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Sunset at San José del Pacífico

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.

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.

Aerial view of San José del Pacífico
``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.

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
``Mexican shepherd lady, San José del Pacífico ``
Goats on the road, 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, San José del Pacífico
``Ryan and Phil following the hiking trail, SJDP``
On our way to San Mateo Rio Hondo
``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€).

Temazcal

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.

San José del Pacífico
``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 they sell many products, including fruits and veggies, plants, artigianal articles in the form of mushrooms, clothing, fabrics, alebrijes, etc.

San José del Pacífico
``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, I rather support their growth and help developing 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.

San José del Pacífico
``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.

San José del Pacífico
``Cabins Camino al Cielo at San José del Pacífico ``

Both the family cabin and the double room cabin are perfect for a stay in San José del Pacífico. For me it was key to have internet connection and hot water and they do offer these services!

Cabins Camino al Cielo
``Double room at Cabins Camino al Cielo, SJDP``
Cabins Camino al Cielo
``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.

San José del Pacífico
``View from the room at Cabins Camino al Cielo, SJDP``

The host Omar is super professional and was helping us in everything we needed. Click here to book a stay with them.

Another option is Cabañas Rancho Viejo, located a bit further from the centre of San José del Pacífico, but with more room alternatives in case you’re coming as a big group too. 

And if what you’re searching 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 here is incredible, I totally recommend the place, although prices are a bit high and the owner is a bit moody.

``La Taberna de los Duendes, SJDP``
  • TATSU Cocina Asiática

Apparently some of the best asian dishes in the area. 

Located in San Mateo Río Hondo. Amazing pizza with veggie options.

One of the nicest Mexican options in town.

 

Wait, is it coffee what you’re looking for?

 

Although this one is not located on the main road, the place is under my view, the best coffee shop in town. Coffees are amazing, super cozy and dog friendly.

Café La Canasta
``La Canasta Coffee shop, SJDP``
Café La Canasta
``Enjoying our coffees at La Canasta, SJDP``
  • Express Café

Might not look as beautiful as the previous one, but apparently has the best internet in town. Here you can also buy tickets to the surrounding cities.

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.

If you want to continue your journey towards the coast, 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€). The entire bus ride will take around 3:30h.

From the oaxacan coastline to San José del Pacífico

The journey from the coast will have to follow the same steps. You’ll first need to get to Pochutla and then grab another bus to San José del Pacífico. Here is when you’ll probably need to have 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
``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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