21 Magical Things To Do In Todos Santos, Mexico

After a wonderful trip to this charming pueblo magico while traveling around Baja California, I can’t wait to share the best things to do in Todos Santos, where to eat and stay, and other useful tips for enjoying your visit to the max.

But first, let’s set the scene…

Todos santos things to do
Finding the umbrella street is a fun thing to do in Todos Santos

Todos Santos travel guide

Picture this: a small town in the desert. A picture-perfect facade, beautiful shops and galleries, colors and logos meticulously placed. But zoom out, and you’ll see the vast desert sprawling for miles around. Even two streets from the Insta spots and modern coffee houses, the roads are bumpy and dusty, flanked by enormous cacti.

Travelers like this pretty pueblo because it offers respite from the big, booming Baja cities like Cabos San Lucas. In contrast, Todos Santos is charming, bohemian, and laid back.

It’s a curious town in some ways. A Disneyland in the desert. But that’s Baja California for you. The beach sits beside the desert, and tourism is concentrated into small areas while majestic nature sprawls, untouched, for miles around.

Where is Todos Santos – and how to get there?

Map todos santos travel guide
Click for the interactive version

The town is located on the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula, around a 1-hour drive from tourist hotspot, Cabos San Lucas. The close proximity to one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations means the majority of visitors are daytrippers.

Getting to Todos Santos by car: just an hour from La Paz and 1.5 hours from Cabo San Lucas, it couldn’t be easier to hire a car at either airport (I recommend Rentalcars.com for car hires in Mexico). From either destination, take Highway 19.

Tips for driving:

  • If you’re from the US, you don’t need an international license to hire a car in Mexico.
  • It’s recommended to drive during the day rather than at night to avoid crime.
  • Highway 19 in and out of Todos Santos is a well-maintained road that’s easy to drive. However, the sandy roads around the town are bumpy with potholes so you may feel more comfortable with a 4-wheel drive.

Getting to Todos Santos by bus: this was our mode of transport for visiting. We arrived from La Paz and, two days later, departed to San Jose del Cabo also by bus. Journies calling at San Jose del Cabo and Cabos San Lucas depart hourly (10 past the hour) from the main bus terminal.

Getting to Todos Santos by air: there’s no international airport in this tiny pueblo but you could fly into Cabos San Lucas or La Paz, both around 1.5 hours away, and hire a car or catch a bus. San Jose del Cabo also has an airport.

You’ll see cacti everywhere in Todos

How to get around Todos Santos

For the most part, you can explore on foot as the town center is small and most of the key Todos Santos attractions are close together.

There are no Ubers but there is one taxi that hangs around the small park by the bus stop. He’s usually busy just after a bus has arrived. If you’re on the bus and know you’ll need a taxi, it’s best to get off quickly before someone else nabs him!

You can also ask your accommodation to call a cab for you. Note that there’s often a long wait, plus the rides are expensive when compared to Uber rides in Mexico. We were quoted 200 pesos for a 5-minute drive and chose to walk to our hostel instead, wheely suitcases in tow, in the heat. Maybe not our finest idea!

Do you need a car for Todos Santo? Well, not for the center, but if you plan to visit the beaches like Cerritos a 20-minute drive away, it won’t be easy to get there without your own transport.

Should you take a day trip to Todos Santos or stay overnight?

Since it’s a small place, it’s easy to explore in a day. However, there are things to do in Todos Santos away from the town center. If you want to do some surfing or have a beach day, it’s better to stay two days.

We stayed for 2 days simply because we weren’t in a rush and wanted to explore thoroughly at our leisure… My favorite style of travel!

Oh, and also because I wanted to eat all the fish tacos possible. Challenge accepted!

Todos Santos history

Todos Santos was first settled in 1723 by Jesuits determined to convert the locals to Christianity. The fertile land persuaded them to stay put and grow sugarcane which eventually brought wealth to the region.

Since there was no road connecting the pueblo to surrounding cities until the 1980s, the town maintained its charm and attracted arty types fleeing the big cities.

Nowadays, this chilled pueblo is home to 5,000 people, many of them artists and surfers. Attaining Puebla Magico status in 2006 has certainly put it on the map but, luckily, it’s not lost its charm.

What is a Pueblo Magico? Translating as ‘magic town’, these are places designated by the tourism board due to their unique cultural richness. Places like Taxco, Izamal, Tequila, San Cristobal de las Casas, Bernal, and Bacalar have been chosen due to their natural beauty, folklore, regional cuisine, crafts, and/or local traditions.

I’m trying to visit all 132 of them but it might take a while!

Things to do in Todos Santos, Mexico

This charming pueblo isn’t awash with entertainment (although I still managed to find 21 things that’ll keep you busy) so it’s the perfect place to slow down and enjoy your idyllic surroundings, coffee or ice cream (or both!) in hand.

Here are the best places for sightseeing in Todos Santos…

1. Visit the art galleries

gallery shopping what to do todos santos

Todos Santos is an art lover’s dream! Despite having just 5,000 residents, a large proportion of them are artists – perhaps inspired by the mountains and oceans around the town. For that reason, there are almost too many art galleries to count, with new ones opening all the time.

Since Todos is tiny, you’ll stumble upon galleries easily but I have a few to recommend anyway. My favorite is La Sonrisa De La Muerte in a black and white building flanked with bright pink flowers. Inside, it feels like the rustic, boho living room I’ve never had with gorgeous art for sale, plus prints on cushions.

2. Browse the markets

The arty vibe in Todos Santos doesn’t end with the galleries. From colorful Talavera pottery to traditional Mexican handicrafts and items made by independent designers, it’s an excellent place to shop.

For sure, some of the Mexican crafts can be found cheaper elsewhere since Todos Santos is quite a touristic town. But there’s loads to browse and buy if you don’t have a chance to shop elsewhere.

Cielito Lindo Market is an atmospheric shopping market just off the main street selling a mix of Mexcian handicrafts with boutique items like soaps, candles, and jewelry.

3. Boutique shops

Boutique shopping attractions todos santos mexico
Shops in the desert!

As well as mercados selling your typical Mexican handicrafts, there are countless boutiques with more luxurious items such as clothes, jewelry, homeware, and more.

I got some beautiful necklaces, one with an octopus and one with a whale’s tale. Given the marine theme, I justified the spending because they’ll always remind me of my Baja trip.

Side note – I can’t get enough of the Todos Santos aesthetic of shops surrounded by desert with palm trees and cacti at the door!

Don’t miss…

Besame Mucho Bazaar

Besame Mucho Bazaar is probably the most decadent boutique in town, so visiting is one of the best things to do in Todos Santos if you have cash to splash or simply want to browse. It’s a crazy place with chandeliers, OTT vintage furniture, and a patio and garden area.

Sunstone Besame Mucho Bazaar
Don’t miss the colorful creation of the Aztec sun stone outside the store

Todos Santos Surf Shop

Todos santos surf shop

If you’re headed surfing and need gear, Todos Santos Surf Shop sells everything you need from swimsuits to cute beachy clothes. Prices are a little high but everything is gorgeous.

Other boutiques to earmark include Nomad Chic, Zocalo, and Desert Fox, to name just a few.

4. Plaza Centro

Plaza centro
The sunny plaza

Plaza Centro is one of the key places to visit in Todos Santos. Here you’ll see the sunny yellow church that is Iglesia Mision alongside some informative signs about the history of the town.

Another Todos Santos attraction beside the plaza is…

5. Snap a photo of the Todos Santos sign

Sign todos santos things to do

I love these colorful signs you see in every Mexican city! I’m trying to collect photos with as many as possible. The vibrant sign is between two giant palm trees with great views behind.

6. Take a photo with Hotel California

Another iconic location in Todos Santos is Hotel California which, by their own admission, inspired the song by the Eagles! The only problem? The band say otherwise!

Although it seems more likely that the band are right (especially since they famously sued the hotel for profiteering off their intellectual property – awkward!), this iconic hotel is a cool place to snap a photo before moving on.

7. Find the pink wall & other Instagrammable spots at Cielito Lindo

Pink insta spot
All pink everything

Finding Insta spots is a popular thing to do in Todos Santos. Who wouldn’t want photos with a destination this idyllic?

The best place to take photos is at the back of Cielito Lindo Market. Here you’ll find this iconic pink wall decorated with cacti, as well as this large tree-like structure below covered with colorful hanging paper. If you’ve researched Todos on social media, you’re likely to have seen these spots already.

Cielito Lindo Market
A ‘grammable tourist attraction of Todos Santos

8. Find the best fish tacos

tacos la pacena
Found ’em!

One of the key reasons I was excited to visit Baja California was to eat fish tacos! There are loads of amazing seafood restaurants in La Paz, San Jose del Cabo, and Cabos San Lucas… Luckily, Todos is no exception!

Since many of the best things to do in Todos Santos involve eating, I recommend you check out the following places…

La Paceña Fish Tacos

La Paceña Fish Tacos are the bomb! This modest street stall serves fish tacos, shrimp tacos, marlin tacos, and scallop tacos. It was my first time having the latter and I loved them!

Most tacos cost 30-40 pesos. There are a few tables in a shaded area where you can sit and enjoy food.

Tiki Santos Bar

Tiki santos bar places to visit todos santos
The BEST ceviche

One of the top-rated restaurants in Todos Santos is Tiki Santos Bar… For good reason! This was one of our favorite meals we ate anywhere in Baja. The ceviche was excellent, and it’s a chilled venue with outdoor seating slightly hidden away from the main tourist drag. It’s even pet-friendly!

9. Bars & nightlife

Although Todos Santos is not renowned for nightlife, we enjoyed checking out the bars and having a few cocktails at our leisure. I prefer this style of nightlife to the crazy scene in the renowned Baja party cities… lookin’ at you, Cabos San Lucas!

To relax and enjoy your vacation with a few beverages, check out…

Barracuda Cantina – despite closing at 8pm, it’s a cool spot for pre-dinner drinks with some of the best cocktails in town. I ordered a passionfruit cocktail with mezcal and a chili salt rim which was delicious! They also do Mexican food, served in a cool garden area with fun music. Find it at the back of Plaza Amigos food court.

Jardin Alquimia – for great atmosphere and cocktails, one of the best bars in town is easily Alquimia! The friendly staff will make you something based on your tastes, plus there’s often live music.

El Refugio Mezcaleria – for a fun and lively restaurant with the best range of mezcal in town, don’t sleep on El Refugio!

10. Taste craft beer

Things to do todos santos baja california taste craft beer
Tasting flight

Did we miss our bus to San Jose del Cabo because we were sipping beers at Punta Lobos Brewery? Yes, and was it worth it? Also yes. This is the newest brewery in town (the longstanding one is Todos Santos Brewing but it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays which was when we were in town).

This cute brewery produces a range of craft beers including pale ale and red ale. You can try a flight of four beers, then buy a bottle of your favorite. We liked the IPA and the stout. I was especially sold by the cute seal logo on the bottle.

11. Go surfing

Since this section of the coast is known for its big waves, it goes without saying that one of the best things to do in Todos Santo is try your hand at surfing!

playa los cerritos

The most popular beach for surfing is Playa Los Cerritos, a 20-minute drive from Todos Santos near the El Pescadero area which is worth checking out in its own right. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get there is by driving. You may be able to arrange a ride with a local taxi but I imagine this is pretty ‘spenny.

Luckily, you don’t need your own kit to visit. Surfboards and wetsuits are available for rent, and you can also sign up for surf lessons. Unlike the beaches closer to town, there are umbrellas for rent and facilities including restaurants and bathrooms.

A slightly closer beach to surf is Playa San Pedrito which also requires your own transport to reach. You can even camp overnight here.

12. Visit other beaches

If you’ve been to either of the Cabos beach towns, get ready for a totally different vibe when exploring the Todos Santos beaches… In a good way! Rather than packed beaches where you have to pay for sun loungers and expensive beach restaurants, the beaches on the Pacific Coast are totally tranquilo.

These vast expanses of sand with crashing waves are as nature intended. Despite the tourism to Todos Santos, the beaches remain undeveloped. Admittedly, they’re not the best for the unprepared foot traveler because there’s no shade; it’s best to bring your own umbrella, food, and drink.

Despite not being the most accessible beaches for a spontaneous beach day, the Todos Santos beaches are gorgeous for a morning or late afternoon walk. They’re also great places to watch sunset, preferably with a beach picnic!

Some recommended Todos Santos beaches include:

  • Playa la Cachora – this is one of the easiest places to visit in Todos Santos for your beach fix as it’s just a 10-minute drive from town (be warned the road is very bumpy). There’s not much to ‘do’ here, and certainly no facilities, but it’s a beautifully wild beach where you can see sunset and even spot whales in season
  • Playa Las Tuna – another wild beach popular due to baby turtle sanctuaries (more on this later)
  • Playa Punta Lobos – occupied by local fisher boats, this beach has a bit of a fishy smell but it’s the starting point of the best hike in town. Also, it’s possible to arrange fishing excursions. Sadly, the beach has been affected by the unethical construction of Hotel Cristobal (more about this later).
  • Playa Las Palmas – this beach is especially wild, from the strong waves to the wild horses that call it home. It’s advised to travel there with a 4×4 because of the bumpy roads. An adventure!

Note – the beaches here aren’t the best for swimming because there are strong waves with rips that can pull you out. So be careful!

13. Horse riding

horse riding activities in todos santos
Lovely horses

A ride along the rugged beach is a fun thing to do in Todos Santos. Tours usually depart early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day.

A couple of highly-rated companies offering horse rides are Pegaso Expediciones and Todos Santos Eco Adventures. The former is a particularly popular option with well-behaved and well-treated horses, and English-speaking members of staff.

14. Hike to Punta Lobos

Punta lobos hike things to do todos santos baja california mexico

If hiking in the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range sounds too challenging (I don’t blame you!), try the most popular hike in town: the Punta Lobos viewpoint trail.

At the edge of Punta Lobos beach (close to the infamous Hotel San Cristobal) is a hiking trail that leads to one of the best places in Todos Santos for coastal views. It’s not marked or overly clear but if you start claiming over the rocks at the south end of the beach, you can’t go too wrong.

It’s a bit of a scramble to the top but worth it for the fantastic views! The hike should take around 1.5 hours return and requires comfy footwear (proper hiking boots not necessary).

If you’re driving, take the turn at KM 54 when heading south toward Pescadero. Park near the abandoned building, enter the gate, and head toward the hill.

Use this Puerto Viejo (Old Port) hiking trail map on All Trails.

15. Release sea turtles with Tortugueros Las Playitas

Turtle release

To do a good deed and support a nonprofit (and also have a wonderful experience that you’ll remember forever!), head to Playa Las Tuna to help with a daily turtle release.

Tortugas Las Playitas aim to protect, conserve, and replenish the marine life of Baja California Sur with a key objective of resorting the population of Pacific Leatherback turtles which are sadly Critically Endangered due to factors such as poaching. However, they’re not the only type of turtle on these beaches: Olive Ridley and Green turtles also come to lay eggs.

One way they’re doing this is by keeping hatchlings in their unique incubation greenhouse between October and April when the temperatures drop. Once they hatch, volunteers collect them in buckets and release them onto the sand so they can begin their journey to the ocean.

When? The main reason for turtle hatchlings is December to May with the absolute height being December – February. Tortugas Las Playitas organize daily releases throughout December into mid-February, sometimes extending into March. So, if this coincides with your visit, helping with the effort is easily one of the most rewarding things to do in Todos Santos!

It’s a free Todos Santos activity but you can leave much-appreciated donations.

16. Whale watching (December-April)

Whale watching todos santos attractions
California Grey Whale

A solid reason to visit Baja between December and April is the chance to spot California Grey Whales and Humpback Whales as they complete their epic 14,000-mile migration from the Arctic to Mexico (and back). In peak season, you can see them swimming and breaching just off the shores of Baja California. What could be a more memorable addition to your vacation?

The first Grey Whales to arrive in Baja each year are pregnant females almost ready to give birth in the nutrient-rich Baja waters. On the return leg of the migration, the babies make their first journey.

The absolute best month for Baja whale watching is January to February. In this season, an amazing free thing to do in Todos Santos is spot whales breaching from the beach! Organized boat trips depart from La Paz so you can head over there independently for a day trip, or find an operator in Todos Santos that will take you.

17. Swim with whale sharks

This is another seasonal activity in Todos Santos, best timed for December-April. Swimming with these gentle giants while they’re visiting is a memorable experience you can’t have just anywhere!

Whale shark excursions usually depart from La Paz so the best option is to sign up for a tour that will take you there OR travel up to La Paz early to join a tour group there. Eco Baja tour is a great operator based in La Paz that provides your mask, wetsuit, and everything else you need to swim with whale sharks.

Read next: guide to La Paz whale shark snorkeling

18. Hang out at Doce Cuarenta cafe

Doce cuarenta cafe
The coffee temple

Coffee lovers will think this is easily one of the best things to do in Todos Santos. As a diehard coffee addict, I know I did!

My friend and I first visited the La Baz branch of Doce Cuarenta where we fell in love with the amazing coffee and baked goods. I went to check out the Todos cafe and was surprised at the long walk there down dusty desert roads.

But it was worth it because the enormous warehouse-style cafe is spacious and airy with cool wall murals and all the coffee paraphernalia you could dream up. From espresso-based drinks to matcha and coffee tonics, there’s loads to choose from as well as quality baked goods. Get the cinnamon bun!

19. Have a pool day

If you’re in need of relaxation (or want to escape the heat), a fun thing to do in Todos Santos is have a pool day. One place you can do this is Rancho Corazon near to Doce Cuarenta cafe. They offer a $25 day pass that includes access to the heated infinity pool, a drink, access to chair, towel, and shower facilities. Open Thursday-Monday.

El Faro Beach Club and Guaycura Hotel Pool + Beach Club are also popular places to visit in Todos Santos with day passes available. Use the useful resource that is Find Me A Pool to seek out hotels with pools in Todos Santos.

Note about Hotel San Cristobal – as soon as you start researching what to do in Todos Santos, the option of a pool day at Hotel San Cristobal will start popping up. However, this is not an ethical option: this luxurious hotel was notoriously built with rushed permits and little thought to the nature and local livelihoods of the fishermen who work at Playa Punto Lobos.

Also, the pool pass is $75 for the day which seems extremely expensive!

20. Find the best ice cream in Todos

There’s lots of competition but luckily, I’ve done the tedious and difficult job 😉 of sampling the ice cream to find you the best ones! Firm contenders include:

Baja Tasty – definitely the best ice cream in town if you ask me! This bright pink pithaya ice cream was amazing. Everything here is cheap. Pay at the counter, receive a token, then head to the ice cream counter to pick your flavor.

Neveria Rocco – another fantastic, longstanding place to eat ice cream with unusual flavors like avocado (it’s good, I promise!).

Tip – knowing a few local words will help your ice cream ordering! A paleta = an ice pop and helado = ice cream!

21. Do some yoga

In recent years, Todos Santos has developed a reputation as a yoga hub. Although not on the level of Tulum, there are plenty of places where you can sign up to take classes. These include:

Cuatro Vientos is known as the top studio in town, offering a wide range of classes like hatha flow, reiki, aerial dance yoga, power vinyasa, other exercise classes, and community events. Classes cost 200 pesos, and the website indicates which are in English/bilingual etc.

It’s also easy to find yoga retreats that usually include daily classes, accommodation, and 3 healthy meals a day. These can cost up to $2,000 for a week so, as someone who did a yoga retreat in India for about a tenth of the price, I couldn’t justify this kind of price!

What day trips can you take from Todos Santos?

If you choose to make Todos your base and take trips (rather than basing in Cabos and visiting Todos as a day trip as many travelers do), the main places to visit near Todos Santos include:

  • La Paz – this is my personal favorite place in Baja California. It’s a larger city than Todos so there’s more to do plus the prices are significantly lower. It’s surrounded by beautiful beaches and islands, plus the calm waves from the Gulf of California mean it has great swimming beaches. Read about what to do in La Paz here and the best restaurants in Paz here.
  • Balandra Beach – near La Paz (1.5 hours from Todos), this beach stands out as one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been to! As the number of guests are limited to prevent against over tourism, you can visit for the 8am-12pm or 1-5pm slot.
  • Isla Espiritu Santo – a boat trip to this UNESCO-protected island near La Paz offers the chance to spot sea lions, turtles, and dolphins. After snorkeling, our guide made us ceviche on the beach. Bliss!
  • Cabos San Lucas – this city popular with North American tourists is known for its resorts, watersports, and nightlife. The drive from Todos takes just over 1 hour so it’s easy to visit for a day trip.
  • San Jose del Cabo – although neither of the Cabos enhanced me, I prefer San Jose to San Lucas. There are some great beaches that make for a better beach day than the rugged Todos beaches. The Artist Quarter is a cool area of the city. It’s just a 30-minute drive further from Todos than San Lucas.
  • Sierra Laguna Mountain range – Baja’s main mountain range makes for an invigorating excursion from Todos. The Laguna protected biosphere offers hiking, bouldering, canyoning, and more outdoorsy activities. There’s even the option to stay overnight in glamping tents!

Where to stay in Todos Santos

Budget hostel – we stayed at Todos Santos Hostel which, aside from the location down a sandy road that’s eerie at night (and hot during the day), was a great base. As well as private rooms, glamping tents, and dorm rooms, there’s also a garden area and bar. The staff are friendly and organize surfing trips for guests. Book from $17.

Hotels in town:

  • Hotel Casa Tota is one of the most popular hotels in the city with stylish bedrooms, a swimming pool, and peaceful outdoor terrace. Book from $170
  • Guaycura Boutique Hotel – inside an old 20th-century sugar mill, this beautiful boutique hotel adds a dose of luxury to your vacation. Although it’s not by the beach, it has the same owners as El Faro beach club and they’ll take you back and forth. Book from $200 a night

Hotels near the beach:

  • Pure Baja Suites and Retreats have fully-equipped suites with kitchens, plus swimming pool access. They’re located near the beach and all the amenities of El Pescadero town. Book from $60 a night.
  • Casitas El Salitral by Rotamundos – stay here for simple bedrooms and spectacular rooftop views of the mountains. You’ll benefit from the swimming pool and garden. Book from $80 a night.
  • Casa Flores Casitas – with hundreds of positive reviews, bright studio rooms, and views of the ocean and mountains, this is an excellent choice. Book from $150.

Where to eat in Todos Santos

So many places! Jazamango, Fish Taco Santo Chilote, and Tiki Santo Bar are some of the best. To cover this topic properly, I wrote a separate guide to the best restaurants in Todos Santos.

Todos Santos travel guide – FAQs

When is the best time of year to visit Todos Santos? January to March is peak if you’re hoping to go whale watching. November to April is considered the peak tourist season because it’s not yet too hot. Still, we visited in early June and had a fantastic time. The wet season (often with hurricanes) is August-September.

Christmas and Easter are best avoided if you hate crowds!

Is Todos Santos safe? Yes, Todos Santos is a safe place to visit. However, one thing to note is that, if your hotel is outside of the city center on one of the quiet streets, it can feel pretty eerie at night because these streets are badly lit on bumpy, sandy paths.

Our hotel required a 10-minute walk on such a road so I was glad to be with a friend because I’d have felt pretty spooked walking alone! So that’s not to say Todos is unsafe at night, more that it can feel eerie and empty.

todos santos sightseeing
Quirky architecture

Do you need to know Spanish? Being a touristic place, many locals speak English so it’s logistically possible to get by without Spanish. But it’s still useful to know some basic Spanish, plus it’s respectful to the locals.

What are the very best things to do in Todos Santos, Baja California? If you’re short on time, I’d say my absolute highlights are visiting galleries, browsing the shops, eating amazing fish tacos, and exploring the beaches.

Currency and money: The Mexican peso. At the time of writing (July 2023), 1 USD = 17 Mexican pesos.

Some places accept USD but generally, it’s best to withdraw pesos from an ATM when you arrive.

I noticed that some vendors quoted prices in USD and I had to ask for them in pesos. I’m not from the US so obviously don’t have USD to hand!

How can you spend a day in Todos Santos? I would suggest heading to Doce Cuarenta or Taller 17 for brunch and coffee before exploring some markets and galleries. In the afternoon, you could head for a pool day, relax on the beach, or try the Punta Lobos hike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *