This article was previously published by Fathom
TODOS SANTOS, B.C.S. Mexico - About 45 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas, on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, you will find the small town of Todos Santos and the adjacent hamlets of Pescadero and Cerritos. Thanks to a new tolled highway that bypasses Cabo, the drive to Todos Santos from the airport is a breeze. Instead of traversing traffic and stoplights, the road winds along the foothills of the desolate Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, and through the desert dotted with massive Saguaro cactus. The empty toll road seemingly dead ends at the sea, and connects with the highway that follows the coast up to Cerritos, Pescadero, and Todos Santos. Settled in the 1700’s, this primarily agricultural area has long been a haven for travelers, surfers, artists, and bohemians seeking tranquility away from the hustle of Cabo. Fiercely protective of the natural landscape that makes Todos Santos so special, these communities have managed to keep major development from permeating this corner of paradise. As a result, the streets are quiet, the beaches are pristine, the sunsets are magnificent, and the stargazing is spectacular. Looking for dry desert heat, ocean breeze, and pure relaxation? Look no further than Todos Santos.
Hotel San Cristóbal: Located on Punta Lobos beach between Pescadero and Todos Santos, Hotel San Cristóbal is the first international outpost for Texas hotelier Liz Lambert of Bunkhouse Group. Known for high design, boutique hotels, like her properties in Austin and Marfa, Lambert has brought relaxed sophistication to this otherwise deserted stretch of beach on the Pacific Ocean. As a photographer, the Hotel San Cristóbal is a dream to capture. Set against the backdrop of an emerald green pool and the deep blue Pacific Ocean, the hotel’s décor features vibrant patterned concrete tiles intermixed with colorful textiles and furniture. Bright pink inflatable rings rest on the surface of the pool, while guests adorned in the hotel’s signature striped robes lounge in the shade of white umbrellas.
With just 32-rooms, the hotel’s footprint is purposefully small. As part of Tres Santos, a controversial future development along the Punta Lobos beach, the hotel has made every effort to minimize its negative impact on the surrounding natural environment. You won’t find a coffee maker in your room – room service will send it right up. Nor will you find plastic bottles of water by the pool - the bartender will happily pour an ice, cold glass. Just as the hotel works to curb its environmental impact, it strives to have a cooperative relationship with the nearby communities. All of the staff at Hotel San Cristóbal are new to the hospitality industry and were hired from the local community and trained on site. Similarly, the hotel sources a substantial portion of its food from local producers, including the fleet of fishermen who launch from the beach in front of the hotel.
Benno, the hotel’s main restaurant, serves a mix of contemporary Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on quality, freshness, and simplicity. Before dinner, be sure to indulge in a cocktail by the pool bar’s wood burning fire. As the sunset leads to stargazing, it will be hard to pull away from this cozy corner of hotel paradise. In addition to a full cocktail menu, the pool bar serves a more casual menu featuring tacos, ceviche, and excellent guacamole and salsas. After dinner, the cozy candlelit library is the perfect place to experiment with a mezcal tasting before retiring to bed. Sleep is easy at Hotel San Cristóbal, thanks to its incredibly private location. So throw open the patio doors, and fall into a slumber with only the sound of the waves crashing below. TIPS: Hotel San Cristóbal welcomes children over the age of 12, but let’s be real, this isn’t exactly the kind of place you want to bring the kids. The hotel has 7 room classifications, with the Ocean View rooms highly recommended for maximum views and privacy. Swimming at Punta Lobos beach is possible, though not recommended by the hotel because of the strong undertow.
La Bohemia Baja: La Bohemia is an 8-room boutique hideaway with all the creature comforts of a great bed-and-breakfast. Expat owners Erin and Andrew Wheelwright had been looking for property to open a small hotel when they stumbled on this slice of paradise in the center of Todos Santos. After a year of renovations, they opened in 2015, and have been welcoming guests ever since. The rooms at La Bohemia are bright, spacious, and comfortable. Beds are outfitted with beautiful headboards upholstered in bright Otomi fabrics and accented by wool blankets the couple imports from Peru. Bathrooms feature hand painted tiles, beautiful Mexican sinks, and locally sourced bath products. The lush tropical garden is a great place to unwind. Snooze in a hammock, or help yourself to a beer from the honor bar and cool off in the small but lovely swimming pool.
Erin and Andrew are not your typical hotel operators, they are your hosts, your friends, and your inside connection to everything that Todos Santos has to offer. Whether you need directions to the surf beach, want to swim with whale sharks, or just need to know where to go for the best fish tacos in town, they have you covered. This type of genuine hospitality is why La Bohemia feels like home when you walk through the gate at the end of the day. TIPS: Guests of La Bohemia have free access to El Faro Beach Club, a lovely spot on the beach with a large pool, cabanas, and a bar. The Wheelwrights have recently purchased the land adjacent to La Bohemia and have plans to build a pavilion that will accommodate large gatherings and yoga retreats. For extended Baja adventures, the Wheelwrights rent out their Chevy Tahoe, which is completely outfitted for camping on the beach. Since La Bohemia is located right in town, there is some ambient noise at night (i.e. the neighbor’s dogs), so if you are a light sleeper, plan accordingly.
Rancho Pescadero: Opened in 2009, Rancho Pescadero occupies a beautiful stretch of land just behind the dunes on Pescadero Beach, south of Todos Santos. With just 28-rooms, spread out over a series of two-story thatched roof buildings, Rancho is an adult only hotel with a relaxed vibe and the very best Mexican hospitality. When dawn arrives at Rancho, don’t be surprised to find coffee and pastries left at your door. As tempting as it is to sit out on the veranda sipping coffee all morning, a full Mexican breakfast awaits on the hotel’s terrace, and the Juevos Rancheros are not to be missed. Spend the day lounging by the azure pool, or take a short stroll through the palm grove, which leads to an endless golden beach. If surfing is on the agenda, the Rancho staff will happily arrange a lesson or make a board available. For early risers, daily yoga classes take place in the upstairs pavilion. Or, if relaxing in the sun by the pool is about all the day calls for, grab some sunscreen from the bar, and order up an ice-cold margarita. Before long, the phrase “una mas” will become a household refrain (FYI: There are no $20 margaritas here). Lunch by the pool consists of the best that Mexican cuisine has to offer. In addition to serving some of the most delicious ceviche and Baja fish tacos around, the burger is pretty outstanding. When it’s time for dinner, have the staff prepare a meal on the beach. With toes in the sand, enjoy the catch of the day while wrapped in a Mexican serape, shielded from the gentle breeze coming off the ocean. As the sun begins to fade and dip into the Pacific, the fire pits and candles are lit, and a blanket of stars takes over as the main event. Don’t be surprised if a sense of urgency about planning a return trip suddenly occupies the evening conversation, Rancho has that effect on everyone who visits. TIPS: Most of the rooms at Rancho Pescadero accommodate two guests, however the Cocina Suite, an expansive main-floor room, can comfortably sleep four friends. Swimming is not recommended at the beach in front of the hotel, as the surf is extremely strong. Calmer waves and a swimmable beach can be found just to the south in Cerritos.
Hierbabuena: Set within a lush vegetable garden down a dirt road in Pescadero, Hierbabuena is a lovely spot to enjoy a delicious farm to table dinner. The menu features excellent salads based on garden’s daily bounty, wood fired pizzas and meats, and a delicious eggplant parmesan.
Jazamango: Renowned Mexican chef Javier Plascencia has just opened this soon to be hot spot just outside of Todos Santos. Having won many accolades with his restaurants in San Diego, California, Chef Plascencia is returning to his Mexican roots with the opening of Jazamango, as well as two other restaurants in Tijuana and the Valle de Guadalupe. Chef Pascencia intends to bring a new kind of high-end dining experience to the area by introducing recipes and dishes that unite the land and ocean that surround Todos Santos.
Restaurant Bar Bahia: Super casual corner spot in Todos Santos with awesome fish tacos and ceviche. Cash only.
Café Santa Fe: A Todos Santos institution, established in 1990, Café Santa Fe has a reputation for being some of the best Italian food outside of Italy. A meal here is a must.
La Casita: Delicious fresh sushi and seafood abound at this local spot with an expansive back patio. Order the coconut shrimp and the gazpacho salad.
ON THE SIDE
Surfing: There is excellent surfing in Todos Santos. Playa Cerritos is a great spot to hit the waves. Rent a board or arrange a lesson from Mario Surf School.
Beaches: The best beach for swimming, surfing and snorkeling is Playa Cerritos. For solitude, sunning, strolling, and shell collecting, pitch an umbrella into the sand at Pescadero or Punta Lobos, but don’t plan on swimming at these beaches, as the undertow is strong. Between Pescadero and Punta Lobos, Playa Las Palmas (a.k.a. Playa San Pedro) is a small, crescent shaped beach protected by rocks and lined with palm trees.
Etnica: This tiny boutique in downtown Todos Santos has a wonderful selection of embroidered Mexican caftans and blouses.
Heart Sease: Load up on organic lotions, potions, and soaps made from locally sourced ingredients.
IF I HAD ONE MORE DAY:
I would drive an hour and a half north to La Paz and visit Playa Balandra on the Sea of Cortez. This incredibly stunning cove is shallow, calm, and perfect for paddle boarding, swimming and snorkeling.
While the Peso is the currency of Mexico, Dollars are accepted by most businesses, but be prepared to receive change in Pesos.
Most major airlines fly directly into San Jose del Cabo. Todos Santos is an hour drive from the airport, and will require you to arrange private transportation or rent a car. All major rental car agencies have offices at the airport. Thanks to the new toll highway, the drive from the airport to Todos Santos is straightforward.
Service is included in most hotel bills, so an additional tip at dinner is only expected if the service is exceptional.
Small local restaurants and tourists shops usually operate on a cash basis; so while there are banks in Todos Santos, plan accordingly.
Whats to Come:
Medoc, France ★ 09.17
read. share. travel. repeat.
W A N D E R L U S T