BY KATHRYN REED
With more than 500 flights landing at Los Cabos International Airport from the United States per week, it’s surprising the nearby towns aren’t wall-to-wall tourists.
It’s not super crowded because so often people seldom travel beyond the airport and their megaresort.
You won’t find a megaresort in Todos Santos. And that’s just fine by locals and visitors.
When you make that drive an hour north on the ocean side of Baja Sur you come to a town that continues to retain its roots, while at the same time becoming even more richer in culinary choices, lodging offerings, and things to see and do.
The growth of Gringos who call Todos Santos home either year-round or seasonally has brought an infusion of cash into the area. The area has also caught the attention of Mexicans on the mainland who want to invest in the area.
A noticeable upgrade is Chef Poncho Cadena’s Oystera restaurant on the main road in town, Calle Benito Juárez. Built on the site of an old sugar mill, remnants of the past have been incorporated into the structural design.
The interior and outdoor seating is as appetizing as the food that comes out of the kitchen.
This fourth-generation chef who was born in Sonora, Mexico, on the restaurant’s website describes the food as “a visceral cuisine with no rules. A concept where the flavor shines and where the invention, the visual presence of the dish and the combination of spices and products, depending on the inspiration of the moment.”
Also in the downtown area is La Catrina Cantina. Don’t let the word cantina fool you. It can have a different meaning south of the border.
While you will find traditional Mexican dishes here, rib-eye and T-bone steak are also options. As with many restaurants in Todos Santos, fish is definitely on the menu. After all, most of the time it’s fresh from the ocean or from the other side of the peninsula from the Sea of Cortez.
Everything is served in a relaxed atmosphere. Televisions often are playing sports or concerts. Outdoor and indoor seating is available.
La Esquina only offers outdoor seating, but with it being tucked in a large courtyard, it feels secluded. Plus, there are so few days in Baja Sur that you would not want to eat outside.
This restaurant is located on the “otro lado” – as in it’s on the way to the Las Tunas area, about a mile from downtown Todos Santos.
The breakfasts are so large it could be your main meal for the day. Most of the produce is sourced locally. It is open for breakfast and lunch.
While Todos Santos can be a day trip from the Los Cabos area, there is so much to do, that staying a night or two or more is a must. While there are a number of short-term rentals, hotels are also an option.
In downtown, you will find a 19th-century historic red brick building that is home to the Guaycura Boutique Hotel Beach Club & Spa. This is a great location to walk to wherever you might want to go in town—shops, restaurants, art galleries.
While “beach club” is part of its name, it is not on the beach. The beach and spa are El Faro, which is part of the ownership group. It’s a 10 to 15-minute drive toward Cabo San Lucas. It’s easy to spend a day there relaxing in the infinity pool while looking out to the Pacific Ocean. Food may be ordered from the chaise lounges as well as cocktails with generous pours.
Back at the hotel in town is a rooftop pool and bar. Definitely catch the sunset from here.
Hotel Casa Tota is another lodging option. Be sure to have breakfast here, but don’t be in a hurry. It, too, is an easy walk to most things in Todos Santos proper.
Depending on what you like to do at night, music from nearby establishments may be something to enjoy.
Throughout the area are a number of art galleries. Galería Logan is one of the long-established artist’s hubs in town.
On Jill Logan’s website, she says, “An interesting phenomenon has emerged over the years I have been painting whereby something makes its appearance that was previously hidden beneath the linear view of the subject. This ‘something’ seems to be the very piece that breathes the life force into each object and from there emerges a unique and individual personal stamp. I am fascinated with catching this ‘something’ in its purest essence and reproducing it in color, form and emotion.”
Shopping in Todos Santos could be a multi-day activity with several pottery shops. Silver is something else this town is known for. Boutiques also keep cropping up.
For those who want a little more physical stimulation, the Pescadero Tennis Club recently opened—offering tennis and pickleball on lighted hard courts. This is a short drive from Todos Santos. It’s possible to drop in or buy a limited-term membership.
Over the Edge bike shop will get you exploring the area on two wheels. The shop has rentals, with the owner and employees able to suggest rides through the desert and out to the beach. Guides are also available for hire.
The tires are likely to be fatter than you are used to. This helps with getting through the soft sandy areas.
Some of these bike routes are also great for hiking. The ride or walk to the old harbor, Punta Lobos, will not disappoint. The views are breathtaking.
After all that fun, it’s time to enjoy a cerveza (so many artisanal beer choices) or a margarita with fresh lime, never a syrupy mix like what you get in the U.S.
All this fun will make you appreciate Baja Sur in a way that no megaresort will ever be able to.