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 appendages 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 beach (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 the 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 stay in Zipolite
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 where a double room with wifi, kitchen and a great host will cost us $100 pesos a night - this was quite some time ago, if anybody has a n updated price, that would be great. Booking in advance here is pretty tricky (they only seem to have a facebook page and readers have told us that they're not terribly responsive), so if you need a reservation before you arrive, these accommodations are recommended.
La Loma Linda | Described as 'luxury on a backpacker budget', La Loma Linda offers wonderful rooms and rustic bungalows with amazing views - with excellent wifi to boot. Helpful staff can arrange local tours and there are yoga sessions every morning. PRivate doubles from £30 a night. Find out more and check availability here.
Hostel Lyoban | Rooms are a little basic, but there is no denying that this hostel has a phenomenal location right on the beach (and a pool to boot). Run by three incredibly friendly guys who understand the importance of a hammock to swing in whilst the sun goes down. Private rooms from £15 a nigh. Find out more and check availability here.
Lo Cosmico | Individual cabañas with palapa roofs a few steps from the ocean, decor that epitomises beach-side vibes, and an on-site restaurant with decent food. It's not fancy, but it's so Zipolite. Private doubles from £22. Find out more and check availability here.
Where to drink in zipolite
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 in zipolite
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 and salsas.
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.
how to Get to zipolite
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 main 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 minute ride.
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 cheapest 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 planned.
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.