Todos Santos is the town of all saints located a little over an hour north of Los Cabos on the Pacific Coast side of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. It has been featured in articles in Vogue and the New York Times over the past several years as a top travel destination in Mexico. We visited in mid-August, a time not typical for tourists because of the heat, and found it to be a little slice of paradise.
We flew into Cabo San Lucas and rented a car to drive to Todos Santos.
Tip: Get some pesos at the ATM’s at the bottom of the escalators in the airport before you leave if you didn’t bring them along with you. Fraud is all too common and though we typically don’t recommend taking out money at airport ATM’s, this is an exception.
Tip: Be sure to rent a car in advance. Outside of baggage claim at the airport there are many people that will try to convince you to go with them to other rental car companies. We recommend going with a larger and more well-known rental company (we chose Enterprise) so that you can avoid all of the freelance rental workers and use the shuttle service of the company of your choice from the airport. Rental car prices are inexpensive, but be aware that you should get full insurance coverage on your rental car as roads are sometimes in poor condition and highways can have surprises around every turn in the form of broken-down vehicles, herds of goats, oxen, donkeys, etc. In other words, proceed with caution, and pay the extra few bucks for insurance. Our total rental cost for 7 days with full insurance was $112.
To get to Todos Santos from the airport, the drive is relatively easy. Directions can be found at https://www.todos-sankat.com/todos-santos, but if you leave the airport and follow the signs to Todos Santos, you should be there in under an hour and a half.
Tip:Have small change in pesos to pay tolls along the road to Todos Santos. Having 2 100 peso bills should do the trick.
Tip: To save some money, consider stopping at one of the bigger grocery outlets such as La Comer en tu casa San José del Cabo (Blvd. #4650 Col., Mauricio Castro, Zona Hotelera, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S. Hours: Open · 7AM–11PM; Phone: 01 624 142 6435 http://www.lacomer.com.mx/)as you leave the airport area to stock up on groceries if you have secured a place with a kitchen. Save your produce shopping until you get to Todos Santos as farm stand produce is far less expensive (and more delicious) than that which is stocked in the grocery store.
Lodging: For us, as it typically the case, we were visiting friends who relocated to this lovely place for a change of scenery from their homes in Colorado. We were fortunate to be able to stay in one of the two homes they secured for the year and highly recommend using Airbnb to locate lodging for 1-4 week stays.
Tip: Many people own homes that they use for vacation purposes in Todos Santos It benefits owners to keep their homes inhabited to prevent squatters from moving in. Offering to rent long term 6-12 months is a win-win situation. Beautiful homes can be secured along the beach or with beach views for reasonable prices. Consider posting to the Baja Western Onion group on Facebook to see what is available.
Groceries: There are many convenience stores located throughout town. Prices are much higher in Todos Santos than near the airport. Hopefully, if you planned to do a lot of eating in, you stocked up on groceries on your drive to Todos Santos. If not, you will find many of the convenience store prices to be very similar to food pricing in the US. Our favorite was the Super Mercado “El Sol”.
Produce: We purchased fresh produce several times during our visit from local farm stands.
We made fresh guacamole, dinners with delicious roasted vegetables, and had lots of juicy mangos, and limes. Produce was far less expensive than the prices at home, and everything tasted fresh.
Tip: When eating out, it is considered rude for the wait staff to bring your check until you request it. If you have finished your meal, remember to ask for the check or you may be sitting there for an extended period of time.
Lunch: Lunch at Alma & Manny’s Restaruante Bar is a must. Manny welcomed our party of four and seated us upstairs. He made recommendations we thoroughly enjoyed for our lunch. My personal favorite was the tortilla soup, but the tacos and enchiladas were delicious as well. You won’t overpay, and the quality and flavor is worth much more than the price tag at this truly hidden gem. With the tip, several rounds of lemonade, two soups, and four entrees, we paid 710 pesos (about $36 USD). Frankly, I would pay the same price for just the soup and the lemonade. It was THAT good.
Lunch: Hotel Casa Tota was another delicious spot for lunch. As with most locations where we dined, the margaritas were wonderful and inexpensive, and the guacamole was superb. Of particular note at this location, however, were the most delicious chicken quesadillas. Not only were they well-presented but they were scrumptious (and gone before a good photo could be taken). http://hotelcasatota.com/restaurant/
Dinner (Pizza): For an absolutely lovely family fun filled meal out, we recommend the Gallo Azul Pizza Bar https://galloazulpizzabar.com. Try to sit outside in the garden if you can. There are cornhole and bocci courts set up to pass the time between placing your order and receiving your pizzas. For those with smaller kiddos, there is also a little play set. While we sipped wine and waited for our orders to arrive, we had a fairly competitive game of cornhole that involved the underdogs making a substantial comeback. After the first few rounds, the score was 20 to 4 with the older team ahead. The youth league came back strong, but the final score was 21 to 16 with the older / wiser team for the win just as our pizza’s arrived. We tried four of the pizza’s and our favorites were the Napoletana and the Hawaiana. The crust was perfectly thin and crispy and it was a great dining experience that was fun for the whole family.
Dinner (Authentic and Awesome Taco Stand): Birrieria Don Tono is an eat like a local recommendation. You don’t need to dress up to dine here, and in fact, you may want to be super casual. You may also want to brush up on your Espanol prior to visiting this location because the wait staff spoke only Spanish. Thankfully, we had a bit of the language to pull from and were able to order with the help of our friend. The food isn’t fancy but they have some of the most delicious tacos in town! There is no menu, and there is no real sign indicating the name of the place, but you will find it near the corner of Al Ro Obregon and H. Colegio Militar. Order beef, pork, chicken or fish tacos or try their quesadillas but don’t miss the toppings bar in the center of the seating area. Everything you need to make sure your taco is uniquely you is at the bar. Our party of 6 ate until we couldn’t eat anymore and paid a grand total of $37. Note that alcoholic beverages aren’t available at this location.
Dessert: With so many sweet shops and ice cream options, it is hard to suggest only one, but Baja Tasty Coffee and Ice Cream won our hearts with the little chihuahua who stood guard over the ice cream freezers, and their unique and yummy homemade ice cream flavors When we visited, waffle cones with 2 scoops were 55 pesos and well worth it. Flavors included avocado and tequila among more traditional options.
Adult Beverages: We stopped for cocktails at La Esquina. Our party tried various margarita flavors and the coconut was the most interesting with flaked coconut lining the rim of the glass rather than salt. It was sweet and refreshing. The mango and lime margaritas were enjoyable, and the mojitos got a thumbs up from someone who doesn’t usually like them. We paid 100 pesos each for the drinks which worked out to be about $5 USD each at the time.
Best Guacamole: La Morena was our favorite spot for guacamole. Truly outstanding, with great presentation, you won’t regret stopping in to try it. Sit outside if the weather is nice. Our underage travelers loved the chai iced frappuccino too! It is in a central location on the same street as the Hotel California. We hear they have good music and dancing as well, but we can only vouch for the guacamole and the drinks. (Avenida Benito Juárez, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur 23300)
- Beware of the giant wasps. Tarantula hawk wasps can be found in this area and are not to be taken lightly. They don’t really want to sting you and would be much happier to find a juicy spider, but on the off chance they sting you, just lay down and plan for the next several minutes of the most intense pain you have ever endured. We had one close encounter where one of these flying terrors flew right into me, but there was no stinging. https://www.wired.com/2015/07/absurd-creature-of-the-week-tarantula-hawk/
- Drive with extreme caution. Besides the poorly paved roadways and giant potholes filled with sand, there are other driving hazards to consider. Stop (Alto) signs are more of a suggestion and rolling stops are the norm. That said, there are many four way intersections with no signage so use caution when driving in and around town. Other drivers pulling out of parking spots and into roadways have little or no regard for oncoming traffic, and there are dogs, donkeys, etc, when you least expect them.
- Don’t drink the tap water unless you are certain it is filtered. When in doubt purchase a few large containers of bottled water and be sure to stay hydrated with good quality filtered water in this dry climate.
- Some beaches are not for swimming. Be aware of posted placards and signage at the beaches. If you don’t understand or are unsure about a beach, ASK! The riptides are serious in many spots and local surf shops are well informed and can provide you with details on which beaches and what times are best for swimming, surfing, etc.
Language– We had a delightful and educational Spanish lesson at Hablando Mexicano. Our instructor, Alejandra, was very patient with us and helped teach us some basic phrases that were useful for the duration of our trip. We dropped in on a lesson our friends had been taking weekly for several months. Consistently, we find that learning the basics of the language of the places we visit in advance of our travels is helpful in making friends, and learning more about the people and places that are special in every destination. If you find yourself in Todos Santos with an urge to learn some Spanish, you can contact the General Director of the school, Ivonne Benitez at Ivonne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Yoga– We’ve been trying to do some yoga stretches every day and while we were in Todos Santos, our friends recommended a type of yoga we had not previously experienced. It is called Yin and Restorative Yoga. Unlike other types of yoga we had tried, this was less focused on deep stretching and more focused on restoring our minds and energizing our bodies through restful stretching and relaxing. Several classmates (and members of our group!) felt so safe and relaxed that they fell asleep during the practice. We enjoyed the first class so much that we did a second class during the latter part of our visit. Emelie Eldridge conducts the classes with a calming approach while exuding positivity and acceptance. Her instructional style would be excellent for visitors from 15-105! Learning to practice yoga can have many health and well being benefits and the opportunity to learn with Emelie was one for which we were truly grateful. http://emelieeldridge.com/norther-light-healing-services-for-body-mind-and-spirit-under-one-roof-in-the-heart-of-todos-santos/
Surfing– The younger members of our traveling expedition had it in their minds that Todos Santos was THE place to learn to surf. As it turned out, they were correct. We talked with the locals who all pointed us to Playa Cerritos, a beach about 20 minutes from town in the direction Los Cabos. We visited Playa Cerritos on 4 of the 7 days we were in town. On our first visit, we had the pleasure of meeting Juan Ramos. He greeted us as we walked onto the beach, introduced his company (CRT Surfing), and asked if we might be interested in lessons. We said we would consider it for later in the week, and he gave us prices and helped to steer toward the best place to swim while helping to inform us of the dangers of the riptide on the beach and how to stay safe. Juan’s advice was very helpful and after a nice day on the sand and in the sun, we decided to book surf lessons for the following morning. We met our instructors on the beach at 10am. Juan conducted the first 30 minutes of the lesson on land showing us how to get on the board, providing the steps to getting to a standing position, and giving some safety tips. After the dry-land part of the instruction, our group moved into the water, with two instructors for three surfers. All three surfers were able to get to a standing position and ride many waves successfully before the conclusion of the hour and a half lesson. Included in the lesson was the use of the boards for the duration of the day and though our surfers were somewhat exhausted after their lessons, they did venture back out after the lesson and some lunch to try their new skills before we called it a day. You can review their website for details on pricing and booking in advance. They offer some interesting surfing camps as well. https://www.crtsurfschool.com
Tip: Juan’s friend Gabby gives EXCELLENT massages at a rate of $20/30 mins. If you have the time, she is the only provider on the beach with a uniform and privacy screen around her table. She is professional and the massage was wonderful!
We had an excellent trip to Todos Santos, MX and would love to hear of other learning opportunities in this area from your experiences.