Continuing on with the theme from yesterday’s post, we’re going to talk about one of our favorite places to kick back, at least in North America - Todos Santos, a small town a bit more than an hour north of tourist mecca Cabo San Lucas. Cabo isn’t really our type of town - the resorts, while pretty and with great services, tend to have a cookie-cutter feel about them; we’re past the time in our lives when going to El Squid Roe or Cabo Wabo qualified as a good idea (we remember the last three-day hangover we had too clearly); and there’s only so many silver stores we can see before we’re ready to run for the hills. For us, Todos Santos is what we think of when we want to escape from everything for a while.
There are three hotels of note in and around town - there’s Hotel California, which we would recommend having a drink at rather than sleeping in (Eagles song notwithstanding), Villas de Cerritos Beach, which is on a beautiful cliff overlooking Cerritos, one of the most consistent surf breaks in Mexico (heck, in the world), and our clear favorite, Rancho Pescadero. We’re not alone in singing Rancho’s praises, but the reason we love it - besides that you can book yourself into a villa overlooking the beach for about the cost of a nice dinner in Manhattan, the bar makes the best Jamaica martini we’ve ever had and the daily free yoga classes are good by vacation standards - is because the restaurant is phenomenal. The fish was caught in the ocean that morning and prepared with ingredients grown on the farm owned by Rancho. We are still trying to replicate a poblano-based sauce we had there in the hopara test kitchens! Plus, Rancho has plenty of loaner surfboards and is only a fifteen minute drive over heavy dirt roads from Cerritos. Before you drive, though, you should be aware that your Mexican car insurance doesn’t cover your car driving on dirt roads (we’ve learned this the hard way), so drive carefully… and if you destroy your car somehow and you can’t reason with your rental company, we found the following phrase very helpful: “Soy abogado con mucho tiempo,” which means (in our pidgin Spanish), “I’m a lawyer with lots of time on my hands.” Anyway, moving on…
As we’ve mentioned above, surfing is one of the big activities here, and Cerritos is a great learning break. If you’ve never tried surfing before, we recommend Mario - he and his instructors are great teachers and have a lot of softops for beginners. There are several surf camps in the area as well; these are not recommended, as they are really geared for more experienced surfers (and are really just four walls and a hot plate). After you’re done surfing for the day, we think a yoga class is in order - either at Rancho, at another hotel, Casa Bentley, or look up Janice Kinne, one of the more popular local instructors, who teaches in a few different places.
Ok, we’ve got to admit something at this point. We’ve been to Todos Santos a few times, and we never get past the beach and town. We’ve never hit up the Cactus Sanctuary, we haven’t hiked on the cliffs or the canyons, and we’ve never visited a master potter. So, as a result, we can’t recommend any of those activities to you, although we’re sure that they’re fun (if you’re into that kind of thing, anyway). We prefer to explore town and eat really good Mexican food, instead.
Our favorite place to visit in town is Jill Logan’s gallery; we love how she captures the look and feel of the area in her paintings. Our other favorite established gallery is Galleria de Todos Santos, simply for the breadth of works available. However, we’ve found that the best art is tucked away behind shops and down long, empty corridors in town - everyone we’ve met there has always been friendly, so don’t be afraid of poking your head around a few corners!
Finally, we wouldn’t want to leave you without giving you a few places to eat. We’ve already mentioned Hotel California and Todos Santos, but we’ve got to send you to one of the few tourist traps we’ve been to that is always satisfying - Miguel’s. Yes, there are plenty of better restaurants in town, and there are more popping up every day, but when we’ve been there, the food has always been fantastic (even if we find the portion size large by Midwestern standards). And we’ve never had the issues that some people report on the internet - namely, that the place is filled with English-speaking tourists (we’ve only seen locals in there, and we had to order everything in Spanish).
Gosh, writing this post makes us want to go back and chill out in Baja some more!