Visit the Magic Forest in the Clouds in San Jose Del Pacifico

Mountain enthusiasts and nature lovers with a keen sense of adventure should consider adding San Jose Del Pacifico to their to-do lists. This impressive village, nestled in the rugged Sierra Sur mountains in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, sits at a staggering elevation of over 8000 feet. For a scale of reference, it’s on par with Machu Picchu!

With Oaxaca now officially in its dry season, it’s the perfect time to plan a trip to this spectacular and diverse part of the country. Getting to the magical cloud forest of San Jose Del Pacifico requires considerable effort, but visitors will be greatly rewarded upon arrival. Just be sure to pack appropriately, as temperatures are considerably cooler than other parts of Oaxaca.

Where is San Jose Del Pacifico and what to do there?

Located halfway between Oaxaca City and the heavenly beach towns that dot the Pacific coast of the state, San Jose Del Pacifico is an ideal stopping point on the tedious road. Even those with iron stomachs are likely to feel a little queasy going up or down the steep, narrow road with its seemingly endless hairpin bends. On the bright side, the views along the way are breathtaking.

San Jose Del Pacifico is steeped in indigenous spirituality and tradition, especially through temazcal. Derived from the Nahuatl word “temazcalli,” which roughly translates to “house of heat,” these domed structures built into the earth are used for cleansing, relaxation, and detoxification. A highly recommended experience when visiting San Jose, private or small-group ceremonies are led by local healers.

The dense pine forests are home to excellent hiking, mountain biking and outdoor recreation. There are plenty of hidden waterfalls waiting to be discovered along the way, as well as a knee-shaking zipline and suspension bridge as you literally walk from peak to peak through the clouds.

San Jose Del Pacifico is also the perfect place to relax and do nothing. There’s something special about cozying up in a cabin in the woods in front of a crackling fire, and sometimes that’s just what it takes to rejuvenate yourself physically and mentally.

In the early 1900s, an indigenous healer named Maria Sabina came to the area to explore the effects of her magic mushrooms in her sacred rituals and healing practices. The influence is still evident around town, and mushrooms (of the non-magical, edible variety) are an integral part of the daily diet. The most delicious quesadillas can be found at San Jose Del Pacifico, made with local mushrooms and Oaxacan cheese (known as quesillo) in a freshly made tortilla warmed on a comal. Serve with hot cocoa or traditional cafe called ‘café de olla.’

RELATED: 10 Things to Do When Visiting Oaxaca, Mexico

Where to stay in San Jose del Pacifico

Not too long ago, all of the accommodations available in San Jose Del Pacifico were rustic and no-frills (albeit with great views). That’s no longer the case, with a growing crop of options far more luxurious than ever. Boutique cabins and candle chalets are now scattered throughout the region, but there are still plenty of low-cost options. The nearby community of San Rio Del Honda is also a great option for those looking for maximum tranquility.

High-end accommodations tend to book in advance through their web presence. Book online if you plan to travel on weekends or during peak peak seasons through Airbnb and other booking platforms. Often the most economical options cannot be booked in advance; travelers have only to seek when they arrive, and they will find. Sometimes reservations can also be made via social networks or by telephone.

terrace views in San Jose Del Pacifico
viaJaimee Terese

terrace views in San Jose Del Pacifico

Below are some favorites for different price points.


  • La Cumbre: offers shared dorms and small private rooms. Prices start around US$15/night for the most economical option.
  • Cabanas Pacifico: Single rooms start at around 25 USD/night (shared common bathroom), private cabins with fireplace and bathroom average around 60 USD per night. Ideally located in the heart of the city.
  • Cabanas Rancho Viejo: Private cabins with fireplaces start around US$60/night (for 2-4 people). Spotless, modern accommodation, located slightly north of the main town so a car is handy.

Top of the line

  • Rancho El Mogote: reception of the suspension bridge and beautiful private cabins. Prices start around US$75/night.
  • Upper Sierra: modern boutique hotel with on-site catering; prices start around US$120/night.
  • House of Elba: superb chalets and family cabins with an on-site bistro. Prices start around $75/night for a double room.

RELATED: Common mistakes to avoid when booking a vacation rental

How to get to San Jose del Pacifico

Whether you are traveling from Oaxaca City or from the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, the fastest and most economical means of transportation is via Colectivo van. These white shuttles carry around a dozen passengers and depart approximately every 30 minutes. The most present company is called Lineas Unidas, but there are others too. They don’t need to be booked in advance and a one-way ticket costs less than US$15.

Those departing from Puerto Escondido will require an additional stop. First, you have to get to Pochutla, about an hour away (taking an ADO or SUR commercial bus is the cheapest option which costs less than 5 USD). From there, board one of the Colectivo vans that will make the rest of the way up the mountain. Don’t forget warm clothes!

journey through the mountains of Oaxaca
viaJaimee Terese

journey through the mountains of Oaxaca

For anyone thinking of renting a car and driving it themselves, don’t underestimate the road. Remain alert at all times and drive with extreme caution. It is not recommended for anyone without experience driving in the mountains of Oaxaca.

Know before you go

One of the most important things travelers should know is that there are no ATMs in the town of San Jose Del Pacifico. As electronic payment methods are not locally accepted for anything, it is essential to plan carefully and bring enough cash. Be sure to bring some extra, as this is a rural and remote area of ​​Mexico.

The lack of electronic payment is partly explained by the limited Internet and telephone coverage. The magic of San Jose is to connect with nature, and digital nomads must be fully aware that this is not the place to post.

the beauty of San Jose Del Pacifico
viaJaimee Terese

the beauty of San Jose Del Pacifico

Never attempt to get to San Jose Del Pacifico in bad weather. The mountain road is dangerous on a sunny day, but the rain is often accompanied by blinding fog. Additionally, the route is particularly prone to landslides, which can (and often do) strand motorists for hours or more. Be especially careful during the summer months (rainy season) if you are departing from the coast; often the weather seems okay but changes drastically at the start of the ascent. It is also wise to check in advance if there are any “bloqueos”, as local villagers at various places along the route are prone to protest and close the crossing.

Finally, remember that San Jose Del Pacifico is a traditional village. Travelers should act accordingly and conscientiously. As is often the case in developing countries, a sudden tourism boom can be a double-edged sword, and the community’s cultural landscape slowly begins to erode.

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