San Jose del Pacifico, Oaxaca, Mexico
Magic Mushroom capital of Mexico
Disclaimer: Where Sidewalks Ends does not endorse the use of drugs, even when used for spiritual, traditional or ancestral practices. Should you choose to take part, please do so at your own risk, and with trusted people nearby.
If you are travelling to Oaxaca City, you may hear of a nearby town called San Jose del Pacifico that is known for its ancestral use of Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybe cubensis). At about 2500m is this tiny village where all there is to do is just relax and enjoy the total peace and serenity, up above the clouds.
Watch the clouds roll in through the valleys in the afternoon and see some of the most beautiful sunsets. On a rare clear day, you can even see the Pacific coast… just barely.
We planned on staying one night on the way through and ended up staying for a week. It’s a hard place to leave. Just kicking back, get a good book or just think about how you could live here forever, without a worry in the world.
San Jose del Pacifico is 3 hours from Oaxaca City and 3.5 hours from the Pacific coast. Be prepared for some super windy roads, and some super crazy driving from the collectivo drivers. They’re nuts!! It’s like being on a rollercoaster ride. Not the ideal trip if you get travel sickness. Taking shared minivans is one of the only ways to get there is in the minivan/shuttles. Very few big buses travel up and over the mountains.
San Jose del Pacifico basically has just one main street that is roughly 300m long. Here you’ll find a few places to eat, one internet cafe, a tour company for temazcals and a few craft stores that sell lots of hand-made magic mushroom crafts and clothing. Anything you want to buy with a mushroom on it, they’ll have it. Then from there, a couple of streets off that up the steep hill, that leads to a small pocket of houses and accommodations.
SEE – Photos & Videos
GO – Getting There
How to get to San Jose del Pacifico
There are at least 3 different companies driving from Oaxaca to Pochutla. Each costs $110 pesos to San Jose del Pacifico. It’s exactly 3 hours from both Oaxaca and Pochutla. All the minivans are 14 seat vehicles with aircon. Take a sweater with you upfront, because the aircon will be on and it’s freezing.
If you’re coming from Oaxaca City, ask your hostel/hotel where the colectivos to Pochutla are. They are all in the same area about 5 blocks south of the Zocalo, near Calle Armenta y López and Calle Bustamante.
If you’re coming from Pochutla, you can’t miss them. As soon as you get off your bus or camioneta, people will be yelling from the other side of the street to get you on their colectivo to take you to Oaxaca.
Do – Activities & Attractions
Magic Mushrooms in San Jose del Pacifico
If you are looking for magic mushrooms – known as ‘hongos magicos’ as its said in Spanish – you won’t have to look far. I got asked if I wanted mushrooms when I checked into my hostel, so you won’t have any trouble finding them. They are illegal under Mexican law, but that doesn’t seem to be policed here, likely due to their ancestral connections. That doesn’t mean that they are any less illegal. Be aware, should you do this, you are technically breaking local law – so please be aware, we are not condoning this – we are simply educating you on an ancestral practice that has opened loosely to tourism.
Most of the people walk 10-15 mins up into the forest to take the mushrooms and be with nature. The highs lasting between 3-8 hours. Make sure you get the right instructions on how much to take, you don’t want to overdo it and totally trip yourself out. One trip for the mushrooms will cost you between $200-$250 pesos. Also every careful venturing into the forest. You don’t want to get lost, too far from the town.
If you want some fresh magic mushrooms, get there in the rainy season between June and September. Just before the season finishes, they pick enough mushrooms and put them in jars of honey to preserve them until the next season. So if it’s out of season, you won’t have any problems getting them still, though the effects are often reported to be much lower – sometimes non-existent – when preserved in the honey, or dried out.
What’s a Temazcal?? It’s an ancestral sweat lodge, similar to a sauna. They can look like a brick igloo or a concrete box. Depending on the type of temazcal that you’re entering, they can hold anywhere between 2-20 people. They’re used for both physical well-being and natural healing. You can go to ones where you just relax and take your time, or you can get the full experience with a traditional indigenous ceremony.
There is a couple of basic temazcals in town for relaxing, but if you’re looking for the full traditional Mexican experience, ask for Casa de Paco. It’s full of rituals and chanting inside the temazcal and it’s intense. And hot!! Casa De Paco lasts for 1.5 hours. It’s located a 30 min walk from town into the forest in the middle of nowhere (it’s well marked with signs though, so it’s easy to find).
You won’t be able to book the Temezcals in San Jose del Pacifico in advance, nor will you need to. A few run every day at 11 am, and some locations will just start them once you arrive, on-demand. The Temezcals cost around $150 pesos per person, though could vary depending on your group size.
Stay – Accommodation
Where to stay in San Jose del Pacifico
The most popular place to stay if you’re backpacking or looking for something budget-friendly is Hostel La Cumbre. It’ll cost you $150 pesos ($8US) a night for a private room. La Cumbre is a totally chilled-out hostel with a hippy backpacker vibe. Most people are here for the mushroom experience. It’s up the hill nearest to the bus stop and has awesome views to watch the sunset. You won’t be able to book online, as they don’t have the internet to take bookings, but there is almost always availability – even during the high season. They also have their own restaurant, so you don’t need to hike the steep hill every time you want a meal.
Something a bit more comfortable is La Puesta Del Sol. Here you’ll find cabañas and private rooms. Though they don’t have reservations on regular booking engines, you can call or email them with the info found on their website.
Eat – Restaurants
Time – Seasonality & Schedules
Safety – Possible risks
Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim to those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
Pay – How much does it cost?
Responsible Travel – Best Practices
Reality Check – Be Aware
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This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off-the-beaten-path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!
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Have you been to San Jose del Pacifico?? Did you experience the ancestral magic mushrooms? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how it was.