The backpackers guide for travelling San José del Pacifico (the land of magic mushrooms)
I spent three months travelling around Mexico and San José del Pacífico takes the cake as my favourite place in the country! I had the most magical experiences there, with the greatest people and if you’re going to visit Mexico, it’d be an absolute shame to miss this gem of a destination.
San José del Pacifico is a little town in the Oaxaca region (pronounced wa-ha-ka), in between Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca City. It’s renowned for being the place for a nice trip on magic mushrooms as they grow in the beautiful surrounding forest. What made my time in San José del Pacifico even better was the hostel I stayed in, it’s honestly one of the best hostels I’ve ever visited. If you don’t believe me, check the reviews on Hostelworld, 9/10 backpackers say the same thing!
Below, I’ll outline exactly how you get to San José del Pacifico, where to stay, awesome food in the area, where to get the mushrooms and how to have an incredible trip, in both senses of the word. Mushrooms are decriminalised in San José del Pacifico so if you do them, you’re not breaking the law or anything you cheeky devil. Doing mushies isn’t the only reason to visit this special place though. My partner and many others in the hostel didn’t do them and still had a fantastic time!
Where to stay in San José del Pacifico
Bostel Rancho Viejo is a must do! This place is exceptional. It’s nestled high up in the mountains of the green forest, about a 10 minute Tuk Tuk from the main town. The architecture of the hostel creates such a nice atmosphere that everyone who walks through the door immediately feels like family. The facilities are fantastic and it’s built from beautiful handmade wood. There’s a fire pit outside and a big comfy lounge in front of a chalet style fireplace inside. You can also sit on the deck and feel the clouds roll past you and watch the fire flies in the trees. It’s truly one of a kind.
You can walk to the Bostel from the main town in about 25 minutes, enjoying the view on the way or get a fun Tuk Tuk ride. The Tuk Tuk only costs $1-2 per person (15 pesos) but the town is very small and there’s not much to do there anyway. You want to be in the mountains, trust me! You can easily get food delivered to the Bostel too (I’ll cover that below) and the kitchen is amazing to cook in, so there really is no need to stay in town. There is also a small shop at the Bostel for muchos snacks!
Okay, so I’ve convinced you the Bostel is where it’s at, but how much does the magical wonderland cost, Helena?! The Bostel is a little more expensive than the only other hostel in town, but it’s worth it. A dorm bed is $28 (420 (blaze) pesos) a night or there are some wonderful private cabanas with a king bed, lounge and private fireplace.
If this is out of your price range, the other hostel is called La Cumbre. It’s half the price of the Bostel. The location isn’t as good and the facilities aren’t as nice (the Bostel is hard to beat), but if you don’t have the money for the Bostel, it’s still a good op!
How to get to San José del Pacifico
Getting to San José del Pacifico is easy and cheap, but beware, all three options below include some winddddyyyy roads. When I came from Zipolite, I spent three hours looking out the window to avoid motion sickness. I’d recommend getting to the bus stations early, so you can get a seat up front and only eat something light beforehand. Some motion sickness tablets would be handy too!
San José del Pacifico from Zipolite
Coming from Zipolite is super easy as there is a direct bus. Simply go to the Lineas Unidad bus station on the main road and get the bus to San José del Pacifico for $6 (70 pesos). They come every hour on the 45th minute and the journey takes 3.5 hours.
San José del Pacifico from Puerto Escondido
You’ll have to jump on two buses if you’re coming from Puerto Escondido. First, you need to get on a bus to Pochutla with Transportes Delfines. The buses come every 20 minutes or so from the main road near the Chedraui shop in the centre of Puerto Escondido. This will set you back $4 (60 pesos) and takes a little over an hour. From there, you get a shuttle to San José del Pacifico with Lineas Unidad for $10 (150 pesos), taking about three hours.
San José del Pacifico from Oaxaca City
Getting to San José del Pacifico From Oaxaca City is another easy route! Simply go to the Lineas Unidad bus station in Oaxaca and you can get a bus direct to the town. It’s the same price as coming from Zipolite at $6 (70 pesos) and it’s only windy for the last 30-60 minutes of the trip, wahoo!
Where to get mushrooms in San José del Pacifico
There are two places to get mushrooms in San José del Pacifico and I tried both, colour me enthusiastic. The first time I had them, I got them from a little restaurant in town and the lady who owns it is super sweet. She made us a delicious tea with honey and we sipped it on her balcony before getting a Tuk Tuk back to the Bostel. My advice would be to take the tea with you and sip it once you get back. Our mushrooms hit us quick and we started getting visuals on the drive. It was a bit nuts for a while, haha!
The restaurant is roughly here in town. You need to go off the road and up the driveway towards the back to find it (they don’t have a direct Google Maps link). Ask the locals for hongos, meaning magic mushrooms in Spanish. You can also buy some weed there if you want! The second place to buy them is at the La Cumbre Hostel, handy if you’re staying there. They’ll come dry in a little bag so you can eat them straight away or make a tea yourself. You can also pay for them on card haha!
Mushroom season is July to October and they’ll be much cheaper then but if it’s not, they’re about $54 (750 pesos) for two grams. I heard the locals import the mushrooms from Canada in the off season. This seemed to put some travellers off but I couldn’t care less if they were imported. I’d spend the money ten times over for the experience.
How to have the best magical trip and where to go
In San José del Pacifico, the locals say not eating and doing a Temezcal Ceremony, followed by some magic mushrooms will give you a strong trip where you ‘break through’ and see visuals. A Temezcal Ceremony is a Mexican tradition where you sit an igloo like dome made of clay. It’s essentially a super hot sauna with heat from coals and herbs that’s meant to cleanse your spirit. I loved it and would do it again even without mushrooms!
A group of 11 of us did the Temezcal through Cabañas y Temazcal Teteo Innan Alma and they were fantastic! You simply shoot them a message on WhatsApp with the number of people doing the ceremony and ask a time, then rock up and get sweaty. The WhatsApp number is +52 951 472 6642, god I’m good to you.
Speaking from experience, taking the mushrooms after a Temezcal definitely worked. My little crew and I did this and in the beginning, we had mad visuals within 30 minutes of having the magical mushroom tea! Two grams was more than enough and if I did this again, I’d probably take 1.5 grams and perhaps eat a banana first. I personally had a great experience but for one or two of the others in our group, it was a bit strong in the beginning.
The second time I did them, I had eaten a full meal and only had 1.5 grams. I got these shrooms from La Cumbre Hostel. I ate the mushrooms dry instead of having them in a tea and for this trip, I didn’t have crazy visuals but I felt light, giddy and happy! They were two totally different experiences but both were incredible.
Now where to have said magical trip: THE BOSTEL! Do not leave the magical wonderland! It’s full of peaceful, nature filled lookouts like the below, where you can take in the surrounding forest and see some cool, trippy stuff. There’s also a tranquil spot just outside of the Bostel you can walk to in five minutes, filled with chairs and hammocks in the trees.
Myself and other groups on mushies strayed from the hostel and quickly came back. The Bostel owners absolutely knew how to set up a perfect place for a nice, safe and magical trip. They have been so thoughtful in making this special for their guests and it’d be a crazy shame to not embrace and enjoy the area. Also, in my opinion, if it’s your first time taking mushrooms, it’s a good thing to have people, shops and your bed near by. It’ll help you feel safe and can prevent you from having a bad trip.
The best food in San José del Pacifico
Surprisingly, for a small town, there are lots of tasty food options. I had the best ramen I’ve ever had in San José del Pacifico from Tatsu!
Below, you’ll see a list of delicious food options around town. You simply message the restaurant with your order via WhatsApp (or give them a call if your Spanish is good) and ask for delivery to the Bostel and BAM the magic food gods deliver it! If you’re in town, you can get an amazing baguette for about $2 from the large bakery and they have some great breakfast options in the local cafes.
As mentioned earlier, the kitchen in the Bostel is homely and people often cook big dinners together, so that’s an option too. Below is a photo of a photo of the awesome restaurants in town. If you keep this, take a photo of it and pass on the trend to fellow travellers baby.
Other things to do in San José del Pacifico
You can hike one of the mountains to see the whole town from the top. I did this and got lost on my own and it was scary as hell, so make sure you stay in a group! Or, simply soak up the nature and unwind. Read a book, eat some tasty food, have nice chats with people and go for walks!
Extra hot tips
Bring cash as there is only one ATM in town and it was broken when I was there. You can pay for your accommodation on card as well as your mushrooms if you buy them from La Cumbre (genius),
Bring some warm clothes because it gets damn chilly at night! I only had one shitty jumper with me and some thin pants. I ended up walking around with my blanket and I was fine, rather cosy actually.
The mountains are high altitude so you might get a little headache or feel puffed! I was preparing for this to be bad but it didn’t affect me, just something to be aware of.
Okay that’s it, gosh I hope this convinces you to visit San José del Pacifico and helps you have the best time! This magical place is so incredible, I can’t recommend it enough. If you go, give me a shout. I’d love to hear about your experiences!
P.S. There was an unwell puppy at the Bostel we all adopted and fed. He’s a bit squeamish (hopefully less so now) and is white and brown. We made it our duty to ensure the baton for looking after him passes on. If you go to the Bostel, PLEASE let me know if he is okay and I will love you forever.
Yours in magical trips,