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.

How to spend your time in Todos Santos, Mexico

Todos Santos, once Baja’s sugarcane capital, is a small town located about an hour outside of Cabo San Lucas. Known for its laid back vibe, great surfing and large artisan community, this small pueblo has managed to retain some authenticity in spite of the huge growth of tourism here in the last 15 years.

We chose to settle here for a few months so we could complete a work project before continuing on our drive. When we were looking for a place to stay we knew that a city like Cabo San Lucas was not for us, but realized the benefits of being close to a bigger city. With Todos Santos located only an hour away from Cabo, it was pretty much the perfect fit. So far it has been great; it’s easy to work here and, for a relatively small town, there is quite a bit to do. Those who prefer activity packed vacations will probably prefer to only spend a day or two here. But for the more laid back traveler who prefers to mosey through their holiday time Todos Santos offers a great mix of activities and allows for ample down time.

Here is what you can do in Todos Santos:


Learn to surf at Los Cerritos
The most popular beach in Todos Santos is Los Cerritos, which has a small beach club and restaurant on-site. With small waves and a sandy bottom this is the ideal beach to try your hand at surfing. Surfboards, skim boards, wetsuits, boogie boards and other water gear can be rented from either El Diablo Blanco Surf shop or Costa Azul’s small surf kiosk. One thing to be aware of at this beach is the rip tide which tends to carry one out to the rocks. Try to stay in front of the beach club when you are in the water to avoid getting too close to the rocks. This rip varies in strength daily. The road to Los Cerritos is located at km 64 and is marked with a sign, take a right and follow the road straight to the beach.

Relax in the Sun at Las Palmas
The very bumpy road located off the Highway 19, across from Campo Experimental at km 57 (all kilometers are marked in Baja Mexico), takes you to this secluded beach which is great for sunning and swimming. There are rip tides in the area and swimming is safest in the middle of the beach. This beach is open from 6am to 9pm daily. Be sure to lock your car and don’t bring any valuables as break-ins have occurred here.

Buy Fresh Fish at Punta Lobos

Also referred to as the fisherman’s beach, you can get to this beach by turning off the highway at km 54, watch for the old cannery to make sure you are on the right route. Between 1:00pm and 3:00pm, you can watch the fisherman return in their panga boats with the catch of the day. If you feel like a cooking adventure you can purchase fresh fish from one of the two fishing cooperatives in the area.

Watch Serious Surfers at San Pedrito

Unless you are a pro surfer you probably won’t be surfing this beach. Big breaks and a rocky bottom are a lethal combination for the beginner surfer. However, it is a nice beach to sit and relax on while admiring others, with much better surfing skills, take to the waves. To get here, take highway 19 out of Todos Santos and turn right at about km 60 (you will see the San Pedrito RV Park sign, this is where you need to turn.)

Getting to any of these beaches requires a car. There is a Budget Car Rental office in Todos Santos or, if you’d prefer not to bother with renting a vehicle, taxi rides to any of the beaches can easily be arranged. Don’t forget to arrange a pick up time as well!

Yoga: Stretch it out (if you can)

During high season, December to April, there are a variety of yoga classes available daily at La Arca, the community center which is located on Topete Street. Classes range in price from $50 Pesos ($5 US) to a donation (we tend to donate $50 pesos). You might want to find out how long classes run for, Tom and I learned this the hard way after a 2 hour yoga class which definitely stretched some muscles we both hadn’t used for a long time. The yoga class schedule can be found in the local publication El Calendario.

Like most tourist towns you will find an array of Mexican arts and crafts, all of which have been imported from the mainland. There are about 15 shops all carrying the same things, ceramics, cheesy t-shirts, shot glasses, tequila, silver jewelery and vanilla. But ,if you are looking for something that is actually made in the Baja region, try the small pottery shop right beside the bookstore called Catalina. Kathy, the owner, sells ceramic cookware handmade by local women who live in the Baja Mountains. These pots can be put directly onto stove-tops as well as in the oven and are extremely easy to cook with. If you have friends who are foodies these will make an impressive gift.

El Tecolote bookstore should be the first stop on your shopping expedition. If you are looking for a good read, books on Baja, postcards or little gifts this is the place to be. Traditions, a little arts and crafts store tucked away in the back of the bookstore, offers Mexican art from all over. If you need to know anything, Janet, El Tecolote’s owner, is the woman to ask. She will be more than happy to help you find whatever you need. But be careful as an avid dog-lover and dedicated animal rescue worker she might just try and send you home with a new pet.

Tour the Galleries

As an artist town, Todos Santos has many galleries full of everything from paintings to handmade copper work. Galeria Indigo, found on the main street, has a nice selection of work and Gallery de Todos Santos displays work by local Baja artists. For a list of all galleries click here.

Book a Local Tour
Fishing, surfing, hiking, visiting mountain potters, horseback riding and Sea Turtle eco-tours are just some of the activities are offered by most of the tour companies in Todos Santos. You will definitely pay a hefty fee to partake in these groups but it is a great way to explore the area if you have limited time. Try Todos Santos Eco Adventures or La Sirena Kayak and Surf Rental.

Todos Santos is generally pretty quiet after about 9pm, well if you discount the roosters and dog fights. But The Sandbar, in Pescadero (about 10 minute drive away at km 63, just off Highway 19), is a good place to hang out on Friday and Saturday nights. The young overly energetic bartender pours strong drinks and local reggae band, KL, gets crowds grooving on Friday nights. If you really need to get out there and party rent a car, and head to La Paz to experience some authentic salsa clubs….you might want to brush up on your dance moves first.


“No Wrong Turns” chronicles 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.

No Wrong Turns: Skip Cabo and Head to Todos Santos for a Unique Baja Experience

About an hour north of the cruise ships, the huge gleaming hotels and the Cabo San Lucas party crowd lies the small town of Todos Santos. If you are looking for a place to relax and unwind, minus the deafening party beats found in Cabo, this little town is it. It offers everything from amazing surf breaks and great restaurants to a lively social scene made up of Mexicans, ex-pats, old school hippies and those who just came and never left. Todos Santos offers a much different “Baja” experience than Cabo.

Tom and I ended up stumbling onto Todos Santos accidentally. Fueled by the need to start the work project we brought with us, we released a flurry of emails to many vacation rentals places in the Baja area. We knew that we didn’t want to live in Cabo San Lucas but realized the benefits of being near a larger city. Considering most of the replies came from Todos Santos we figured it would be a great place to start looking.

Todos Santos was founded in 1723 and, in the late 19th century, it was a wealthy sugar town – you can still see remnants of the old mills in the area. Recently, the town has been dubbed a “Pueblo Magico” (Magic Town) by the Mexican Tourism Secretariat. This decree is given to certain towns “that are of particular historic or religious value.” With this new title the town receives support from the government to help to promote the cultural uniqueness of the town as well as to show those who visit that Mexico is more than just sand and sun.

About twenty years ago a few dedicated surfers ended up stopping here in search of waves. They discovered many great surf breaks and, in their own way, they brought tourists to Todos Santos. After the surf crowd put this village on the map, artists started to flock in from all over…looking for a quiet place to focus, work and create. I heard through the town’s grapevine that one of the founding artists here just turned 86.

Today this small town (the population is around 4400 – most of the locals are related) attracts a mix of those looking to escape the more regimented Western world, Cabo San Lucas day-trippers, tour groups, backpackers, yoga gurus, organic farmers, art lovers and those looking to invest in property.

In the last three months, Todos Santos has acquired a new, large road putting its paved road total to three. Due to all the traffic between Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas this new road was built to provide an alternate route for the semi-trucks. With this new road they won’t need to drive straight through town anymore. As a visitor to the area it is not hard to see that the face of this Mexican town is changing quickly, much to the distress of many locals, so if you want to experience a more relaxed version of the Baja you might want to take a trip down here sooner rather than later before its fully gentrified.

Todos Santos does not have an airport which means you’ll have to negotiate a land route into town. Cabo San Lucas and La Paz both have regular buses arriving here all the time and tickets cost around $15 one way. Alternatively you can rent a car in either town and drive in yourself. Be warned that the highway from Cabo to Todos Santos is very dangerous and be wary of police officers looking to stop you for any minor traffic infraction in hopes of scaring you into paying a hefty bribe. Follow the rules of the road and stick to the speed limit….you’ll be fine.

Coming up next post I’ll let you know where to stay and where to enjoy amazing food in this vibrant pueblo.

“No Wrong Turns”
chronicles 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.