Our Adventures in Todos Santos
Updated: Dec 24, 2019
I'm going to be honest, I was perusing Instagram one afternoon and stumbled upon a picture of these picturesque teepees nestled in the sand. I clicked on the geo-tag and began scrolling. Three weeks later, I booked my flight to Todos Santo and reserved a teepee at Pachamama. I'm always looking for a quick, easy escape from the chilly PNW winters, but they're hard to find; that is, until I discovered Todos Santos. Alaska Airlines has direct flights from Portland, OR to San Jose Del Cabo, which means you can be on the beach, soaking up the sun, by 3 in the afternoon!
Todos Santos is about 1.5hr drive from the SJD airport, so we rented a car with Hertz. Not to get off on a huge tangent, but don't you dare rent a car from Hertz in Mexico! For a week's car rental, it was $20 (for the entire week!), but once you arrive and they add in insurance, fees, taxes, a currency conversion, and other nondescript fees, we spent almost $700 on our rental car. After the fact, I read quite a few of online reviews, and it appears we weren't the only ones that felt scammed. So, my recommendation: rent a car from a local company, of which there are about half a dozen waiting for you as you exit the airport. You will definitely want a car in Todos, and we were quoted $150 for a shuttle from the airport to our hotel, one-way.
The drive from the airport to Todos Santos flies by, and you'll enjoy driving through a number of small towns. Our hotel was set just a few minutes north of downtown, but being a bit secluded adds to the laidback atmosphere. On our first day, we headed into town and found a bank to convert some money. Everyone that we met was so incredibly kind! We struck up a conversation with a guy in line; turns out, he's been coming to Todos every year for the past ten years. His brother-in-law owns a home in Todos and opened a surf shop in town just a few years back. He recommended we check out Pacifico, a small taco shop about 2 miles north of town. Pacifico sits next door to the green grocery store as you meander out of town. You'll see their hip sign, and a small, covered area, for outdoor seating. These were hands-down, the best fish tacos I've ever had. Their menu consists of fish tacos, poke, and a burrito. Clean and simple, they have mastered their few offerings.
Our stay at Pachamama made our visit to Todos feel very special. Pachamama hosts wellness and yoga retreats, but when they aren't hosting a retreat, they open their teepees and rooms to the public. We lucked out and found a calm moment in their calendar. We stayed for a week, enjoying the freshly cooked breakfasts, practicing yoga in their gorgeous studio that looks out on the ocean, sitting by the pool, and taking short strolls down to the beach to whale watch. Since this 'resort' is setup to host retreats, the energy there is heart-warming. All of the guests eat breakfast at a large communal table that looks out on the pool. The kitchen is open for everyone to use - whether for food storage, to hangout in and enjoy late-night margaritas, or to whip up your own meals. There are two fire pits where you can post up for the evening and exchange stories about your day, warm your hands near the flames while pushing your feet into the sand.
On Sunday we drove out to Pescadero and explored the Sunday Market. The market is set beside Baja Beans and showcases a wide range of hand-crafted jewelry, housewares, and clothing. After you've wandered around the market, you can sit at Baja Beans, listen to the music and enjoy a snack. We made it back to Todos just before sunset and drove north of town to the Turtle Camp. We pulled up to the beach and saw a large crowd of people with buckets in their hands, walking towards to ocean. As the sun sets they tipped their buckets over and we all watched as baby turtles came slowly crawling out. Most of them headed towards the last bit of light as it lit up the waves, others needed a gentle push.
One afternoon we decided to visit Hotel San Cristobal - we had to see what all the hype was about. There has been some controversy over the location of this hotel and the impact the resort has had on the local ecosystems (you can read the full New York Times piece here), and as you pull-up beside it, the reasoning for this quickly becomes clear. The hotel is located about 15-20 minutes south of Todos, directly beside where all the local fishermen put their boats in, which seemed to create some obvious tension. We grabbed a drink at their bar and sat by the pool, we visited the gift shop (which is wonderful!), and peeked around their restaurant. You can pay a small amount to use their pool for the day, but we weren't interested in hanging around. The cocktail was twice the cost of what we had been paying in Todos, the staff wasn't especially friendly, and although the architecture and curated decor was stunning, the energy wasn't very welcoming.
I figured we would spend the week eating tacos and papaya (which I was fully okay with), but the food in Todos blew me away. We spent a lot of our time eating, so I'm just going to run through a few places you cannot miss when you go:
Hierbabuena : This is on the top of the list for a reason - it's outta this world! Hierbabuena is located in Pescadero, just about 12 minutes from Todos Santos. It sits on a vast property, which is home to the organic gardens they source their ingredients from, that's right, real deal farm-to-table. Everything they offer is incredibly fresh and flavorful! Save time to go for lunch and dinner to experience the atmosphere during the daytime and in the evening.
Jazamango : This charming restaurant also boasts an on-property farm, and fresh ingredients that make your mouth do a little dance. The dishes are creative and packed with surprises. You can take a short stroll over to their market and pick-up your own container of olive tapenade, roasted red papers, decadent pastries or fresh figs.
Tre Galline : The last thing I pictured myself eating in Mexico was Italian food. But at Tre Galline, they hand-make all of their pastas, which made this meal one of the best Italian meals I've ever had! The atmosphere is cozy and the restaurant is frequented by locals and tourists alike.
La Esquina : I think we were here almost everyday. La Esquina is a laidback cafe, with plenty of seating, fast wi-fi, super tasty juices and smoothies, and a large breakfast and lunch menu.
Jardin Alquima : When we visited, this quaint, stylish cocktail bar had only been open three months, but each night we went, they were buzzing! You'll find photos of their menu online, but I can safely say, they whip up the tastiest, most unique cocktails I've ever tasted!
- Rent a car from a local company
- Eat out and enjoy the local restaurants!
- Find some time to visit the baby turtles
- Bring along some binoculars for whale watching
- A telephoto lens would be sweet to have to catch the whales in action!