This blog is a compilation of the top things to do in San José del Pacífico, including some recommendation on places to stay, where to eat and some useful tips to help you prepare your visit.
This guide complements the piece I wrote about what to see in the state of Oaxaca, which is a Complete Oaxaca Travel Guide that includes a list of 30 things to do and see, where to eat, where to stay, tips for your visit, and safety guidelines to travel around the state.
San José del Pacífico is located over 2300 metres above the sea level and is nowadays becoming a trendy destination, especially because of the fresh psychedelic mushrooms that can be bought in the area. However, this small town nestled in the mountains of Oaxaca, has more to offer.
``Drone shot of San José del Pacífico ``
Visitors normally stay the night as a stopover for their trip towards the coast from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez or vice versa, but here is why I recommend staying at least for 2 nights.
Before you continue reading, I encourage you to watch this video made by the artist Dalí Nelio so you can understand the stunning beauty of this area.
Table of Contents
- Top ten things to do in San José del Pacífico
- Do mushrooms surrounded by nature
- Hiking to San Mateo Rio Hondo
- Enjoy the silence and the sounds of nature
- Quality time with yourself or your loved ones
- “Do nothing” for a day
- Visit the small businesses down the road
- Find the ‘Mirador’ sign
- Experience the swing over the clouds & a zip-line over the mountains
- Support local businesses
- Where to sleep in San José del Pacífico?
- Where to eat in San José del Pacífico?
- How to get to San José del Pacífico?
- When is best to visit San José del Pacífico?
- Tips and recommendations to prepare your visit
Top ten things to do in San José del Pacífico
Either if you are coming from the buzzling city centre of Oaxaca de Juárez or from the now more crowded coastal towns of Puerto Escondido or Mazunte, once you land in San José del Pacífico the tranquility is captivating. Here is a list of some of the top things to do here:
Do mushrooms surrounded by nature
I am normally not the type of person that would do drugs in general (except for alcohol), but when you are in the mexican capital of mushrooms, it almost feels like a crime not getting some. Magic mushrooms are sacred here and also used in some temazcal ceremonies, however you can find them in several places around town and buy them for individual use. They are not difficult to find and you can ask locals where to find them. I would recommend asking for prices in several places to avoid being scammed.
TIP: if your main reason for you coming to San José del Pacífico are the mushrooms, be aware that the season for these is from July to October. If you come out of the rainy season you will still be able to find them but there is no assurement that they would have the same effect or any effect at all.
Sadly, I was visiting during the month of April, and mushrooms or hongos (how you would call them in Spanish) were off season. We were recommended not to buy them a couple times, as they are mostly dry and have almost no effect or none at all. However, we found a guy who was selling fresh mushrooms but he was offering 2000 mxn for 3 people, that’s around 84€ total (again, no one could assure these were really fresh); taking into account that the regular price you pay for hongos in San José del Pacífico is between 200 – 250 mxn per person (8 – 10€), we finally ended up not buying any.
“What if you are not doing mushrooms in San Jose del Pacifico? Is there anything interesting to do? The answer is Yes!”
Hiking to San Mateo Rio Hondo
There are several hiking routes you can do around the area. We chose the one that takes you through the woods to the town of San Mateo Rio Hondo, following our host recommendation and we loved it!
We didn’t see any other tourists doing the same route and the highlight was to encounter a Mexican shepherd lady and some Mexican families just hanging out around the river, having an afternoon snack.
``Mexican shepherd lady, San José del Pacífico ``
``Goats on the road, San José del Pacífico ``
The last part of this route is just a walk along the main road, so we decided to hitchhike until arriving at San Mateo Rio Hondo, once we got there, we had a refreshing drink at one of the few local bars, before heading back to San José del Pacífico.
``Ryan and Phil following the hiking trail, SJDP``
``On our way to San Mateo Rio Hondo ``
The taxi back to San José del Pacífico takes around 30 minutes and costs around 50 mxn per person (2,10€).
The temazcal ceremony is probably one the top 3 activities to do in the area. I didn’t join any temazcal ceremony in San José del Pacífico, because I had recently done one of these ceremonies in the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juárez, but I absolutely recommend this experience. In San José del Pacífico, the regular price to pay is around 150 mxn (6,30€).
Enjoy the silence and the sounds of nature
How long has it been since you’ve been outside any big city? One of the biggest advantages of traveling to San José del Pacífico is the quietness you can attain in this location, probably only disturbed by a morning roaster or birds singing at your window.
``Mountains in San José del Pacífico ``
Quality time with yourself or your loved ones
Are you coming to San José del Pacífico with your friends, family or your loved one? Now is time to spend some quality time with them. Due to the lack of good internet signal and the isolated situation of this town, it makes it the perfect environment to enjoy some good chats in good company. I would recommend bringing some board games too! We brought Jenga and it was the perfect evening pastime.
“Do nothing” for a day
Take a day for yourself: read, meditate, watch the sunset, the sunrise, etc San José del Pacífico is just the perfect spot for finding some inner peace within yourself, especially if you’re coming from a busier place and are working on a daily basis.
``Me, enjoying a mug of coffee in the early morning, SJDP``
``View from our accommodation - Cabañas Camino al Cielo ``
Visit the small businesses down the road
The area has literally one road that crosses all towns perched in the mountains, hence many of the local businesses are also located on both sides of the road. They are tiny stands and sell many products, including fruits and veggies, plants, artisanal wooden pieces, clothing, fabrics, alebrijes, etc.
``Lunch time in San José del Pacífico ``
Find the ‘Mirador’ sign
This is right on the mountain hill. Under my view it resembles the Hollywood sign in LA and looks pretty cool.
Experience the swing over the clouds & a zip-line over the mountains
Right at Itóo Restaurant, you can also find the Ecoresort Benzaa and here is where the swing is located. I realized about this right when I was leaving the town and had no time to see it, however although this place is 10 minutes walking from the center of San José del Pacífico, the swing looks quite sick and the view from it looks pretty dope.
There is also a company that runs a zip-line in the area. This could be a cool different way to experience the nature surrounding you.
Support local businesses
As much as I like the idea of this small local community getting new money out of the magic mushrooms business, there are other ways too. I rather support their growth and help them develop their businesses and houses more ethically by eating out in any of the few bars or restaurants, buying a poncho or a hat, or even buying any other local products or crafts; this will help inhabitants a lot.
``Local businesses and crafts at SJDP``
Where to sleep in San José del Pacífico?
I totally recommend staying at Cabañas Camino al Cielo. Here is where we chose to sleep and we were very happy and surprised by their hospitality and incredibly good facilities.
``Cabins Camino al Cielo at San José del Pacífico ``
``Double room at Cabins Camino al Cielo, SJDP``
``Private bathroom at Cabins Camino al Cielo, SJDP``
Also the views from the cabins are insane! Definitely my favourite thing over here. Overall our stay in these stunning cabins was an amazing experience.
``View from the room at Cabins Camino al Cielo, SJDP``
The host Omar is super professional and was helping us with everything we needed. Click here to book a stay with them.
Another option is Cabañas Rancho Viejo. This place has more rooms and it is a good alternative in case you’re coming as a big group too.
Rancho Samadhi and Alto de la Sierra by Rotamundos are two of the best accommodation cabins in the area. They are a bit further from the main road, but their facilities are great. They’re easier to access with a car, but still doable in a local taxi.
And if what you’re searching for is a less expensive alternative, I would recommend the hostel Cabañas La Cumbre, although they have several types of accommodation; bear in mind, that the internet at the hostel is almost non-existent and there is regularly no hot water, but if the hostel/backpacker style is your thing, this is the place you are looking for.
Where to eat in San José del Pacífico?
Italian food. The pasta and wine here are incredible. Although this is one of the priciest options and the owner is a bit moody, I still recommend the place.
``La Taberna de los Duendes, SJDP``
I didn’t try this myself, but apparently, they serve some of the best Asian food in the area. If you have traveled around Mexico before, you will know that finding Asian food is not that easy, it is totally worth the try.
Located in San Mateo Río Hondo. Amazing pizza with veggie options.
One of the nicest Mexican options in town.
Wait, is it coffee that you’re looking for?
Although this one is not located on the main road, the place is in my view, the best coffee shop in town. Coffees are amazing, super cozy, and dog friendly.
``La Canasta Coffee shop, SJDP``
``Enjoying our coffees at La Canasta, SJDP``
- Express Café
Might not look as beautiful as the previous one, but it is located on the main road and apparently has one of the best internet connections in town. Here you can also buy tickets to the surrounding cities and the Oaxaca Coast.
How to get to San José del Pacífico?
Essentially there are two main ways to come to this town. If you are coming from outside of Mexico, you’ll first need to fly to Oaxaca Centro or Puerto Escondido which are the nearest airports. However, if you’re already in the area, this are the two main routes:
From Oaxaca de Juárez to San José del Pacífico
You can find options from 150 mxn (6,30€). The bus ride will take 3h to get from Oaxaca City to San José del Pacífico.
I understand that sometimes finding the right spots to purchase your tickets in this part of the world can be a bit tricky. This is why I highly recommend booking your transfer in advance with GuateGo. You can book a transfer from Oaxaca City to San José del Pacífico with them here.
Many people continue their journey towards the coast from San José del Pacifico. In that case, you’ll be able to purchase a ticket in San José del Pacífico to the town of Pochutla and from there, another ticket to Mazunte or Puerto Escondido. Prices start from 200 mxn (8,30€) to approximately 300 mxn (12,50€).
From the oaxacan coastline to San José del Pacífico
The easiest way to do this journey would be by booking a transfer in advance. This is the fastest and more comfortable alternative. You can book the transfer from Puerto Escondido to San José del Pacifico here. You can book your San José del Pacifico transfer from Pochutla here. Alternatively, you can book the journey from Zipolite or Mazunte too.
The most local and maybe cheapest way to travel to San José del Pacífico from the coast will first take you first to the city of Pochutla and from here you’ll be able to grab another bus to San José del Pacífico. I would recommend having some “motion-sickness” pills handy. They don’t call this bus “the vomit-van” in vain.
When is best to visit San José del Pacífico?
Depending on your intentions I would probably recommend one season or the other. If you’re coming for the mushrooms, definitely any time between July and October (although chances are it might rain during your stay).
If you don’t care that much about the mushrooms, then April or May seem to be quite good months to hang out around here, since the temperature will be higher.
Tips and recommendations to prepare your visit
- There is no ATM or banks in town, some places accept cards, but they charge a small fee. Best of the options is bringing some cash with you.
- Coming with a one way ticket? no worries, you can easily buy a ticket here to continue your journey towards Oaxaca city or the coast.
- Better to come with a car to explore the area, especially to visit the many businesses located in the road on your way to San José del Pacífico.
- Bring warm clothes. Remember you’re up in the mountains, at night the temperature decreases and you’ll thank yourself for having a warmer jacket and trousers with you.
- Mushrooms season is from July to October. These are legal in San José del Pacífico. Locals make their own rules here
- There is no good internet in general, so come prepared to disconnect from the world and connect with your inner self
- Bring a pill for the “motion-sickness”, the last 40 minutes before arriving to San José from Oaxaca city are all through windy roads and if you continue to the coast, you better have a couple of these. Many people get sick in this part of the journey.
- Don’t forget your camera gear, sunsets and sunrises are out of this world in this area, especially when the mist shows up slowly eating the mountains.
``San José del Pacífico town``
Have you ever been to San José del Pacífico? Tried the mushrooms? Let me know how was your experience!
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