No Wrong Turns: Accommodations and Restaurants in Todos Santos

Todos Santos, the little town I mentioned in my last post, offers a quiet escape from the typical vacation destination of Cabo San Lucas. This small town is home to a mix of Mexicans, artists, surfers and ex-pats and offers some of the best surfing in the Baja. Pair that with great places to eat, interesting galleries, beautiful beaches and cheap beer and you have a pretty perfect vacation spot.

To get here you will need to fly into the San Jose Del Cabo Airport and either rent a car or hire a taxi. It is more cost efficient to rent a car and the SJD airport has numerous car rental agencies to choose from. The highway from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos is apparently the most dangerous road in Mexico, so make sure you are prepared to focus on the journey ahead. If you are tired after your flight, spend a night in Cabo San Lucas and head out the next day refreshed and ready to enter the madness that is Mexican driving.

Once you arrive in Todos Santos, you will find that there are numerous places to stay as well as some truly great places to eat. Be advised that most of Baja California Sur has been affected by the influx of foreign money, so prices are higher than those found in mainland Mexico but they are less expensive that Cabo. That being said, depending on the time of year you travel, here you might be able to negotiate lower room costs, especially if you are planning on a longer-term stay.

Where to Stay: Short -Term
Don’t be surprised to find the hotels in Todos Santos starting at about $45US a night for pretty basic accommodations. The Maria Bonita Hotel, located at the corner of Colegio Militar and Hidalgo, offers clean rooms with hot showers for around $50US per night. The couple who manage the hotel are very friendly and will happily encourage all of your Spanish speaking attempts. Be warned this hotel is located on a main street so it can be quite loud at night. There also happens to be a laundromat below the hotel which also contributes to the noise by running at all hours of the day and night.

Hotel California….nope it’s not the one from the Eagles song though the rumors about it have run rampant in the past few years. This hotel, found on Calle Juarez, was one of the first hotels in Todos Santos and is now, after upgrades, renovations and an ownership change, one of the busiest hotels here with a full restaurant, bar and its own souvenir shop. This hotel tends to be full of people just off of tourist buses and the staff expects to be tipped well.

Sole Caliente is located near La Pastora beach and provides a quiet and relaxing atmosphere for those looking to get away. Run by a very amicable Italian guy named Alberto, you can expect a warm welcome and a very peaceful stay. It is worth knowing that the beach this accommodation is located by is not safe to swim in, but it is the perfect spot to whale watch during the months of March and April. Getting here is a little bit tricky to explain as there are not too many road signs out this way — email the management for detailed instructions.

Where to Stay: Long -Term
If you are looking for a mellow place to spend anywhere from a few weeks to maybe even a few months, you should definitely look into the local vacation rentals. This little town is full of them! Fully-furnished homes complete with kitchens are a great way to save money when you are traveling. Cooking for yourself lets you try your hand at creating local dishes, and with all the cheap produce around you can’t go wrong. Alternatively, if you have a bit of time, it is worth coming into to town and asking around. There is usually someone looking to rent their place out while they go home for a visit. If you are reliable and trustworthy, you’ll most likely be able to negotiate a good price. Good places to start looking or asking around are El Tecolote bookstore or Cafe Felix which are both located on Calle Juarez, the main street.

Where to Eat
Main Street Taco Stand
Please tell me you love tacos! If you do, head to the main street to the large taco stand beside the El Tecolote bookstore and dig into tacos de carne asada, burritos and the cholesterol increaser papas rellenas (Mexican stuffed potatoes). This place can feed two people for less than $8US. Unfortunately of you want to drink you will have to pick up your own beer elsewhere as they don’t serve alcohol. Be careful what you say when you eat here, the owner is fluent in English though he chooses not to speak it.

Café Todos Santos
Delicious dishes, both American and Mexican, are served at this long-standing eating establishment. Meals are a bit pricier compared to other places but the large portions make up for this. Coffee aficionados will be more than pleased to walk into this café and find a strong espresso awaiting them. They also have an amazing selection of baked goods — the banana bread is my personal favorite. To get a good cup of coffee or stop in for a mea,l take a left on Topete and then a right onto Calle Centenario to find this cafe. One thing to note: the servers at this restaurant are notoriously bad. That’s just the way it is according to the locals — you get great food but poor service. To be honest the food at the Café Todos Santos is worth it, if you can deal with the lackluster service.

Il Giardino
Ok, so it is not Mexican cuisine but if you love pizza then you will love this little restaurant. Run by an Italian family, you can enjoy oven-fired pizzas, pastas, salads and other entrees all of which can be paired with a wine from their wine list. Pizzas cost about $12 US but they can easily feed two people or, if you are starving, add an appetizer and call it an even $25 US for the both of you. This Italian eatery is located on Calle Degollado about three blocks past the Pemex station.

There are many more great hotels and restaurants to experience in Todos Santos — this is a mere sampling of what this pueblo has to offer. It is pretty amazing when such a small town has so many great hotels and restaurants….maybe that is why some people come here and never ever leave.

Next Up: What to do in Todos Santos

“No Wrong Turns”
es Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.