Tucked along the Baja California coastline, approximately 60 nautical miles south of San Diego, is the Mexican city of Ensenada, also known as the Cinderella of the Pacific. Ensenada is the only deep-water port in Baja. Couple this with its year-round Mediterranean temperatures and it’s easy to understand how tourism is one of the town’s main industries.
Stroll along the malecón, the waterfront walkway, to take in the town at a leisurely pace. Vendors sell everything from pottery to woven blankets to leather goods, and lively cantinas and bars line the street. Because of its dry, sunny climate, the region produces 90 percent of Mexico’s wine, and Ensenada is dotted with wine-tasting rooms. Stop in at Bodegas de Santo Tomas (santo-tomas.com) to sample Cabernet Sauvignon and tempranillo from one of the oldest vineyards in the country.
Swing by Ensenada’s indoor-outdoor seafood market to pick up just-caught tuna, dorado and more to prepare back on board, and grab a fish taco for the road — it’s an iconic Baja snack believed to have originated in Ensenada. Another don’t-miss spot: the Riviera Del Pacifico, a hacienda-style 1920s mansion with spectacular gardens, ballrooms and halls. During Prohibition, this former casino-hotel attracted many wealthy Americans, including Bing Crosby and Rita Hayworth.
You’ll also want to explore some of what nature has on offer. If you’re visiting at any point from January through March, climb aboard a charter with Sergio’s Sportfishing Center (619-399-7224) to witness part of the annual 10,000-mile gray whale migration from Alaska to Baja. A short cab ride south is La Bufadora, the blowhole that is the largest marine geyser in North America, shootingwater 80 feet into the air. Scuba divers should venture out to the Arch, an underwater hot spot in front of the blowhole. Anglers can drop anchor near the Punta Banda peninsula to fish for more than 90 species. And if you just want to laze in the sun? Estero Beach, just south of Ensenada, is the perfect sandy destination for the day.
THE ESSENTIALS: ENSENADA, MEXICO
WHERE TO DOCK
Both of these marinas will help handle your Mexican entry requirements.
- Hotel Coral & Marina (866-302-0066, hotelcoral.com) This marina is located 2.75 miles from the seaport and can accommodate vessels up to 110 feet. It offers the only fuel dock in Ensenada, 24-hour security, maintenance and repair services, complimentary shuttle service to town and a five star on-site hotel Marinalife Discounts offered here!
- Ensenada Cruiseport Village (ecpvmarina.com) The marina is located within walking distance of downtown and has 200 slips, free parking, restrooms, showers and a laundry room.
WHERE TO DINE
- Hussong’s Cantina (Ave Ruiz #113, Zona Centro, 646-178-3210) Hussong’s, the oldest cantina in town, opened in 1882 and is still operated by the Hussong family. There are great daily specials, and it’s rumored to be the birthplace of the margarita.
- La Guerrense (1st Street & Alvarado, laguerrerense.com) This is a downtown seafood-tostada stand with world-renowned dishes and topsecret family recipes. Sabina, who runs the stand, has created 13 homemade salsas.