Paradise Found: Zipolite, Mexico

by Jason Heidemann
Zipolite, Mexico Aerial View

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.

Each day we arrive at El Alquimista early enough to secure one of a handful of daybeds, the rest of which are always occupied by the same familiar gay faces hailing from LA, SF or NYC. One gent we adore is a French-Canadian living in San Francisco named Franco. There is also a screenwriter from Los Angeles who arrived weeks before us and has yet to leave (a common story). As for the New Yorkers, we hope they’ll chuck their swimsuits and go full Monty, but it never happens. One thing we all have in common, however, is that these daybeds become like life rafts for us all, a separation from the real world, the one we all know we’ll have to return to eventually.

By noon each day I’ve torn through enough pages of the books I’m reading, including the James Baldwin biography by David Leeming, that Steve and I manage enough strength to summon over a server and place a food order. Lunch is usually something like a duo of fish tacos and a piña colada or two (or three). Afterward, I’m either skinnydipping in the Pacific (heavily lifeguarded thanks to choppy waters) or strolling the beach wearing headphones so large and round I probably look like a nude Princess Leia as I listen to one of several playlists I’ve compiled.

Casa Nudista in Zipolite, Mexico

Photo: Jason Heidemann

At around 4 P.M. it’s back to Casa Nudiste for a disco nap and by early evening I am making the trek to Playa del Amour, a secluded cove at the easternmost end of the beach accessible via an easy footpath. Descending onto Playa del Amour each day summons a feeling of joy I come to anticipate. Spread across the cove are blankets and beach towels so numerous they collectively resemble a patchwork quilt. Scattered about are couples languidly entwined, solo travelers staring into the surf and small groups of chatty guys buzzing about like bees around a hive. Almost everyone is naked, and almost all of us are pinching ourselves. Are we really here?

A makeshift beach bar offers mezcal drinks and other assorted spirits, and fresh shucked oysters are available as a happy hour aphrodisiac. Everyone is awaiting sunset which is ovation-worthy each time, and just as the sun spreads its wings before disappearing below the horizon a hushed silence settles over the beach the same way wedding guests fall into a reverent quiet the moment a bride takes her first steps down the aisle.

As nightfall blankets the cove, the horny stirrings of pent-up gay men are palpable. The straighties in attendance mostly head back into town for dinner, while thirsty boys fill in every nook and corner of the cove giving Playa del Amour, aka Love Beach, its well-earned title. A bonfire is lit nightly, and depending on my mood I discover it’s perfectly okay to just chill under the moonlight and disregard the silhouettes thrusting about around the edges of the cove.

Zipolite, Mexico Beach

Zipolite Beach
Photo: Ronald Smijers

Sunset is usually around 7 P.M. this close to the equator, so even on days when I stick around after dusk for caliente fun, there’s still plenty of time to head into town, or to a beachfront resort for dinner. My go-to joint with Steve and the newfound friends we assemble is Pizzeria Italiana La Felice. Not only are the thin-crust pies legit, but our server has a gap in her teeth so wide we affectionately refer to her as Madonna. Often we are shirtless around the dinner table, and in this town just showing up in shoes is considered “dressy.”

There are two queer bars in Zipolite. ChiZme, which is right next door to Casa Nudiste, is a great place for cocktails, including a big selection of mescals and chilled beers. Club Demetria, meanwhile, is right on the beach and marked with a Pride flag. I spend one night there with assorted friends, but crowds gather late here and I’m almost always in bed early for my nightly rendezvous with my recurring man crush: Mr. Sandman.

As sad as I am to leave after 6 blissful nights, I’m grateful to put a punctuation mark on the visit. Any trip to this queer paradise includes the inevitable passing of the baton to the next group of gays so that they too can experience the joy of having their bare bottoms spanked by the Mexican sun, a moonlit romp with a group of frisky strangers, and the assemblage of new friends for booze-fueled dinners. Just remember to leave as little a footprint as possible; it’s the Zipolite way.

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