Haven of Zipolite
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  Posted November 2nd, 2013 by Zdenko  in Travel | No comments yet.

Traveling Mexico

By: Jody Kurash

Mexico’s hippie haven of Zipolite
Laid-back beach, lost in time, in carefree hippie haven of Zipolite, Mexico. Vera and I were there on a day trip, while vacationing in the near by Huatulco area. With the rented car we drove around to visit several places among them Puerto Angel and Zipolite – both small fisherman villages in Oaxaca province of Mexico.

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For those who may buy into everything the media says as fact and paint all of the large country of Mexico with one stoke of the brush here is a great article in the Vancouver Sun.

Zipolite1Zipolite beach – Photograph by: Jody Kurash, The Associated Press

Visitors bathe in the surf along the beach in Zipolite, Mexico. A sleepy town with one main street and no ATMs, Zipolite is one many tiny coastal pueblos that dot the Pacific in Mexico’s Southern state of Oaxaca.

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The village of Zipolite located some 3 km (1.9 miles) to the west of Puerto Angel, stretches out parallel to a 2.5 km (1.6 miles) sandy beach, (map) and can be reached by taxi, colectivo, pasajera or for the more lively character, on foot! (See transport connections). Restaurants catering for every taste and lodgings for every man’s pocket are available all along the beachfront, although they mostly comprise of simple “cabanas” in the form of palm shacks. Huatulco International Airport is 45 KM from Pochutla and than there is another twelve kilometers to Puerto Angel. Zipolite village is only 4 kilometers north of Puerto Angel. Taxis await on the HWY 200 turn off. Taxis run from the nearby town of Puerto Angel, or its a fairly pleasant, although dangerously narrow no shoulder 4km walk down the road. From Puerto Angel, you can catch a camioneta up to San Pedro Pochutla, where you can catch buses to Oaxaca and the nearby coastal cities.

zipolite beach

Any native could report on the many visitors that have left their lives here over the years, which also include athletic type swimmers. It is therefore recommended only to go to those areas that are guarded and marked with flags by voluntary lifeguards. The green flag signifies swimming no problem, yellow, attention, for swimmers only and red, swimming forbidden. Additional warning signs indicate the dangerous areas.

Zipolite2This Jan. 5, 2013 photo shows a lone swimmer wading into the surf during sunset in Zipolite, Mexico.

Zipolite is a sleepy town with one main street and no ATMs, Zipolite is one many tiny coastal pueblos that dot the Pacific in Mexico’s Southern state of Oaxaca. Watching the brilliant sunsets from the beach is a nightly tradition for visitors in this tiny coastal town. (AP Photo/Jody Kurash).

The paved main street is closed to traffic after 6.00ish and the road turns into a lovely walking eatery and vendors selling wears of all artistic bends. Live music often is spontaneous. Overall very good food for cheap prices at almost all places. El Piedra del Fuego has consistently given the most food of high quality for the best pricing. A pizzeria is run by a French couple serving up a wide variety of delicious pizzas for approximately 5USD each. The pizzeria has tables right on the beach with a good view of the strip.

There is a taqueria on the main street near Azul Profundo (to the left if you are standing in front of it). Eggs for breakfast are 30 pesos and quesadillas and tacos are 5 pesos. Very good and cheap. Look for the grill set up right in front of the place very close to the street and some plastic patio tables and chairs.

FLIGHTzipolite3View of Zipolite from  the air

“You’re going to like it here in Zipolite,” Daniel Weiner, the owner of Brisa Marina hotel said with a wry smile as he handed me the keys to my quarters. “You’re not going to want to leave in five days.”

A few lazy days later, I began to realize why so many guests rent their rooms by the month. Whether it’s the laid-back vibe or the tranquil setting, Zipolite has a way of making people stay longer than expected.

A sleepy town with one main street and no ATMs, Zipolite (pronounced ZEE-poe-LEE-tay) is one of many tiny coastal pueblos that dot the Pacific in Mexico’s Southern state of Oaxaca. Stretching from Puerto Escondido to Huatulco, the region is sometimes called the Oaxaca Riviera.

The hippie crowd discovered Zipolite in the 1960s and since then it has slowly evolved into an offbeat tourist spot popular with a certain type of visitor. Its pristine beach stretches two kilometres (1.2 miles) between two high cliffs at either end, and the crowd is fairly evenly split between middle-class Mexicans and free-wheeling liberals from across the globe. Old hippies, young adventure-seekers, and locals all mingle with a flower-child type harmony.

zipolite-main-street-mazunteMain street in Zipolite

Zipolite BeachZipolite beach

It feels light years away from the areas of Mexico that tourists now avoid due to drug violence. Not only has the U.S. State Department spared Oaxaca from its travel warnings about Mexico, but Zipolite in particular seems lost in time, a place where visitors think nothing of leaving their belongings unattended on the beach and backpackers sleep in hammocks strung along the coast.

Zipolite also has a few claims to fame. The climactic beach scenes in the Mexican blockbuster movie “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” were filmed here. And it’s gained notoriety as one of Mexico’s few nude beaches, although the majority of sunbathers remain clothed. (Farther east, past an outcropping of rocks is the cove known as “Playa de Amor” where nudity is more openly practiced.)

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Mike Bolli, a retiree from Vancouver, Canada, says he has been visiting the area for the last 10 years without “accident, issue or injury.”

“I have only ever met the nicest and friendliest eclectic mix of locals and visitors — it’s a great throwback to the ’60s,” Bolli said. “So it’s all good and safe from my viewpoint.”

Zipolite has no high-rise hotels. Many of the beachfront structures are thatched-roof palapas, umbrella-shaped huts with no walls. Brisa Marina itself started off as a wooden structure with a palm roof, but after a major fire in 2001 that destroyed 23 buildings, Weiner rebuilt it with cement.

Visitors expecting a party-all-night Cancun-like atmosphere with fishbowl-sized margaritas and waitresses in bikinis passing out shots of tequila will be disappointed. There is a night life here, but it’s nothing like that. Instead, folks gather on the beach in an end-of-day ritual to watch the brilliant sunsets. Many restaurants and bars offer live music and entertainment. And the only paved road in town turns into a carnival-like scene at night, with artists and jewelry makers selling their wares, while musicians, jugglers and fire dancers perform for tips in the street.

DSC_2844Main street in Zipolite

“Zipolite after six is awesome,” Bolli said, “with all the dreadlocked kids hoping to sell their creations along with a great choice of different restaurants. It’s not overcrowded but you can find a crowd if you want.”

Some of the most interesting diversions can found at Posada Mexico, an oceanfront restaurant. One night I watched a Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatic performance and another night I rocked out to Cainn Cruz, an amazing child guitar prodigy who brought the house down with his covers of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC.

Adding to the groovy ambience is Shambhala, a spiritual retreat perched high on a hill in a bucolic setting. Tourists are welcome to hike up the resort*s stair pathway where a meditation point sits atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Shambhala advertises the “Loma de Meditacion” as a sacred location where visitors may experience a higher consciousness and oneness with nature. The centre rents rustic cabins and hosts visiting artists and healers.

Since the 70′s the hammock and hippie colony is fabled for its nude bathing, the only one of its kind in whole Mexico, and the liberal contact to the drug scene. From the loudspeakers in the restaurants the sound of the Doors, Bob Marley, Santana, Led Zeppelin and many more still blast out at full volume, as if competing in a vigorous-like struggle against the thunderous rolling of the waves.

At nightfall the two discos huts, Zipolipas and La Puesta vibrate in full swing, while outside on the sand the beating of drums penetrate the air above the light of cheerful crackling wood, as joints generously circulate well into the early hours of the next day. The atmosphere is somewhat calmer in the off season, where a little action can be found on the weekends only.

DSC_2845One of many restaurants

In Zipolite the abuse of hard drugs is sadly on the increase and to such an extent that one is even liable to be offered cocaine in the toilets of certain establishments. Consequentially criminality escalates due to the permanent rising amount of local youths becoming addicted.

The name Zipolite is said to derive from indigenous languages. Some sources say it means “bumpy place,” a reference to the local hills, and other sources translate it as “beach of the dead,” a reference to strong ocean currents. Zipolite in the language of the Zapotec is known as the beach of the dead as it lies on the open sea and is renowned for its strong undertow and constant changing currents. The beach has volunteer lifeguards and areas with dangerous currents are marked with red flags.

Weiner, who has a deep tan, a working uniform of board shorts and flip-flops, and a crusty, carefree sense of humour, splits his time between California and Zipolite. He’s owned his hotel since 1997 and estimates that about 50 per cent of his guests are repeat customers.

“This gets us through swine flu times, protests, drug war scares, etc.,” he said. “People come back knowing we are OK, and they tell their friends too.”

And sometimes they have a hard time leaving. As Weiner predicted, after a few days in Zipolite, I called the airline to change my flight. I had to stay another week.

caa5ran55qwThe attraction of Mazunte: The turtle museum

Nearby village of Mazunte is a small beach community in Oaxaca State, only sixty kilometers south of Puerto Escondido and 8 kilometers northwest of Zipolite Beach. The attraction of Mazunte for a few surfers and independent travelers is the turtle museum and the beach where lodging is budget variety including tenting on the beach beneath a palm shelter for 45 pesos per night. Cabanas and rooms rent for $15 -$20 a night USD and are plentiful except during Christmas and Easter holidays.

IF YOU GO …

ZIPOLITE, MEXICO: Beach town in Oaxaca on the Pacific,http://mexicobeaches.net/zipolite/

GETTING THERE: The closest airports are Puerto Escondido, an hour’s drive west, or Huatulco, an hour south. You can take a bus or taxi from either airport. The closest bus station is in Pochutla, 20 minutes away by taxi or shuttle.

MONEY: The closest ATM is in nearby Puerto Angel, 10 minutes by taxi. The nearest bank is in Potchutla. Most hotels will accept and/or exchange U.S. dollars or euros.

LODGING: Brisa Marina offers oceanfront rooms with balconies and hammocks as well as less expensive courtyard options. Guests can also relax on the large beachfront ramada (shaded outdoor area). Nightly rates range from 200-650 pesos ($16-$51) depending on the season,http://www.brisamarina.org . A spiritual retreat, Shambhala, offers lodging on the hill at the western end of the beach,http://shambhalavision.tripod.com/id2.html .

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DINING: Zipolite is home to an impressive variety of quality restaurants with many beachfront choices, including several authentic pizzerias and trattorias, thanks to a number of Italian expats residing locally. For a romantic candlelit experience on the beach with entertainment, try the restaurant at the Posada Mexico inn. You can enjoy the entertainment without dining there by spreading your blanket on the sand nearby.

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