While the PNW is our true home, and Vashon Island our specific perfect “place”, we have found our sunnier, tropical “place twin” in the Baja town of Todos Santos. Last year Matt and I ventured down to Baja on a last minute trip with the goal of learning to surf. What we found was a place that we immediately knew we needed to come back to. This year (for my FINAL spring break EVER!) we trekked back, this time for a 10 day stay in our artsy, foodieetreat.
We left Seattle on a Friday morning, and by 4:30 had picked up our first rental car. Our first turn out of the lot revealed a broken turn signal so back again for a new car. New car? Yep, as in NEW car. Eek! Not ideal for rough Baja dirt roads! It ended up working out really well, and we actually appreciated the good shocks. We pulled out of the airport and cruised (ahem…perhaps a bit over the speed limit) across the peninsula to Cabo San Lucas to our first stop: MEGA supermercado. This place is our first point of call to stock up on groceries for the week. A highlight: the massive bakery. Since this was our second trip we were much quicker at navigating the isles, and picked up a tray and tongs for bakery goodies like old pros. Oh it feels good to be back! Sun was not on our side, so most of the drive was spent in the dark. Thank goodness we knew where we were going! We navigated across dirt roads and back alleys to arrive at Casa Rancho…our home for the next nine nights.
Dinner was yummy dishes from the MEGA hot line…some of the best chille rellenos I have ever had. It is so fun to try all the local food! We slept well that first night, especially since the next day was surfing!
We decided to alternate days of surfing and down time/adventures to other beaches. The approach saved our hands/knees/bodies from the wreckage of being beginner surf bums. Our first day at Cerritos we grabbed a board, two wet suits and hit the water. Matt had a good long session and then I went out. And lasted a whole 20 mins. Remember when I fell down the stairs carrying wine a few weeks back? Well that bruised?/sore? tailbone hit the sand once and I was out. Ouch. Not fun for surfing. I spent the rest of the day watching the waves and soaking up sun.
The rest of the trip was full of sun, sand and new adventures. Since this was our second trip, and longer than the first, we were a little worried that this small town would become too boring. How wrong we were! We discovered new beaches, new places to eat (La Casita, Café El Triunfo), world’s best flan, jugo de naranja, amazing refried beans from the tortilla lady’s husband, a new side town to visit and totally fell in love with the place all over again. There were old favorites too: the ice cream place, day trip to La Paz (more about that coming) and of course cooking and hanging out at the Casa.
One of our favorite day trips was a drive to La Paz. About 40 minutes across Baja we shot down on Hwy 1 to an old mostly abandoned silver mining town called El Triunfo that was recommended as a good place to stop. We wandered the cute streets, took photos of brightly blighted buildings and stumbled upon the place we were looking for (and apparently the only place in town!): Café El Triunfo! In the center of town is a beautifully restored brick building that has a stunning garden seating patio area for the café. We ordered a pizza and some fresh squeezed orange juice and escaped the hot morning sun under a big umbrella. The pizza was good, but the JUICE! Oh my that jugo de naranja! I was in heaven! It was hand pressed from fresh oranges and I had to order two. I must have drunk nearly a half gallon that morning. Such a great morning side trip. In the afternoon we headed to La Paz to visit some beaches. We started with one we went to last year, ___ and then found the real gem: _____. This beach had crystal clear water that was just over knee deep all the way across the bay. We walked in the warm, calm water (Sea of Cortez is MUCH warmer than the Pacific in Todos Santos where you surf) and just soaked in the beautiful scenery. It was truly one of the most stunning and enjoyable beaches I have ever been too. Great day crossing Baja!
We found three more new beaches in Todos Santos…one for buying fish off the boat (100 pesos for a whole tuna! That is like $8!), one for big waves and a cool hilltop hike, and the surf break further North up the coast. It was fun exploring new places, and these were great rest day adventures when we did not surf.
But surf we did! Four days at Cerritos was not enough…especially since the tides were not being cooperative. The tide was WAY WAY out for most of the day meaning if you wipe out (very likely) you do it in about 6-12 inches of water. Sand + wipeout = not fun…so we walked the beach instead. And ate ice cream bars. And flan. And found sand dollars. And got sun. And swam. So clearly it was not a real loss, but we would have like more time in the waves on a surfboard. The final day waves picked up late afternoon and we surfed until the board shop guys called us in. We could have kept going for hours though. The waves were perfect, the water crystal clear, and the sun was stunning in the evening beach glow.
Summary: great trip. We are going back. We have found our sunny warm twin to Vashon island. As Matt put it, Vashon and Todos Santos are twins that were separated at birth and grew up with different parents but share the same spirit. Both our totally our kind of place.