Arts + Culture

Mind–Altering Vacations

by Barbara Cleveland


The buzz: If you've never tried magic mushrooms, here's the gist: The good (sparkly hallucinations and giddiness) usually outweighs the bad (occasional nausea and dizziness). And the distinctive, unpleasant taste is easily washed away with a Corona. But don't expect to chew on some 'shrooms and suddenly see dead presidents landing in spaceships. Much like the menu at Taco Bell, there are generally five ingredients to every trip, and visual hallucinations are just one of them. Body highs, intense emotions, introspectiveness, and a distortion of time round out the experience.

Where to score: On Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, it's legal to possess and consume psilocybin mushrooms but not to sell them—so the infamous full-moon dance parties at Bomba's Surf Shack on the beach in Cappoon's Bay serve mushroom tea instead of straight 'shrooms.

Where to chill: Surf Shack proprietor Bomba's lunar-based schedule comes straight out of the Farmer's Almanac, so check his Web site for specific dates. The dance-party atmosphere can be fun but intense—tons of island expats, Caribbean surf bums, strong rum, and other drugs—so if you start to get stressed, just hop in a cab and head for the pool at your hotel. The locals are so used to spaced-out tourists that no one will bat an eye.

Where to come down: The best way to see the BVIs is to charter a catamaran. The gentle rock of the boat, the gleam of the Milky Way, and the sound of the waves are the perfect backdrop for the earth-loving feeling that mushrooms can bring. The Moorings has a huge selection of boats available for charter, but don't 'shroom and sail—make sure there's a crew to skipper the boat while you trip out.

Next: Fever dreams in Mexico

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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