These two backpacker beach towns in Oaxaca, Mexico are a case of Same Same But Different… let’s explore both Zipolite and Mazunte villages to help you decide which is the best one to visit.
Zipolite and Mazunte
Most Mexican beach resort towns come with a price as they cater to a certain demographic.
However, Playa Zipolite has defied the urge to gentrify over the years – they left that up to Playa Mazunte to do 🙂
What’s more, while Mazunte has been awarded Pueblo Magico status, nearby Zipolite is the most famous clothing optional beach in Mexico and still has naked tourists running around. Both Zipolite and Mazunte offer a budget beach retreat so let us here take a look at both in more detail.
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Despite Zipolite being the original destination for this stretch of coast, Mazunte is currently the trendy choice. However, that does not mean that Zipolite has faded from existence.
It still caters to budget backpackers and alternative lifestyles. With years perfecting their market, Zipolite has a wide range of accommodation, restaurants, bars, and stores.
It is possible to find no frills fan dorms for 50 pesos / $2.60 or upgrade to a private room for as little as 120 pesos / $6.25. Obviously, you can always add luxuries such as air conditioning for more comfort.
For budget accommodation, think twice about adding the ensuite as the rooms may become saunas instead. Some of the best room views originate from hammocks on simple bungalows facing the ocean. It feels like a bit more Southeast Asia than Mexico.
Food & Drink
The main street in Zipolite is filled with tiny grocers for small meals and snacks.
Although you can find the ubiquitous taco and torta, the keywords to look for at restaurants are Menu del Dia or Comida Corrida.
The one we found was 40 pesos / $2.10 and included a huge jug of “juice” to rehydrate from the draining sun.
Depending on the establishment, you get some combination of soup, entree with rice and tortillas, dessert, and drink.
These are common throughout Mexico, but can be especially good value when local staples are overpriced.
The beach at Zipolite is about a mile long, and wide throughout.
We visited during a slow period, but it could easily handle the masses during Semana Santa.
The downside is that the current was really strong so we were unable to swim.
There are only a few sections of beach with a gentle gradient that allows wading in the warm water.
You can grab a drink at a bar to utilize their lounges, but it is also possible to grab shade under the awnings of closed bars during the day.
In case you were wondering, we often get asked what camera we use. All the photos in this post were taken on a Nikon D3300 DSLR.
Mazunte is a lot smaller than Zipolite, but the majority of people on camionetas were disembarking here.
There is still a plethora of accommodation, but everything is priced a lot higher than Zipolite.
Food & Drink
The east end of Mazunte virtually joins with San Agustinillo, an upmarket street filled with restaurants.
Items at bodegas tend to be 2 pesos / $0.10 more compared to the supermarket in Pochutla.
Since the camioneta costs 10 pesos / $0.50 each way, it may actually still be cheaper to travel for larger shopping trips.
There is also free Wi-Fi (donation requested) at the library in the center of town.
The two beaches in Mazunte are Mazunte and Mermejita.
These are a bit more scenic with rock formations just offshore.
Waves tend to be smaller than Zipolite, and are smallest next to Punta Cometa.
The rocky headland also provides much needed protection from the sun in the afternoon, and then offers the best viewpoint for sunset in the area.
Check out Lonely Planet for more travel inspiration in Mexico as well as our next post…
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Getting Around Zipolite and Mazunte
Camionetas serve the local area around Zipolite and Mazunte from Pochutla to Puerto Angel.
I’m not sure if the drivers try to gauge tourists a few pesos each ride, or there really is no set fare per distance. Regardless, try handing over the following amounts upon arrival and walking away.
If the amount is not enough they will surely let you know, but these were told to us by our Couchsurfing host and worked.
Mazunte to Pochutla: 10 pesos / $0.50
Mazunte to OXXO (main road): 7 pesos / $0.35
Mazunte to Zipolite: 5 pesos, bus the driver asked us for 6 pesos
Getting to/from Zipolite and Mazunte
The most popular destinations to/from Zipolite and Mazunte are:
- Puerto Escondido (35 pesos / $1.80, 70 minutes, minibus from OXXO)
- Oaxaca City (150 pesos / $7.80 from ADO station)
- San Cristobal
It is possible to get up to 55% off on bus tickets by buying online at ADO’s website 24 hours in advance. The catch is that you need a Mexican bank card so ask around if anyone can help you.
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***The Final Word – We were Couchsurfing in Mazunte, but would have preferred to stay in Zipolite otherwise. Try both if you’re not sure!***
Which beach would you choose?
Easy DIY travel outside city centres using public transport
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Visited in April 2016