The flight to Los Cabos International Airport is a little more than two hours from Austin, Dallas, or Houston. Coupled with a convenient time change, this means you can be wings up in Texas at 1 p.m. and lounging seaside in Mexico with a sangria in hand by 4 p.m. local time. It’s hard to beat that level of travel ease for an international beach vacation.
When my college-age daughter and I visited Baja California for the first time this spring, we followed the playbook of many tourists before us. We stayed at bustling Cabo San Lucas resorts, weaved our way through rowdy beach parties to eat at The Office, and took a sunset whale-watching tour with other Americans. My daughter said it was the best vacation of her life.
A few months later, I returned to Baja California alone and had a much quieter visit. I stayed in a historic hotel in the small town of Todos Santos, ate my body weight in avocados, and enjoyed a wellness massage by a breezy beach. This trip was much more my speed.
The first surprise when I arrived in July was that the weather was lovely. Coming from Texas, it was a nice reprieve from triple-digit heat. I checked into my lovely corner suite at the Guaycura Boutique Hotel Beach Club & Spa and headed straight back outside to discover Todos Santos on foot.
My first order of business was to join a local walking tour led by Sergio Jauregui of Todos Santos Eco Adventures. Sergio made the rich history of Todos Santos come to life, with tales of explorers searching for spices, Jesuits building missions, and the town accidentally becoming an artist colony. He pointed out interesting details on buildings and even sidewalks (which were raised to accommodate wagons). It was the perfect way to get acquainted with my home base for the week.
Todos Santos is a nice, safe spot to wander around and enjoy shopping and dining. And Guaycura Boutique Hotel is right in the middle of it all. Housed in a 19th-century brick building, the 14-room hotel is filled with art and Mexican decor. The hotel chef makes mouthwatering light bites, so I highly recommend regular visits to the poolside Sky Lounge Bar. Try the homemade chips with cranberry guac and take in the exceptional sunset views from the hotel roof.
For breakfast, you can’t go wrong at Guaycura’s El Jardín Café. After a coffee with almond milk and some fresh fruit, I was ready to hit the beaches of the Punta Lobos coast. Guests of Guaycura also have access to the beachside El Faro Beach Club & Spa and its neighboring El Mirador Oceanview Restaurant, located two miles from the hotel.
I spent a decadent day lounging by El Faro Beach and it was not long enough. The hours flew by with a massage, fish tacos by the infinity pool, and a nap to the sound of crashing waves. Unlike the boisterous beach in Cabo San Lucas, this stretch of sand was remote and I had the place to myself.
At dusk, I dined at El Mirador, an open-air hilltop restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here I enjoyed several small dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Guaycura’s chef oversees the menu here, as well as at El Faro and the hotel restaurants. I was spoiled by his consistently delectable modern takes on Mexican cuisine.
Todos Santos is only half an hour from the city of La Paz, which is a great option if you want to add a little adventure to your stay. I couldn’t resist a day trip for a boat tour with BACo to see the natural wonders of the island of Espiritu Santo. This UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site is a national park and protected area in the Sea of Cortez, so wildlife abounds. It’s the perfect place to see dolphins, sea lions, sting rays, and sea turtles in their natural habitat. There are also several great snorkel spots, to swim in crystal clear water and watch neon fish of every variety.
After just a few days of adventure in and around the pueblo mágico of Todos Santos, I was surprised by how much I wished I could stay longer. With all the eating and lounging (and poolside margarita drinking), I hadn’t found time to shop or try all the cafés in town. Instead, I packed for the quick flight home, already making plans to return.
If you’re on the hunt for a getaway with beautiful water, culinary delights, and perfect temperatures, check out the Mexican state of Baja California. But plan to travel beyond Cabo San Lucas. You’ll be rewarded for striking out to see more of the peninsula.
Cover photo Heidi Gollub
Heidi Gollub enjoys working remotely and already misses the days when her kids could take virtual schooling on the road. An Austin local, she is always on the lookout for easy family getaways that require little-to-no prep work.