Huatulco, in the province of Oaxaca on the Pacific Coast, feels to me like a world away from the touristy vibe of Cancun. Oaxaca is a lush region and the most biodiverse in the country, according to The Mazatlan Post. Even the color of the water is different, sparkling deep cobalt blue and emerald, and the province is rich in ancient cultural traditions.
Huatulco consists of a collection of seven bahias, or bays, and this Dreams Resort is a sprawling, family-friendly, all-inclusive of 400-some spacious rooms on Tangolunda Bay, flanked by the Sierra Madre mountains. I think it’s ideal for a multigenerational family vacation since there’s plenty to do for all ages, and plenty of space to avoid crowds including designated adults-only areas.
There are six pools, including one stunning infinity pool water circuit, and the resort is located on one of the most child-friendly beaches in the region because it has no strong currents or big waves. I enjoyed the secluded adults-only beach bar at the end of the cove that also had superb snorkeling.
Desire Riviera Maya Resort nestled in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, is just 20 minutes from the Cancun International Airport. Nearby, you can revel in the glitz and glamour of Cancun, walk the quaint town of Playa del Carmen, visit archaeological ruins in Tulum or hop on a quick ferry ride to the Island of Cozumel.
The cuisine is different here as well. Oaxaca is famous for its different types of moles, and I think local specialties like shrimp in cheese sauce in a brick oven-baked pineapple are must-tries. I had this dish first at El Camaron Gigante, a local beach that is famous for it, but it’s available at other places, too.
Fried grasshoppers with lime, called chapulines, is also a speciality in Oaxaca, but I didn’t indulge. Food and drink included at the resort spans seven restaurants and six bars, including one dedicated to mezcal. The property is a cheap cab ride from the charming little local town of La Crucecita where I highly recommend shopping for the region’s signature colorful folk-art sculptures of mythical creatures called alebrijes.
Off-property must-do: I highly recommend exploring this intriguing region with Homietours, a local tour operator that provides highly personal and informative excursions for small groups, from a city tour of Huatalco to visiting nearby archaeological sites.