Playa Zipolite is a tiny lazy beach town, off the beaten path, with enough cafés, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, and lodging to be hospitable to travelers. It is also Mexico’s only officially sanctioned nude beach, though I hadn’t heard that in advance (and didn’t even really notice it until I had been on the beach for a couple of hours). One doesn’t stumble across Zipolite; one has to intend to get there. I had heard some good things about Zipolite from a guy I’d met in Puerto Escondido, and after making a day trip to check it out, decided to come back and set up camp for a little while.
The vibe of the town is both very local and very international bohemian. No one wears anything more complicated than sarongs, swimsuits and shorts (if they’re wearing anything at all); in fact, it’s almost a hassle to put flip-flops on. The nude beach aspect is very secondary to the character of the town. Only about 10 to 20 percent of the people on the beach are fully nude; there are topless women as well. So, whatever you care to wear or not wear is fine with everyone. Most services are available (internet, laundry) but there are no ATMs here … that is a short colectivo or taxi ride to neighboring Puerto Angel.
The nearby rehab center and school for the disabled, Piña Palmera, is a big part of the town, and you see more than the average number of people on wheelchairs. In fact, I am sitting at a waterfront cafe watching a guy who arrived at the beach in a wheelchair with boogie board in tow …he’s out there now boogie boarding with a surfer buddy of his.
Zipolite has a number of ex-pats … the woman who turned me on to my hotel, for instance, is from California and runs a great café. I think the people who own the local cinema are also ex-pats. I heard you can smoke a joint there while watching a movie (from someone who would definitely know) but can’t confirm that firsthand. But, it’s mostly a local town. English is spoken here … quite well by the high-end resorts, like Nude, and many locals have some knowledge of English. However, a few Spanish words and phrases will get you far in the locals’ estimation.
It’s my third day here, and I like it enough that I just paid for Internet access for a month, which is how I am able to update this blog from a lovely vantage point on the sand. All the beach chairs and hammocks along the waterline are so inviting at any time of the day or early evening, and I have to force myself now to sit at a table … it’s hard to be productive in paradise.
Here is a quick video I made in which I discover Playa Zipolite, gawk at frisbee-playing dudes and realize that HEY Zipolite is a nude beach:
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To get to Zipolite from Puerto Escondido (all prices mentioned are as of March 2011) :
Take either a local bus (drop-off is the triangular bus stop diagonally across from the ADO bus station in downtown Puerto Escondido) or a luxury bus (at the ADO station). Local was 23 pesos and I didn’t bother looking into luxury prices because the local buses are fine. You could also rent a private taxi, though I didn’t look into that either. Ask the bus driver to alert you when you get to the Zipolite drop-off.
The drop-off is at a corner of the highway with an OXXO convenience store. Across the street from OXXO is a stand for private taxis, which will charge from 70-120 pesos to get to Zipolite, depending on how good your negotiating skills are. About a hundred paces down the road, at the rear of the convenience store, is the stop for a colectivo, a covered pickup truck/ public bus that charges 10 pesos to get to Zipolite, the last stop on the route. It is about a 20-30 minute ride.
If you take a colectivo, you will be dropped off in front of the Piña Palmera rehab center and school for the disabled. It is a five-minute walk down this street to the beach and town center.