Todos Santos (Baja, Mexico)
Credit: Getty Images

Doing Baja right has always been a challenge: Cabo feels like Fort Lauderdale; clueless road trips can easily end in a breakdown among the cacti. But that uncrowded break, the cold Pacificos and cheap fish tacos – and the wild freedom of a big desert beach, sun setting behind the bonfire – are out there, in a place called Todos Santos.

Todos is the Santa Fe of the Mexican desert, a hip little artist community with an old colonial downtown and kids playing soccer in the square. It's not perfect: The town is a mile from the nearest beach, where the Pacific is too violent for safe swimming or surfing. But world-class waves hit La Pastora a few miles north and Los Cerritos – with an ideal beginner break – to the south. Those imperfections are what keep the mega-resorts away. Sure, you'll beat up the rental car bouncing down the dirt road, weaving among the palm trees until the blue sea comes into sight. But after you've ridden your last wave, you've still got top-shelf margaritas at the Hotel California – and more good restaurants than most cities ten times the size – just a few miles up the road. Or catch fishing boats as they come ashore in the afternoon and grab sashimi-grade ahi or a whole dorado for pennies on the dollar.

More information: Fly into San Jose del Cabo (SJD) and rent a car for the hour and one half drive to Todos, where bus and taxi service are limited. Major rental retailers are available, and Dominic's is a well-regarded local option.