As gorgeous as fall colours and crisp sweater weather may be, this season seems to whisper a warning with every wind: Winter is coming. Yikes.
I don’t mean to bring you down but have you booked your next vacay yet? You might want to think about that. During last winter’s particularly brutal reign, I desperately needed a break. So I escaped the cold and fled to Huatulco, Mexico for one blissful, sun-soaked week. It was a destination I knew zero about. In fact, I couldn’t even pronounce its name.
‘‘Hooah—hoota—hulta,’’ I stammered when asked my destination at airport customs.
“Mexico,” I finally said, giving up. The officer stamped my passport with that you-see-all-kinds-in-this-job look.
That was then. Now, I’m not only able to pronounce Huatulco (Wah-tool-co), but I also know what a fabulous go-to destination it is. Why is it so worth the trip? So many reasons.
Huatulco impresses even before the plane lands. As you descend, first the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains comes into sight, and then a mirage-like view of glittery turquoise water meeting white sand. Aaaaahhhhhh. I was so winter-weary that I had the urge to climb out on the wing and just parachute down, but I was transfixed. I could do nothing but stare as the landscape came into focus, revealing a jagged coast line, multiple bays and a smattering of resorts and developments to discover.
Bahia de Huatulco (The Bays of Huatulco), located on the Pacific coast, 800 kilometers south of Acapulco, consists of 9 bays and 36 white sand beaches along 26 kilometers of shoreline. Less populated than other parts of Mexico, it prides itself on protecting the rich nature and wildlife that attracts both local and international visitors. Another big draw, especially for Canadians who make up the majority of its foreign visitors, is the 330 days of sunshine.
Yes, you read that right. This is one destination that makes the phrase Guaranteed Weather mean something. The sun was shining as I stepped off the plane and experienced that wonderful moment every winter-escaping tourist cherishes—the warm tropical air hitting moisture-starved skin. My muscles, still feeling the effects of a particularly grueling snow-shoveling session, instantly relaxed.
Bays of Huatulco Tour The hot sun, pristine white beaches and shimmering water are the perfect antidote to winter and the Bays of Huatulco tour is an ideal way to explore them. At Bahia Organo and Bahia Cacaluta, there’s no human construction of any kind, so there were very few people around as we snorkelled among the corals and bright blue fish and strolled along the beach.
It was like being almost alone in paradise until we reached Bahia Maguey. Here, large, multi-generational families play in the water and hang out on the beach, and everyone from abuelita (grandma) to bébé can enjoy themselves. There’s a row of small eateries with thatched roofs lining the beach, and we sat down at El Camarone Gigante (The Giant Shrimp) to watch the scene as we dined on delicious coconut cream shrimp in pineapple, baked in a traditional clay oven.
There’s lots more to explore as well. The coffee plantations high up in the mountains produce the best tasting coffee in the country. Also highly recommended are the Zapoteca Mud Baths, where visitors come from all over to slather mineral rich mud on their bodies and bake in the sun for health and beauty benefits.
Resort Pleasures The adults-only Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa built in 2011 has so many temptations that it’s easy to stay put no matter how much there is to see and do off property. To be honest, with 24-hour room service, a mini-bar that is replenished daily with no additional cost, and a balcony overlooking the ocean (each of their 399 rooms has an ocean view), it’s sometimes a struggle just to get yourself out of the room.
But do it. There are so many pleasures out there, just waiting to be enjoyed, as long as much as life feels like it’s slowing down, your vacation won’t last forever.
Secrets Spa by Pevonia, perched high on a cliff, affords panoramic views of Conejos Bay as we relaxed our way through a spa circuit, starting with a sauna and steam rooms and ending with stations of foot reflexology and massage jets. In the treatment room, the massage table is surrounded by bay windows with such an incredible lookout that I half-expected Robert Leech from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to start narrating.
With a full roster of activities, top-notch dining, and two gorgeous infinity pools to lounge around, the vacay slides by far too quickly, and before long, I’m back home experiencing that horrible moment every winter-escaping tourist dreads—the frigid air hitting exposed skin. I don’t want to even think about that cold now, but each red leaf is warning me that winter is coming. Time to plan our escape.
How to get there: Both Air Canada and Westjet have non-stop flights from Toronto to Huatulco. For more info on Secrets Huatulco Resort and Spa, check out their website.