A little over an hour north of the hustle and bustle of Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Baja California Sur peninsula sits Pescadero, Mexico and its artsy neighbor Todos Santos. El Pescadero is a blink-and-you-miss-it small town, full of hidden gems and dusty dirt roads and lazy, sun-filled afternoons. To get to Pescadero, grab a rental car and head north. You will quickly leave “Disneyland” (what locals call Cabo!) and find yourself a world away, snaking up the California coast and basking in the natural beauty of wide open space, mountains, and the glittering Pacific Ocean.
Why Visit Pescadero, Mexico with Kids
Like many Seattleites who tire of the rain and gloom, we budget each year for a wintertime beach vacation. We even get a week off school each February for mid-winter break, where many families choose to embrace the cold by going skiing, or escape it by going to Hawaii or Cabo. We are no different, and for many years, Cabo has been our destination of choice. Every time I run the numbers, the price of going to Mexico is less than the price of going to Hawaii, although the flight prices (especially on Alaska) have reached nosebleed territory in the last year or so and the calculus is certainly changing.
Nevertheless, the direct flight, warm hospitality, excellent food, and beautiful beaches have long made Los Cabos a great option for West Coasters and our beach destination of choice. When we got serious about buying a vacation home, we looked first in the “corridor,” the stretch of land between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. We wanted a house, not a condo, and we wanted seclusion, something that is becoming harder and harder to find in the Cabo area for less than $5 million. Where we landed was Pescadero, and we couldn’t be happier.
Two things happened to help us find Pescadero. We asked ourselves, “where is the place that’s like Cabo was 15 years ago?” and a friend encouraged us to look in Pescadero, where he had recently bought a house. We quickly fell in love, bought a house of our own, and have not looked back. In the process, we’ve found all kinds of things to keep our kids happy and engaged. Here’s what we’ve found are the best things to do with kids in Pescadero, Mexico.
What to Do with Kids in Pescadero, Mexico
Life in Pescadero centers around the water. This is a destination for long beach days and a relaxed family vacation. There’s not much going on in the town of Pescadero itself – this is mostly where locals live and where you will find the grocery store, pharmacies, and a couple of restaurants. Tourists mostly stay on the ocean side of the highway, where the hotels, beaches, house rentals, and the majority of restaurants are located. There are no paved roads off the highway – it’s dirt road country here.
Pescadero offers several of the best beaches for swimming and surfing in Baja California Sur – one thing you don’t hear much about Cabo is that there’s really only one beach, Medano Beach, that is safe enough to swim in. For that reason, it is full of hawkers and tourists, making it a scene-y but not luxurious beach destination. If you’re looking to get away and don’t mind going off the beaten path a bit, Pescadero is the perfect place for you.
Learn to Surf at Cerritos Beach
Pescadero is a great place to learn to surf in Mexico. The best spot for beginners is Playa Los Cerritos, which has a surf break that is easy enough for newbies but can challenge even professionals. It is also the best beach in the area for swimming and has a wide, shallow beach perfect for little ones.
There are several surf schools at Playa Cerritos that offer both private and group lessons. We recommend Cerritos Surf Shack – both Tona and Tono are excellent instructors and great people! Our 6-year-old and 9-year-olds both took surf lessons and the instructors can help even timid swimmers get up on their boards!
Scout for Baby Sea Turtles on San Pedrito Beach
On San Pedrito Beach, sea turtles nest in the dunes. Keep your eyes peeled on morning walks for stragglers who hatched overnight and didn’t yet make it to the ocean due to disorientation. They can usually be found on the dry sand as opposed to right by the water.
If you find one that is alive, the best practice is to pick it up without touching it – turtles return to the beach where they are born to lay their own eggs one day, and our human scent can disrupt the imprinting process necessary for their reproduction. If you don’t have a cup or shovel or other small tool, scoop up a lot of sand around the turtle so they are protected from your skin. When you help them toward the ocean, don’t put them right in the waves. The struggle to reach the water is part of the imprinting process as well, and the turtles need to make their own way into the ocean.
While you’re there, set up a beach chair and stay for the day. Playa San Pedrito is a nearly deserted beach that has a surf break great for more experienced surfers, as well as miles of empty sand. There are 2 entrances for San Pedrito Beach – and as with most of Pescadero, you’ll be down a dirt road. There is a small public parking area and entrance next to the new Rancho Pescadero hotel. To get here, map yourself to Mini Super Munchies on Google Maps. After arriving at Mini Super Munchies (which is worth a visit on its own), keep driving straight until the road comes to a T about 2 houses down. Turn left and the road will quickly curve right and dead-end in a small parking area.
The second entrance is at the opposite end of the beach near the surf break. From the T after Mini Super Munchies, turn right instead of left, and drive until the road ends. There is parking on the left. This is the most populated part of the beach due to the surfers, and it’s not a great place for seeing turtles. Your best bet for turtle scouting is at the first parking lot.
Take an Art Class at Shakti Bowl
Shakti Bowl is a health food restaurant in the Las Tunas neighborhood of Todos Santos. In addition to delicious food, they offer a regular schedule of art classes for kids and adults. Classes cost 300 pesos ($15) each or you can buy a 4-pack for 1000 pesos ($50). The cost includes your materials, and classes are offered in both Spanish and English.
Shakti Bowl offers the following classes:
Paper mache – Wednesdays 10-12
Learn to Play – Practice logical thinking, math, reading, and concentration through games and concrete materials – Wednesdays 4-6 pm
Felt animals – Thursdays 10-12
Open creative studio – come to hear stories, create objects, paint, decorate, and play – Thursdays 4-6 pm
Knitting and embroidery club – Fridays 10-12
Pre-registration is required so there are enough materials, but prepayment is not. To register, contact Anapaula Garcia via WhatsApp at +52 333 00 47 525.
Explore Todos Santos, a Pueblo Mágico
Designated a “magical town” by the Mexican government for its commitment to preserving its history and culture, the town of Todos Santos is worth a half-day visit. Located a short drive (15 minutes) north on the main highway, it’s easy to get between Pescadero and Todos Santos.
This sleepy town has boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries, and lots and lots of good food. For families needing a wiggle break, there are two main spots. The first is the main park in the town, Los Pinos, where there is a playground. The second is the Todos Santos sign in downtown Todos Santos, which is a fun sculpture that kids can climb on and around and which is great for photos.
Todos Santos is a special place, and should definitely make the list when you’re visiting Pescadero. Kids may not have a ton of patience for walking the streets of Todos Santos, but they will enjoy hunting for souvenirs, and there are lots of good restaurants and ice cream when everyone needs a break. We love Jazamango, a coffee shop and restaurant, and Barracuda Cantina for families, and Oystera for friends or couples.
Go Whale Watching
Pretty much anywhere with ocean views in Pescadero will also have views of humpback whales and gray whales during the winter months. The right time to see them is early morning, around 7 am, and late afternoon, around 4 pm, from December to February. During these months, it’s easy to see a dozen whales in a single day…without ever setting foot on a boat. It’s one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets and a truly magical experience. If you prefer to get up-close and personal with the whales, there are whale-watching tours you can join, but they typically leave from Cabo San Lucas or La Paz, so you’re in for a long-ish drive before getting on the water. I think of the most amazing things about Pescadero is the ability to see the whales from your hotel room or house rental while sipping a margarita and NOT fighting seasickness, personally.
Work Up a Sweat
If surfing and swimming hasn’t run off enough energy, check out the local CrossFit box. Located just south of Todos Santos, they offer a kids crossfit class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5 pm. The class costs 200 pesos ($10) and payment is cash only.
Explore Off Road
If you have older children (10+), check out an ATV or side-by-side tour. These guided tours will take you through the stunning desert and surrounding area near Pescadero, giving you a chance to see a side of Pescadero that most people miss. These are dusty, bumpy, and somewhat loud tours, so be ready for an adventure. Most tour companies have a minimum driving age of 16 and a minimum riding age of 10, so this one isn’t for younger kids. One of the more highly-rated companies is Omega, though my kids are too young and I have not worked with them directly.
Take a Day Trip to La Paz
La Paz is the perfect destination for families looking for a fun day trip from Pescadero. Located about 80 miles north, La Paz is home to boardwalks where you can explore the local marine life. The boardwalk lets you get up close looks at stingrays and whale sharks during the migrating season, while a more remote beach in the area offers beautiful swimming spots. Kids will also enjoy the boardwalk playground located nearby and they have plenty of food options to choose from. With stunning views and plenty of nearby attractions, La Paz should be on every family’s list when they’re visiting Pescadero with kids.
Swim with Whale Sharks
Just off La Paz lies an island called Isla Espiritu Santo. Around the island is one of the most reliable places in the world to view and swim with whale sharks. If you’re not heading to the Philippines or the Maldives, Mexico is a great place to experience these incredible – and endangered – animals. There are plenty of tour companies in La Paz that offer whale shark spotting excursions, which usually involve hopping on a boat and going out towards the middle of the Sea of Cortez. These tours are highly regulated to ensure the safety of the whale sharks. The best time to view whale sharks is in the fall and winter, so go then if you can. It’s incredible just how up close and personal you can get with whale sharks – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget! Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with whale sharks while visiting Pescadero.
Where to Eat with Kids in Pescadero
We have a few secrets for going out to eat with our kids on vacation – we try to go early (mostly out of necessity), bring small activities to keep them interested, and pick places where they can move around, when possible. Thankfully, most restaurants in Mexico are open air, which gives kids plenty of places to wander around.
As for activities, we find that a few small books are the best bet. We like Sudoku, word searches, mazes, and Mad Libs. These are just now working for both kids now that our younger child is six and interested in word and logic puzzles. These are easy to stash in my purse and are great quiet activities. Since we have a house, we do a lot of our own cooking, but we do love to treat ourselves with some meals out.
These are the best restaurants for kids in Pescadero.
Coyote has a chic castaway vibe with food served out of a converted Airstream trailer. Coyote has the best margaritas in town, and inventive, delicious food. Prices are on par with the US. Reservations are important during the winter months. Read our full review here.
Hierbabuena is the best place for fresh produce. Most ingredients come from its organic farms in the area, and the salads are one of my favorite things to eat in the area. Our kids love the wood-fired pizzas and steaks. There is a lot of outdoor space at Hierbabuena and kids can easily move around, though the staff does frown on kids running wild through the planted areas.
Shaka’s Delicious Wood Cantina
Shaka’s is the local sports bar and has all the kid favorites – their burgers are delicious, the nachos are killer, and everyone in the family will find something to eat here. Shaka’s also has live music on some evenings, and a daily happy hour from 4-6 pm.
Is Pescadero Right for You?
Pescadero, Mexico isn’t for everyone, and that’s just fine with the locals. Pescadero lacks a lot of the infrastructure and convenience of Cabo, but locals find that it’s worth the work. Pescadero isn’t for you if you’re looking for a full resort community – you won’t find a golf course in these parts (and honestly a golf course in the desert is not the most sustainable idea!) If you prefer a mega chain over a boutique hotel, Pescadero may not be the place for you.
The Pacific side of Mexico has lovely beaches and rugged coastlines, but visitors wanting white sand beaches would do better looking on the Atlantic side of Mexico. The Pacific side offers golden sand, flecked with black, and while it is soft and lovely, you won’t get that turquoise water look over here.
But if you’re looking for an artsy, laid-back, thoughtful community that takes care of its neighbors, celebrates baby turtles, and avoids the circus of Cabo San Lucas when possible, Pescadero may be the perfect family vacation spot for you (and us).