ZIPOLITE - THE ULTIMATE BEACH BUM TOWN
There are two types of people who will need little persuasion to make
their way to Zipolite:
1) Fans of the cult Mexican 'coming-of-age' road move 'Y tu mama tambien'
looking for similar epiphanies and awakenings for it was here that the
mesmerising beach scenes were filmed.
2) Those who have a desire to sunbathe or wander around the beach
as nature intended; in their birthday suit with numerous bodily appenda
ges swinging freely (age and luck dependent).
And if you encamp here long enough, you may just become someone
who belongs to both groups.
'Zipolite te atrapa' and for good reason: this place is a little gem on
Mexico's Oaxaca coast and you will probably struggle to leave.
A stunning uncrowded beach, strong and challenging surf, an LGBT friendly
crowd and simply doing nothing. Though there are a small selection of
upmarket hotels and wealthy Mexican weekenders, Zipolite remains a budget
backpacker haven without having sold its soul over to them (a la Puerto Escondido).
This was, in our view, the best place along Mexico's west coast.
We don't know why any traveller worth their salt would want to miss this place.
However, the laid-back, sometimes hippy-esque, atmosphere may have some
craving more 'action' after a few days and the nudity scattered around the be
ach (mainly the far east and west sides) may make some uncomfortable.
Zipolite's sea also has a justifiably notorious reputation. The waves are strong,
the current unpredictable and the undertow can be overpowering, so
much so that the beach is also known by some as the 'beach of the dead'.
There have been several drownings over the years and the sea here should be
treated with respect and an appreciation of the dangers.
Volunteer lifeguards are a common sight and red or yellow flags will indicate t
he state of the ocean each day. We did enjoy swimming in the sea, with the
crashing waves being a lot of fun to battle and jump into in shallow water,
but this is not the sea for you to learn to surf or practise your swimming.
Although we'd like to pretend that we were a hive of activity and exploration
during our time here, that is not what Zipolite is about. The must do things here
usually involve mostly doing nothing: all you'll need is a good book, good
company, a cold beer and barefeet. Those who prefer a luxurious experience
can seek out the white sun-loungers at Hotel Nude and a few other bars – just
buy a meal or a few drinks and they can be yours for the day.
Nearby Mazunte has the Mexican Turtle Centre which is a worthwhile
day-trip - a camionetta ride will cost between $5-6 per person.
WHERE TO SLEEP
There are plenty of cheap rustic cabanas, dorms and hammocks along the
beach. Your best bet is the west-side of the beach as everything on the east
side feels a little remote.
Budget accommodation is easy to find, with the going rate around $50 for
a dorm/hammock/camping and $100 – 150 for a wooden cabana. Our top
tip is El Carrizo wherea double room with wifi, kitchen and a great host will
cost you $100 pesos a night.
WHERE TO DRINK
It seems that at any given time of day it is happy hour in Zipolite, with the majority of the beach flanked bars and restaurants serving up reassuringly strong 2-4-1 cocktails and cheap beers. Two of our favourites were Reggae Bar and Bang-Bang, conveniently situated next door one another, about half-way down the beach. Popular with local artisans and backpackers, these unpretentious watering holes are a great place to chill out in a hammock, beer in hand whilst listening to a great soundtrack and partaking in a drinking game or two.
WHERE TO EAT
The main street parallel to the beach houses cheap taco and seafood joints,
pizzerias and a couple of Western-based menus.
Our top picks are the '5 tacos for $35' place and the barbecue chicken
stall where you can have a mountain of a meal for $30/60/100 (depending
on how much chicken you select) involving pasta, rice, tortillas, potatoes
A number of the artisans also sell freshly baked pastries in the morning or
late afternoon on the beach – ranging from $8-15, these are a delicious
accompaniment to your coffee-break.
Hotel Nude is the high-end restaurant in town but its food is lacking in
quality and very over-priced.
If coming from the North or the East of Oaxaca, your first port of call will be
Pochutla, from where it is easy to flag down a camioneta to Zipolte on the ma
in road. Some of these will have a sign for Mazunte and go no further, so double
check with the driver on final destination. The prices can vary a little depending
on the driver, but the typical going rate is $12 pesos per person, for the 20-30
If arriving from Puerto Escondido, the cheaper and quicker option is to get
dropped off at the San Antonio crossroads (look out for the Oxxo shop),
and wait for a camioneta towards Zipolite. Cost is approx $10 pesos per person.
There are numerous tiendas on the main street, but we discovered that the che
apest is the smallest, on the same side and closest to Posada Mexico. As well as
the satisfaction of saving a few pesos, the best part about this shop is trying to
eke a smile out of the owner, a glamorous octogenarian; It took us about a week.
BUDGET-BREAKER OR MAKER?
Maker. We planned three days in Zipolite and stayed for nearly three weeks. And
we weren't the only ones who found themselves settling here for a lot longer than
The cheapest accommodation so far on our trip ($100 for a cabana with private
terrace and shared kitchen), friendly locals and a special atmosphere were
all available without ever coming close to breaking our budget.