By Bruce Wallin
Todos Santos has long been the anti-Cabo, an artsy, outdoorsy alternative to its southern neighbor’s luxury beach resorts and lively bar culture. New high-price hotels in the area suggest that the Todos Santos scene (or lack thereof) may be changing. But this historic corner of Baja Sur—the Spanish first established a mission here in 1723—remains a distinct desert outpost with authentic Baja charms.
The first of the new hotels is Paradero Todos Santos (from $550;paraderohotels.com), which opened in January in a farming community outside the beach village of El Pescadero. The resort’s earth-hued cement structures are courtesy of Todos Santos’ Yektajo & Valdez Architects, and house two-story Sky Suites with hammock-like “star nets” suspended from the rooftops.
The four brand-new beachfront glamping tents from Villa Santa Cruz (from $650; villastantacruzbaja.com) debuted in May and offer king beds, wood floors, full bathrooms, minibars, and patios with outdoor sofas.
A beachfront hideaway from Mexico’s Habitas group, as well as a new property from Hamak Hotels and the much-anticipated reinvention of Rancho Pescadero, are slated for spring 2022 openings.
In Todos Santos’ center—perched on a hilltop a few minutes’ drive from the beach—you can book one of three casitas at the new Cien Palmas (available through Airbnb) or stay at the charming Guaycura Boutique Hotel, whose guests have access to the nearby El Faro Beach Club & Spa. The 32-room Hotel San Cristóbal is set directly on the beach, at the end of a long dirt road where fishermen launch their pangas and hikers set out to conquer the Punta Lobos trail.
The hike to Punta Lobos follows a dramatic coastal path. An optional extension takes you to Puerto Viejo, where an abandoned stone pier is a jumping-off point for prime swimming and snorkeling (but only under calm conditions).
Back in Todos Santos, gallery hop at Gabo for works by local painter Gabriel Rodriguez, or at Villapando Caldera or La Sonrisa de la Muerte (“The Smile of the Dead”) for graphic art and engravings.
The area also offers several breaks for experienced surfers, while novices should head to El Pescadero’s Los Cerritos beach, where a class with Mario Surf School will have you wave worthy in no time.
Start your day with coffee and casual bites at Café Doce Cuarenta or fresh pastries at Taller 17. For fish tacos and craft cocktails, head to Barracuda Cantina, just a block off the beach. In town, the selections run the gamut from farm-to-table fare at Jazamango and sunset-view ceviche at the clifftop El Mirador to house-made pastas at Tre Galline. Perhaps the best meal, however, is at Paradero Todos Santos, where some of the 60 endemic species grown on site and in surrounding farms pair with fresh catches from the adjoining sea. —Bruce Wallin