After five days on the southern cape of Baja Sur, it was time to move on. At this point my family had arrived so we grabbed a car and headed northwest towards Todos Santos (the town, not the big wave spot). One of the great benefits of being there in the off season was that we were free to just wing it as far as where we stayed. It’s such a gift to travel with no reservations and just grab a room wherever it feels right.
We’ve all become so used to checking out the ratings and reviews online before we book or buy anything. There’s nothing like getting to see a place for yourself, talking to the manager, and being able to factor in weather, waves and closest good coffee before you commit – being in the moment and going with what feels right.
The drive from San Jose Del Cabo to Todos Santos is easy, well-marked, and only takes about an hour and a half. However, it’s nice to have a 4×4 or at least some ground clearance to explore the endless side roads that to the beach or out into the desert.
When researching a trip to Baja, you see a lot of references to the idea of ‘just taking the dusty dirt road to see where it goes’, and you quickly see why. The exploration seems endless and who knows what empty beaches and surf breaks await you at the end of the road. It makes you want to get a tricked out SoCal rig and go off the grid for a while.
Speaking of surf breaks, on the way to Todos Santos we stopped by the most well known break in the area, Cerritos. This wasn’t really the best time of year for the breaks on the Pacific side of Baja, so it was mostly choppy wind swell and a strong onshore wind all day. Additionally, everything on the Pacific side was ten degrees colder than the southern cape just an hour away – the high and low temperatures were ten degrees colder and the water was ten degrees colder.
Even as we rolled into summer, air and water were still in the 60s and you could get away with a sweatshirt on the beach.
I’ll admit, after a week of surfing clean points in just my trunks, getting in a wetsuit to struggle through choppy beach break wasn’t all that appealing (I know Cerritos is a point, but it wasn’t breaking off the rocks when I was there.). Of course, I did it anyway.
There are some really great places to stay right on the water in Cerritos including the Cerritos Surf Hotel where we would stay in a couple of days. But we decided to head off to Todos Santos since the waves weren’t great. It’s only another 10 minutes or so up the road and I had always wanted to go there.
On the way, we stumbled upon our best coffee fix since we left San Jose del Cabo (a whole two hours before) – Baja Beans.
Baja Beans is roasting small batch, single origin Mexican coffee from Veracruz right in the little town of El Pescadero. El Pescadero is right in between Cerritos and Todos Santos and has some funky places to eat and a surf camp. However, if you decide to stay in Todos Santos and head to Cerritos to surf (or vice versa), Baja Beans makes a convenient surf and coffee stop along the way.
In fact, we spoke with someone who said they made the trip there each morning from Cerritos because the coffee was so much better than what was being served at the resorts. We would find out for ourselves in a couple days that this was pretty accurate. Unfortunately, the same would go for the food.
Todos Santos is a sleepy little place known for its art scene and some recent influx by boutique hotels in the area. Again, it was a quiet time of year but it’s hard to imagine it being super busy at it is just far enough away from the cruise ship crowd in Cabo San Lucas.
We rolled into town without much of a plan but with two hungry kids, so our first order of business was grabbing some food. Up to this point the fresh seafood – fish tacos, ceviche – whether at higher-end restaurants or local stands had never failed impress, so we stuck with that plan.
As you pull into Todos Santos, there is a fish taco restaurant called Santo Chilote on the left at the main intersection. We made note and looked around a bit, but ended up coming back, and were glad we did!
When I sat down to write this back at home, I looked it up to see if people were writing about it and it turns out there are a handful of raving reviews of Santo Chilote on Yelp and Facebook. However, we just wandered in based on the look of the place, the friendly waiter and a good mix of locals, expats, and tourists eating on the patio.
The food was amazing!
We had a mix of battered and grilled fish tacos and the fish ceviche. My nine year old housed the ceviche. It was crazy. We ended up eating there three or four more times before we left and it was the measuring stick against which all other meals in Todos Santos were compared.
With that taken care of, it was time to wander around, maybe find an afternoon coffee.
Over the next couple of days we would frequent two different coffee roasters in town – CafeLix and Taller 17. Cafelix definitely wins the award for most amazing latte art, and that will be enough for kids to keep coming back for hot chocolates as well. Plus it had amazing smoothies and other food for those looking for something other than coffee.
Despite the artistic skills of the barista at Cafelix, Taller 17 became our favorite based on just straight up deliciousness.
With food and coffee sorted out, we grabbed a room at Hacienda Todos Santos after a bit of me struggling with my piecemeal Spanish and settled in.