When you think of beaches in Mexico most people think of places like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the increasingly popular and hip Tulum. But when you live in Goa, like I do, all the talk is about Mazunte and Zipolite – Mexico’s hippie and yoga hotspots – the Arambol of Mexico!
Exploring the Oaxaca Coast
Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most loved, colourful and enchanting regions due to it’s vibrant festivals, unique cuisine, indigenous culture and spectacular landscapes. The coast here is home to some of the most laidback beaches in Mexico as well as great surf, sealife spotting opportunities and yoga retreats.
Mazunte and Zipolite are tiny beach towns on the Pacific (West) Coast in the magical state of Oaxaca that offer a more laid back, more authentic and more affordable alternative to the popular beaches on the Yucatan Peninsular.
Even though the towns are small there’s plenty of yoga, meditation, alternative therapies and healing experiences on offer and a community of like minded people to connect with. Zipolite is also Mexico’s only nudist beach and very LGBTQ friendly.
The laid back vibes and friendly communities here (and the prospect of that long, winding, bus ride) make it hard to leave – you might fall in love and get stuck here for a while like I did!
Puerto Escondido – The best place to surf in Mexico
I started my exploration of the Oaxaca Coast in Puerto Escondido, one of the best places to surf in Mexico due to the consistently massive waves on Zicatela Beach created by what’s known as The Mexican Pipeline.
The waves here are pretty intimidating for swimmers or novice surfers so it’s a good idea to join one of the surf camps in Puerto Escondido if you want to work your way up to riding them.
There’s a hip, bohemian, tropical island vibe, especially around the La Punta area, and plenty of cafes and bars.
But Puerto Escondido didn’t quite steal my heart – I was missing Goa and it wasn’t quite the hippie vibe I was looking for…but it’s only 1 hour by bus to Mazunte.
Mazunte – The yoga hotspot of Mexico
Mazunte is a sleepy pueblo mágico (magical town) of low key, thatched and adobe buildings surrounded by two beaches on either side of a magical wave lashed headland called La Cometa. Trekking over there to watch the sunset is kind of a pilgrimage or spiritual ritual and one of the best things to do in Mazunte.
There’s a special energy on the peninsular and I wasn’t surprised to hear that La Cometa has been a sacred space since pre-Hispanic times. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the sunset point and bring a torch for the way back (More on that here)
There are a couple of yoga hotspots in Mexico now, but for laid back hippie hangout vibes with a huge variety of other offerings like ecstatic dance, cacao ceremonies, kirtan, tantra, temazcal, massage, reiki, breathwork and mediation workshops then Mazunte is definitely the place to go.
Hridaya Yoga is the most famous yoga retreat in Mazunte, they offer many yoga retreats as well as popular 3 or 10 day silent mediation retreats but there’s plenty of activities to drop in to and try across the town if you just want to dabble instead of joining a retreat.
Casa Om is also a great place for drop in classes with a variety of different styles and practices each day and also offers accommodation and a residential package. Uma Yoga offers an intimate 4 day chakra journey yoga and mediation retreat in the jungle. You can find more yoga retreats in Oaxaca and read real reviews on bookyogaretreats.com.
You can also find out what’s going on in Mazunte and Zipolite on the Conscious Community Facebook group. If you’ve been to places like Goa and Koh Phangan you might even see a few familiar faces here!
Mazunte is home to Mexico’s Turtle Conservation Centre (however it’s currently closed due to Covid) but you can also take a boat trip to spot dolphins, whales and tortoises. It’s also a great place to learn Spanish in super relaxed surroundings at Instituto Iguana.
Vegans and vegetarians are spoiled for choose in Mazunte as this tiny town has probably the best healthy, vegetarian food scene in Mexico. One of my favourite hangouts is Terraza del Arquitecto with it’s healthy smoothie bowls, delicious cocktails and stunning sea views.
The sushi and pizza restaurants next door are also excellent and there’s an great bakery and smoothie bar in the middle of the main street. Almost opposite from that is El Armadillo which serves amazing vegan food and I also liked Luz del Sol, a vegetarian restaurant slightly out of town on the way to Hridaya. There’s not much nightlife in Mazunte though.
Zipolite – Mexico’s only nudist beach
Just down the road from Mazunte is Zipolite – Mexico’s only official nudist beach! Zipolite is fun, open minded and very LGBTQ friendly.
Like Mazunte it’s blissfully rustic and low key and you can walk around the whole place in less than 1 hour, but it’s also a bit more lively for nightlife with 2 for 1 sunset cocktail offers in the beach palapas, a small artisan market along the main street in the evening, and some low key parties in the beach shacks happening most nights. I even bumped into some psytrance DJ’s I knew from Goa playing in Zipolite.
Even though Zipolite is Mexico’s only nudist beach, it’s not obligatory to be naked in Zipolite. I’d say probably only 1/4 of people were nude and the beach is also popular with backpackers, hippies and Mexican couples and families.
There are a handful of hotels where it’s mandatory to be nude, but most places do require you to at least cover up with a sarong when off the beach.
Zipolite is a super relaxed and friendly place where the best thing to do is to eat fish tacos, drink mojitos, make new friends and simply relax! There’s a lovely long stretch of sand with crashing azure waters (beware of the strong current) and low key development.
I didn’t take as many photos of the beach as I’d have liked because it felt rude to take photos when people were naked.
Playa Amor, a hidden cove reached over a headland at the southern end of Zipolite beach, has a basic shack bar and is a popular hangout for nudists and the LGBTQ community.
There’s also an art house cinema in the town which also hosts events and a few places offering yoga, ecstatic dance and alternative healing activities without having to go to Mazunte. Check out La Loma Linda and Camp Zipolite.
You won’t have to wonder far for some tasty food in Zipolite. One of my favourite beachside restaurants was Sal y Pimienta for great value massive burgers and fish tacos right on the beach. The beach front restaurant at the lovely Pousada Mexico where I stayed also served great Mexican and Italian food. I loved the breakfasts at Le Castelet and I also ate alot in Entropia.
For something different, Mao Mau serves great Thai, sushi and Asian food and the beautiful Restaurante El Alquimista would be my top recommendation for a romantic dinner.
If you want to explore even more beaches there’s also San Agustinillo – the smallest and most peaceful beach, in between Mazunte and Zipolite, and the small fishing village of Puerto Angel. There’s also many beautiful bays and beaches around Huatulco with more upmarket resorts.
Practical Travel Tips: Where to stay and how to get there
Where to Stay in Mazunte
El Hostal de Ivanna is a the cheapest option in Mazunte offering basic accommodation in dormitories or private double rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchen. It located close to the start of the path to La Cometa.
Posada Aketzalli offers a better standard of private ensuite accommodation with clean and comfortable fan rooms. It’s a 10 min walk from the beach but conveniently close to the pasajero drop off point and the wifi actually works!
Hotel Rinconcito is a conveniently located more upmarket option with a nice swimming pool and restaurant, extra helpful staff and rustic chic comfortable rooms with AC and private balconies complete with hammocks. It’s location is literally right in the middle of everything.
Casa Lu Boutique Hotel is the most fancy address in Mazunte with plush beach facing rooms with private patios boasting wonderful views over the beach and the swimming pool.
Where to Stay in Zipolite
Hotel Hostal Teresa is the cheapest place in Zipolite that you can book online with ensuite bathrooms and just steps from the beach. The owners are super friendly and it’s a sociable place with rooms surrounding an inside courtyard, although the rooms are quite small and basic.
There are also some basic beach huts on the beach but you can’t book these online. I enquired about the price but can’t remember now how much they were – but they were more expensive than Hostal Teresa and had less facilities, but then you do wake up right on the beach! You can also pitch a tent under the shade there for a small fee.
Pousada Mexico is a gorgeous collection of arty, rustic chic huts in a tropical garden on the beach. Rooms are great value and the staff are lovely. There’s also a restaurant right on the beach serving good Mexican and Italian cuisine.
El Alquimista has beautiful rooms with terraces, some with a sea view, as well as a spa, daily yoga classes and an adults only swimming pool. It’s also home to one of the best restaurants in Zipolite.
Naked Hotel Zipolite – A beautiful beach front property with stylishly rustic yet super comfortable rooms with AC and balconies to soak up the amazing views. There’s a lovely swimming pool for when the ocean is too rough, a great beach bar and restaurant and plenty of quirky, Instagrammable features. It’s not obligatory to be naked and actually I never saw anyone naked there!
How to get to Mazunte and Zipolite
Getting to Mazunte and Zipolite is a bit of an adventure which is probably one of the reasons why this coast hasn’t been totally overun with tourists.
Mazunte and Zipolite are just 3.5 miles apart and a 20 minute taxi or collectivos/pasajeros (shared pick up trucks with benches and a kind of tent covering) run between them for about 10 MXN so you can easily explore both of them.
I started my Oaxaca Coast adventure by flying 1 hour from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido with Viva Aerobus for about 1000 MXN to avoid the long, windy bus ride. There is also an airport at Huatulco.
I took the Transportes Delfines bus that leaves from across the road from the Chedraui supermarket in Puerto Escondido heading to Pochutla. I got off at San Antonio and took the collectivo to Mazunte and Zipolite. It took about 1 hour and cost 50 MXN for the bus and 20 MXN for the collectivo.
There are a couple of options from Oaxaca city to the coast and vice versa. The quickest and most expensive is to take a 30 minute scenic small plane (which offers fantastic views but is expensive and gets booked up way in advance)
You can also take a bus. You have two options – If you suffer from motion sickness opt for the longer, less windy route with the more comfortable and more expensive ADO bus.
If you’re OK with windy roads then hop on one of the mini buses which takes the most direct but also most windy route. It’s the cheapest and quickest option at only 7 hours and I didn’t find it that bad.
I went with Lineas Unidas for 250 MXN. The bus was clean and comfortable and the pharmacy across the road in Pochutla sold 1 Diamox (motion sickness pill) over the counter very cheaply. The journey wasn’t as bad as some people said it would be but then I don’t normally suffer much from motion sickness anyway. You can book your bus or plane online in advance with Bookaway.
You could also break up the journey after about 3 hours stop off at San Jose del Pacifico for great mountain views, hikes and magic mushrooms!
Covid Restrictions in Mazunte and Zipolite
Mexico is literally the only country to be open consistently throughout the pandemic to travellers of all nationalities without any testing, quarantine or vaccination requirements.
Another thing to note, as many people have asked me about this, is that while everyone in Mexico’s cities are wearing masks everywhere all the time, even outside, and every building requires temperature checks and santisiation to enter, on the Oaxaca Coast everyone seems very chill and you can almost forget about Covid apart from some of the restaurant staff wearing masks.
Read more about my experience backpacking solo around Mexico during the pandemic , the route I took from Mexico City, along the Oaxaca Coast, to Oaxaca and my tips for traveling Mexico during the pandemic.
No where’s perfect so I feel it’s only fair to list the downsides too.
Although the beaches are beautiful be really careful swimming in the ocean on the Oaxaca Coast as the sea can be pretty rough with strong currents.
In hot season it was quite unbearable without AC, and I’m used to the tropical heat. The rains weren’t as bad as they are in Goa though.
Digital nomads beware – the Oaxaca coast doesn’t have great internet. The wifi in many hotels and cafes was pretty weak and would drop out alot and often there was no service on my local sim card.
Also, there’s not a huge amount of accommodation to choose from in the small towns of Mazunte and Zipolite so it’s a good idea to book in advance. Sometimes I felt it was a little pricey for what it was but maybe I’m just too used to South Asia prices….Overall, I found Zipolite to be a little cheaper than Mazunte.
Have you been to Mazunte and Zipolite? Any more travel tips you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below 🙂