Todos Santos: Unspoiled, Art-Centric Utopia on the Mexican Riviera

The Best 12 Hours You’ll Ever Spend

About 45 minutes north of the hustle and bustle of Cabo is an oasis of calm, a hidden gem on the Mexican Riviera that’s overflowing with pristine beaches, fringy palms, fruit trees, and breath-stealing natural beauty. It’s a slice of heaven where the desert meets the Sierra Laguna mountains with a view of the cerulean sea, where a quirky mash-up of artisans, surfers, hikers, wild-life junkies, fisherman, snorkelers, scuba-divers and fisherman find their Zen. This magical place? Todos Santos. Come, let us take you there.

surfboards playa los cerritos todos santos mexico
(Surfboards, Playa Los Cerritos, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/marilpe.)

9:00 a.m. Morning in Todos Santos. One of the best ways to get your bearings in a new beach town is to grab a coffee, select a beach and head in that direction.

baja beans coffee shop todos santos mexico
(Artful cappuccino, Baja Beans, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/sweetsassymocassie.)

A few good places for non-Starbuckian joe are Baja Beans and Cafeflix. The best beaches to check out in Todos Santos are Playa Los Cerritos, Playa San Pedro/Las Palmas, Playa Pescadero, Punta Lobos, Old Port/Los Algodones. The cool waves dousing your ankles, your toes in the sand, the fresh ocean breeze and a caffeinated beverage – this the perfect way to get grounded in this wondersand land. During your stroll, you can figure out what, if any, excursions you want to do in the afternoon. After a short walk, you might want to head downtown late morning to check out some of the cool buildings, shop around and get a feel for the place.

11:00 p.m. Near Noon Walkabout in Downtown. Once a dusty town on the Mexican frontier then later the sugar capital of Baja, Todos Santos is a laid-back village that is a refuge for artists and a mecca for surfers with a little commerce sprinkled on the top, one that you’ll love exploring. Sophisticated art galleries and funky boutiques are nestled amidst colorful colonial buildings adorned with art and flanked by flora, which creates a new/old world vibe. There are even nooks, sidewalk benches and intimate cafes, where you can hideaway.

street todos santos mexico
(Street walkway, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/gretchenwilli.)
besame mucho bazaar todos santos mexico
(Besame Mucho Bazaar, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/marilpe.)
teal building libreria book store todos santos mexico
(Teal building, Libreria Book Store, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: yosoyesachica.)

Todos Santos has the vibe of a more traditional Mexico, sort of like Santa Fe on the beach with annual film, art and wine festivals. Joan Osborne has played here during the Tropic of Cancer Concert Series and Peter Buck of REM launched the Todos Santos Music Festival. Not too shabby for a sleepy beach town.

crosses todos santos mexico
(Crosses, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/bdbea.)
colorful building todos santos mexico
(Another colorful building in Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/marilpe.)
aztec calendar todos santos mexico
(Aztec Calendar, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/paupicos.)

Least you think Todos Santos is too remote, you’ll be happy to know that it has all the modern conveniences that travelers require like Wi-Fi, ATMs, banks and hospitals, but it’s still not a place that’s overrun with tourists and rabid partiers.

While you’re in town, other locales you’ll definitely want to check out are the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (church), Teatro Marquez de Leon (theater) and the Centro Cultural Nestor Agundez Martinez (cultural center), where you can see the famous murals that were painted in 1933, a couple of decades after the Mexican Revolution. They depict Baja’s history, the original Indian inhabitants, a ship of the Conquistadors and the Franciscan monks of the missionary period.

tequila sunrise todos santos mexico
(Tequila’s Sunrise, Todos Santos, photo by: instagram.com/giosoto.)

12:30 p.m. Lunching in Todos Santos. First stop should be Tequila’s Sunrise to try out their award-winning margaritas. But don’t miss the food: it’s off-the-charts amazing. Try the chicken quesadillas and tortilla soup.

patio cafe todos santos todos santos mexico
(Patio, Cafe Todos Santos, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/rachelsummer.)

If you want to lunch al fresco, Cafe Todos Santos has a lovely patio. One of the best things there are the Chilaquiles – they’re the best. Other great lunch spots to try are Carnitas Barajas where the pork tacos rock and La Casita Tapas and Wine Bar, where you can get sushi, steak and fresh seafood.

hand stand on the beach todos santos mexico
(One of our true beach lovers getting physical, Todos Santos beach, photo by: instagram.com/santiago_vb11).)

2:00 p.m. Outdoorsy, Exercise-y Afternoon Stuff To Do. There’s an eclectic menu of activities to do here in paradise, though not surprisingly, surfing is big here. If you want to take lessons or brush up, the top place to go is Justin Quirk’s Surf School, where you can learn in Todos Santos, Cerritos and El Pescadero areas of Baja California Sur. Other options for your afternoon include fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. You can find yoga and aerobic classes, along with Aikido, a Japanese form of self-defense and Tai Chi, a Chinese internal martial art. There are even cooking seminars, book groups and West African drumming. If you’re here in December, you can watch whales migrate along the coastline of these exquisite beaches.

el faro beach club todos santos mexico
(El Faro Beach Club, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/gretchenwilli.)

6:00 p.m. Cocktails, Dinner and Sunset Gazing. Using fresh local ingredients and organic produce, the restaurants in Todos Santos create taste bud-slaying cuisine and the fisherman provide fresh seafood daily. For happy hour and watching the incredible sunsets, along with spectacular food, El Faro Beach Club and Spa are where you’ll want to plant yourself. Start with the guac and a margarita, take in the view, then try the sea bass for your main course.

beach at el faro beach club todos santos mexico
(Beach view, El Faro Beach Club, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/benjakye.)

Another spot that is uniquely Todos, is Jazamango. At the helm is renowned Mexican chef Javier Plascencia. He has created a knock-out culinary experience inspired by his love for Baja.

jazamango farms todos santos mexico
(Jazamango Farms, Todos Santos, Mexico, photo by: instagram.com/benjakye.)

The epitome of farm-to-table cuisine, the cuisine at Jazamango is based on a mixture of local products and organic ingredients to create dishes that please and satisfy the senses. You’ll love it. For more casual fare, La Garra is a sports bar with live music. In the same vein, at Cerritos Beach Club and Surf, you can kick back with a refreshing margarita, catch some jazz and watch the surfers fresh in from hangin’ ten bounce in and out.

Miguel’s, El Mirador (great view of the ocean) and the Garden Restaurant (they have an organic garden) all have superb menus and out-of-sight food. Finally, if you want to blend art viewing with dining, you’ll love Michael’s at the Gallery, a restaurant in the back of an art gallery.

 

9:00 p.m. Beachin’ Bars. If you’re not ready to call it a night, then there are a few night spots you’ll want to check out. First up is The Distillery. It’s the first artisan distillery in the Baja Sur region. Don’t miss the Baja Midnight vodka, chocolate moonshine, and their house blends of tequila. While you’re there, you can also learn about how alcohol is fermented, distilled, and bottled. The moonshine is made from sweet white corn, and sugarcane is used to make their vodka. You can also enjoy traditional and local wines. Try the house favorite, Jamica. Another great place is The Desert Moon Riptide Bar. It’s owned by Jaime Dobies, a surfer also the owner of the Pescadero Surf Camp. If you’re into vino, inside The Hotel California, which is not the one the Eagles’ sing about, is the Santo Vino Bistro and Wine Bar. For a place that will satisfy everyone, Fonda El Zaguan has it all: everything from a super wine list and tequilas to fresh fruit cocktails and smoothies.

After 12 hours in Todos Santos, we knew it will be hard to leave. All that meant is that we’d have to come back for more beach goodness.

Lisa Mitchell

I am a blogger for CheapCaribbean.com who is a travel junkie and addicted to the beach.

12 Comments
  1. Awesome Lisa, thanks have been too Los Cabos had no ideal this place even existed. Maybe next time I will get too visit also.

    1. Hi Kahana, yes, this place is magical. And it’s just a short drive from Cabo. If you need help with getting to Cabo, we’re here to help! Just let me know and I’ll get you set up. Take care, Lisa

  2. Great insight, I have been looking for the path less traveled, this sounds perfect and still have my amenities!

    1. Hi Christopher, thanks for your kind words. Yes, Todos is just off the beaten path and really a short drive from Cabo. Let us know when you want us to help you create a beach vacation, and let me know if you need any more info on Cabo. I’m happy to help! Take care, Lisa

  3. Hi Lisa, I bought a timeshare in Cabo in 1984 (Club Cascadas) and sold it in 1999, and haven’t been back since. It was such a great place in the mid 80’s (got to dance with Jamie Lee Curtis at thye Gigglin Marlin once). Anyway I am wondering if there is anyplace to stay in Todos Santos or someplace like that. I am single but not interested in the nightlife much. Got any ideas? Doug G

    1. Hi Douglas, thanks so much for reaching out. Your trip to Cabo sounds amazing! So that you can get the latest, greatest rates and info about places to stay, I have sent your email to our Beachologists so someone should be contacting you to help you. If you find that you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to ping me here and I’ll expedite your request. Take care, Lisa

    1. Hi Louis, thanks for reaching out. I have forwarded your email to one of our Beachologists and they will be getting in touch with you as soon as possible to answer your questions. Take care, Lisa

  4. Took a local bus up to Todo Santos from Cabo last summer and all the streets and pavements in the village were completely torn up and dirt streets everywhere. We assumed they were making paved streets but saw no one working! Has this been completed? it’s a beautiful drive oceanside all the way there and we did find the Hotel California supposedly from the Eagle’s song!! A beautiful, laid back real Mexican village with local shops and beautiful local artisans.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      As it turns out, there have been some repairs made to the streets and there are still some in need of repair. However, most are acceptable for driving and just to be clear: the highway from La Paz city and Cabo San Lucas are in very good conditions. The highway from San Jose del Cabo are okay, but not 100% repaired. The top line: you can get around, save for a few streets. Just last week the President of Mexico visited Todos and for this visit, they sidewalks were cleaned and painted. So it’s looks great. Also, re: Hotel California – it is NOT the song that the Eagles are singing about.

      Thanks for your question and if we can we of any help in setting up a beach vacation to Todos or Cabo or anywhere, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

      Take care,
      Lisa

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