Ensenada Travel Guide

Carine Brulé

Ensenada is the third-largest city in the Mexican state of Baja California. It is located about 75 miles south of the Mexico/U.S. International border. It is connected to the U.S. by a modern four-lane highway, the Tijuana-Ensenada Scenic Toll Road which is truly scenic Coastal Highway with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean Coast! You may also travel on the 2 lane free road which makes for a much slower trip. For fly-in travelers, the nearest airports are Tijuana or Mexicali airports in Mexico or San Diego in the U.S.

Ensenada is referred as La Bella Cenicienta del Pacífico which means the "Cinderella of the Pacific". It is a large city with a population over 500,000 persons and it is located in the Bahia de Todoa Santos, which is a large Bay of the Pacific Ocean. Ensenada is the only deep water port on the Baja and therefore is a very important commercial and fishing port. It is one of Mexico's principal ports with a harbor that links Ensenada and the Baja to other major ports such as La Paz and Mazatlan in Mexico, San Diego and Los Angeles in the U.S. and also to cities in Guatamala, Chili, Japan and China among other ports.

Ensenada is a home to a navy base, an army base and a military airfield. And, it is a popular stop for several cruise ship lines. This bustling, huge port is the entire waterfront of the city, so all beach access is to the north or south of the city. Located on the Pacific Ocean it has a generally warm and inviting climate.

Ensenada has been a favorite tourist destination for many years. Although being a large city, it has an attractive quality as it sits on a pretty Bay and is surrounded by mountains. Ensenada is a place to "party!" Here, they love a celebration and there are many festivals throughout the year in Ensenada. It may be a bicycle race, a seafood festival, or any number of other events! Ensenada also has its very own 6-day long Carnaval each spring.

The world-renowned SCORE Baja 1000 Off-Road Race is held in Ensenada every year in November and the Baja 500 race is held annually in June. The 125 mile overnight Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race is another annual event which finishes here with a crazy post-race party at the Bahia Hotel in Ensenada!

Ensenada has a full choice when it comes to accommodations, too. From the Backpacker hostel, to modern hotels and resorts or those with a bit of Old Mexico charm, rental condos or RV parks. Everyone will find a comfortable pillow that suits their budget in Ensenada. Enjoy the city and have some fun. You may enjoy authentic Baja fish tacos which are tacos of battered and deep fried fresh fish wrapped in corn tortillas and topped with you favorites: cabbage, cilantro, onions and salsa! These are Baja's cheap and delicious favorite snacks!

Or, you visit the famous Cantina Hussongs, purportedly the Baja's Oldest Bar and the Originator of the Margarita, enjoy some wine tasting, shop 'til you drop at dozens of souvenir shops, visit the local fish markets or stroll through the Riviera del Pacífico Civic and Cultural Center which was a Casino and is now a history museum.

Don't miss the Bufadora, or Blowhole, located about 20 miles south of the city. This is a marine geyser that is made when ocean waves and air are drawn into an underwater cave, trapped, and then explode upwards creating a thunderous noise and shooting the seawater as high as 80 feet in the air. This is the second largest blowhole in the world.

Another unreal sight is the grey whale's annual migrations from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California. You may experience sightings during the months of December and March as they arrive and in the months of April and May when they return to Alaskan waters. The liveliest time is in February at the peak of the calving season.

Ensenada is a sport fishing wonderland, as fishing boats can travel a shorter distance to get to where the "Big Catch" might be! Day trips will find the fisherman bringing in a catch of Bass, Bonita or Yellowtail.

However, one of the best secrets of the Baja can be found just north of Ensenada on the road towards Tecate, Mexico. This is the newly discovered Wine Route of the Guadalupe Valley. Here is where the majority of all Mexico wine production is to be found. Originally, the area was where about 100 Russian families foud a political asylum in the early 1900's. They pioneered wine cultivation in the area and today this Valley is an up-and-coming wine country! This is a beautiful country dotted with boutique vineyards, larger commerical vineyards and orchards of olive trees. At the wineries, stores and small inns along the way, you will find mouthwatering selections of honey, olives, olive oil, preserves and, of course, wine!

The road through the Guadalupe Valley is a mountainous and slow scenic drive. Once past the area you will soon arrive at Tecate, the small border town. Tecate is a good choice for a border crossing, as it is small. The town is not really focused on tourism as much as other towns. However, it is home to the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery, which produces the home town named Tecate beer of Mexico, and they do offer Brewery tours.

Whether your passion is nature, wine-tasting, yacht racing, Baja Off-road racing, exploring Mexico, partying into the night or just the love of the Pacific Ocean, plan a visit to Ensenada, and you will not be disappointed!

Where to Go in Ensenada

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

San Nicolas Hotel and Casino

First Street (Calle Primera)
and Guadalupe 1530

Visit La Bufadora

expert pick

Punta Banda Peninsula

La Bufadora actually means "Buffalo Snort" however, this is a natural occurring geyser in the Sea formed when the ocean's waves are constricted in a small underwater cave and then forced up skyward! It is located on the Punta Banda Peninsula in Baja California, Mexico,

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