I first landed in the quaint seaside village of Todos Santos just over ten years ago. Me and a small film crew were blazing through Baja filming stories of expats – tracking them down and seeing what kind of life they were squeaking out on a budget south of the border. After weeks of laughing with saucy transplants all up and down the peninsula, we headed over the Tropic of Cancer toward a fabled artist village we’d heard about over and over on the trip. My old Ford Explorer had done us right and we’d lived out of it with loads of donated camping gear for long enough - it was time to get some culture and life back into our weary bones. Enter glorious Todos Santos. When we drove through town that first time, it was as if the skies had opened up and rained down flowers, trees, grass and beauty. The desert was behind us and we all fell dead in love with this magical little village; I’ve never let it escape my thoughts for very long.
My love affair never really ended, especially when I kept returning year after year and there were always fresh new restaurants, funky art galleries, cute boutiques, cultural events, film festivals and farmers markets on the docket.
Here’s a peek into my perfect setup in Todos Santos – if I want to actually wear something other than flip-flops!
I usually arrive beat down and road blind from exploring the back roads of Baja and no place in town makes me feel as revived as Rancho Pescadero. They’ve got free daily yoga, garden grown food, gratis bike check out, and stout drinks. You never really have to leave the joint, especially since their restaurant is one of the best in town. The buttery just caught grilled yellowtail doused in puckery lime with a jalapeño strawberry margarita is what Baja is all about...and it’s made even better because once the belly is satiated, you can amble down a palm lined path to the Pacific, plop down on a private daybed and watch the whales saunter past. Sheer and utter bliss.
After a sun-dappled nap, it’s usually a dip in the baby blue pool, a change of uniform and a short scoot into town to see what’s new and on the happs. First up is a corner seat at the majestic bar at Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa smack in the middle of town. The mojitos are perfection in a glass and it’s as if Europe came to Mexico, the way you can step in and out the bar door – a Superman like move from refined grace to dirt road musings. Beautiful tile work, amazing art, eclectic furniture and a super friendly staff make the place a step above the traditional restaurants in town and the rooftop bar and sky deck is the best place to order up some housemade ceviche, watch the sun drip away and witness the towns underwater rivers do their thing – which is make Todos greener than any other spot in all of Baja.
No trip to Todos Santos is complete unless you’ve tried the surfing at Cerritos. It’s perfect for beginners – you just find an instructor on the beach, rent a board, sling on a rash guard and you are on the waves for hours. Getting obliterated by waves never felt so precious especially if you’ve breakfasted on a couple of Baja’s best shrimp tacos in town beforehand at George’s (make sure you slather every single super fresh condiment on your taco – it’s some next level eating and the Baja style taco that will haunt you for the rest of your years). It’s in those moments, you feel like you have arrived in life and are exactly where you were meant to be – full on seafood tempura’ed perfection and floating around on the mighty Pacific from whence it came. It’s only when you glance way up on the hill above Cerritos Beach and notice an isolated mega mansion do you get real curious. Just curious enough to wind down the surfing, dry off on the beach with a margarita, toss on a lovely sundress from the truck and mosey on up the hill. Turns out that gigantic house is actually a 12-room boutique hotel (Hacienda Cerritos) with killer views, great deals on rooms (they sometimes offer insane groupon specials) and delicious fruity drinks. Lounging around the infinity pool (even if you aren’t a guest) is like stepping into the pages of a magazine; and wandering the dramatic rooms of the house exposes all sorts of Game-of-Thrones style doors leading to tucked away hideouts and rooftop adventures.
The final resting spot if you’re looking to honky tonk it up and switch back into traditional Baja garb (flip flops and tanks) is the always rollicking, local hangout, The Sand Bar. People come here to disappear, but oddly enough, guys roll in prouder than punch all day long with fresh fish in coolers – ready to slice it up and tuck into a bit of convo. Once their knives make haste, tongue-shocking sashimi can usually be found gracing the side ledge of the bar, with everyone invited to take a few bites. Then they just put another song on the jukebox and glance over as yet another motorcycle drives into the bar. Yes – into the bar. On the sand floors. Sand bar – get it? That’s why flip-flops will always rule in Baja!