ultimate todos santos day trip itinerary


Art, History, and Surf: A Diverse Todos Santos Day Trip

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Todos Santos Day Trip

Todos Santos: Where Culture, History, and Waves Collide

Tucked away on the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, Todos Santos is a charming blend of natural beauty, historical depth, and a lively surf scene. This small town, with its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, is recognized as a Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town), offering a unique alternative to the more tourist-heavy spots in Mexico. It’s a place that invites visitors to slow down, explore its nooks and crannies, and soak up the laid-back atmosphere.

My trip to Todos Santos took a different path from the usual. Instead of looking for beach resorts or high-end hotels, I decided to go for something more authentic. I chose street camping in my van, just a short walk from the town’s main area. This decision put me right in the middle of the local life, from waking up to the sounds of the town waking up to spending evenings surrounded by the buzz of local conversations and laughter.

This experience was a bit of a contrast to the quiet beach camping I’m used to. The energy of camping near the town’s center was a new kind of adventure. It showed me that sometimes, the best travel moments come from the unexpected turns.

For anyone thinking about a similar experience, using resources like iOverlander is a big help in finding the best spot to camp, whether you’re after quiet beach spots or the lively atmosphere of the town. Todos Santos has something for everyone, with plenty of options for a memorable stay.

As we dive into what Todos Santos has to offer, we’ll see that it’s a place where art, history, and surfing come together seamlessly. From its art galleries and historic sites to the great surf along its beaches, Todos Santos is a destination that promises a rich experience without the need for overly fancy words.

Todos Santos: A Canvas of Colours and Creativity

Todos Santos is a magnet for artists and those who appreciate creativity, thanks to its stunning surroundings and cultural richness. This town is filled with galleries and art spaces that showcase a broad range of artwork, from traditional Mexican crafts to modern art pieces.

A Hub for Artists

Whether you are here for a week or on a Todos Santos day trip, you’ll quickly notice the creative atmosphere. The town attracts artists from around the world, inspired by its landscapes and the vivid colors of the Pacific. Artwork available here is diverse, reflecting the global community of creatives who have made Todos Santos their home.

Top Galleries and Art Spaces to Visit

  • Galería de Todos Santos: Offers a mix of fine art from Mexican and international artists, both well-known and up-and-coming.
  • La Sonrisa de la Muerte: This spot combines traditional and contemporary art, with a focus on Day of the Dead themes.
  • Ezra Katz Gallery: Showcases photography that captures the essence of Baja’s landscapes and lifestyle.

These places not only feature unique art but also tell the story of Todos Santos through creative expressions. Visitors can enjoy a wide array of art, from paintings and sculptures to handcrafted items that showcase local talent.

Stepping Back in Time: The History of Todos Santos

Todos Santos is not just a destination for art and surf but also a place rich in history, stretching from its pre-Colombian roots through the colonial era to its current status as a cultural hub. Understanding this history is key to appreciating the town’s unique character and how its past has influenced its vibrant present.

A Glimpse into the Past

Before the Spanish arrival, the area around Todos Santos was inhabited by indigenous groups who thrived in the oasis environment. The town itself was founded in the early 18th century by Jesuit missionaries, and its fertile land quickly made it a prosperous agricultural center. Over the years, Todos Santos has seen periods of wealth and hardship, including a sugar boom in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which has left a lasting architectural legacy.

Historical Landmarks Worth Visiting

  • The Cultural Center (Casa de la Cultura): Housed in a former school, it offers insights into the town’s history and cultural events.
  • Mission of Nuestra Señora del Pilar: A key historical site that provides a window into the colonial past of Todos Santos.
  • The Old Sugar Mill: Though now in ruins, it stands as a reminder of the town’s sugar cane legacy.

These landmarks, among others, serve as tangible links to the town’s past, offering stories and perspectives that have shaped the Todos Santos we see today.

The Impact of History on Today’s Todos Santos

The history of Todos Santos is alive in its colonial architecture, with its vibrant buildings and quaint streets reflecting the town’s rich past. This historical backdrop has played a significant role in shaping the town’s culture, contributing to its artistic and creative spirit. The preservation of historical sites, combined with a respect for traditional practices, has enabled Todos Santos to maintain a unique identity even as it evolves.

The blend of indigenous, colonial, and modern influences has created a distinct cultural tapestry that influences everything from the local cuisine to the celebrated festivals. This rich historical heritage not only attracts visitors but also instills pride in the residents, who are the keepers of the town’s stories and traditions.

A simple Todos Santos day trip couldn’t possibly provide the deepest appreciation for its beauty and history but you will get a decent start. As we explore the town, we’re not just walking through a tourist destination but stepping into a living history that continues to shape its future.

Riding the Waves: Surfing in Todos Santos

Riding the Waves: Surfing in Todos Santos

Todos Santos, with its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, is a haven for surfers looking to ride the perfect wave. The town’s surf culture is vibrant and welcoming, offering something for everyone, from seasoned pros to those looking to stand on a board for the first time.

The Heart of Surf Culture in Todos Santos

The surf scene in Todos Santos is as diverse as the waves it offers. The town is known for its powerful swells and stunning beach settings, making it a favorite destination for surfers from around the world. Beyond the waves, the surf culture here is about community and connection, with locals and visitors alike sharing a deep respect for the ocean.

Top Surf Spots for Every Level

  • Los Cerritos: Ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers, Los Cerritos offers gentle waves and a sandy bottom, making it the perfect spot to learn or improve your surfing skills.
  • San Pedrito: More suited for experienced surfers, San Pedrito is known for its powerful waves and rocky bottom. This spot can offer thrilling rides but is recommended for those with a good level of surfing proficiency.
  • La Pastora: A few minutes north of Todos Santos, La Pastora is another spot for the experienced surfer. It’s known for its big swells, especially in the winter months, making it a challenging but rewarding spot for those looking to test their skills.

Tips for Surfing Beginners

  • Take a Lesson: There are several surf schools in Todos Santos that offer lessons for beginners. Professional instructors can provide you with the basics of surfing, from paddling to standing up on the board.
  • Start at Los Cerritos: This beach is not only beautiful but also the most beginner-friendly surf spot in the area. Its gentle waves and wide sandy beach make it an ideal place to practice.
  • Respect the Ocean: Always remember that surfing is not just about catching waves; it’s also about understanding and respecting the ocean. Be mindful of the currents, the weather, and surf etiquette.
  • Safety First: Wear a leash, use a soft-top board when you’re just starting, and make sure to surf in designated areas to avoid any accidents.

Surfing in Todos Santos is more than just a sport; it’s a way to connect with nature and the local culture. Whether you’re paddling out for the first time or looking to conquer more challenging waves, Todos Santos offers an unforgettable surf experience. With its stunning beaches, friendly surf community, and array of spots for all levels, it’s the perfect place to embrace the surf lifestyle.

The Street Camping Experience

Street camping in Todos Santos provided a unique lens through which to experience the town, distinctly different from the tranquil solitude of beach camping I’m accustomed to. Nestled near the main drag, my van became a temporary home, offering both challenges and unexpected delights.

Setting Up Camp in the Heart of the Action

Choosing to camp on the street just steps away from the bustling center of Todos Santos meant that every aspect of town life was within easy reach. Setting up meant finding a spot that felt safe and was convenient, yet wouldn’t disrupt the daily flow of local life. The process was straightforward, with the van requiring minimal setup, but the location choice was crucial for both access and a bit of peace at night.

The Ambiance: A Mix of Vibrancy and Noise

The ambiance of street camping in Todos Santos was a study in contrasts. Evenings were alive with the sounds of music, chatter, and the occasional bark of a dog, creating a vibrant tapestry of local life. However, come morning, around 6:30 am, the tranquility was pierced by the sounds of the town waking up. Cars started, people headed to work, and the once-quiet streets buzzed with activity. This noise, a stark contrast to the quiet of beach camping, was a reminder of the town’s pulse.

Pros and Cons Compared to Beach Camping


  • Convenience: Being steps away from restaurants, galleries, and shops meant that the best of Todos Santos was always within easy reach.
  • Community: There’s a sense of being part of the town’s fabric, offering opportunities to meet locals and travelers alike.


  • Noise: The early morning hustle and bustle can disrupt sleep for those not prepared.
  • Lack of Solitude: Unlike the secluded peace of beach camping, street camping places you in the midst of town life, which can be overwhelming for some.

Navigating the Noise: Earplugs and Sound Machines

To mitigate the early morning noise, earplugs and a sound machine became invaluable allies, masking the sounds of the town’s early risers and allowing for a few more hours of rest. This simple adaptation was a small price for the convenience and vibrancy of street camping.

A Different Perspective on Travel and Adventure

Opting for street camping in Todos Santos offered a fresh perspective on what it means to travel. It underscored the idea that adventure can be found not just in remote, untouched spots but also in the heart of a bustling town. This experience was a lesson in flexibility, adaptation, and the joys of immersing oneself in the local rhythm.

While the tranquility of beach camping has its undeniable allure, the street camping experience in Todos Santos was a reminder that being close to everything has its unique charm. It’s about embracing the unexpected and finding beauty in the everyday — a valuable insight for any traveler seeking to explore the world in all its diversity.

  • Culinary Journey Through Todos Santos
  • Todos Santos is not just a feast for the eyes and the soul but also a haven for food lovers. The town’s culinary scene is a delightful mix of traditional Mexican flavors, fresh seafood, and innovative dishes that reflect the region’s bounty. Embarking on a culinary journey here promises to be as enriching as exploring its beaches and art galleries.
  • Must-Try Local Dishes and Their Best Spots
  • 1. Fish Tacos and Ceviche: These are staples in Todos Santos, showcasing the fresh catch from the Pacific. Tacos y Mariscos El Sinaloense offers some of the best fish tacos in town, while La Morena serves up a ceviche that’s both refreshing and flavorful.
  • 2. Mole: A complex and rich sauce that’s a hallmark of Mexican cuisine, mole dishes can be found at Los Adobes de Todos Santos, where traditional recipes are given the respect they deserve.
  • 3. Chile Rellenos: For a taste of something uniquely Mexican, the chile rellenos at Café Santa Fe are a must-try. Stuffed peppers bathed in a tomato sauce offer a blend of flavors that’s hard to forget.
  • Best Spots for a Post-Surf Meal or a Refreshing Drink
  • After a day riding the waves, La Casita Tapas & Wine Bar is the perfect spot to unwind. Their selection of tapas is ideal for sharing among friends, and their wine list features some excellent local and international options. For those looking for a cold beer or a cocktail, The Distillery offers house-made spirits and a laid-back vibe that’s hard to beat.
  • Personal Favorite Eateries: “The Spot”
  • Among the many great places to eat in Todos Santos, “The Spot” stands out as a personal favorite. What makes it special isn’t just the amazing food but the overall experience. The service here goes above and beyond, making you feel right at home from the moment you walk in. At night, the place transforms, with dancing and music creating a lively atmosphere that’s perfect for ending the day on a high note. Whether you’re here for a meal or just to enjoy the nightlife, “The Spot” delivers an experience that’s as memorable as Todos Santos itself.
  • Todos Santos offers a culinary journey that’s as diverse and vibrant as its landscape. From the freshest seafood to traditional dishes and innovative cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate. It’s a place where food is not just nourishment but an integral part of the cultural and social fabric, inviting travelers to taste their way through the town’s history and hospitality.

Practical Tips for Your Todos Santos Day Trip

A day trip to Todos Santos can be a whirlwind of culture, surf, and culinary delights. To make the most of it, here are some practical tips covering the best times to visit and how to navigate this picturesque town.

Best Time to Visit

For Art and Culture: If your interest leans towards art galleries, cultural festivals, and historical exploration, the period from November to March is ideal. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the town buzzes with art shows, cultural events, and the Todos Santos Music Festival in January.

For Surfing: Surfers will find the waves most inviting from December to April, when the north swells bring the best conditions. Los Cerritos and other spots come alive, offering both challenging and beginner-friendly waves.

Navigating the Town

Getting Around: Todos Santos is compact and easily navigable on foot, especially the historic downtown area where most galleries, restaurants, and landmarks are located. For exploring surf spots and more secluded areas, a rental car or bike can be handy.

Street Camping Spots: For those opting to street camp, remember to choose spots that are safe and considerate of local residents. iOverlander and similar apps can provide recommendations on where to park your van for the night. Always be mindful of local regulations and customs regarding overnight parking.

Finding Hidden Gems: Todos Santos is filled with hidden gems, from quaint cafes to secluded beaches. Don’t hesitate to venture off the beaten path or ask locals for their recommendations. Places like “The Spot” for dining and entertainment or secret surf spots that only locals know about can make your day trip even more memorable.

Ear Plugs and Sound Machines: If you’re street camping or staying near the town center, remember that early mornings can be noisy as the town wakes up. Ear plugs and a sound machine can ensure a good night’s sleep, letting you wake up refreshed and ready to explore.

Respect the Local Culture: Todos Santos thrives on its close-knit community and rich cultural heritage. When visiting, show respect for local traditions, support small businesses, and engage with the community in a mindful way. This respectful approach not only enriches your experience but also contributes positively to the town’s atmosphere.

With these tips in mind, your Todos Santos day trip is set to be an adventure filled with discovery, from riding the perfect wave to uncovering the art and history that make this town truly magical.


Todos Santos is a testament to the rich tapestry of experiences that travel can offer. From its vibrant art scene and deep historical roots to the exhilarating surf breaks and unique culinary delights, this town encapsulates the essence of exploration and discovery. My journey through Todos Santos, especially the unconventional choice of street camping, has been a reminder of the beauty that lies in embracing the full spectrum of travel experiences.

This town encourages us to step beyond the well-trodden tourist paths and immerse ourselves in the local rhythm. By doing so, we not only witness the everyday life of the places we visit but also connect with them on a deeper level. Todos Santos, with its blend of culture, history, and nature, offers endless opportunities to engage with both the vibrant town life and the serene beauty of its natural surroundings.

The choice to street camp near the town’s bustling main area, though not without its challenges, added a unique dimension to the trip. It allowed for an intimate glimpse into the town’s daily life, from the early morning sounds of residents starting their day to the lively evenings filled with music and laughter. This experience, distinct from the quiet isolation of beach camping or the anonymity of a hotel stay, underscored the value of seeking out different types of travel experiences. It’s these choices that can turn a simple visit into a memorable adventure, enriching our understanding of a place and its people.

Todos Santos is more than just a destination; it’s a vibrant community that invites visitors to explore, learn, and participate. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of surfing, the allure of local art, the whispers of history, or the flavors of traditional cuisine, there’s something in this town for every traveler. The key is to approach with an open heart and a willingness to embrace the unexpected. In doing so, we not only discover the wonders of Todos Santos but also learn more about ourselves and what it means to truly explore the world.

I remember the first time I visited this quaint little town back in 2005.  I was lucky enough to stay in the Penthouse at the world renowned Hotel California.  The stay here back then was delightful and they stay here this year was also delightful.  I look forward to visiting this town every time I come to Baja.

My 1st book is available!

I can offer the book at a much better price on the website to my visitors vs. using online publishers.

My 15+ years of full time RV living and travel through North America in the convenience of a PDF file.

Phew! You made it to the end of the post . . . who writes this much about these things? You COULD share the story on one of your socials, it would mean a lot to me!
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