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The golden sands and peaceful village life of Puerto Angel and the nearby towns are all the reasons you'll need to visit. Playa Principal, the main beach, lies between the Mexican navy base and the pier that's home to the local fishing fleet. Near the pier, fishermen pull their colorful boats onto the beach and unload their catch in the late morning while trucks wait to haul it off to processing plants in Veracruz. The rest of the beach seems light-years from the world of work and commitments. Except on Mexican holidays, it's relatively deserted. It's important to note that Pacific coast currents deposit trash on Puerto Angel beaches. The locals do a fairly good job of keeping it picked up, but the currents are constant.

Playa Panteón is the main swimming and snorkeling beach. Cemetery Beach, ominous as that sounds, is about a 15-minute walk from the center, straight through town on the main street that skirts the beach. The panteón (cemetery), on the right, is worth a visit, with its brightly colored tombstones and bougainvillea.

In Playa Panteón, some of the palapa restaurants and a few of the hotels rent snorkeling and scuba gear and can arrange boat trips, but they tend to be expensive. Check the quality and condition of gear -- particularly scuba gear -- that you're renting.

Playa Zipolite (See-poh-lee-teh) and its village are 6km (3 3/4 miles) down a paved road from Puerto Angel and about 1 1/2 hours from Puerto Escondido. Taxis charge about 45 pesos from Puerto Angel. You can catch a colectivo on the main street in the town center and share the cost.

Zipolite is well known as a good surf break and as a nude beach, although there's more nudity these days at nearby Chambala beach. Although public nudity (including topless sunbathing) is technically illegal, it's allowed here -- this is one of only a handful of beaches in Mexico that permits it. This sort of open-mindedness has attracted an increasing number of young European travelers. Most sunbathers concentrate beyond a large rock outcropping at the far end of the beach. Police will occasionally patrol the area, but they are much more intent on drug users than on sunbathers. The ocean and currents are strong (that's why the surf is so good), and a number of drownings have occurred over the years -- so know your limits. There are places to tie up a hammock and a few palapa restaurants for a lunch and a cold beer.

Hotels in Playa Zipolite are basic and rustic; most have rugged walls and palapa roofs. Prices range from $10 to $50 a night.

Traveling north on Hwy. 175, you'll come to another hot surf break and a beach of spectacular beauty: Playa San Agustinillo. If you want to stay in San Agustinillo, there are no formal accommodations, but you'll see numerous signs for local guesthouses, which rent rooms for an average of $15 to $25 a night, often with a home-cooked meal included. One of the pleasures of a stay in Puerto Angel is discovering the many hidden beaches nearby and spending the day. Local boatmen and hotels can give details and quote rates for this service.

You can stay in Puerto Angel near Playa Principal in the tiny town, or at Playa Panteón. Most accommodations are basic, older, cement-block style hotels, not meriting a full-blown description. Between Playa Panteón and town are several bungalow and guesthouse setups with budget accommodations.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.