I sat in the backseat of a well air-conditioned suburban as it squeaked its way down a tiny alley lined by stucco homes and developed footpaths. I had been in the car for about an hour and a half, snaking my way up the coast of Oaxaca, not once catching a glimpse of the ocean, but looking out onto vistas painted by the mountains. I bounced up and down in my seat with each pothole we hit, and looked for a break in the greenery. We finally came upon a small, 5 car at most, parking lot, and reached a full stop. I hopped out, grabbed my beach bag, and headed up a small, but well laid out stone path with a sharp incline. As soon as I crested the path, I saw the ocean before me, only separated by a few grass roof huts with the occasional person ducking between buildings. I ran down to the beach, stripped off my yoga pants and tank, and dove into the ocean. That’s when I realized I was the most clothed person there.
Zipolite is a small beach town, famous for hosting some of the best yoga retreats around, and also for being notoriously au natural. A haven for the gay community and avid backpackers alike, this breezy, peaceful town is the perfect getaway for even the most novice of nude nomad. Body, mind, and soul acceptance is of utmost importance here, and you would be hard pressed to find somebody peacocking their way down the beach, or flexing their muscles at one of the many palm leaf roofed bars along the coastline. This is replaced by a man selling fresh cut coconut out of a wheelbarrow, and locals combing the beach, making sure all of us sun worshippers feel comfortable and at ease in their domain. I found this particularly interesting. The town revolves around the tourists who are brought to Zipolite with the promise of a relaxing, and worry free bare skin break, so they really aim to cultivate a safe community in which people can be nothing but unapologetically themselves.
If you ask me, one of the most transformative experiences while in Zipolite, is the liberation of body confidence through the “freedom photo”. I was incredibly hesitant at first. I saw others taking the photo perched on top of rocks while waves crashed over them. There was no way I could expose myself in that way. I just do not have the body that half of these flawlessly positioned people have. Sure I follow a vegan diet (most of the time), and I hike, swim, and do yoga almost daily, but I still have softness in my belly, and what I have lovingly deemed my thunder thighs. But that is just it, the crux of why doing a freedom photo here is so important. Reluctantly, I climbed up on the rock, and tossed my bikini top onto the sand, not too far away that I couldn’t hop down and assemble it once again if I saw somebody laughing at me. However, when I stood straight, and hit my pose, nobody laughed. I don’t even think anybody was particularly looking at me. And that was the “a-ha” moment of this situation. Nobody cared what I looked like, and nobody was judging me for that dessert I had at dinner the night before. What was important was that I was comfortable in my skin, and that I felt as free as they did.
I actually felt more comfortable topless on this beach than I did fully clothed on other beaches, and recommend Zipolite for any newbie to the sans clothes scene. This fun, non-judgmental town teaches you how to feel free, gives you back your confidence, and encourages you to come as you are.