Zipolite had been on my radar for many years thanks to travel savvy friends who scoff at the circuit party excesses and rampant tourism of Puerto Vallarta (a city I happen to love). | Jason Heidemann
Zipolite (www.zipolite-mexico.com) is Mexico’s best-kept queer secret. This coastal town of just 931 people, located in tropical Oaxaca, is home to Mexico’s only legal nude beach, and in recent years has emerged as a sleepy paradise for gay travelers seeking a Puerto Vallarta alternative.
Founded by expats in the ‘60s and ‘70s (only one family lived in the area for the first half of the 20th century, though of course indigenous people were present hundreds of years before that), Zipolite’s irresistible charms include a strip of mostly clothing optional oceanfront resorts with palapa roofs, a tiny town center that bustles at night, and a heavenly 2- kilometer nudist beach known simply as Playa Zipolite. During my week-long visit I probably stroll the beach a hundred times and never once grow tired of it.
Getting here from major US cities means flying first to Mexico City and then catching a connecting flight to the surfer hangout of Puerto Escondido. A second option from Mexico City is to fly into the inland jungle enclave of Huatulco. Both cities are about an hour from Zipolite, which is then reachable either via bus or a more expensive, private taxi ($50–$60).
Zipolite had been on my radar for many years thanks to travel savvy friends who scoff at the circuit party excesses and rampant tourism of Puerto Vallarta (a city I happen to love). I am finally cajoled into visiting by my friend and neighbor Steve who visits so often he practically considers the town a second home. In fact, it’s from his favorite hotel in Zipolite that he texts me and suggests I join him next time around; within an hour my flight is booked.
Tourism is Zipolite’s main draw but lodging is still limited so book well in advance if visiting over the holidays or in high season. Most hotels line the beach, and many are clothing optional, including hetero-frequented resorts like Naked and Nude, which sit next door to one another. Most hotels in town are LGBTQ-friendly and faves include gay-owned hilltop hotel HEVEN, spa and yoga retreat El Alquimista (Steve books a gorgeous suite here for around $160 nightly and its beachfront beckons us daily), and newcomer Casa Nudiste, which I stumble upon in part because my spur-of-the-moment booking means that lodging choices are already slim.
Gay-owned Casa Nudiste opened just weeks before my arrival and is not only nudity friendly, but also nudity mandatory in all common areas including the check-in desk, café, and around the pool. Naturally, I’m here for all of it. Casa Nudiste is located in town (though still only a three minute walk to the beach) and owned by a handsome Frenchmen named Benoit who is in the buff when I check in. Hetero-friendly Nudiste is comprised of about a dozen modest yet charming rooms, and mine comes equipped with a jug of purified water, an air-conditioning unit above my canopied bed, kitchenette, private patio, and smorgasbord of cute guests. At around $80 nightly, I feel like I’ve struck gold.
Because Zipolite is the truest expression of a laid-back Mexican beach town, each day is practically unchanged from one to the next and never in my life have I fallen into a such a mundane routine on vacation and found it so thoroughly sublime. By the end of day one I’m convinced I’m going to be bored, but so relaxing is this sleepy sliver of paradise that one week later, I’m practically in tears at the thought of having to leave.
This was the daily routine I am still dreaming about months later: At dawn each morning, I rise and shine for a barefoot jog along the beach, something I notice other cardio-starved travelers taking part in as well. Afterward, I return to Casa Nudiste for a shower and simple breakfast consisting of a piece of fruit, coffee, and freshly baked chocolate croissant so delicious that it becomes a regular post-run craving. It’s either that or I join Steve for brekkie at El Alquimista, which has tables set up right on the beach.