Todos Santos still feels like a secret. It’s that magical beach paradise you find out about through whispers from your well-traveled surfer, yogi, foodie friends. Most people come to Los Cabos, the southern tip of Baja California, and head straight to the resort town of Los Cabos. I smile slyly to myself as I drive my rental car away from the crowds further south to Todos Santos. Getting there used to require a long, bumpy, dusty drive but a new highway has made it an effortless 30 to 40 minute jaunt. I return year after year and though the town changes a little each time, it still retains its off-the-grid, laidback charm. Here are a few draws that keep me coming back.
1. Sundays revolve around Baja Beans. This might be the coolest little coffee shop ever. The coffee (roasted with single-origin beans from Puebla) can hold its own against any third-wave big-city roaster and on Sundays you can sip your latte on the patio with a crumbly housemade blueberry scone while listening to live music from bands like White Rabbit. Locals and visitors mingle around the surrounding market stalls, which sell farm-fresh produce and hand-made jewelry.
2. The beaches still feel untamed. Todos Santos can feel like the Wild West of the Pacific Coast. Many of its most beautiful beaches are hard to find and only reachable by four-wheel drive. The effort is always rewarded. My favorite hidden spot is Palm Beach. A sharp turn off the highway leads you down a bumpy, dusty dirt road where you eventually must park and trek nearly a mile through a palm forest straight out of “Lost.” The long stretch of beach is perfect for secluded swimming. If you’re lucky, the beach’s resident wild horses will make an appearance.
3. Adrenaline junkies can find thrills on land and sea. I’ve always known Todos Santos can be a surfer’s heaven when the weather cooperates. San Pedrito surf break can bring world-class swell, while Cerritos Beach offers a calmer shore break. Whether you want to try an hour-long lesson or embark on an all-day surf safari along the coast, Mario and his team are the school to book with. What I didn’t know was that Todos Santos is also home to some gnarly single-track mountain biking. Rent a bike at the Hub and go out for a morning adventure with Dave and Raul for epic views and serious hairpin turns.
4. The farm-to-table food is some of the freshest on any coast. I never imagined Los Cabos as a farm mecca, but the area is home to some incredibly fertile land. Even Alice Waters would be proud of the produce on display in local restaurants as well as the no-frills, out-of-this-world taco stalls. Not to miss spots include Cafe Santa Fe, Bistro Magico, and Michael’s at the Gallery.
5. It may be a sleepy surfer town, but Todos Santos has a legit art and music scene. There are at least 20 art galleries including Gabo and Faces of Mexico Ethnic Art Gallery. Each February the town hosts the Todos Santos Art Festival—five days of dance, music, and theater performances as well as workshops. In 2012, Peter Buck of REM started the annual Todos Santos Music Festival, which has now become a two-week party each January at Hotel California, featuring a lineup that spans Latin, rock, and folk genres. This year brought acts such as Dawes, Drive-by-Truckers, M. Ward, and the Grammy Award-winning La Santa Cecilia.
Photo by Jen Murphy.