What to buy in Huatulco (Mexico)

August 18, 2013 | By | 12 Replies More
Canjeos Bay in Huatulco

The view of Canjeos Bay from Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa

Figuring out what to buy in Huatulco can be challenging but here are some options for inveterate shoppers.

The relaxing, eco-friendly resort town of Huatulco, Mexico has nine aquamarine bays and 36 sandy beaches (One of them, Playa Cacaluta, served as the setting for the blockbuster movie, Y Tu Mama Tambien).

Tourists visit this sleepy part of the Oaxacan coast (in southwestern Mexico) mainly to swim, snorkel, explore and relax in a natural setting that has until now has resisted overdevelopment, unlike many beach resorts in other parts of the country. However, because the area isn’t densely populated or saturated with tourists (one of its virtues), shopping can be challenging. Yet, diehard shoppers can find a few small remembrances to take home.

The best place to shop in Huatluco is probably the area called La Crucecita, which has the feel of a town center filled with small shops, restaurants, bays and street vendors (one woman was selling hammocks). You can even pause at a nearby shop for a mezcal or tequila tasting. A charming parish church, La Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, overlooks the large grassy square (zocalo).

La Crucecita has a crowded public market filled with stalls selling foods, clothing, baskets, hats, wooden carvings and other souvenirs; the patrons seem to be mostly tourists rather than locals. A more authentic alternative is the Pochutla Market, about ten minutes away by taxi.

Here are some of the interesting items shoppers can buy in Huatulco. Many of these “finds” are actually characteristic of the larger state of Oaxaca rather than of Huatulco, per se:

Cotton Blouses

Colorful cotton goods (e.g. bedspreads, blouses, sundresses, scarves and popular men’s shirts called guayaberas), which are woven and stitched by hand, are available at many shops. But at the small textile factory, called Telares Oaxaquenos, you can still watch them being made on large looms with pedals.

Loom at the cotton textile factory in Huatulco

Loom at the cotton textile factory in Huatulco

Women sewing at the cotton textile factory in Huatulco

Women sewing at the cotton textile factory in Huatulco

Wood Carvings

Alebrijes are brightly painted pieces of folk art, first made in Oaxaca and now sold across the world. The sculptures from the wood of the copal tree take the forms of various whimsical animal figurines and are supposed to bring good luck. Manuel Jimenez is considered the godfather of this art form although hundreds of artists now use the same traditional methods. 

An alebrije from Huatulco

An alebrije from Huatulco

Painted Masks 

Playful masks of devils and other fanciful characters are handcrafted from wood and coconut shells, and decorated with paint, primarily for use in traditional dance celebrations. Some of the masks dating date back more than 100 years, and are exhibited in galleries and museums.

Painted masks in Huatulco

Painted masks in Huatulco


Moles are rich, savory sauces (salsas) that transport many foodies to Oaxaca and that have made Oaxacan cuisine famous throughout the world. Although there are seven varieties of mole, each family has its own recipe. Black mole (which contains bitter chocolate) is the most widely known type. Even if you don’t bring some home, you should order dishes with mole during your visit.

Moles for sale in Huatulco

Moles for sale in Huatulco

Day of the Dead Figurines 

In November, Mexicans honor the dead and celebrate life on the Dia de los Muertos. The painted figures and shadow boxes provide income for many craftsmen in the region.

Day of the Dead figurines on display at Secrets Huatulco

Day of the Dead figurines on display at Secrets Huatulco


Oaxaca is the center of chocolate production in Mexico. Interestingly, it was impossible to find a locally made candy bar (And I really looked! Snacks tend to be salty instead of sweet) but chunks of the bittersweet chocolate made for cooking are sold in most markets. Oaxacan chocolate is the basic ingredient for a popular hot chocolate drink made with sugar, cinnamon, almonds and milk or water. You can also buy the traditional wooden utensil used to stir the drink, called a molinillo.

Oaxacan cooking chocolate

Oaxacan cooking chocolate

Black Pottery 

A bit harder to take home in a suitcase, Oaxaca is known for a type of distinctive black pottery made from local black clay and crafted into beautiful vases, pitchers, bowls and other decorative ornaments.

Photo Credit: BlackClayPottery.com

Photo Credit: BlackClayPottery.com

Beaded Bracelets

Beaded bracelets are ubiquitous throughout Mexico. We stayed at Secrets Huatulco Resort and Spa, where I purchased this one, both for myself and several for gifts, at a crafts market held in the hotel’s courtyard one evening.

My beaded bracelet from Huatulco

My beaded bracelet from Huatulco

Organic Pluma Coffee 

In a village called Pluma Hidalgo within the cloud forest of the Sierra Madre Mountains are small coffee plantations that have existed for more than a century. Some consider this coffee to be the best in Mexico because of its wonderful taste and aroma. Grown and sold locally, it is also available at the market in Huatulco.

Pluma Hidalgo coffee from Huatulco

Pluma Hidalgo coffee from Huatulco


Unless desperate for a last-minute gift or frustrated by a long layover, I usually avoid airport gift shops but fell in love with an incredible shop in the Mexico City (Benito Juarez) airport. It’s really a Don’t Miss! Tienda Map is a small non-profit crafts shop in the Mexico City airport that promotes folk art in an effort to improve the lives of artisans. The clerk explained that they are part of the Museo de Arte Popular (folk art museum) in Mexico City, where they also have their main shop. The short video below provides a glimpse of the textiles, pottery, embroidery, jewelry and other crafts they carry. I couldn’t resist these earrings crafted from bottle tops with pictures of Frida Kahlo, a painter known for her self-portraits.

My Frida Kahlo earrings

My Frida Kahlo earrings

Also on MoreTimeToTravel.com

*A link to this post is on Travel Photo Mondays

A short video about Tienda Map on YouTube:

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Comments (12)

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  1. Muza-chan says:

    The Alebrijes sculptures are lucky charms? I want one 🙂

  2. This is such a great shopping guide! I loved your photos, especially of the folk art pieces. I have yet to visit Mexico proper (just a few trips to Baja) and this really makes me want to go!

  3. noel says:

    Those are excellent choices, I love the black pottery myself, since I also do ceramics, thanks for sharing.

  4. Ruth says:

    I didn’t know that there was more than one kind of mole. I am all for the chocolate – the darker the better. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a pretty beaded bracelet you got! The painted masks look very nice too. Just have to get ourselves to Huatulco now!

  6. Sheila Baird says:

    Hello Irene,
    Thank you for writing such a lovely article on the destination. Sheila, Amstar Huatulco.

  7. Tony C says:


    Really enjoyed the read. I’m doing research for an upcoming trip.

    Are the clay “comal” pictured with the coffee also available?


    • Hi Tony,

      The comal is definitely not available at the small coffee outlet in Pluma Hidalgo. It was just used for display purposes. Since it is so typical, I would suspect you could find pieces like it in downtown Huatulco.

      Have a great trip~

      Best, Irene

  8. Gail Trombley says:

    Adding to your list of places to shop for handmade jewelry…Maica Designs at 412 Chacah…beautiful designs and very kind, hospitable owners…they also sell a few other items like mountain coffee and mescal…not far from the town square.

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