If you’ve come here because you heard about Zipolite, then you probably already know that it’s the first and only legal nude beach in Mexico. If you’ve stumbled here by accident, welcome to the party!
Zipolite is more than just a nude beach, though; it’s a chill paradise for the free-spirited heart.
I can often be caught using hyperbolic language when I talk about how much I love Mexico, so don’t be surprised if I refer to several places as my all-time favorite spots. Zipolite is no exception: it’s one of my absolute top spots in Mexico because of its overall vibe and gorgeous beaches.
From doing absolutely nothing to making exciting day trips to nearby destinations, this is everything you need to make your trip to Zipolite an unforgettable adventure:
Things to Do in and Around Playa Zipolite Beach
1. Absolutely nothing
Really, do yourself a favor and take at least one afternoon to just do nothing on the beach. Zipolite is a no-frills chillax place, and the best way to immerse yourself in the beach culture here is to block off some time to just be.
There’s one main beach in town where you’ll see plenty of people relaxing and soaking up the sun. Join them. Order a cold drink (with a complimentary beach chair and umbrella) and enjoy a few hours to yourself.
2. Embrace being nude
When I told friends back home (who’ve known me for a long time) that I was at a nude beach, nobody was surprised. What can I say? I’m always down to try something new, and I was quite unfazed by being on a nude beach.
I know that this isn’t everyone’s experience, though. For some people, the thought of being naked in front of strangers is terrifying. I get it. Considering all the subliminal messaging about “perfect bodies” shoved at us by the media, I think it’s fair to say that we all have hang-ups about our goods.
I was astonished and relieved, though, at how much the naked people on Zipolite beach didn’t seem to care at all for criticizing other people’s bodies. It was refreshing to be in an atmosphere where people were so carefree. I felt no shame about being topless. Surprisingly enough, I noticed that people (rather, men) looked at my chest even less than usual. Leave it to a nude beach to tackle the patriarchy, right?
3. Check out the street art
My heart flutters a little bit when I think about how cool it is that there are so many places in Mexico that are totally decorated by the hands of artists. Zipolite is one of those, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t take a moment to appreciate the colorful murals all around town.
Take a stroll down the main street that runs along the beach and you’ll see small side streets that are nearly covered in street art. The adjacent street one block away from the beach also has some epic murals.
4. Try local food
If you’re new to the coast of Oaxaca, make sure to check out the fruit stands (fruterías) to see what fruits and vegetables are in season. I was fortunate to be there when oranges were plentiful, making for some delicious fresh orange juice to start my days.
As it’s on the coast, you’ll also find a lot of seafood in Zipolite. I recommend trying the aguachile, which is similar to ceviche but covered in a delicious spicy and citrusy avocado and cucumber sauce. If you don’t eat seafood, you might be able to ask for your aguachile with jicama or mushrooms instead.
5. Take a yoga class
After just a few minutes on the beach, you’ll start to notice that a lot of beachgoers are either running, working out, or doing yoga. I don’t have a viable explanation for this, but I saw more people exercising on Zipolite’s beach than I have on any other in Mexico or otherwise.
If you’re a yoga enthusiast, Zipolite is the place for you. Take a class at La Loma Linda or keep an eye out for signs advertising sunset yoga on the beach.
6. Shop & stroll
I have to admit that I’m not much of a shopper, but I do enjoy spending hours walking around a new place and popping into the shops just for the sake of looking at everything. Zipolite is a unique place to do so, because there are a lot of small, kitschy stores with handmade goods. You’ll find everything from traditional Oaxacan textiles to wire-wrapped jewelry to surfboards and snorkel gear.
I loved walking down the little side streets in town and admiring the colorful bougainvillea trees, giant cacti, and other flora all around.
7. Rent a scooter
Since I rented a car, I didn’t need a scooter. Next time I visit Zipolite, though, I definitely will. The benefit of having a scooter as opposed to a car is that the smaller beaches near Zipolite are more accessible that way. Scooters are also more agile and easier to get out of sand if you end up getting stuck. Plus, at around $20/day, they’re far cheaper than a car.
You won’t find any companies online to reserve your scooter ahead of time, so wait until you get to Zipolite to scope them out. You’ll find plenty of places on the main street where you can rent a scooter, and they’re all about the same cost.
8. Head over to Mazunte for the day
Most backpackers have both Zipolite and Mazunte on their list of stops, so you will definitely hear about people popping between the two. After all, they’re only about 15 minutes apart and have a similar vibe.
Mazunte isn’t a legally nude beach, but you’ll still see people enjoying the sun in the buff. (In fact, I’ve seen naked beachgoers on nearly every beach in Oaxaca with the exception of a couple more family-oriented ones.)
Mazunte’s main beach has bigger waves and attracts surfers, where Playa Rinconcito has calmer waters and you’ll see more people swimming. Both are lovely, and you can easily walk from one to the other if you don’t mind climbing over a few rocks.
Compared to Zipolite, I have found that Mazunte is much more crowded and has a rowdier atmosphere in general. It’s definitely worth visiting, but I like Zipolite more.
9. Visit the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga
The Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga is responsible for protecting several species of sea turtles. There are eight different species in the world, and you can see and learn about three of them here.
The center was closed when I visited Mazunte, which was a huge bummer because I was excited to visit. There isn’t any public information online about when it’s open, so if you find yourself in Mazunte, it’s worth stopping by to see if you can go in for a visit.
10. Catch a sunset at Punta Cometa
Sure, the sunsets in Zipolite are magnificent, but my favorite spot is in Mazunte at Punta Cometa. This rocky cliff gives you stunning views of the sandy shores below, and I even spotted a few whales while looking out to sea. This is Mazunte’s most popular sunset spot, though, so you’ll see lots of other people there. To get a good place to sit, arrive early (around 5pm if sunset is at 6:30pm).
To get there, you can park near the hotel La Casa de María and follow the signs to Punta Cometa. You can also walk there from the main street in Mazunte; it takes about 30 minutes.
11. Spend the morning in Puerto Ángel
Puerto Ángel is only about a 10-minute drive from Playa Zipolite beach, in the opposite direction as Mazunte. Unlike other hippie towns on the coast, Puerto Ángel is not much of tourist attraction and you won’t see nearly as many foreigners there. It’s more of a fishing village, with boats lining the beaches. There aren’t very many people in the water, but you still can swim if you want to, and the water remains tranquil all day thanks to the beach’s position in the bay.
I recommend going there in the morning for a traditional Mexican breakfast and cafecito at Las Palmas de Don Cuco, which sits right on the beach. You’ll enjoy a beautiful ocean view and get to see what life is like in a sleepy fishing town.
Where to Stay in Playa Zipolite Beach
Budget: Castillo Oasis, $36/night
There are a lot of cheap hostels in Zipolite, many with private rooms for about $30-50 per night. Castillo Oasis is exceptional for its price and is a three-minute walk from the beach. I mean, where else can you find a room for just $36/night that is so close to the shore?
Castillo Oasis has a sweet atmosphere, with a palapa-style roof and hammocks to relax in. It’s the best bang for your buck in Zipolite, hands down. Book your stay here.
Mid-range: Hotel Descalzo, $100-160/night
Hotel Descalzo (aka “Barefoot Hotel,” in English) is a beachfront paradise that not only has spacious rooms but also a restaurant, bar, and garden. There’s also a refreshing pool on the property. The deluxe double rooms have bathtubs made for two, but the hotel itself is great for solo travelers as well, because of its social environment.
Prices for Hotel Descalzo vary depending on the type of room you choose, the season, and whether you book during the week or weekend, but expect to pay $100-160/night. You can book here.
Luxury: Hotel Nude, $90-215/night
If you really want to get into the Zipolite spirit, check out Hotel Nude, a clothing-optional hotel unlike any other. You might get the vibe that this is solely for honeymooners because of its romantic atmosphere, but it’s actually a favorite among solo female travelers! I didn’t stay there, but a friend of mine did and she had a lovely time hanging out with other guests at the pool.
Although Hotel Nude’s prices aren’t much higher than Hotel Descalzo, it has more luxurious offerings, including a spa and more upscale beachfront seating. Check out Hotel Nude here.
How to Get to Playa Zipolite Beach
Getting to Zipolite was surprisingly easy. I rented a car in Oaxaca City with my friend, and we drove down to the coast for about six hours to get there. Although most of the drive winds through the mountains, I enjoyed it because of the breathtaking views, quaint small towns, and the freedom of being able to beach-hop once we got to the coast. The car cost us about $50/day, and gas was only about $60 total because we had a small sedan.
Or you can fly to the Puerto Escondido airport (about an hour from Zipolite) from either Mexico City or Oaxaca City. Both are short flights, about an hour. Another option is flying into the Huatulco airport, which is about 40 minutes from Zipolite. From either Puerto Escondido or Huatulco, you can take a colectivo to Zipolite for around 200 pesos ($10 USD).
Another option that many backpackers choose is an overnight bus from San Cristóbal de las Casas to Puerto Escondido. This follows a popular backpacking route from Cancún through Chiapas and over to the Oaxacan coast. I did the overnight bus once and found it to be incredibly easy, but make sure to take a dramamine before boarding to avoid nasty motion sickness from winding mountain roads. Plus, the bus ticket only cost me about $25 USD.
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Zipolite had me feeling like I’d just stepped back in time to the ’70s, when people wanted to break taboos and embrace being free to just be. I even noticed a lot of old-school cars there — they just added to the groovy vibe, which I found charming.
What do you think? Are you ready to visit Mexico’s only legally nude beach?