Playa Zipolite: 15 Ways to Discover Your Inner Hippie

June 9, 2019

playa zipolite

Playa Zipolite, or Zipolite Beach, is a rustic seaside town located on the southern coast of Mexico’s Oaxaca state, between Huatulco and Puerto Escondido. Zipolite’s claim to fame is that it’s one of Mexico’s very few “swimsuit optional” beaches and for its distinct hippie vibe which began in the 1960s. The town is lacking in building codes and banks, but abundant in charm and chill.

Some say Zipolite means “bumpy place,” named for the craggy outcroppings that line the beach.  Others claim the name is Zapotec for “beach of the dead” due to the dangerous underwater currents just offshore. Either description is accurate for this beautiful, but sometimes dangerous, stretch of coast.

The pristine, gold-sand beach is popular with foreign tourists looking for an off-the-beaten-path tropical destination and will delight those looking for sun and fun.

Zipolite is an easy drive from Escondido or Huatulco.

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1. Surf at Zipolite Beach

playa zipolite

Surfing on Zipolite Beach. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

Waves are strong on Playa Zipolite, particularly in the afternoon, making it a popular spot for surfing.  Caution should be exercised because the undertow is always strong.  If you’re a beginner, no need to worry…. it’s easy to find locals willing to give private lessons close to shore.

2. Sunrise on Playa Zipolite

Sunrise at Puerto Angel

Sunrise at Puerto Angel

Drive over to Puerto Angel at dawn, get into a boat and set off to see one of the most dramatic sunsets in Mexico.

3. Sail at Playa Zipolite

playa zipolite

Sailing around Zipolite. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

While you’re in the boat mentioned in #2 above, continue your sea quest for about three miles until you reach La Boquilla Beach – a stunning, secluded, crescent-shaped beach.  The boat ride itself is photo-worthy with scenes of the towns, ocean, and rugged coast all along the way.

4. Stroll at Zipolite Beach

La Boquilla Beach

La Boquilla Beach. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

Zipolite Beach is not crowded and has a long stretch of sandy coast for walking.  La Boquilla is as near secluded as you can get, making the crescent coast a walker’s paradise.  There is a small hotel, Bahia de Luna, on La Boquilla beach where you can grab a bite to eat or frosty drink.

5. Stoned at Zipolite Beach?

playa zipolite

Jumping into the sea. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

Aha!  Got you, didn’t I? There are numerous size rocks jutting out of the ocean just offshore where the more adventurous can hurl themselves into the air and eventually sink into the cool, refreshing sea.

6. Snorkel at Zipolite Beach

playa zipolite

Snorkeling around Zipolite Beach. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

The clear aquamarine water offshore can be a bit chilly but is great for spotting marine life, especially near the rocks offshore.

7. Zipolite Sea

playa zipolite

A social swim in the bathwater-warm water. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

If you’re looking for bathwater-warm, aqua water to soak your toes, La Boquilla Beach will not disappoint.  The water here is crystal and calm and perfect for snorkeling or just socializing.

8. Sex Near Zipolite Beach

playa zipolite

Mating sea turtles. Photo by Cantimplora Travel.

This portion of the Pacific Ocean is teeming with dolphins and other sea life.  On one of our boat excursions, we were able to observe two turtles mating right next to our boat.  They, however, took no interest in the gawkers on board.

9. Stay on Playa Zipolite

El Alquimista

Terrace at El Aquimista.

You won’t find any high-end resorts at Zipolite.  What you will find are rustic inns and hostels.  El Alquimista offers by far the best accommodations right on the beach.  It includes a beachside restaurant and bar on-premises.  The large, tropically-decorated thatched-roof cabanas have four-poster beds and stunning palm-lined ocean views.  Each cabana has its own cozy terrace appointed with hammocks and thick, cushioned lounge furniture. If you want air-conditioning in your room, make sure you request it because some of the lower-level cabanas rely solely on cross breezes from the ocean.  For me, though, being lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf and breeze is heaven.

If you find you love Zipolite Beach so much and want more than just a vacation, here’s where you can find Zipolite and Puerto Escondito real estate.

10. Sup at Zipolite Beach

La Providencia

La Providencia. Photo by Cantimplora Travel.

La Providencia. Eat. Here.  Just about a block from the beach, Chef Paco and Host Javier serve the best food in the area, arguably in the entire state of Oaxaca. Don’t let the whimsically-decorated outdoor patio ambiance fool you… the cuisine is exquisite.  I recommend the tasty shrimp empanada appetizer and either the coconut shrimp in mango salsa or tender beef medallions for the entrée. Try not to lick your plate.

11. Salud!

playa zipolite

A toast with friends is always a good idea at Zipolite Beach! Photo by Cantimplora Travel

Old friends or new friends, everyone is deliriously happy at Zipolite!  Do try the mezcal, an organically made local liquor, similar to tequila but with a distinctly smoky flavor.  Mezcal can range as high as 52-proof and is traditionally taken straight with a slice of fresh orange coated in sal de gusano (salt mixed with chile and ground-up worms).  If shots are not your thing, my all-time personal favorite drink, the margarita, is always a good idea.

12. Swim in Zipolite Beach

playa zipolite

Refreshing swim in the infinity pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean

As the sun climbs high into the sky, there’s no better escape than the refreshing water of the infinity pool at El Aquimista.  You can peek through the perfect landscape of palm trees and bougainvillea to gaze at the ocean beyond.  The deck is fitted with over-sized cushioned lounge chairs, and you can even find shade in parts of the pool.

Did you know that you can enjoy the health benefits of Vitamin D while you’re having fun in the sun?

13. Shop at Zipolite Beach

playa zipolite

A small shop near Punta Cometa.

Of course, you’ll see the ubiquitous tee-shirts, but most of what you’ll find in Zipolite is handmade and unique.  A few locals stroll along the beach selling their wares, but they are laid back and not obnoxious.  There are small, charming shops lining the main street along the beach as well as friendly family-owned shops inland.

14. Sunset at Punta Cometa

Punta Cometa

Punta Cometa. Photo by Cantimplora Travel

Comet Point is a rocky peninsula, jutting out from the west end of Mazunte beach.  It’s the southernmost point of the state of Oaxaca and one of the only places you can view either a panoramic sunrise or sunset over the Pacific.  It’s about a 30-minute uphill hike along a wooded and rocky path to get to the point, but beware that the walk back, while downhill and easier, gets dark quickly after sunset.

15. Siesta on Playa Zipolite

playa zipolite

Hammock on the beach.

What would a Mexican vacation be like without a little chill time — even better if you can take advantage on the beach.  Which do you prefer, a hammock to lull you into a blissful nap, or a beach bed with billowing curtains to shade the sun and filter the breeze?

playa zipolite

Inviting beach bed.

Zipolite can be reached by flying into Huatulco or Puerto Escondido and then driving along the coastal highway. Or, you can take the scenic route, as I did, driving from Oaxaca City along a narrow, winding, sometimes nail-biting road that takes six hours.

The area in and around Zipolite is a must-do for anyone looking for a unique sunny vacation spot.  You could try to find the experiences above on your own, but if you do not have unlimited time, a better option would be to contact Cantimplora Travel.  Operated by Samantha Calzada and Bernie Buendia, a warm and friendly couple who specialize in off-the-beaten-path adventures, Cantimplora aims to also be eco-friendly as well as gives 10% of their profits back to the local community.

Click below to PIN so you can find Playa Zipolite again:

zipolite beach 

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Disclosure:  The author was honored to be the guest of Cantimplora Travel during her stay in Zipolite, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer.

About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.”  Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.  She has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.


  1. Comment by Donna Janke

    Donna Janke Reply June 9, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Zipolite Beach looks absolutely beautiful. Your photos have captured a laid-back vibe that is very inviting.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 10, 2016 at 6:58 am

      It’s a fun, off-the-beaten-path that I’d heard about for years. I loved it!

  2. Comment by Irene S. Levine

    Irene S. Levine Reply June 11, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Swimsuits optional? I’m afraid I have too much zipolite on my body:-)

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 11, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Now that’s funny! Actually, they are the minority and mostly at one end of Zipolite beach.

  3. Comment by Nathalie

    Nathalie Reply June 12, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    I could definitely see myself relaxing here, thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Zipolite is a great chill spot, you’d love it!

  4. Comment by alison abbott

    alison abbott Reply June 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    My inner hippy could use a little discovery and I can think of no better place to bring it out than Zipolite beach. Could be dangerous….

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Haha! The only danger at Zipolite is that you won’t want to leave!

  5. Comment by Suzanne Fluhr

    Suzanne Fluhr Reply June 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    This is embarrassing. I didn’t even know the state of Oaxaca had a coastline. I guess, I always just think of the town of Oaxaca. From your photos, this looks like one of those places that has so far mostly escaped the tourist train. Of course, once everyone reads this blog post……….. 😉

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 12, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      From your lips to God’s ear, so they say! Cantimplora specializes in off-the-beaten path experiences and I can attest that they do deliver. We had lots of fun. Cacinda Mahoney was my roommate. No one can replace you, of course. 🙂

  6. Comment by Ratheesh R Nath

    Ratheesh R Nath Reply June 15, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Great post! Thank you for sharing! Your pictures turned out amazing!

  7. Comment by Vicki Winters

    Vicki Winters Reply June 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Superb. Supreme. Sublime.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 17, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Thank you, Vicki! Zipolite is one of my favorite spots in Mexico!

  8. Comment by Michele Peterson

    Michele Peterson Reply June 17, 2016 at 9:07 am

    A great round-up! I too love Zipolite (as well as the neighbouring towns of San Agustanillo and Mazunte). La Providencia is a great choice to eat at as well.

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply June 17, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Thanks, Michele! I know you’ve also traveled extensively throughout Mexico and love it as much as I do! Zipolite is one of my favs!

  9. Comment by BonBon

    BonBon Reply June 27, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    oh wow… so laidback and relaxing… JUST what I wanted and needed:) Thank u for sharing.

  10. Comment by Emma

    Emma Reply October 22, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I have been interested in that general area, but your post was the first one I have come across this particular spot. I am going to need to start traveling alone, and of course, my first question to myself is always, will I feel comfortable and enjoy being there alone. Your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply November 1, 2016 at 8:05 am

      I found Zipolite Beach to be very safe and fun!

  11. Comment by Cindy Collins

    Cindy Collins Reply February 1, 2017 at 2:45 am

    Zipolite beach looks stunning! We have always wanted to visit Oaxaca especially for the Day of the Dead festival so we will have to do a site trip to this beautiful place. Thanks for the tip! Mexico truly is awesome!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply February 1, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Cindy, you’ll love Zipolite! I did Day of the Dead in another area in Mexico a couple of years ago — what a fun time and would be fantastic in Zipolite!

  12. Comment by Aadhishankar Kerala

    Aadhishankar Kerala Reply April 13, 2018 at 3:29 am

    Great post it’s very helpful for traveller.

  13. Comment by Chris

    Chris Reply May 30, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Wow! The pictures are amazing! I’ve really always wanted to try surfing!

  14. Comment by Jayaram Kerala

    Jayaram Kerala Reply October 5, 2018 at 6:10 am

    It looks like an exciting place to visit! I loved the photos as well.

  15. Pingback: 12 Reasons to Travel with a Professional Photographer in Mexico

  16. Comment by Surya E Raj

    Surya E Raj Reply November 8, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Wow!…. It is really an amazing writing. Great thanks to you. fantastic…

  17. Comment by Surya E Raj

    Surya E Raj Reply November 8, 2018 at 4:57 am

    It is a nice post that inspired me a lot to travel Zipolite Beach. The pictures you shared are beautiful.

  18. Comment by Faseehul Haq

    Faseehul Haq Reply December 8, 2018 at 6:27 am

    i also would like to go Zipolite Beach.its content help by me

  19. Comment by Arun Das

    Arun Das Reply January 1, 2019 at 4:40 am

    Such a great place. I really would like to visit Zipolite Beach soon. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  20. Comment by Satheesh Kerala

    Satheesh Kerala Reply July 22, 2019 at 3:56 am

    Great post it’s very helpful for traveller.

  21. Comment by Rejith

    Rejith Reply December 14, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Amazing Pictures, Thank you for sharing your post and pictures

  22. Comment by Pratheesh Karun

    Pratheesh Karun Reply January 9, 2020 at 5:19 am

    Great post it’s very helpful.

  23. Comment by Eldho Roy

    Eldho Roy Reply June 6, 2022 at 2:03 am

    hi patti i think i should visit zipolite beach once

  24. Comment by picturesque

    picturesque Reply March 9, 2023 at 12:06 am

    Wonderful post! I appreciate you sharing. Your photos came out fantastic.

  25. Comment by picturesque

    picturesque Reply March 9, 2023 at 12:23 am

    Great post, and the pictures are fantastic.

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