Nestled high up in the Sierra Madre Mountains is a hidden gem called San Sebastian Del Oeste. Located just 65 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes’ drive) Northeast from Puerto Vallarta on a mountainous road, this village is quite off the beaten path. Because of its altitude and climate, San Sebastian Del Oeste is in a cloud forest, much like Mindo, Ecuador. Rich in natural resources, San Sebastian Del Oeste was once used as an outpost and home base for colonial miners. There are day tours that can be done from Puerto Vallarta, or you can rent a car and drive on your own. The road was safe and easy to drive.
Today San Sebastian Del Oeste is known for its organic coffee production, as its location higher up in the mountains at 1,500 meters (4,500′) makes for the perfect climate to grow coffee. If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip from Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias, Sayulita or San Pancho, or you just want to get into some quiet nature, I recommend visiting San Sebastian Del Oeste!
So, what is there to do in this tiny little town?
7 THINGS TO DO IN SAN SEBASTIAN DEL OESTE
As you’ll see, San Sebastian Del Oeste is not a hustle bustle town filled with a million things to do. The charm here really is to slow down and enjoy life whilst being surrounded by beautiful nature. There are several great restaurants, so come on an empty stomach!
- Stop at the local Panaderia (bakery) on the way
- Go for a hike and check out all the miradors (lookouts)
- Visit an organic coffee plantation and sample coffee at La Quinta Mary
- Visit La Iglesia de San Sebastian
- Walk the charming cobblestone streets
- Rent an ATV
- Eat at Jardin Nebuloso
STOP AT THE LOCAL PANADERIA ON THE WAY INTO TOWN
There’s only one way into and out of San Sebastian Del Oeste, so you can’t miss this local bakery on the right side of the road; you’ll see it about 15 minutes before you reach the town. Owned by a mom and pop, they sell delicious home made pastries with a lovely ambiance and a swing!
There’s a great lookout overlooking the bridge and canyon right next to the bakery.
GO FOR A HIKE
Upon arrival to the city center (which is where you’ll park if you’ve arrived by car), there is a tourist map, which locates all the points of interest. The most popular hike is La Bufa, where, if you time it right, you’ll be above the clouds, making for a beautiful and dynamic view of the city below. It is only recommended to drive yourself if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, and if it has been raining lately, do not attempt to drive it. It’s better to take a tour in that case, and be driven to the top, as there are some dodgy areas. Because we didn’t bring proper footwear, we didn’t do this hike, but we drove to one of the other miradors, parked, and hiked for a while, enjoying a similar view of the town (just a bit lower) than what you would see from La Bufa.
VISIT AN ORGANIC COFFEE PLANTATION AT LA QUINTA MARY
Are you a coffee drinker? If so, do you know where your coffee comes from and how it is made? You can learn about the process of organic coffee making right here in San Sebastian Del Oeste. You’ll even find colorful blue and green macaws who can say “hola!” They also like to eat the coffee fruit!
VISIT LA IGLESIA DE SAN SEBASTIAN
WALK THE CHARMING COBBLESTONE STREETS
For more sweets, be sure to stop at another excellent bakery called El Galletero Magico.
RENT AN ATV
Right in the city center, you’ll find tourist information and some guides available to provide information or take you on a tour. You can also rent an ATV, though we’ve heard from friends in our expat / digital nomad community that this can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know the trails, because you’ll be on the mountainside with no guardrails. I would not recommend this for kids.
EAT AT JARDIN NEBULOSO
This is the ultimate foodie experience, and one of the most memorable foodie experiences during our time in Mexico so far. Immediately upon entering this garden oasis, you’ll find yourself ooing and ahhing. Jardin Nebulosa is a beautiful space, ensconced in a lush tropical garden, surrounded by coffee trees and singing birds. We ran into some other Russians who live in La Zona Romantica in downtown Puerto Vallarta, and they said sometimes they make the long drive up to San Sebastian Del Oeste just to eat here at Jardin Nebulosa; that’s how special this place is.
The concept here at Jardin Nebulosa is “gastronomic experimentation with the flavors of our land”. You can read more about the mission and background of Jardin Nebulosa in their story. All the ingredients that you’ll find on the menu, are seasonal and freshly harvested right here in the Sierra Madre region, by biologists who study the forests here in Mexico. They work collaboratively with neighboring communities, families and farmers, respecting the environment with sustainability at the forefront of their mission.
There is a plethora of space, both indoors and outdoors, for any occasion. Once you take your seat, you’ll never want to leave. It feels like a symphony of nature’s music all around you and is quite the treat for all senses.
Your meal will begin with samples of some of their unique specialties. You can taste the freshness and love in each bite.
Their drinks are some of the most unique we’ve seen in Mexico. By the way, Mexico has THE best cocktails of any country we’ve ever visited in our travels around the world. No matter which city we visit or which restaurants we dine at, they’re all good at making cocktails (and tacos, but I digress…) Here they make their own craft beers and raicilla concoctions. As Sasha and I learned during our Mezcal Tour in Oaxaca, raicilla is another distilled spirit that comes from the agave plant, similar to tequila and mezcal. Our bartender and server, Javier was amazing; he explained everything to us about this project with such passion, and the drinks were out of this world! As an avid foodie who lives for these types of experiences, I love it when I eat or drink something and can’t pinpoint a specific flavor – that usually means I’m experiencing something I’ve never tasted before, and that excites me!
Here you’ll see Javier lighting fire to the dried rosemary herbs to create a smoky aroma, adding to the sensory experience of this raicilla drink.
We’re already planning our return to this beautiful village, for more hiking and raicilla tasting! San Sebastian Del Oeste awaits you with open arms.
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Why Bucerias Is Our Favorite Place To Live and Work Remotely in Mexico - Cultural FoodiesMarch 31, 2021 at 8:21 pm
[…] everything! Each weekend we either rented a car to go up North to Sayulita and San Pancho, East to San Sebastian del Oeste, or down South to Puerto Vallarta, or we hopped on a plane to explore a different city in Mexico! […]
Extreme Adventure - A Must-Do Activity in Puerto Vallarta! - Cultural FoodiesApril 2, 2021 at 3:06 pm
[…] This fun adventure takes place in the Sierra Madre Mountains just 45 minutes East of Bucerias. You can either drive there on your own, or you can meet the staff at their meeting point in Nuevo Vallarta and they’ll take you in a shared van. If you have a rental car and plan on going on your own, I highly recommend continuing on 30 minutes further to San Sebastian Del Oeste after your tour is over, to explore this hidden mountain village gem. You can read more about what to do there in my blog post: San Sebastian Del Oeste is Jalisco’s Hidden Gem. […]