Zipolite at sunset - photo by Ciara Baxter

Last week was spring break for OSU, so we took a little vacation to see some places we hadn’t made it to yet.  We met our friend Ciara in Mexico City Sunday night and flew to Huatulco the next morning.  Huatulco is the site of a small airport near the Pacific, in the Southern state of Oaxaca, and this was the first time any of us had been to an airport with thatched roofs.

The plan was to head to Zipolite, a small beachfront town about an hour away from the airport, and we’d seen on other blogs and websites that a taxi was probably the best way to get there.  One website said the taxi should cost 250 pesos but at the official taxi stand the actual cost was around 750 pesos.  Zipolite has a reputation for being cheap, but already we were paying three times the expected price even before arriving.

After a wild taxi ride (the expected hour travel time was cut to 45 minutes), the driver stopped us at the east end of the town, and we took a room at the Lyoban hostel.  At least the room was cheap, but the cost of everything in Zipolite was more than we’d been reading about.  A can of coke at the hostel cost 14 pesos (as compared to 8 pesos for a bottle almost twice as big in most stores in San Miguel), and all of the meals we had cost at least 60 pesos each.  That’s only around 5 U.S. dollars, so it’s not expensive, but it’s also no cheaper than many meals we can find in San Miguel, which is not known as an inexpensive locale, and the food in San Miguel is much, much better.

Had the food been good, it would have been fine, but we didn’t have a single good Mexican meal in our three days there.  We had an okay pizza one night, and our final meal in town was excellent, at La Alquimista, on the west side of the beach.  It wasn’t, however, Mexican.

Zipolite is a beach town that caters to a laid back, slightly hippy crowd (the beach is a nude beach, though the majority of people wore suits), so you’d think there would be at least some concessions to tourists.  Not really.  We had to go to five stores before finding sunscreen, for example, and there are no bank machines in town.  If you want something in Zipolite, you better bring it yourself.

We knew the beach had a reputation for dangerous currents and riptides (the name apparently means Beach of the Dead), but it also sounded like there would at least be days when it was safe to get into the water and swim.  Unfortunately the entire time we were there the red flags stayed up – no swimming.  It was relatively safe to splash around a bit in the swash (Ciara explained the swash is the area of the beach between the highest point the waves reach and the lowest point when they roll out, the area with all that sea foam), but we never swam near our hostel.  Ciara pointed out the irony of taking a cab to the next town, then hiking up and down a hill to a more secluded beach just so we could swim, when the ocean was ten yards in front of our hostel room.

The Lyoban ended up being a bit of a mixed bag, but we don’t recommend it.  The mattresses were poor and the linens threadbare and torn.  The hammocks were nice and the view was great, but almost everywhere had hammocks and equally good views.  The hostel’s showers were only open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., which would normally not be a problem except that on our last day we needed to catch a cab at 7:30, which didn’t leave us much time to get ready.  Worse, the man with the key strolled in at 7:10, though the management of the hostel had arranged our 7:30 taxi and knew we were on a tight schedule.  We just made it in time.

So it may sound like it wasn’t that great a time (bad food, more expensive than we thought, so-so rooms, and no swimming) but it was quite relaxing and not a bad way to start our trip.