This mini-metropolis of Oaxaca’s southern Sierra owes its fame to the excellent coffee, produced by a competent cadre of local fincas cafeteleras sprinkled in the cool vine-hung mountain forests that surround the town. The original impulse for Oaxaca coffee growing dates back to President Benito Juárez’s efforts to encourage upcountry coffee growing and shipping via the newly built port of Puerto Ángel around 1870. Although the shipping is now all by highway, the deep, rich flavor of Pluma Hidalgo coffee is prized by brew fanciers all over Mexico and the world.
The town of Pluma Hidalgo (pop. 3,000, elev. 4830 feet/1470 meters) nestles on a lush mountainside 16 miles (26 km) by paved road uphill from Santa María de Huatulco. The name “Pluma” originates with the feather-like cloud (thus “plume”) that often forms over the verdant ridge above the town.
The main town-center sights are the plaza, the colonial-era church and the town market, best on Sundays. Just below the market on the north side is one of the most unusually picturesque basketball courts in Mexico. From anywhere on the court (which is fenced in by netting so the ball will not get lost over the adjacent cliff) expansive vistas spread, both up to the Sierra summit and down-valley to the Pacific shore.
The must-do Pluma Hidalgo activity is visiting a coffee farm.
Get to Pluma Hidalgo from the coast via Santa María de Huatulco. Colectivos leave frequently from the Santa María town center ($1.50 per person); taxis run about $15 for up to five people. By car, follow the (Highway 178) Pluma-marked sign left at the Santa María de Huatulco town center; pass over a scenic mountain-framed river just outside of town. Continue half an hour (16 miles/26 km) uphill to the Pluma Hidalgo right-hand turnoff. Pass the soccer field and continue a fraction of a mile to the town-center church and plaza.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition