Huatulco is packed with ancient Indian history. In pre-Hispanic times, it was first inhabited by the coastal Tututepec tribe. Zapotec, Mixtec and Aztec merchants established an important trade route through the region, and slowly, the town of Santa Maria Huatulco began to grow. Coastal navigation was controlled from the town, which remains the only site in which a navigation aid has been found, consisting of an estela (stone monolith) on the top of a cliff to help guide the canoes out at sea. The town was also strategically located on the river banks and near the sea, allowing its inhabitants to exploit fresh water and salt water resources. The main activity of the people of Huatulco has long been fishing, but their ancestors had long established traditions of gathering products for their own consumption and exchanging with other local groups.
One of Huatulco's archeological sites is the Bocana del Rio Copalita complex and museum, easily accessed at just five miles from the town. The earliest remains of this pre-Hispanic site date back 2,500 years and lie on the ancient boundary between the Mixtec and Zapotec areas. The site, known simply as Copalita, has been in the process of excavation since 1988 by an expert team from Mexico’s Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). You can access the ancient building complex where the ruling class would have lived in the first six centuries B.C., including the Templo Mayor (Main Temple), Templo de la Serpiente (Temple of the Serpent), and the Ball Court with its vast stones engraved in low relief. The site's 86 acres, brimming with ancient history, are just waiting to be discovered.
A second site that has begun to be excavated in recent years is Punta Celeste (Celestial Point), just south of Tangolunda bay. The site has been under investigation since 1997 by Mexico’s National Institute for Archaeology and History, and is opening up a treasure trove of finds and historical revelations. Like the archaeological site at Tulum on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Punta Celeste overlooks the expanse of the ocean. The site consists of ancient burial sites, ball courts, a complex of small pyramids and an eerie cliff-side sacrificial stone. Dating back to 500 B.C., Punta Celeste was developed by the mysterious Mixtec culture. Since funds for further excavation are limited, unfortunately access to the site is restricted at present, so you'll only be able to see a fraction of this sacred area. Donations are being sought to further this important project, with the goal of opening the site to visitors in coming years.