Todos Santos – Maria Elena Gonzalez

Todos Santos

Todos Santos: the name evokes an air of magic and mystery, of mysticism and romance. Discover it all in this pueblo mágico, or magic village, nestled deep in the desert on the edge of the wild Pacific Ocean.

Less than an hour away from the glitzy lights of San Lucas, Todos Santos is a world away in ambiance. The barren hillsides outside of San Lucas give way to rolling green hills, covered in enormous cactus trees and miles of silence. The Pacific Ocean stretches like a polished stone, glistening in the desert sun, while lush trees heavy with fruit shade the streets of Todos Santos. No jet skis, no beach vendors, no loud music. You find solitude in the echo of the ocean. This quiet community is an oasis in the sands of time: part Mexican ranch, part artist refuge and completely enchanting.

Establish over 300 years ago, Todos Santos retains the feeling of an outpost at the end of a lonely peninsula. Time moves differently here, as the trappings of modern life drop away. You’ll still find Internet and cell phone reception here (and other modern comforts, of course), but you’ll find that it matters a lot less as you wander these timeless streets. Thick adobe walls frame the historic church in the plaza, and graceful colonial buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Inside, you’ll find an array of treasures waiting for you, from the delectable to the surprising.

Todos Santos is a natural oasis in the middle of the desert, and a wealth of organic fruits and vegetables are grown in the vicinity, including mangoes, avocados and poblano peppers (the basis of many Mexican dishes, including the savory crema de chile poblano soup). Couple that with the bounty of fresh fish and seafood harvested from the nearby Pacific Ocean, and it’s little surprise that Todos Santos has attracted a growing community of chefs. Focusing on the fresh ingredients from land and sea, creative and innovative cuisine is served daily at quiet little restaurants around the village. The result? Pure magic

Artists and intellectuals have always been drawn to this place. Maybe it has something to do with the color of the ocean at sunset, of the rustle of the wind in the trees. Art galleries dot the streets, displaying drawings, painting and sculptures inspired by the powerful surroundings. You’ll find a few vendors selling the standard souvenirs and curios, but also so much more. Small boutique shops sell handcrafted treasures, intricately worked jewelry, fragrant soaps. Gentle weaves its way through the air, enticing visitors to come inside. The little cafes are a perfect place to find a quiet corner and finish a book, or simply contemplate life with a cup of strong coffee. What will you find within the walls of Todos Santos?

Days here revolve around the sun and the sea. In the winter months, migrating whales grace these shores, frolicking with their young. Surfers make a similar pilgrimage to Todos Santos in the winter months to enjoy the rolling Pacific Swells. The most popular beach for surfing (and relaxing) is Cerritos, a few minutes south of town. but regulars here talk about other waves like La Pastora, Punta Lobos, and Las Pocitas with an air of reverence. These empty, peeling waves inspire surfers to move their lives to Todos Santos, and live the “endless summer” dream. With miles of sun-splashed coastline, you’re sure to discover your own wave, or beach, or breathtaking view that utterly captivates.

With a small but vibrant international community, a wealth of activities can be enjoyed in town as well. Yoga, African dance, Tai Chi, book groups, horseback riding, hiking, cooking classes: need we say more? There’s even an annual film festival that focuses on the brightest talent in Latino filmmaking, right at the restored art-deco theater near the plaza. But despite the stimulation, you never feel far from the land, or the community that thrives here. Small vendors dot the street into town, selling humble (but delicious) fish tacos and fruits. It’s not uncommon to have a few stray cows wander down the street. Yet it’s all a part of what makes this place magical, almost surreal, dreamlike.

Just a few miles outside of Todos Santos is Pescadero, a small but growing community with a similar ambiance. Here you’ll find surf camps and schools that are committed to getting even first-timers up and riding. Stylish boutique hotels are beginning to sprout out of the desert sands in Pescadero, offering an elegant escape. Adventurous types can always camp on the beach, or at trailer parks.

Todos Santos is the kind of place you’ll find yourself dreaming about long after you visit. It’s the end of the long, dusty road. It’s home to the famed Hotel California, made famous by the Eagles (go ahead and snap a picture of it, it’s part of the experience!). But you’ll find more than tumbleweeds and cactus here. You’ll find an indomitable spirit, a deep sense of peace. Some people come here to escape; others discover life in Todos Santos.