Todos Santos is about fifty miles from Cabo San Lucas along the Pacific coastline. It’s a scenic drive on Highway 19 with incredible views of the desert and the ocean, and the town is against the backdrop of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountain range. The desert and mountains are great for hiking and bird watching, and nearby beaches like Playa San Pedrito and Playa Los Cerritos attract surfers from all over the world. Organic farms and fruit trees in the region produce mangos, papayas, avocados, and other agricultural staples.
Todos Santos was initially founded as a mission in 1723 by the Jesuits. Before the Spanish arrived, the indigenous Guaycura people were living here. Much of the architecture you now see dates back to colonial days. The anchor of the town is the Misión Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a mission church originally built in 1733.
Todos Santos later became a major producer of sugarcane. But in the 1950s, drought forced the sugar mills to close, and things were quiet until the road between Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos was paved in 1984.
Since then, Todos Santos has been attracting expatriates, artists, surfers, and tourists. As the town continues to grow in popularity, though, it still has the laidback vibe of a traditional Mexican village, and it has no ambitions to be the next Cabo. In acknowledgement of its unique cultural heritage, Todos Santos has been granted the status of a Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) by the Mexican government.
The Pacific side of Baja California offers pristine beaches, marine life, mountains to hike in, and the historic coastal town of Todos Santos itself with its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, many galleries, and robust dining scene.
You won’t find expansive Cabo-style resorts in this area. You will find small boutique hotels with relaxed accommodations and plenty of charm, as well as quite a few vacation homes and lots for sale at attractive prices. The Pacific is not as developed as the Cabo San Lucas Corridor, and now is an excellent time to buy. And it’s easier to do so than you may think.
Whether specializing in traditional Mexican cuisine or fine French cuisine, the restaurants in the area are diverse enough in price as in menu to fit any budget. The local seafood is fresh, the ocean views are spectacular, and the farm-to-table movement is booming. At the famous Hotel California, La Coronela has picturesque courtyard dining and a varied international menu. Tequila’s Sunrise Bar & Grill offers authentic Mexican cuisine, and Chez Laura offers French dining at its best. For a spectacular view, head to El Mirador, which overlooks a beach. El Mirador features contemporary Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine with organic ingredients.
Chef Javier Plasencia, ambassador of the Baja coast and owner of several restaurants in the region — including the farm-to-table Jazamango — has some recommendations for us: Taller 17 for breakfast, Carnitas Machin for tacos, and his own restaurant for dinner. Regarding this last, he especially recommends the Baja oysters, wood-grilled chocolate clams, and “the succulent grilled bone marrow.” Chef Plascencia’s favorite place to enjoy a sunset and a cocktail is La Copa Bar. Dūm, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, and Ristorante Tre Galline round out his list of top picks.
If you’re here in December, that’s your chance to see whales migrating past the Pacific coastline. Surf is always up in the area; the ocean waves can be relentless. You’ll also have opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and kayaking. The best surfing near Todos Santos is at Playa San Pedrito and Playa Los Cerritos — the latter regarded as one of the best surfing destinations in Baja. Las Pocitas and La Pastora are also good for surfing. Playa Punta Lobos is favored by fisherman, and off-the-beaten-path Playa Las Palmas gets rave reviews from the swimmers who visit.
There is plenty to do here, from hiking and wildlife-watching in the mountains to taking eco-tours and exploring the quaint and charming Todos Santos. This enchanting pueblo is known for its many galleries, historic buildings, annual art festival, local history museum, boutique hotels, and great dining scene.
Todos Santos is home to many local and expatriate artists, so there’s a ton of galleries. Discover one-of-a-kind sculptures and paintings, authentic folk art, handmade jewelry. Some of the best artists from all over Baja display their wares in Todos Santos, and an annual art festival showcases their work and provides access to their studios.