San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, known collectively as Los Cabos, are outstanding places to live and visit, but a trip up the Pacific Coast to the “Magic Town” of Todos Santos is a must for those looking for traditional architecture, pristine surfing beaches, cultural and artistic activities and a slower lifestyle than its neighboring cities to the south. 

Just a 45-minute drive on a four-lane highway that follows the azure ocean, a visit to Todos Santos is like taking a step back in time, yet with plenty of activities and sights that make Todos Santos a charming Mexican gem and a must-visit destination. 

Although geographically close to the glitz and glamor of Los Cabos, Todos Santos has an almost bohemian vibe, and it’s a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. 

Here, dirt roads are plentiful and lead to gorgeous vistas and secluded beaches. In the winter months Todos Santos offers whale-watching and frequent baby sea turtle releases (Olive Ridleys, Leatherbacks, and Blacks make their nests here) and in the summer, Todos Santos enjoys a milder climate than its neighbors to the south. 

There are luxury resorts and world-class restaurants as well as surf shacks and street food. The cobblestone streets and restored haciendas feel like a stroll back in time. There is magic here in Todos Santos, ready to be explored.

What makes Todos Santos a Pueblo Mágico?

What is the history of Todos Santos?

Is the Hotel California in Todos Santos the same as the one in the Eagles song?

What are the best beaches in Todos Santos?

What makes Todos Santos an arts, cultural and culinary hub?

 

Todos Santos

1.What makes Todos Santos a Pueblo Mágico?

Since 2001, the Mexican government has designated 177 towns as “Pueblos Mágicos,” or Magic Towns due to their "cultural richness, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts, and great hospitality." There is a lengthy and rigorous process for applying for and maintaining a Pueblo Mágico status, which Todos Santos has held since 2006. Visitors can feel the magic as they explore historic architecture, white sandy beaches, world-class cuisine and exceptional art galleries. It’s no surprise that many expats have winter or year-round homes in Todos Santos.

2. What is the history of Todos Santos?

Todos Santos, meaning “All Saints” in English, is located near the Tropic of Cancer and about halfway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz up the Pacific Coast. 

Todos Santos, with a population of 7,185 according to the 2020 census, lies at the foothills of the imposing Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere, a UNESCO flora and fauna reserve due to its unique climate and endemic species.

The town was founded in 1733 and the last battle of the Mexican-American War was fought near Todos Santos in 1848 after the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was already signed whereby Mexico ceded California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada, Arizona, and parts of Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming to the United States for $15 million.

Due to its freshwater spring, Todos Santos became known as the sugarcane capital of the Baja Peninsula in the late 1800s, a designation that faded when the town’s water supply inexplicably dried up in the 1950s and miraculously returned some three decades later. 

Agriculture resumed in the 1980s with crops such as a variety of herbs and vegetables, avocados and mangoes which flourish in the rich soil and slightly cooler climate aided by the Pacific breeze. 

With the paving of Highway 19 in 1984, connecting the capital city of La Paz with Los Cabos, and the revival of agriculture, tourists began discovering this Southern Baja gem. The thriving surfer and artist communities drawn to this tiny town continue to this day.

Hotel California Todos Santos

3. Is the Hotel California in Todos Santos the same as the one in the Eagles song?

The Hotel California in Todos Santos has nothing to do with the Eagles song of the same name. The hotel was first built in 1947 by a Chinese immigrant and was the only place in town to get a cold beer as the owner brought ice in from La Paz. It was purchased in 2001 by a Canadian couple who renovated it extensively. 

After settling a lawsuit filed by the Eagles over copyright infringement in 2017, the owners of the hotel added the following language to its website: 

“The song ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles was not in any way inspired by the Hotel California in Todos Santos. The hotel wishes to inform its guests that there is no past or present connection between the hotel and the Eagles, any of its members, or their song. Any rumors or innuendo suggesting that the song is associated with or inspired by the hotel are untrue.”

It’s still a great place for a meal, a photo op, or a visit to the gift shop; as of this writing the hotel portion is closed.

 

Beach in Todos Santos

4. What are the best beaches in Todos Santos?

Todos Santos is a beach-lovers paradise, although always be aware of tides and undertows at any beach you visit. Grand Pacific swells rolling in during the winter season also make this a surfer’s delight with world-class waves meant for experts only, but there are also options for beginners. 

One of the most popular beaches in the area is Cerritos located south of Todos Santos proper just off the highway at Kilometer 64. Here you’ll find a shallow, sandy-bottomed beach with swimming, surfing lessons, lifeguards, beach chairs, umbrellas and sporting equipment rentals, beachside massages, restaurants, bars and trinket vendors. Cerritos is a lifestyle unto itself, offering that relaxed Baja vibe with striking views.

Playa Las Palmas located off the highway at Kilometer 57 is located in front of a gorgeous, palm-filled oasis. There’s a bit of a walk from the parking area, make sure not to leave valuables in your car, and swimming can be extremely treacherous at times. But it’s a gorgeous area for photos or watching the surf.

La Pastora Beach, a few miles north of town, is rocky-bottomed and recommended for expert surfers as the waves can be challenging for the inexperienced.

Playa Punta Lobos is one of the closest beaches to downtown Todos Santos and is known as the fishermen’s beach, meaning if you go in the morning through early afternoon you may be dodging fishing boats, but it’s a beautiful little protected bay with deeper water for swimming. 

For the adventurous, a hike to the top of the adjacent cliffs at Punta Lobos offers a beautiful view of the old port below and the vestiges of a stone pier. Sea lions like to hang out nearby and it's a stunning sight also possible to be viewed via a kayak tour.

And all beaches in Todos Santos offer excellent opportunities for whale watching in the winter months as blue, gray and humpback whales migrate from northern waters to breed and bear their young near Land’s End, and often entertain by breaching and spouting in coastal waters.

Fine Dining

5. What makes Todos Santos an arts, cultural and culinary hub?

Todos Santos has become a haven for artists who draw inspiration from the town’s beauty, golden sunlight and rich Mexican culture. 

Cultural events are regular happenings in Todos Santos, such as the Tropic of Cancer Music and Art Festival in January, another Art Festival in March and April, the Mango Festival in July, the City’s annual Fiestas Patronales on October 12, and a spectacular Cine Festival in November, to name just a few of the annual events.

There’s also a vibrant Casa Cultural or Cultural Center, a museum, historic buildings and cobblestone streets. Art galleries and specialty boutiques are everywhere, making for great shopping or browsing. You’ll see fine art, Mexican folk art, sculpture, Southern Baja imagery and so much more. 

And for those looking for wellness services, yoga, sound healing, temazcales or sweat lodges, meditation, ecstatic dance and first-rate spas are plentiful. There’s even a nearby branch of the Modern Elder Academy, a school for “midlife wisdom,” offering a plethora of programs and classes.

Blessed with an incredible agricultural bounty and fresh seafood, Todos Santos has everything from street tacos to world-class fine-dining options where you can find Mexican and international dishes served in an unbelievable setting.

The farm-to-table movement thrives here due to the availability of so many fresh ingredients and a passion for those that are locally sourced. Ceviche and fresh fish tacos, tacos al pastor sliced piping off the spit, homemade ice cream and refreshing popsicles are street treats to be enjoyed as you stroll the town’s cobblestone roads, or sit back to more refined delicacies, many enjoyed with a view of the setting sun, in establishments that rival the best restaurants around the globe, Todos Santos and the adjacent Pacific Coast communities have something for everyone, no matter your tastes.