatanejo, our two favourite place in Mexico. I had just taken my 80 year old mom to Zihua in late November for ten days so that's why we chose Huatulco for this 2 week trip. B has been there 3 times now and this was my fifth or sixth trip (getting old and the memory is wonky).

I had always stayed in Huatulco but this time we decided to try staying in the Mazunte/San Augustinillo area for the first week and then Huatulco the second week. I let the man choose the hotels this time (usually my job) and he did a good job. He wanted to stay at the Quinta Bella again as he prefers beachfront hotels and we enjoyed it there a couple years ago.

For the first week he picked Casa Malaguena in San Augustinillo which was a great location, on top of the hill separating it and Mazunte, so a short walk to either town.

https://casa-boutique-la-malaguena.negocio.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral

The boutique hotel has only 6 rooms and the most gorgeous views (see pics). Lovely place, newer and quite comfortable. We had Room #2 and it has a king bed (comfortable) and a big bathroom with shower and also had a coffee maker and fridge. A/C worked well but the WiFi was pretty poor. Our deck was HUGE with a 300 degree view of the surrounding mountains and the entire beach. Gorgeous. Smoking is allowed there in the common areas outdoors, if anyone cares about that.

We had breakfasts included and they were basic but good (eggs any way, coffee, tortillas, and either bacon or chorizo). Small pool and there was also a bar but unfortunately while we were there it wasn't really open, although we could grab beers from the cooler and just get the pesos to the woman who was the acting manager while we were there- apparently the owners had had 'an accident' (we never did find out more info) and were absent that week- too bad as we had heard very good things about them. But the replacement did a fine job and was very helpful and knowledgeable. The hotel was very quiet, only three of the rooms were occupied this week and everyone was friendly but sort of kept their distance. Dead quiet at night, not a party area or hotel at all.

Our only negatives with this hotel was the STEEP climb to get up the hill (like 60-70% grade, the taxis wouldn't even go up, they would drop us at the foot of the hill, lol) and the poor/patchy Wifi and also they really need to up their game with the furniture in the common areas- only two VERY uncomfortable chairs on our deck and a tiny table, and two loungers by the pool so it could really only be used by two people at a time. They could add some hammocks and a few more comfortable chairs and a couple loungers would be nice on the decks.

We did a lot of exploring of the area this week. We spent a couple beach days in San Augustinillo, a couple in Mazunte, one in Puerto Angel at Playa Panteon and two days at Zipolite. (We had done Ventanilla and the turtle museum on a previous trip so we didn't visit either this time.)

There was a big 'Nude Festival' going on in Zipo that week so the beach and town were hopping. Nudism is not my thing but after about an hour on the beach you don't even notice them anymore. Mostly gay males couples it seemed (very LGBTQ friendly town) but straight couples and singles too, anything goes, all ages. shapes, sizes.

We actually liked Zipolite the best of all the places we visited, and I think if we decide to stay anywhere in this area in the future other than Huatulco, it would be there. It just seemed to have a really good vibe to us- but then again we only spent a total of maybe ten hours there, and just during the daytime. But I'd never stay a whole week, I think 3 days would be enough. The main reason for that is the lack of swimmable beaches at all of these places. We did swim here and there in protected spots at Mazunte and Zip (far left end there) but it was still no comparison to Maguey or Entrega etc. Just very big rough surf. It was fun watching the surfers and skimboarders though, and we also saw whales breaching 3 or 4 times from shore. We didn't go out whale watching as we have seen them super close up in Zihua a few times.

San Augustinillo- we liked it but it is SLEEPY and small. Not a lot of restaurants to choose from. Quite often you would have one in mind and walk there and it would be closed that day. Our favourites were El Navegante and the restaurant at hotel Punta Placer. We went to Umami one evening and it was also unique and good. Long wait there though as there are very few tables. And we went to a newer place called Casa Mia one night that was up a hill just before the wine shop (look for the sign on the main street and head up-when you think you cannot find it, turn left and keep walking and it's at the almost top of the hill on your left.)

We were going to stay at the Punta Placer but no pool and no A/C changed our minds. We knew we would want a pool with all the unswimmable beaches in the area. (I think maybe the local beaches are more safe to swim at certain times, but when we were there it was quite windy and surf was big.)

We went to the little internet cafe/ice cream shop by the turtle museum the first Sunday to watch the NFL game, that was interesting! A lot of local ex pats and they had great fried chicken and chicken burgers and hamburgers. It was more like being at a buddies house and watching the game than a proper restaurant - but it was fun, and interesting talking to the people who stay there for months. It sure sounds like a lawless place....it seems like it attracts the sort of people who enjoy that kind of lifestyle, both the good and the bad. Think lots of alternative/granola/holistic stuff with some wacky half baked 'spiritual' stuff mixed in- with a LOT of drugs and alcohol. One guy was telling me his buddy insisted on riding his buddy's motorbike he had borrowed home from a party at three AM the week before and promptly ran into a tree and broke his arm. No charges and no recourse for the buddy for his wrecked bike- that life sounds good ....until it doesn't. Anyway, everyone was young in Mazunte and we did NOT fit in, in more than one way. But it was interesting!

Zipolite on the other hand seemed to me to have the good qualities of the bohemian lifestyle without the youth and the Instagrammers and the harder drugs- but again, that was only our impression after our brief time there. YMMV.

We enjoyed our second week in Huatulco more. Mainly because there is more to see and do and many more restaurants, and we could actually swim and snorkel, and the swimmable beaches for me is the #1 reason I come to this area.

We mainly hung out at the Quinta Bella for about 4 of the days- start at the beach then move to the pool about 4 and then get ready and go out to dinner.

We ate at Otto, Terraza del Mar, Uno and Forno at the hotel- all 7 of their restaurants are great. Favourite meal was B's beef wellington with the cheese foam at Otto- amazing. Also I had chicken Milanese at Terraza del Mar and it was the best I've ever had. I tried to recreate it at home last weekend but it wasn't as good- it was so crispy and juicy! And came with actual lemon which was nice.

We also ate at Griselda's (very good 'pad thai' but not really authentic tasting, IMO) and El Cajun (slow service and just not as tasty as I remembered from last trip- but good if you are craving a taste of home pub food, like Xipol) and one night we ate at Casa de la Nonna's on the zocalo I think it is called. B did NOT like his tlayuda but that was because he had never had it before, not because there was anything wrong with it-but I had a salad with goat cheese and walnuts that was BIG and very yummy. A quite odd Italian man was sort of acting as a maitre d/greeter - I liked him but he seemed quite eccentric.

We also had dinner at Blu at Sea Soul one night and it was $$ but pretty good. They make a good Old Fashioned there. I thought it was basically the same menu as when it was Clio's. The wine store by there is good but ridiculous prices. They could add at least a couple wines below 400 pesos and get more people buying, lol.

We also had lunch at Playa Bocana at the 'left side' restaurant (Los Gueros maybe was the name?) which was one of the best meals the whole 2 weeks. Chicken and fish burgers and the carrot cake which was SO GOOD! And we also had burgers waiting to catch our taxi to the airport at Grillo's on the zocalo- also good. None of the food we had at beach club/restaurants was that great.

We snorkeled at Maguey, Entrega and Chahue- saw loads of rays at Chahue and a couple spotted snake eels. We frequently saw the rays jumping off Chahue too, very cool. Coral is in terrible shape at Entrega, smashed by all the people of course, and there seemed to be fewer fish there than I've seen on previous years snorkeling. Didn't get to Violin or San Agustin this year which IMO has the best snorkeling.

We also did a long hike to get those two pretty 'hidden beaches' near Secrets (down the beach to the left and take the trail through the 'jungle' to them). We had visited Bocana and had lunch, bought a couple waters and beers, then walked up to the highway and walked toward Secrets until we spotted the trail head then walked in.

I had done this about 15 or so years ago and it was the same trail. We had flip flops which I don't recommend and also don't attempt this if you are at all mobility challenged- there are a couple tricky spots clambering down the hill to get to the first beach then two big piles of rocks to scramble over. But we made in two intact pieces lol. Then we hung out and cooled off (was 35C that day!) and swam at the beach for about an hour (with another couple with their umbrella and beach chairs for company, as well as a small group who walked over from Secrets). Then we walked down the beach past Secrets to the end where there was a couple restaurants set up, with people harvestiing and selling oysters (thanks but not for us). We then had another beer or two then walked up the steps and back to the highway where we caught a taxi back.

Overall (and I may catch flack for this, oh well) we were both a bit saddened by the changes to the area we noticed in the past two years. So much new building going on!! how many condos are going to be enough? And what is up with that monstrosity of a building behind Chahue beach on the main street -it looks like a cruise ship crossed with a parkade? Prices of course have skyrocketed like they have everywhere. I had never paid so much for dinners for two people, twice or three times we paid over 2000 pesos for dinner. That is a bit nuts, jmo. Of course it's gone up dramatically too but in Mexico they still get 20 bucks a day and don't have to pay for central heating and many other expenses restaurants have to pay for, so it's apples and oranges.

Service still seems to be lacking at many of the restaurants we felt, too, compared to other tourist areas in Mexico. Language barrier is fine, I have zero complaints of course that the people in this area speak less English than other tourist areas- I speak enough Spanish to give an order clearly, that was not it. Many times we would sit down and wait for a long time before getting menus brought over, then maybe another 15 or 20 minutes before even getting asked if we want a drink. Also, quite often they would screw up our order, bring us two beer and a water instead of one beer and a water, for example. This happened a few times in the 2 weeks. It's just carelessness and a lack of good training for servers, I think, or they cannot get enough good staff, which seems to be a worldwide issue since Covid.

It also seemed like the area was not being as well maintained and had more litter than I remembered from previous visits, perhaps the adjustment since Fonatur pulled out might be part of the problem there? Hard to market your destination as super green and eco conscious etc. if you have garbage and stray dogs everywhere, and the coral is smashed to smithereens at the most popular beaches. Beaches themselves were clean though! I think one of the biggest challenges in this area is to keep the developers under control and at least keep it more contained- the more spread out the different developments the more infrastructure needed and we all know how that goes.

Anyway, there you go. Still a beautiful area with great (if a little too hot) weather (had rain one night in SA- I want my money back!!) and amazing beaches.

20 replies to this topic
Huatulco, Mexico
Level Contributor
12,136 posts
65 reviews
118 helpful votes
1. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Nice report! Thank you. We are also saddened by the amount of building and are wondering if the water and electrical infrastructure can sustain the rapid growth.

CH

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
924 posts
4 reviews
7 helpful votes
2. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

I'm surprised you didn't discover Playa BeBe, at the West end of San Augustinillo, past Casa Bagus. That's where everyone swims and snorkels. We also stayed at Punta Placer and were at first concerned about not having A/C but with the ceiling fan, a portable fan and the breezes that blow through the rooms (we were on the upper level) we slept well once we got used to the crashing waves. It is a pretty sleepy place and we've never stayed more than 4 or 6 nights. Restaurants we liked were Sueno de Frida for breakfast and Temporada for dinner or lunch. Good pizza at La Termita right on the beach beside Punta Placer.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
17,269 posts
70 reviews
148 helpful votes
3. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

is Playa Bebe the one to the far far right when facing the ocean? Near the No Nude' sign but even farther right? There was people there swimming as well as a spot near the rocks more to the left too. We just didn't that day.

I think it was our first day there when we were surprised to see a woman arrive at SA beach, spread out a blanket then gear totally down and change into her suit, for all to see! lol. We also saw someone get told by a guy on an ATV to put her top back on. So they definitely try to keep the nudism confined to Zipolite, lol.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
924 posts
4 reviews
7 helpful votes
4. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Yes, around the point to the right. It was common to see topless sunbathers almost every day at SA, right by the big SA sign.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,374 posts
46 reviews
39 helpful votes
5. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

I'm also curious about your comment about San Agustinillo beaches. We stay at Casa Bagus every year and swim all the time, just to the right of the hotel.

We like El Navagante too. At Casa Bagus, La Perla Negra is great for breakfast and lunch. We usually walk to Mazunte for dinner where there are plenty of good restaurants.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
17,269 posts
70 reviews
148 helpful votes
6. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

I believe it was maybe unusually rough while we were there. It was VERY windy for a couple of days while we were in SA and then again one day while we were in Huatulco- I think they closed the port/marina that day. We went to a restaurant to have lunch at Santa Cruz and we actually had to leave before ordering, it was so windy that even sitting inside we were getting pelted by bits and pieces from the palapa roofing, lol (it was the restaurant to the far left facing the ocean, I forget the name?). It also rained hard one night in SA about midnight and then one day in Huatulco too- quite unusual.

and we did only go to the SA beach two days...so maybe it was unusually rough those days?

So maybe it is normally calmer than it was during our week there. We managed to swim fine at the far right of the beach in Mazunte.

We also had dinner about three other times in Mazunte but I can't remember the names! Sorry lol.

Edited: 23 February 2024, 06:03
Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
17,269 posts
70 reviews
148 helpful votes
7. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

I forgot to mention that hubby's phone was lost when it (best we can figure) must have fallen out of his shorts pocket when in a taxi to Puerto Angel from SA one day. So dumb, but accidents happen. We didn't get the number of the taxi either and it left before we realized it was gone. We did send messages on Facebook to the local taxi page to see if one had been found, they said they would check but no dice. Called the carrier to have it locked/cancelled. Unfortunate but happens! No fallout from it thankfully.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
924 posts
4 reviews
7 helpful votes
8. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Rissask, welcome to the club! I left mine in the door pocket of a cab between Zipo & SA one night. Got distracted and totally forgot it. Was at first hopeful after having heard all the feel-good stories of people getting them back in Huatulco, not so easy in the rural areas, especially if you neglect to note which cab company it was. I was able to track it on my laptop until the battery died, then it was adios Samsung amigo.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
17,269 posts
70 reviews
148 helpful votes
9. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Yes, not a club anyone wants to be a member of! He had an iPad with him but (duh) he had not linked the phone with Find my iPhone to it....plus it was on airplane mode, and he always has the ringer off. We tried calling it but no answer. Oh well, live and learn.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
924 posts
4 reviews
7 helpful votes
10. Re: Trip Report Jan/Feb 2024-- San Augustinillo and Huatulco

Getting back to the beaches at SA and swimming, maybe you did happen to be there during bad conditions. I'm not a strong swimmer and I was able to snorkle there. The manager at Punta Placer did tell us stories of having to rescue people a few times where he told them not to swim.

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