55km (34 miles) S of San Diego; 29km (18 miles) S of Tijuana
Just a 20-minute drive south of Tijuana and a complete departure in ambience, Rosarito Beach is a tranquil, friendly beach town. It also gained early renown during the U.S. Prohibition, when the elegant Rosarito Beach Hotel catered to Hollywood stars. This classic structure still welcomes numerous guests, despite the fact that its opulence has lost some luster. Hollywood has likewise played a major part in Rosarito's recent renaissance -- it was the location for the soundstage and filming of the Academy Award-winning Titanic. The Titanic Expo museum -- now called Xploration -- here continues to draw fans of the film.
Two roads run between Tijuana and Ensenada (the largest and third-largest cities in Baja) -- the scenic, coast-hugging toll road (marked CUOTA, or 1-D) and the free but slower-going public road (marked LIBRE, or 1). We strongly recommend starting out on the toll road (pay at each caseta, or tollbooth; dollars are accepted and they give U.S. change), but use the free road along Rosarito Beach if you'd like to easily pull on and off the road to shop or look at the view. The beaches between Tijuana and Rosarito are also known for excellent surf breaks.
If you're not driving, you can take a shuttle from the last trolley stop in San Ysidro. Mexicoach (tel. 619/428-9517 in the U.S., or 664/685-1470 locally; www.mexicoach.com) offers shuttle rides for about $10.