The billboard alerting us that we were getting close to Hotel San Cristóbal promised that “Some of the best things are found at the end of dirt roads.” With check-in still a few hours away, my husband and I had time to kill before we would need to rumble down that particular stretch. So as we took an unmarked exit and made our way under an overpass, following tire tracks that had carved a makeshift path through trash heaps, we hoped that the maxim held true for the rest of this slice of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
Set in the desert foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna, the Pacific coastal town of Todos Santos is about fifty miles from the Jimmy Buffetted tourist traps of Cabo San Lucas and has long been Cabo’s quieter little sister, a haven for surfers and artists. But even as paved streets have become more common, any local will tell you that the best way to discover Todos Santos is to take the road (or occasional trash-heap path) less traveled.
See & Do
The town center is awash in color, from its many art galleries to the strings of papel picado hanging above the streets. In the courtyard of Galería Logan, you might find Jill Logan, the nom de paint herself, working with gold leaf or broken tiles. Nearby, La Sonrisa de la Muerte showcases whimsical and provocative woodcuts and prints.
But the temperate Baja weather beckons. Todos Santos is a short drive from myriad beaches. Surfers flock to Playa los Cerritos, a point break in nearby El Pescadero where you can rent boards and take lessons from locals, but we were more interested in stretching out than hanging ten. Thus, our aforementioned detour paid off: after we drove down the dirt path for fifteen minutes, Playa San Pedrito appeared like a mirage, deserted but for the charming cash-only Pura Playa beach bar and a naked man presenting himself, arms open, to the crystalline Pacific Ocean.
Eat & Drink
La Esquina, down yet another dirt road (but one much closer to town), offers simple sandwiches and organic smoothies, but it gets respect from locals for its breakfast menu, which features filling but not debilitating portions of huevos rancheros and chilaquiles.
While exploring the town center, stop by the vibrant Caffé Todos Santos, where you can indulge in the fish taco plate, served with all of the proper accoutrements: pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado slices, lime, and fresh tortillas. Nearby, Tequila’s Sunrise Bar & Grill (across the street from Hotel California—get it?) serves dangerously potent margaritas.
The 32-room San Cristóbal (rooms start at $285), which opened in 2017, is Texas hotelier Liz Lambert’s first foray outside of our state. With colorful hand-stamped tiles playing off stark white walls and stunning views of the ocean and the mountains, it’s an Instagrammer’s dream. The call of the town, just ten minutes away, was the only reason we wrested ourselves away from poolside margaritas and strolls on the beach. With yoga lessons, two restaurants, and a library, it’s a village unto itself.
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Todos Santos: Like a Vision.” Subscribe today.