Gay Zipolite – Mexico’s Most Famous Nude Beach And Gay Paradise
If you haven’t heard of Zipolite on Mexico’s STUNNING Oaxaca coast, then you’re in for a real treat. Zipolite is EVERYTHING friendly: gay, straight, backpacker, surfer, pet, nude, whatever! It’s super unique and diverse. And we LOVE it! Read on to see if you should add this gay beach town to your travel list!
Overview – Situated between the popular beach towns of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido on the southern Pacific Coast of Mexico, Zipolite is best known as Mexico’s most famous nude beach. It’s also the country’s first legal nude beach. Not only does Zipolite draw nudists from around the world for its annual Zipolite Nudist Festival, its laid-back, bohemian vibe attracts anyone who needs to get away from it all, but especially backpackers, surfers, and for sure the LGBT+ community.
The name Zipolite means “beach of the dead” as translated from Zapotec. If you have been following our travels, you’ll know this is also the name of our favorite gay beach in Sitges, Spain: Playa del Muerto or Beach of the Dead. Coincidence? Or are we gays just always attracted to danger!? In all seriousness though, there can be dangerous (and deadly) underwater currents on Playa Zipolite. If you’re going to go swimming, definitely proceed with caution and pay attention to the volunteer life guards for a safe experience.
Things to do in and around Zipolite
When to go – The weather is near perfect from December to April with day time temps in the 80’s and lower humidity. This is high season along with super high season around New Year and Easter which should be booked many months in advance! We love the shoulder seasons of May to June and October to November before there are waits at the most popular restaurants and the two ATMs run out of cash!
Getting here – Finding your way to Zipolite can be somewhat challenging, but the relatively isolated location adds to its appeal and is largely what attracted hippies to this beach in the late 1960s and 70s in the first place. The beach continues to exude a bohemian vibe attracting anyone who needs to get away from it all, but especially backpackers, surfers, and for sure the LGBT+ community. From a gay perspective, it reminds us of Fire Island, Provincetown, or Mykonos–all of which require a little effort to join the fun!
Situated between the popular beach towns of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido, Zipolite can be reached in the least amount of time by plane and taxi. We recommend flying into Huatulco (HUX) as it’s closer than Puerto Escondido (PXM). From Huatulco, you can be on the beach in Zipolite in about an hour by taxi versus an hour and a half from Puerto Escondido. Huatulco airport is super cute with a palapa-style roof, beautiful artwork and even a Priority Pass lounge which impressed us for such a small airport! Don’t forget to take the requisite photo with the butterfly mural!
Pro tip – For onward travel to Zipolite from Huatulco airport, take the pedestrian exit as you exit baggage claim and hire a taxi across the street from the airport. It’s significantly cheaper. The current going rate is around 700MXP or just under $35USD.
If you are in Oaxaca City, there is also a minivan option using Lineas Unidas which takes you directly to Zipolite. The depot is along the main highway running through Zipolite and walking distance to town.
On arrival in Zipolite, for orientation, Zipolite Beach faces south which allows for both amazing sunrises and sunsets. This 2km (or ~1.25mi) stretch of paradise has two distinct sections: the west side of the beach, which includes most of the hotels and restaurants as well as town, and the east side of the beach, which includes the colorful Zipolite sign and Playa del Amor.
Where to stay – In terms of the best hotels in Zipolite, our hands down favorite resort directly on the beach is El Alquimista. Located on the far west side of the beach, El Alquimista has a good mix of rooms with a couple of cabins directly on the beach, an amazing restaurant that we mix into our routine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or just the occasional afternoon margaritas, and a beautiful spa tucked into the lush grounds with a quiet pool for relaxation.
Also on the west side of the beach, you’ll find hotels Nude, Naked, and the newcomer Noga—all excellent choices with great restaurants and beach/pool bars. Hotel Nude just added a beachside pool in addition to their more private interior pool. With both Nude and Naked, you can opt for rooms with gorgeous balconies overlooking the beach.
On the hill above Zipolite Beach and El Alquimista, we highly recommend Casa Kalmar, where two of our friends have stayed while visiting us. The view from the infinity pool is jaw dropping.
If you are looking for a no frills experience, there are plenty of options along the beach to rent a cabin, camp site or even a hammock directly on the beach.
As most of our stays are long-term, we typically choose an apartment on Airbnb. In Zipolite, we found many of our neighbors working remotely at Jungla Zipolite, which we found an excellent choice. It was also pet friendly and included AC, good water pressure (in an outdoor shower!) and strong wifi, three things not always easy to find in Mexico!
Where to eat and drink – In addition to El Alquimista and the other hotel options, Cafe Orale was our favorite coffee and breakfast spot. The owner and team here are super friendly and provide excellent service. You will often see locals gathering here as well so it’s a great place to learn more about the community. Definitely try the fruit salad with yogurt, granola and honey.
If you love Italian food as much as we do, then you have TWO excellent choices in Zipolite to choose from for dinner. For the best pizza in town, head to La Fenice, an unassuming venue with a wood fired oven and great service. For a more upscale option in town with white linens (don’t worry, you can still go in your bathing suit and flip flops!), our ‘go to’ Italian restaurant for amazing pizza, pastas, and salads is Bacco. We actually eat here most often on our visits and absolutely love the food, staff, and ambiance. You can even sit at the bar after sunset on the beach with a negroni and enjoy some live music on certain nights of the week.
For Thai and Asian fusion, don’t miss Mao Mau, which means “drunk cat” in Thai. The proud owners have excellent sushi and of course mouthwatering Thai specialties. The service is incredibly friendly here as well!
In terms of after dinner options, we like Mezcaleria Gota Gorda for mezcal negronis and/or popular mezcal tastings. The team here is incredibly knowledgable and the lovely owner, Dani, provides excellent local recommendations.
Where to find gay nightlife – Everywhere! Many of the best hotels, restaurants, and bars are gay owned, even if not exclusively marketed to the LGBT+ community. In our experience, we found family enjoying themselves and welcome everywhere in Zipolite.
For day drinking (our fave!), head over to Casa Nudista for their weekly gay pool party (nudity required) on Saturday from 3pm until 8pm.
For sunset and after, Playa del Amor is a must as highlighted above. Also, don’t miss gay bar Chizme (next door to Bacco) with sexy bartenders and often live music from 9pm(ish). You’ll find popular drag shows around the weekend at the beachside gay hotel and bar called La Nue Maxima (formerly Club Demetria). Check with the bartender for the schedule.
In addition, there are numerous parties and popups throughout the year, so definitely join the Zipolite Facebook Group and/or the Zipolite Happenings Group on WhatsApp to find the the latest information.
Where to find gay massage – For gay massage services, there are options right on the beach. The first, where we had a lovely couples massage, is Massage Zipolite at Hotel Paraiso. Another more secluded option is Masajes En Shambala under a palapa with gorgeous views of the ocean. It can be found at the beach entrance to Shambhala hotel. Both options are also on Instagram with handles of the same name to reach out for more information and bookings. With pricing approximately 650-750MXP or $32-37USD for an hour long massage with handsome masseurs, why not try both!?
Banking – There are no banking services in Zipolite, but you will find one of the two ATMs in front of Hotel Playa Zipolite on the street. The other ATM is by the interior pool at Hotel Nude.
Barbershop – To keep it fresh, we found a fabulous gay-friendly barbershop on the way to get our dog’s nails trimmed. It’s not on google maps, but if you walk on the main road towards Puerto Angel about 7-10 minutes past Jungla Zipolite but before Servicio Medico Veterinario, the vet (which is on Google maps). You cannot miss it, as there’s a merman sign and gay flag you can see from the road.
Covid testing – If you need a covid test to return to the US or your home country, a mobile testing facility conveniently set up on the street just across from Bacco. No appointment is necessary and they accept cash or credit card—just remember to bring your passport!
Fitness/Gym– Coming soon! Move Gym Zipolite should be opening in Fall 2021. Until then, there is some outdoor equipment (not in the best shape) by the park in front of the Zipolite sign. We travel with our TRX, resistance bands, and of course, there’s walking/jogging on the beach or swimming naked at Playa del Amor to stay fit!
Pharmacy – There are two pharmacies on Roca Blanca, the main street in town, with one advertising 24-hours. The pharmacy is a great place to pick up sunscreen, bug spray, and hand sanitizer as well.
Wine/Liquor store – Across from Bacco heading to the beach on Pelicano, you will find Chipirin. We found everything we needed for our negronis and wine nights playing Rummikub! They also have great meats and cheeses.