There are nine bays that makeup Huatulco, a paradise of the Oaxacan Pacific. The area is rich in history because of its location and its natural characteristics, it has been a port of great importance over the years, from the pre-Hispanic period to the colony and today for its tourist attractions. Learn more about the history of the bays of Huatulco and what makes them an excellent place to visit during your stay in Oaxaca.
The pre-Hispanic history
Huatulco was originally part of the Mixtec kingdom. The indigenous gave this area the name of Cuahtolco, which means: “place where the wood is worshipped”. The word was distorted until it became Huatulco as we know it today.
In 1984, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) explored the surroundings of the tourist complex of Huatulco. This is how the ruins of several pre-Hispanic settlements were discovered. This information reveals that the area had a high population density and that it was of importance for the Mixtec kingdom.
In fact, historians claim that there were textile export trips to Central America from this port. In turn, it has been speculated that it was here that goldsmithing and goldwork from other parts of America were introduced.
Its importance during the colony
In New Spain, the bays of Huatulco continued to be of great importance. The port was the most important in the Pacific. Even Hernán Cortés considered installing his shipyards there (a facility designed to repair boats). Although it did not, it was the port from which boats left for Honduras and Peru with preserves for the rest of the colonies of New Spain.
In turn, from this port was to start the project of La Nao de China, a trade route that would connect Spain with China through Mexico. It is worth remembering that it was precisely the search for a trade route that caused Christopher Columbus to run into America. Eventually, exchanges of this kind were obtained through vessels that stopped in Mexican ports such as Acapulco. This exchange allowed to import silk, velvet, fruits, and spices; and exported coffee, silver, cocoa, chiles, among other riches of America.
The legend of the Holy Cross of Huatulco
Image by Martha Silva
In fact, the bays of Huatulco were so relevant that during the colony they attracted the attention of famous pirates such as Sir Francis Drake. Pirate attacks did not limit themselves to attacking ships before they reached port, many also devastated the local population.
On one occasion, the pirate Thomas Cavendish landed in the bays of Huatulco and looted as he pleased. The damage to the population was extensive, demolished buildings and committed many crimes. His last irreverent feat was to tear down a cross resting on the white sand of one of the bays of Huatulco. However, with nothing he could bring it down. He tried to burn it, but it was not possible. He tied it to his boat to pull it from its foundations and nothing moved it. In the end, Cavendish had to leave the cross alone.
This cross provoked great devotion among the inhabitants of the bay. They said that in the past a man had come out of the sea carrying the cross, some believe that he was the apostle Saint Thomas. The man encased the cross in the sand and talked with the indigenous people who then lived in the bay, I indicate that no one should move that cross because it was a symbol to remedy all its ills. After a while, he left because he said he was required elsewhere.
The Cross has stood all these years and has caused great pilgrimages of people who wish to see it and who are fervent in knowing the legend of its irremovability. The bay is named after the Bay of the Holy Cross.
The tourism persuit in the Bays of Huatulco
In the 60s, tourism began to be promoted in the country. As part of the project, beaches were investigated to allocate resources. The bays of Huatulco were perfect to start developing resorts.
Tourism in the bays of Huatulco is of utmost importance to the local economy. The area before this depended 100% on primary activities such as fishing and agriculture. But the truth is that each of the bays has unique beaches that are of great value to people looking to admire the natural beauty of the state of Oaxaca.
Visit the Bays of Huatulco
Huatulco is 237 km from the state capital of Oaxaca. Due to the tourist impulse, there are roads that connect directly with the area, so it is easily accessible.
If you are looking for a paradise to rest in and if you love the sea, Huatulco is definitely for you. Plan your trip with the help of the articles we have on the area: