San José del Pacífico, Mexico

San José del Pacífico, a town in the clouds

By Sergio Camalich

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Located between the City of Oaxaca and the relaxing beaches of its namesake state, San José del Pacífico is a small town located on top of the mountains, surrounded by a constant layer of clouds and forest. It is mostly unknown and ignored by tourists, but those who stay are in for a big surprise.

I knew about it well before I arrived because it is famous for its magic mushrooms during the rainy season, which attracts hundreds for enthusiasts from May to September and since it only takes a 3-hours ride from Oaxaca, it is a really accesible place.

San José del Magnífico

This is how the locals call it and I couldn’t agree more.

From the moment I arrived, I noticed how different this place is from any other. With just one main road passing through its middle and a dozen more going up through the hills, San José del Pacífico is not a big town.

It is mostly unknown and ignored by tourists, but those who stay are in for a big surprise.

Mushroom and psychedelic imagery can be found anywhere in town and just asking around will quickly get you a family of 7 mushrooms or a big one—the Maestro. This mushrooms shouldn’t be used as a recreative drug but mostly as a way to connect with your inner self and nature.

I was expecting higher prices than in Oaxaca, since it is located on top of the mountains but as I quickly discovered, the food was cheap and accommodation, even cheaper.

DSC_0234Sorry, mom!

Hostal de Doña Catalina

Easily the most famous hostal in town, the Hostal de Doña Catalina is a beautiful hippie hostel with a loving community of permanent travellers.

Here you can camp, have a private room or sleep in a dorm with several other people, which is what I did, surprisingly paying only $50 mexican pesos per night, one of the cheapest hostels I’ve ever stayed in.

Each night, we made dinner for the whole hostel for only $10 pesos each. Is this real life?

DSC_0225Coolest cabin ever

The local landscape

Even if you’re not in for a mushroom trip, you can’t deny the fact that the surroundings are just astounding.

Each afternoon, the whole hostel gathered in the panoramic terrace just to see the Sun set behind the mountains, while the clouds slowly covered everything in sight and beautiful music played in the background.
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I don’t know how many hours we spent on that area, talking and enjoying the view, but I’m sure they were many.

There are also several trails that take you up the mountains and into the forest, where I couldn’t help but marvel at the special lighting that’s created by the trees and the sound the wind makes as it rushes through the leaves.

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By the third day there, I was ready to leave everything behind and start living a simple life, but the waves of Mazunte were calling me.


The costs of San José del Pacífico

Bus from Oaxaca to San José del Pacífico: $95 pesos
8-people dorm/night: $50 pesos
Meals: $10-45 pesos
Beer: $20 pesos
Mushrooms: $70-300 pesos, depending on the season.

  • Karla Mariana Huerta

    ¿Qué tal la experiencia con los hongos? ¿Ya los probaste?

    Este lugar está increíble!

    • Ya los comí y fue una experiencia grandiosa en medio del bosque! Totalmente inolvidable y recomendable :)

  • Mónica

    Sorry mom???!!!!……invita mejor en lugar de disculparte!!!!! ;)

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  • to

    hey I arrived here,now.but food and commodation is expensive,compare to city center.

  • Ven Smith

    Sooo…. how does one contact Hostal de Dona Catalina in order to book a couple nights there?

    • There’s no way of contacting them, since there’s no internet in town. The way I did was by walking up the hill that takes you to the hostel and talking directly with them.

      They have plenty of room, so I doubt it will be fully booked if you’re not going during the town’s hight season(around August).

      • Ven Smith

        Sergio muchas gracias mano! Como encuentro el lugar, es facil?

        • No hay pierde! El pueblo es muy chiquito. Los colectivos te dejan en la calle principal y de ahí tienes que subir por la única calle que va hacia las montañas.

          Unos 10 minutos de subida y la encontrarás a tu mano izquierda.

          Lo más fácil es preguntar a cualquiera de los locales acerca del hostal y te guiarán sin ningún problema.

  • Nice article! I’m in Oaxaca currently and looking to head out that way. Where did you catch the bus from in Oaxaca? I found a bus place near the center but it was closed, and the big bus company doesn’t run buses down there.

    • Thanks, Adam!

      The colectivos run from downtown but I don’t remember exactly the street but it was close to the big market.

      Maybe you could ask for the colectivos that go all the way down to Puerto Ángel and ask to get dropped in San José.

  • sam

    hi, do you know the name of the website used to book the Hostal de Doña Catalina? i can’t seem to find anywhere to book/see if theres space for us!

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