Ay Caramba! Artists and Hipsters Congregate in Mexico's Secret Cheap Surf Town: Todos Santos

·Editor-in-Chief
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A view of downtown Todos Santos and the Pacific beyond. (Courtesy: Tres Santos)

When I first went to the Mexican fishing village of Todos Santos 20 yeas ago, it was on a side trip from Los Cabos. I’d heard rumblings about an emerging art scene and drove about an hour up the coast, past cows sleeping by the two-lane road that connected the mammoth resort area to the dusty little town. There wasn’t much in Todos Santos beyond a couple of galleries clustered around the crumbling town square. But it had that feeling of a place on the verge.

I’ve been back time and again, watching the town slowly grow into a more low-key version of San Miguel de Allende-meets-Montauk, colonized by expats and surfers, yoginis and artists. A place with an annual music festival created by no less than Peter Buck of REM. Still, Todos Santos has retained that unpretentious essence that drew me here in the first place.

So when I found out that Tres Santos—a multi-million-dollar wellness community and boutique hotel—was breaking ground this summer and that a new highway was replacing that old two-lane road that used to be impassable after dark (thanks to cows that liked to sleep on the asphalt), I had mixed feelings. Clearly, Todos Santos has arrived.

But if you still want to check it out before the rest of the world descends upon this magical village, here’s my little cheat sheet:

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(Courtesy: Todos Santos Inn)

Peek Into the Town’s Past

A former sugar baron’s residence from the 1800s, the Todos Santos Inn is now a charming hotel and wine bar built around a lush courtyard.

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(Courtesy: Todos Santos Inn)

Where to Meet the Locals

Some people say that the Hotel California inspired the Eagles song. Questionable, but its always-crowded bar definitely has the feeling of a place where you can check out but never leave.

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(Courtesy: Hotelito)

Get a Taste of the Expat Life

On the outskirts of town the super-stylish Hotelito is owned by Jenny Armit, a California interior designer who came to Todos Santos on vacation nine years ago and never left.

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(Courtesy: Hotelito)

Authentic Eats

Near Los Cerritos Beach, the open-air, sand-floored Miguel’s is the place for margaritas and chile rellenos.

Art and a Bite

The best gallery in town is Galería de Todos Santos, which transforms into a restaurant on weekends.

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(Courtesy: Zii Ropa)

The Local Look

Surfers and yoga devotees shop at Zii Ropa, which has the beach-chic vibe down pat.

Bring Home a Bit of Mexico

Mango’s owner curates a great selection of work by area artisans, from embroidered clothing and tablecloths to pottery.

Get the Buzz

What’s a hipster town without a coffee roaster? Just outside town, Baja Beans is where all the local surfers stop for a jolt before hitting the waves of Los Cerritos Beach.

And if You Want to Buy a Piece of the Action

Which brings us back to Tres Santos, the wellness community set to open in 2016 that will be selling the Todos Santos mystique. The 1,100 acres of real estate holdings are spread across the beach, town, and a hillside. Pricing is still being set, but residential units in the “town farm” will start at $200,000 and beachfront homes will go from over $1 million. Boutique hotelier Chip Conley, who founded Joie de Vivre, is one of the advisors in the sustainable development, which will also include multiple boutique hotels, farm-to-table restaurants, shops with artisanal products, a research and education center for Colorado State University, and more. It’s going to be a whole new Todos Santos.

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A rendering of the new Tres Santos development. (Courtesy: Tres Santos)