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Cocos Santa Rosa
by Erin Dunigan

A Refreshing Escape Awaits at Cocos Santa Rosa

By Erin Dunigan

Cocos Santa Rosa Baja
Cocos Santa Rosa Baja

Craving an escape from the ordinary on your next Baja adventure? Forget the crowded tourist spots and skip the endless search for the best taco stand (just for a moment). Tucked away on the scenic free road toward Valle de Guadalupe lies Cocos Santa Rosa, a hidden treasure in plain view.

This isn’t your typical roadside stand. Run by Juan Manuel “Menu” Garcia Lara and his wife Cristian Crosthwaite, Cocos Santa Rosa is a family run business and an experience more than a pit stop.

But some of you might be wondering, what is a coco stand in the first place? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Coco stands are a popular roadside fixture in Baja. Coco stands are the place to stop along your journey - to stretch your legs, grab a snack, break up a long drive before you head back into the car to get where you are going. But Cocos Santa Rosa is that - and more.

Cocos Santa Rosa Baja
Cocos Santa Rosa Baja

Back in 1995 Cristian’s parents opened one of the first coco stands in Playa La Mision, right along the beach. There as a girl Cristian grew up learning the art of preparing cocos. So, when she and Menu were married some years later, it seemed only natural that she would continue in the family tradition. At the time Menu was working as a server in various local restaurants, learning about customer service and learning how to create an environment and ambiance to draw people in, not just give them something to eat.

Coco con Limon y Chili - Just what it sounds like - this is your standard coconut, water taken out and put in a plastic bag with a straw so you can drink it, then the coconut meat carved from the coco with added chili and lime. It is the classic, and it is simple and delicious.

The Coco Loco: The coco loco is not for the faint of heart! But it is also the Mexican favorite, and what is most ordered by Mexicans who make the stop. A fiery blend of coconut flesh, peanuts, Tamarindo, Clamato, chili, limon, chamoy, and cuerito (a chewy form of pig skins) - all mixed together and served in the coconut shell. It’s not called the ‘coco loco’ for nothing!

Coco Con Fruta: Just like it sounds, the coco con fruta is the coconut served in the shell, water taken out and put in a plastic bag for you to drink separately, and a mix of the fruit of your choice - most often mango but also served with cucumber, jicama, pineapple, or watermelon.

Cocos Santa Rosa Baja
Cocos Santa Rosa Baja

Coco Con Fruta y Cameron: This one is my personal favorite. I know it might sound a bit outside the box (or shell), so to speak, but it is delicious! The same coco served in its shell, the coconut flesh cut into pieces, then served with mango, cucumber, jicama, chili, lime and fresh shrimp.

Though cocos are the main focus of the business, Cocos Santa Rosa also offers a simple fruit cup - mango is the most popular - and even sangria for those who haven’t yet had their vino fill from their day in the Valle.

But Cocos Santa Rosa isn’t just about the cocos or the sangria - it is also about the experience. From his years in the restaurant world Menu learned the importance of creating an ambiance to go along with the dining experience. “We are more than just a coco - we are an experience,” says Menu. Imagine this: you pull off the side of the road at KM 78 and are immediately taken by the view of the valley of Santa Rosa. There are rustic wood tables and chairs that beckon. To one side is a chiminea with an inviting fire. Everything about the environment says, “Relax, unwind, take a deep breath, let yourself soak in the moment.”

But the thoughtful touches don’t end there. Cocos Santa Rosa offers clean restrooms - a welcome amenity on any road trip! They also stock a selection of local products from the Valle de Guadalupe and surrounding regions - local fresh honey and artisanal marmalades among them. And of course, there are plenty of instagramable moments so you can enjoy but also make your friends jealous of your local find. But at Cocos Santa Rosa the beauty you capture isn’t just for show - it’s also a reflection of the genuine hospitality and the campestre Baja backdrop that truly make it a special place.

Cocos Santa Rosa Baja
Cocos Santa Rosa Baja

Cocos Santa Rosa isn’t just a destination on a map - it’s a memory waiting to be made. It is a place where you can slow down, enjoy the view, and get an authentic taste of Baja. So, next time you are headed to Ensenada or the Valle don’t just drive by. Stop at KM 78 and let Menu and Cristian welcome you with open arms, a fresh coco, and a glimpse into the heart of Baja!

Cocos Santa Rosa
Carretera Libre Tijuana-Ensenada KM 78
Ensenada, Baja California
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About Erin

Erin Dunigan is a writer, photographer, and horsewoman who has always felt at home in Baja California. She spent her childhood traveling back and forth between her native Southern California and her grandmother's home in La Mision. For the past 14 years she has made Baja her home. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at @edunny.
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