Located on the southern coast of Oaxaca state, Playa Zipolite is Mexico’s first and only legal nudist beach. It is very popular as a clothing-optional resort and is pretty laid back, with the use of marijuana largely ignored. On the first week in February the beach hosts the annual Festival Nudista Zipolite.
On a slightly macabre note, the name Zipolite means “beach of the dead” which may refer to the dangerous currents just offshore; or it may refer to an ancient custom when the indigenous Zapotecs buried their dead at sea.
Due to its isolation, Playa Zipolite became popular with hippies in the 1970s and has retained the same ambience and free lifestyle. It is popular with backpackers who stay in rustic cabins or camp in tent shelters and “cabinitas” along the beach.
The golden sandy beach stretches for about a mile with hotels, shops and basic amenities in the Colonia Roca Blanca at the western end. Lined with palm trees and backed by sea cliffs, the beach stretches west from Playa del Amor to the New Age Shambala retreat.
Waves are strong, especially in the afternoon, and are popular for surfing but there’s often a strong undertow. There’s a team of well-equipped lifeguards but there have been many tragic drownings in the past.
In 1997, Playa Zipolite was hit by two hurricanes within a month of each other (Hurricane Pauline and Hurricane Rick) and they did widespread damage. The cabanas and thatched palapas along the beachfront have been replaced with permanent structures but they are still fairly basic.
The town centre is the street known as the Adoquin and it is regularly patrolled by police. Until recently it was unpaved. Surprisingly, nightlife at Playa Zipolite is fairly subdued with occasional live music gigs by bands passing through.
San Pedro Pochutla
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