8 Insider Tips to Experiencing Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
A sub-tropical oasis nestled on the Tropic of Cancer and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Todos Santos is a haven for artists, musicians, expats, and those seeking a more authentic Baja California Sur experience.
Unlike like the bustling city of Cabo San Lucas located just an hour south at the tip of Baja Penninsula, Todos Santos is one of only 120 Mexican towns to be designated a Pueblo Magico (magic town) for its authentic beauty, cultural riches, and historic relevance.
The town’s allure comes from a blend of its peaceful, laid-back vibe intertwined with a deep cultural and artisanal atmosphere. This atmosphere is brought to life through local businesses that thrive due to their ability to create authentic experiences that combine modern comforts cloaked in rich history and century-old traditions of the region.
To appreciate Todos Santos is to experience the community more from the lens of locals. Although I am not a local, I have friends who live there so when I visit, I see the community through their lens.
Here are my 8 Insider Tips to experiencing Todos Santos like a local.
1. Attend a Yoga Retreat at Pachamama Mexico
Pachamama Mexico embodies the meaning of the word, Mother Earth. Offering a serene ocean front location, this desert oasis is just 10 minutes from the historic town center of Todos Santos. A yoga retreat and boutique hotel, Pachamama Mexico offers unique accommodations including three luxury villa suites with coastal ocean views, or for a more earthy experience, you can stay in one of their 12 adobe teepees. I have stayed in both a suite and a teepee, but I must say as beautiful and luxurious that the suites are, my stay in one of the teepees was my favorite. The architecture and design of the teepees is worth the stay. The adobe and wood design provides a native experience adorned with modern creature comforts.
The amenities offered throughout the hotel are designed to connect you with nature and relax your body and mind.
The yoga studio with its sliding bamboo walls is large, well-equipped and exudes the yoga philosophy that mind, body, and spirit are all one and cannot be separated. The yoga experiences offered cater to different levels.
If pool and views are your way to relax and rejuvenate, then you will delight in taking a dip in the infinity pool sited perfectly to capture sweeping ocean, desert, and sunset views.
If spa services are on your list, Pachamama’s spa facility offers massages, facials, and a variety of spa treatments that the staff will book for you. The spa facility is a separate building set away from the room accommodations, offering privacy and gentle ocean breezes.
Rounding out the offerings at Pachamama you will enjoy a hammock lounge, desert-scape gardens, a wood-burning fire pit, mountain bikes for exploring the local beaches and trails, La Tiendita, the boutique shop filled with locally sourced gifts and clothing, and a la carte services including Temazcal (an authentic sweat lodge), surfing, drumming, Spanish lessons, Ayurvedic treatments and custom tours and outings which the staff will coordinate and arrange for you.
For details visit: www.pachamamamexico.com
Or Follow Pachamama Mexico: @pachamama_mexico
2. Stay at Hotel Casa Tota
As the proprietors like to say, Hotel Casa Tota is proudly modest. Located in the historic downtown area of Todos Santos, this 15-room bohemian boutique hotel is situated on the site that was for over 70 years the Salgado family compound. The cantina housed Doña Tota’s general store for 50 years.
The hotel is truly a fusion of the past and the present. With modern clean lines accentuated with cool earth tones, rich wood accents and a façade made from restored brick, the hotel offers a relaxing, laid-back vibe. Using elements from the original cantina and traditional materials, the hotel embraces the contemporary design philosophy that less is more.
The rooms surround a courtyard pool with wooden chaise lounge chairs lining the deck area. The bar is conveniently located nearby for poolside cocktails. There is no gym, instead I recommend taking a run along the desert trails to the beach or take a yoga class at Panteón 19.
Dine on-site at La Santena Restaurant and Cantina well known for its classic local twist on Mexican dishes and handcrafted specialty cocktails. Breakfast features huevos rancheros and locally sourced fresh fruit platters with homemade granola and yogurt.
End each day with a house Margarita on the rooftop terrace furnished with custom-designed and locally sourced seating while taking in the expansive desert scenery as the azure sky transforms into a fiery red from the sun setting over the Pacific.
3. Dine at Dūm or Jazamango
Located in the magical palm grove of Rancho Corazón, an event venue in the heart of Todos Santos, Dum offers unique and unrepeatable experiences at night under the tutelage of Chef Aurelien Legeay [Maitres Cuisinier of France]. Dining among the enchanted palms glimmering with strings of lights, you will partake a 3 or 5 course tasting menu featuring locally sourced ingredients and sip on a fine selection of Mexican wines.
Jazamango is a complete culinary experience created by renowned Mexican chef, Javier Plascencia. This farm-to-table restaurant is literally farm-to-table. Most of the ingredients used on the menu are grown at the onsite farm. The fish and meats are locally sourced. The creativity that Chef Plascencia brings to the menu exceeds his reputation and the dining ambiance is unsurpassed.
4. Experience the Best of Mixology at Jardin Alquimia
The newest bar to join the Todos Santos nightlife scene, Jardin Alquimia, is located next to Hotel Casa Tota. With a theme of Art and Cocktails, the venue provides a space for artists to show their work anchoring the bar with the local community which is full of artists. As you enter the bar from Calle Obregon, you’ll pass through two wooden doors and stroll through a curated photo exhibit and into an open air courtyard. The bar/courtyard is a mix of a natural materials, exposed stone and brick walls with a concrete bar that anchors the space. In one corner orange embers flicker from within a brick pizza oven and across from the bar is a raised stage adorned with soft hanging lights. After of day of exploring the area, surfing, or trail biking, the mixologists at Jardin Alquimia will pour the perfect drink for you to relax, chat with locals and sway to music performed by local musicians.
5. Sip and Savor at DoceCuarenta
If you are into coffee then DoceCuarenta is your place for the perfect brew. Located in an industrial warehouse at the entrance of Todos Santos in a place known as La Canada del Diablo, this coffee bar provides its guests with an open concept design with
four distinct atmospheres where you can sip and savor. A dramatic mural illustrating the relationship between people and coffee plants defines the space. Here you can closely observe the coffee roasting process or partake in their BrewLab where they experiment with different extraction methods, conduct cupping and trainings about coffee. As you stroll through the venue, you can also enjoy a variety of cold brews and craft beers, wines, cocktails and a food menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. DoceCuarenta frequently features live music and will not disappoint the coffee aficionados out there.
6. Take a Swim at Playa Cerritos
Just a short drive from Todo Santos, Playa Cerritos is one of the few Pacific-side beaches in the area that is safe for swimming. Of course, it’s not just the swimming conditions that attract beach goers, legions of surfers gather to catch some of the swells and breaks of this crescent shaped beach. You can rent a board or sign up for lessons at Mario Surf School. Not into surfing, there’s plenty of other options for your day at the beach. Grab a bite at the Cerritos Beach Club, pick up a trinket or two from one of the local artisans, or treat yourself to a shoreline horseback ride or an oceanfront massage. And if you are lucky like we were, Daline Jones and Diego Ramirez may be performing live on the beach!
7. Art and Shopping
The historic area at the heart of downtown Todos Santos is a haven for art lovers and travelers seeking to find the perfect artisan jewelry, crafts and textiles. Wandering the cobble streets flanked by adobe buildings, some dating back to the late 1700’s, you’ll be drawn into small boutiques and galleries, open stands and quaint shops. Some of my favorites include Boutique Santa Maria, Brilanti Fine Art and Jewelry, and Galeria de Todo Santos.
Boutique Santa Maria features clothing for women, men and children that are very comfortable and light weight perfect for a tropical type climate. The exclusive clothing designs are fabricated from what is called "ropa de manta" or cotton clothing. The designs hang comfortably on your body, are absorbent and breath with your skin. With a casual tropical elegance, all clothing is designed and handmade in Guadalajara exclusively for the Boutique Santa Maria.
Brilanti Fine Art and Jewelry boutique is known for its artisan designed and silver pieces incorporating precious and semi-precious stones. In the 1940’s, the owner’s grandmother, Ana de Brilanti, became one of the great masters from Taxco’s Golden Age of jewelry. Each of their pieces is derived from a collection that the owner’s grandmother began. I couldn’t resist buying earrings, I bet you won’t resist finding a piece that you can’t live without either.
Since 1994, Galeria de Todo Santos has been a featuring a group of artists who work in a variety of different mediums. As Michael Cope, the founder shares, “It took a while to find artists that were really artists. I wanted painters and sculptors whose lives were about their art and the process of doing it.”
As you meander through the gallery your eyes will feast on everything from landscapes, seascapes, realism and abstract paintings to plein aire, impressionism to sculptures of wood, marble and resin.
Michael Cope as well as follow artist, Erick Ochoa, have their studios on the premises and they welcome “art lovers” to stop in and visit anytime. See how their art is inspired and experience the process.
8. And for Snowbirds there is Villas La Mar
With a warm sunny year-round climate, Todos Santos is the perfect getaway for those wanting to escape harsh subzero winter months of locales in the north. Villas La Mar is a vacation rental property with 18 modern ocean view suites. Stay for a week or stay for a month, the Villas are the perfect place for your snowbird escape. Nestled on a hillside just outside the heart of Todos Santos, the property serves up sweeping views of a beautiful natural lagoon, the Pacific Ocean, the pristine Baja Sur coastline and the nearby lush palm grove.
Guests to Villas La Mar can choose among 18 unique suites that include kitchenettes, baths and comfortable sitting areas. Rustic modern describes the vibe of the Villas with clean lines juxtaposed with repurposed wood. Each studio suite has been carefully designed utilizing natural local materials and are positioned to capture Baja’s amazing light.
The pool area is the perfect place to view breathtaking views and sunsets, sip a glass of local wine and chat with other guests. Or stroll along the warm sands of the pristine beach below the property or relax on your private terrace.
Villas La Mar is the perfect place to call your home away from home. Test your nature IQ while watching countless species of birds or even enjoy whale watching in season right from your bed!
Todos Santos is a natural paradise where the desert the meets the Sierra Laguna mountain range and is framed by miles of un-spoiled beaches. If you are an ocean lover, birdwatcher, hiker, trail bike enthusiast, kayaker, surfer, fishman, or lover of the arts, this quaint village, designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, will delight and surprise you around every corner.