Travel Tastes

Baja’s “Pueblo Magíco”

It’s an under-the-radar destination in Mexico that is flip flop funky.  This artist colony and surfing paradise nestled among ancient orchards of palm and fruit trees, with spectacular views overlooking white sand beaches and the Pacific Ocean about 45 minutes from Cabo San Lucas, is Cabo’s lesser known, not as refined, but naturally beautiful sister.  The pace is slower in this small coastal town at the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula.  As the desert meets mountains, the landscape of this paradise is beautifully rugged.  Once a sleepy village dependent on local fisherman and crops such as corn and sugarcane, Todos Santos, meaning All Saints, is now a desert oasis dubbed Baja’s “Pueblo Magíco.”

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Todos Santos is a haven for artists, artisans, fishermen, surfers, yogis, spiritualist, and travelers seeking adventure, natural beauty and a healthy lifestyle.  Centuries’ old traditions and warm hospitality blend with modern conveniences as you enjoy the pristine beaches, fantastic food, unique accommodations of this quaint coastal town.

Like the town, the beach is magical.  Even though most of the surf is too rough for swimming, the beach puts on a mythical show as the waves crash onto the tiered sandy shore and retreat into a watery abyss.

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The leading edge of the tide bubbles and disappears like the fizz on just poured champagne.  It is mesmerizing to watch the water dance, bubble, and magically disappear after being left behind as the tide pulls away.

You won’t find any hotel chains in Todos Santos, just boutique hotels, inns, and private homes and condos.  On this trip I stayed at Casa de Suenos, an Airbnb I found.  It’s about 5 minutes from town but perfect for a stay in Todos Santos.  My favorite part of the tropical oasis is the snaking pool surrounded by a desert landscape with the ocean in the not too far distance.  Read about it in my blog Casita Paradise in Todos Santos.

Wandering around the small downtown of Todos Santos is a must.  Stop in quaint shops and unique art galleries.  Todos Santos was founded in 1723 by Jesuit missionaries and became a mission in 1724.  Much of the architecture downtown dates back to its colonial founding.  I actually found Todos Santos by accident about ten years ago with some friends.  We’d gone out on an ATV excursion from Cabo San Lucas and ended up at Hotel California in Todos Santos for a post adventure lunch and cocktails.

So that’s where we started this long R&R weekend on the Baja Peninsula.  This weekend was about eating, drinking, sunbathing, sleeping, and relaxing – you know – a couple of days to just check out for a bit.  Hotel California is the funkiest bar in town.  It is also the most touristy thing to do in Todos Santos, but it’s worth it.  While it is not the “Hotel California” The Eagles sing about, Hotel California in Todos Santos built in 1947 is legendary.

You have to spend a little time wandering through their boho-chic inspired Emporio Gallery and Store.  It is a magnificent bazaar filled with trinkets, jewelry, home décor, and clothing.  After traveling, we were ready to retreat to the open-air patio restaurant to sip hibiscus margaritas and dine on ceviche and fish tacos.

As the sun started to set, we enjoyed the view from the rooftop thanks to a hotel guest letting up sneak a peak from his room.

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Then we enjoy a lively bar scene under the stars as local musicians fill the afternoon and evening air with music by the courtyard fountain.

Don’t be surprised when you hear bells ringing in the hotel.  Mission Church of Pilar is adjacent to the hotel and mission bells are heard daily.

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The next morning we went in search of a great breakfast.  Take it from this chilaquiles and huevos rancheros connoisseur, for breakfast in Todos Santos absolutely go local.  Mi Pueblito is a small, family owned restaurant with inviting red chairs and white table cloths.  Start with chips and salsa verde.  Order the chilaquiles con pollo for something simple, hearty, and delicious.  Since you’re on vacation, it’s 100% acceptable to have a margarita with breakfast, especially at Mi Pueblito!

After breakfast, we wandered around Todos Santos for a bit.  it was late September and low season so it was pretty quiet.  We decided to go in search of a beach with services and found Cerritos Beach Club and Surf to be the perfect spot where you can dip your toes in the sand, set your eyes on the horizon, and let the cold cocktails flow without a care in the world.  It is the only swim-able beach on the Pacific side of the Baja from Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas.  Test your surf skills and ride the waves with a surfing lesson.  Go horseback riding or ATVing on the beach.  Chill with massage on the beach or chill out with a margarita in the shade of the Cerritos Club.

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After beach fun, it was time to take it up a notch for something a little on the elegant or fancy side.  We stopped in the La Copa Bar at Todos Santos Inn for a taste of a bygone era.  The hand carved furnishings, elegant chandeliers, and stunning bar are inviting.  Enjoy one of their creative cocktails like the La Copa.  It was a perfect nightcap to top off a relaxing day.

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Another joint for must have authentic Mexican Food is Alma y Manny.  We went there on Day 2.

They’re known for their tamales, but it is also an egg-salent spot for chilaquiles topped with an egg.  This thatched roof restaurant is a favorite of locals and tourist.  Both restaurants – Alma y Manny and Mi Pueblito – are casual, inexpensive, and have very friendly staff.  Whether you’re hankering for huevos rancheros or shrimp tacos, these two local joints, where flip flops are completely acceptable, should be on your dining list.

After breakfast at Alma y Manny, we headed off for some deep sea fishing then a night in Cabo before heading back to the United States.

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Todos Santos is a cheaper, quieter, smaller, and a more remote version of Taos, Santa Fe, or even Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende.  It is a place to retreat from the world with wine or margarita in hand as you soak up a stunning sunset with colors streaking across the sky and melting into the ocean.  For the beach lounging lover or adventurer, you will quickly discover the mystique of this coastal oasis and why it is “Pueblo Magíco.”img_4500

 

 

 

 

 

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