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Todos Santos: Mexico’s Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Todos Santos, one of Mexico’s magical towns, is located on the Pacific Coast on the Baja Peninsula halfway between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. Founded in the early 1700’s, Todos Santos has long been an agricultural area growing mango, papaya, avocados and Washingtonian palm. These days its also become a haven for surfers, artists and bohemian types.

While Todos Santos is still a sleepy town, that may not last much longer as its increasingly popular with people like me who appreciate its authenticity, the colourful, cobblestoned streets, its cute cafes and galleries along with a range of overnight options including boutique hotels. To top it all off it’s just a short drive to the white sand beaches on the Pacific Ocean.

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

The colourful village of Todos Santos

Why Todos Santos is a Mexican Magical Town

Mexico is home to more than 20 magic towns or “Pueblos Mágicos.” Magical towns are designated as such because they possess “historical, cultural and architectural significance and reflects the unique value it offers to the tourism industry.“Todos Santos is the first town to be chosen in the Baja. Wander the colourful streets, explore the mission far from the hustle and bustle of cities like Cabo and you’ll soon understand why this lovely town was chosen. 

What to do in Todos Santos

I was able to take advantage of some of the things the area around Todos Santos offered – like surfing – but I could easily see myself returning to hike in the nearby Sierra de La Laguna mountain range, with its almost 12,000 hectares designated a bisophere. There are even multi-day trails to hike – almost within spitting distance of Todos Santos. Mountain biking too would be excellent.

Birders will be happy too as the town is something of a birdwatcher’s paradise, on account of its location between desert and ocean. One of the places that welcomes birders is the nearby 1000 hectare botanical garden, Campo Experimental. Judging from the number of birds I saw just driving on the highway (hawks galore) you’ll need to always have a pair of binoculars on hand.

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Todos Santos is one of Mexico’s magical towns

Surfing near Todos Santos

Let’s get to the surfing. I was signed up for a private lesson with Mario Surf School – but on the drive to El Pescadero felt an overwhelming sense of dread. I pictured myself bashed and tossed about by waves, not only embarrassed by my lack of ability but nervous about seriously hurting myself.

I left an hour later sporting a grin as wide as my face, and the thrill – thanks to the instructors – of getting up on the board. Let me tell though – it wasn’t pretty by any means (that’s why I nixed the photo). And it’s not like I was in the inner tunnel of a wave but merely in the surf of a dying wave. Still that didn’t take away from my sense of accomplishment or the amount of fun I had. However, I do have to say my rarely used surfing muscles were talking to me the next day.

Despite the look of the waves, the instructors at Mario’s will make sure you’re having fun. Maybe they roll their eyes when you’re not looking but all I got was encouragement.

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Take a surf lesson in warm water

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

At first glance the waves look intimidating

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Me heading for my first ever surf lesson

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

I think I should have started surfing several decades ago

Take a LocoMotion Tour

While a LocoMotion tour can turn into a party, it’s actually a fun way to see the sights in Todos Santos. While you pedal (and it’s electrically assisted so you don’t work hard) to the beat of the music, chat with new friends and old or simply admire the streetscape between stops. With a local guide narrating the experience, you are shown craft galleries where the weaving continues as it has for centuries; you’ll visit art galleries and take in some local farm to table gastronomy. Over a couple of hours enjoy a mix of hands on (making guacamole for example) and off experiences. Expect a lot of looks as you explore the streets!

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Village You Should Visit Now

Try the LocoMotion tour around Todos Santos

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Stop at stores where traditional hand-woven rugs are sold

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

One of the local gentleman showing us how the weaving is done

Explore Todos Santos on foot

One of my favourite things to do in any new town or city is to explore on foot, preferably early in the morning or late in the day to catch the good light. Todos Santos was no exception. I spent about 90 minutes wandering the core, mostly window shopping and being a voyeur into daily life in town. It was the experience that really made me fall in love with the town.

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Clean cobblestone streets in Todos Santos

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Colourful murals make for an interesting streetscape

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

You’ll find lots of galleries and charming cafes in Todos Santos

Where to Stay in Todos Santos

I had the pleasure of staying at the Guaycura Boutique Hotel Beach Club & Spa, housed in a 19th century historic building. It’s located in the old part of town within walking distance of all the charming galleries and cafes. While it has a rooftop plunge type pool, it’s also got a beach club and spa with an infinity pool, at another site, just steps from the ocean.

The hotel would be the type John and I would choose if traveling together. Rooms are spacious as was my bathroom with its copper bathtub. You’ll find beautiful pieces of artwork scattered throughout the hotel – and the rooftop bar and pool are perfect for watching the sun go down.

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Loved my room and the vibe at Guaycura Boutique Hotel Club & Spa

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Rooftop deck with a view

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Sunset at El Mirador Restaurant – owned by the Guaycara Hotel

While I didn’t stay at the Hotel San Cristobal – it’s one that speaks to me. It was designed for touring bands who were sick and tired of cookie cutter hotel rooms.What you can expect here is an artistic  and musical soul in every room. With only locals hired, the 32 room boutique, beachfront hotel has made a concerted effort to be reminiscent of the Baja in the laidback 70’s. 

Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

Hotel San Cristobal looks pretty darned enticing – Photo credit: nick Simonite

Lonely Planet compares Todos Santos to “Taos, New Mexico, before Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe brought the world there.” While you can expect high prices, you’ll get an authentic Mexican experience.

With lots of easy, reasonably priced flights from the west coast to Cabo you could be lying on a beach or taking an surf lesson in the afternoon on the day you arrive. Todos Santos to my mind is a great choice for those of you trying to escape winter. It’s only an hour’s drive from the airport.

If you’re heading to the Baja you might also like: Swimming with Whale Sharks: An Unforgettable Experience.

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Todos Santos: Mexico's Magical Town You Should Visit Now

A big thank you to the La Paz Tourism Board for hosting my stay. I think this is one town that outdoor loving, adventurous people are going to really enjoy.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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