Tucked away in the mountains of Mexico’s beautiful Oaxaca region, San Jose del Pacifico is as quiet of a town as it gets. It serves as a perfect stopping point for adventurous travelers that have made their way through northern Oaxaca’s incredibly diverse biomes and multitude of ruins, or those that have started in southern Oaxaca, hopping from beach town to beach town looking for the perfect surf spot or diving spot.
Ahh, San Jose del Pacifico. If you’re reading this right now, I can probably already guess your intentions. Yes, this is the magic mushroom capital of Mexico. Yes, it is easy as it gets to find mushrooms here and go on the trip of your life. How easy? Your hostel will probably sell them. The mini mercado across from the bus stop probably sells them. If you’re worried about figuring out how to get them, don’t be. You will get them.
The rest of San Jose del Pacifico might not be that easy to figure out. Most of that is because there really isn’t that much to figure out. This quiet town is tiny and you can walk across the entire “downtown” area in a matter of three minutes. If you’re backpacking through Mexico, you just have to accept that you are going to have to force yourself to sit around and do nothing for however long you decide to stay here.
What this place lacks in tangible “things to do”, it makes up for with mental adventures. Anyway, here’s the part you probably came here for.
First things first, you should stay at La Cumbre. It lacks some basic amenities like hot water, working Wi-Fi, and just about everything else but it has some of the most beautiful views you will ever see in your life. Everything else becomes worth it once you’ve made a few good friends to share a mushroom tea and a few beers with. You’re a dirty backpacker anyway. Do you really need a hot shower?
La Cumbre has cabins that start at 150 pesos ($7-8) per night. I’m talking private cabin. My hostel in Oaxaca cost twice that much to be in a dorm with six people. Admittedly, that hostel had hot water, good Wi-Fi, and all the finer things in life, but hey, when you’re on a budget, who needs any of that fancy stuff like hygiene and social media.
Now, on to the mushrooms. You can literally get them anywhere and the town prides itself on those mushrooms. Before travelers discovered the magic of San Jose del Pacifico, the locals have been indulging in hongos for generations and generations. Don’t feel like a stupid tourist gringo because I guarantee the locals are all about it. You can ask anybody about it and they’ll point you in the right direction. The first time I asked a local shop owner “donde puedo comprar los psicedelicos?”, I felt like I was going to get arrested on the spot. The lady, who was a mother with her baby in a stroller, pointed me in the right direction and soon enough, I discovered that this town truly did not give any f*cks.
You can ask anyone. The old guy at the mini mercado, the dreadlocked couple wandering around, the two dogs that will inevitably follow you around everywhere you go, they’ll know. Everyone knows.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to do in this town. You can walk around and look for some better views but you probably won’t find them. A lot of random people I talked to talked about just running into the forest somewhere during their trip but I’ll leave that decision to your discretion. I don’t want to be responsible for a headline that reads “Two Lost Gringos Die in Mexican Forest While Tripping on Shrooms.”
If you aren’t interested in doing something aside from Mexican mountain mushrooms, there are quite a few places to do temazcal. It’s a weird ritual which is basically a sweat lodge meant to cleanse your body of toxins and help you feel like a new person. It only costs about 150 pesos so even if it is some weird scam, it won’t cost you too much. The placebo effect might be worth it alone. I haven’t done it because I didn’t know how I felt about getting naked with a bunch of strangers.
There are also a few other adventures that you can do that I think the locals started trying to make popular. Unfortunately, most people are just interested in doing drugs so there usually isn’t enough interest in the activities which consist mostly of walking through nature and finding waterfalls and going on hikes.
Overall, San Jose del Pacifico is worth the visit but depending on what you plan on doing, anything more than one night might be more than enough. The views are incredible and I could truly hang in a hammock and stare at the clouds all day. However, if you aren’t tripping ‘shrooms, you might get bored. The town has little else to do and depending on when you go, most places might not even be open. Although San Jose del Pacifico is pretty well-known among backpackers, not a lot of people actually go there compared to other popular Mexican destinations. Everything is open on a need-to-be basis so don’t expect a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, markets, or shopping to choose from.
But like I said earlier, there will always be shrooms.