The relaxed resort region of Huatulco is located at the base of the jungle-covered Sierra Madre del Sur mountains in the state of Oaxaca. The area encompasses a string of nine Pacific coast bays, each with its own unique character. These include the beachfront hotel zone in Tangolunda and the colourful coral reefs of San Agustín. Here are four ways to experience the outdoors in and around Huatulco.

Snorkel nine beautiful bays

With 36 golden sand beaches and clean, clear waters, snorkelling is a must in Huatulco. Certified dive shop Hurricane Divers offers a full-day snorkelling tour that includes stops at two to three snorkel sites. Highlights include floating through coral gardens at colourful San Agustín Bay and spotting sea horses at Maguey Bay. If you’re staying at Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa on Tangolunda Bay, snorkel among schools of curious fish just a flipper kick from shore.

Hike to jungle waterfalls

More than a dozen waterfalls stud the dense jungle in the foothills above Huatulco National Park, a protected zone established in 1998 in the southwest end of the region. A must-see is the Cascadas Mágicas (Magic Waterfalls) located about two hours from the hotel zone. Local tour operators like Viator and Huatulco Tours Enrique offer transportation followed by a steep, 30-minute guided hike up to the falls. Expect to spot iguanas, hummingbirds and orioles along the way, then cool off with a refreshing plunge into crystalline waters. These tours also include a visit to a nearby coffee plantation.

Go whitewater rafting

Oaxaca’s Sierra Madre del Sur mountains might be best known as the source of premium Pluma Hidalgo coffee but this ancient landscape of deep canyons and dense jungle is also prime territory for whitewater rafting. Local tour operator Aventura Mundo provides certified guides who’ll lead you through a full day of fun on the Copalita River, known for its exciting drops and steep cliff valleys. Thrill seekers should raft the upper section of the river, an adrenaline-pumping descent through 22 kilometres of Class III and IV rapids. Prepare to get stoked and soaked.

Surf legendary waves

Head up the coast to Puerto Escondido, a fishing village turned surfer’s paradise west of Huatulco that’s home to the Mexican Pipeline, an epic wave break that draws an international surf crowd. Spend the morning watching pros ride the powerful barrels at Zicatela Beach, then hang ten on the gentle waves of local beaches such as Playa Carrizalillo where surfing legend Roger Ramirez of Oasis Surf & Language School offers lessons for all ages.