Bahia San Agustin

snorkeling area Due to its isolation from the developed bays of Huatulco, San Agustin has remained a favorite among many. A huge bay with an island in the middle, the snorkeling near the beach here is usually quite good. There's an extensive area of shallow reef - sometimes too shallow, take care not to get scraped up on it - and a number of snorkel rental places among the palapas that litter the beach. Though at times the fish life doesn't seem as substantive as some other areas like La Entrega, there are often unique surprises to be found. One time it may be a five foot eagle ray gliding around the shallows, another time it might be a baby octopus. Even though there are more beachfront places to eat and drink than almost any of the other bays, it has a less commercial atmosphere and much less bustle to it. There's usually only one banana tube tow ride, and one jet ski around the place. The palapa restaurants are less expensive and for the most part better quality than at Maguey or Entrega or Santa Cruz. There are also some reasonable deals to be found on jewelry, and some of the best prices I've found in the area for bags of high quality organic coffee from Pluma Hidalgo. There's usually an old man or lady carrying a tray full of bags along the beach. giant damselfish Most people seem to end up by default in the west corner of the bay, where the main road from the highway ends, and where all the pangas anchor that bring people from Tangolunda or Santa Cruz. There's no reason to join the masses, and many of the less-frequented but best and cheapest establishments are in the middle of the bay. Beer can be found here for as cheap as 9 pesos, half the price what many places charge.

One of the nicest guys you can meet at San Agustin, Chucho, has an almost invisible establishment in the middle of the bay. His place is just to the east of the main restroom facilities where the colorful reef sign on the beach is, and he rents snorkel equipment for $40 pesos a set. Though he often doesn't appear to have tables, he'll put one out if one isn't there already. Though I became friends with him on my first visit, it took three or four visits before I could locate his place successfully. There are always dozens of other people trying to hustle you into their restaurants if you don't tell them firmly and repeatedly that you're looking for Chucho. The key is to look for the lifejackets and snorkel equipment, because his is the only rental place along this stretch of beach. He is one of the few people in the bay to own his own panga, which he uses to go oyster diving and fishing. He doesn't make any attempt to use it for tourists, Chucho and crew but if asked he will probably take you oyster diving, fishing, or on a trip to Riscalillo or Chachacual for substantially less than you'd pay a Santa Cruz panga. He dives for oysters among rock outcroppings a mile west of San Agustin, in ten to twenty feet of water, and there are often a number of eagle rays and many fish to see there. When you return to his place and he shucks them for you with limes and hot sauce to go on them, you know just how fresh they are. While I have had everything from canned tuna to bizarre fried mixtures passed off as seviche in other bays, Chucho also makes great seviche from barrilete - striped bonito - mojarra, or whatever else his catch of the day is. His garlic grilled huachinango (red snapper), or any of his fish dishes are quite good, for about 80 pesos. You can get similar fare and prices at any of the other restaurants, but if you're looking for a unique experience while you're there, definitely look up Chucho.

There are a few different ways to get to San Agustin. It's a somewhat long boat ride from Santa Cruz unless you get an early start and combine it with sightseeing of all the other bays. If you have a car, the turnoff from the highway is a couple km's west of the airport, opposite the road up to Santa Maria Huatulco. Depending on the time of year, punk rock visitors at Chucho's the dirt road can be relatively well graded or in extremely rough shape. During dry season in winter, it's usually pretty well maintained though it is 12 km of driving to the beach. The cheap method if you don't have a car is to get one of the local buses from Crucecita to the turnoff, and hire a taxi from there, which saves you a considerable amount of money over having a taxi drive you all the way there. When you're almost at the beach, you encounter some forks in the road with signs listing the different restaurants to be found in each direction. Most people keep going straight, to the west end of the bay, though if you fork to the left it will lead you toward Chucho's. Shortly after that fork there will be another, where you go to the right - the left one takes you to the east end of the beach. Once you come up behind the beach palapas you'll see the large yellow restroom facilities at one end and Chucho's place is about twenty meters to the east of them.

San Agustin overview