Ensenada Travel Guide
Mexico › Ensenada Updated: March 1, 2022
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Ensenada is one of Mexico’s most atmospheric ports, a laid-back, historic city on the western, Pacific coast, and one of our favorite places to go for superb seafood, wine, and whale-watching.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ensenada
Where is ensenada.
Ensenada is a city in Mexico, on the northwestern, Pacific coast of the country in the state of Baja California. Ensenada is just 110 km south of the US border at Tijuana, and 135 km (84 miles) south of central San Diego in California. Ensenada is over 2825 km from Mexico City – at least 36 hours by road. The nearest major airport is at Tijuana (a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Downtown Ensenada).
How big is Ensenada?
Ensenada has a greater metro population of almost 525,000, though it’s central core is relatively compact. Downtown or “Zona Centro” is focused on the busy waterfront and harbor, where the fishing fleet and cruise ships dock, and runs inland for several blocks. Although there are no beaches in the center, a long strip of sand runs along the wide Bahía de Todos Santos (Bay of All Saints) for almost 20km, beginning with Playa Hermosa just to the south.
What is the history of Ensenada?
Ensenada was officially “founded” in 1542, but this really denotes when the area was discovered by the Spanish (Quechan- or Yuman-speaking peoples had lived here for thousands of years). It remained little more than a village until gold was discovered nearby in 1872. Ensenada was then developed as a mining port, and was designated capital of Baja California in 1882 – the modern city was planned and developed by the British-owned Mexican Land & Colonization Co in subsequent decades. Devastated by the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), Ensenada lost its capital status in 1915 and remained a backwater until tourism took off in the 1950s. The annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race began in 1948 (Humphrey Bogart took part in the first race), while the famous Baja 1000 motor race started in Ensenada in 1962 (the Baja 500 followed in 1969).
How do I get to Ensenada?
Ensenada does have a tiny airport, but this only serves a couple of locations in Baja California. The nearest major airport is at Tijuana, which is connected to numerous destinations within Mexico by non-stop flights, though there are at present no international flights. Most European flights to Tijuana will route through Mexico City. Buses run from Tijuana airport direct to Ensenada; taxis can also be taken, but these are expensive (at least US$80), though a lot more convenient.
In practice, most US and Canadian visitors come to Ensenada by cruise ship or by car (see below), though it’s relatively straightforward to visit by bus. These shuttle back and forth between the US border at Tijuana and Ensenada bus station every hour or so and take around 1 hour 30 minutes.
Can I use Uber in Ensenada?
Uber is available and cheap in Tijuana, though not usually for airport pick-ups, where a local taxi monopoly operates – use official airport taxis or buses instead from Tijuana airport. Uber drivers in the US cannot take passengers across the Mexican border – walk across the border and order another Uber on the Mexican side, and vice versa.
Once in Ensenada (assuming phones have the app and has roaming in Mexico), Uber can offer convenience and cheaper rates over traditional taxis. In addition, a service dubbed “uberVALLE” offers day-long, round-trip rides to the Valle de Guadalupe wine region from Ensenada – just select “valleX” in the Uber app (the driver will wait at the various vineyards).
Can I drive to Ensenada?
Driving down to Ensenada from the US border is easy and straightforward – the main four-lane Highway-1D is in good condition all the way (allow 1 hour 30 minutes), though we’d advise leaving Tijuana as quickly as possible if that’s the point of entry. There are three tolls coming south from Tijuana (around US$5 total in peso) on Hwy-1D (“cuota” means toll), but the original two-lane Hwy-1 can also be taken, which is free (allow at least 2 hours on this road). The drive should also take around 1 hour 30 minutes from Tecate, and just over 3 hours from Mexicali.
Another plus: foreign vehicles do not need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”, as long as they stay on the Baja peninsular.
If are renting a vehicle, it’s much easier to do this once across the Mexican border, as taking US rental vehicles into Mexico comes with all sorts of restrictions.
Do I need a car in Ensenada?
A car isn’t really needed in Ensenda. Most of what there is to see and do lies within Downtown, which is easily explored on foot. Local buses, taxis, and Uber cars can be taken to destinations outside the city relatively cheaply. To do exploring in the surrounding countryside, including the Valle de Guadalupe, having a vehicle can be more convenient. It’s also possible to arrange car rental on arrival in Ensenada; Alamo, Enterprise, and Hertz operate in the city, along with several cheap Mexican rental outfits.
How do I get around Ensenada without a vehicle?
Walking is the best way to see Ensenada, but it’s relatively easy to find taxis (or arrange an Uber) for longer trips to the beaches, or to La Bufadora.
When is the best time to go to Ensenada?
Ensenada has a mild, Mediterranean-like climate – it stays relatively dry year-round (though it’s slighter wetter in the winter than the summer) and experiences surprisingly cool weather December to March. In general, the summer months – June through September – are the best times to visit, as the weather is hot but not unbearable, and the beaches are therefore a lot more appealing. It also doesn’t rain much. However, visiting in October/November or April/May will still mean warm weather without the crowds (and cruise ship visitors). Whale-watching is also best December to April.
Where should I stay in Ensenada?
Most tourists in Ensenada stay in Centro (Downtown), where there’s a wide range of accommodation – the cheapest places lie further inland from the seafront and along Avenida López Mateos. The bigger and posher resorts tend to be located along the coast to the north and south – a pricey taxi ride from Downtown. These are recommended primarily for travelers with their own vehicles.
What are the best beaches in Ensenada?
The best beaches in Ensenada lie beyond Downtown. Our favorite is Estero Beach, a relatively tranquil spot with soft sand some 13 km south of the city. Day passes that provide access to pools, restaurants, and activities are usually available at the posh Estero Beach Hotel here (the hotel takes up much of the seafront but the public section is known as El Faro Beach). Otherwise, Playa Hermosa just south of the port is pretty good, with locals keeping the sand clean and umbrellas available to rent for a few pesos. For experienced surfers, the best spot is Playa San Miguel, 13 km north of Downtown.
Where to change money in Ensenada?
Though the Mexican peso is the official currency in Ensenada (often prefixed with a “$” sign), many hotels, restaurants, and vendors will accept US or Canadian dollars (especially when cruise ships are in town). However, change will often be given in pesos, and US/Canadian dollar prices invariably work out to be higher than peso prices because of inflated exchange rates.
Try to use ATMs to withdraw peso cash in Ensenada if possible (check with the bank before leaving to confirm it’s possible to use a debit card and how much they will charge – using credit cards can incur interest or foreign transaction fees). Credit cards are widely accepted, but cash is needed for buses, most taxis, and small purchases.
What are the best things to do in Ensenada?
In Ensenada itself it’s fun to visit the Riviera del Pacifico , a Spanish Revival-style casino and hotel completed in 1930 and now a cultural center. Inside there’s a small but absorbing history museum and Bar Andaluz, an atmospheric spot for a drink. Across the street, the Caracol Museo de Ciencias is a new-ish science museum that’s primarily aimed at kids. Stroll along the waterfront from here, up to the Mercado de Mariscos, the traditional fish market, which is always crammed with fresh seafood. This is a great place to sample Baja’s legendary fish tacos – said to have been invented in Ensenada. Wine lovers should check out the Bodegas de Santo Tomás , one of Baja California’s largest and oldest wineries – it’s also easy to arrange tours of the nearby Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s up-and-coming wine region. And don’t forget Hussong’s Cantina – this spit-and-sawdust bar was established way back in 1892 by German immigrant Johann Hussong and is one of several spots to claim the invention of the margarita. Whale-watching tours (from mid-December to mid-April), to view the grey whale migration, are easily arranged from the harbor – contact Sergio’s Sportfishing Center in advance.
What are the restaurants in Ensenada like?
Restaurants are pretty good, though street food is where Ensenada really excels. This is the home of the fish taco, and numerous places complete for the title of “best in Baja” beginning with venerable stall Tacos Fenix (Espinosa at Juárez). There’s also La Guerrerense , a food stall beloved of the late Anthony Bourdain that serves fresh shellfish tostadas and ceviche. Bronco’s is the place for steak, while Chef Benito Molina’s Manzanilla Restaurante is our favorite place for gourmet Mexican seafood. Cervecería Wendlandt is the best of a growing number of Baja craft breweries.
Is Ensenada expensive?
Ensendada is not really expensive. Everything is relative of course, but hotels in Ensenada – especially inland from the seafront – tend to be reasonably priced, and public transport and the city’s famous street food is very cheap – almost everything is priced in pesos, not US dollars, though services targeted specifically at cruise ship passengers always cost more.
Is Ensenada safe?
Yes. Ensenada has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep valuables in room safes. Theft of personal items from beaches does happen – never leave anything of value unattended, even on seemingly empty stretches of sand.
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27 Best Things to Do in Ensenada in 2023: Complete Guide
Wondering what are the best things to do in Ensenada? Look no further. I just came back from an epic road trip to Ensenada and in this post, I am going to tell you all about this exciting city!
In this article, I’ll cover 27 of the top things to do in Ensenada that you don’t want to miss, ranging from must-see attractions to off-the-beaten-path gems that you won’t find in your typical travel guide.
Ensenada is an underrated city on the Pacific coast of Baja California (norte) that offers a variety of attractions and activities for travelers of all ages and interests.
Whether you want to explore the stunning scenery, learn about the rich culture, enjoy the lively nightlife, savor the local flavors, or something else, you’ll find no shortage of amazing things to do in Ensenada that will make your trip memorable.
What are the best things to do in Ensenada?
#1 shop for local arts and crafts at avenida lopez mateos.
Avenida Lopez Mateos is the main tourist street in Ensenada that runs parallel to the waterfront. Here you will find many shops that sell souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, leather goods, cigars, and more.
You can also find some of Ensenada’s best restaurants and bars that serve delicious local cuisine and drinks.
Probably the best shop to discover the local arts and crafts here is Bazar Casa Ramirez, which, as of writing this article, is also the #1 shopping destination in Ensenada on TripAdvisor.
This two-story store offers a stunning collection of festive items that showcase the creativity and diversity of Mexican artisans.
You can find everything from folk art, silver jewelry, crosses, and mirrors to pottery, textiles, masks, and sculptures. Each piece is hand-made and imported from different regions of Mexico.
On this streets, I also loved trying the delicious cafes, backeries and restaurants.
#2 Discover the rich history of Ensenada: Museo de Historia and Regional Historical Museum
Those looking for a cultural and historical experience in Ensenada should not miss the Museo de Historia de Ensenada and the Regional Historical Museum in the city.
These museums will take you on a journey through the past of this beautiful city and its surroundings, from prehistoric times to the modern era.
At the Museo de Historia, visitors can see artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that bring Ensenada’s history to life.
The exhibits cover the history of the area, from its pre-Hispanic origins to its role in the Mexican War of Independence, as well as its development as a center of fishing, agriculture, and tourism.
The Regional Historical Museum is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building that was once the municipal jail. One of the most interesting features of this museum are the old prison cells where paintings by former inmates are preserved on the walls.
The museum also offers an exhibit of “Peoples and Cultures of Mesoamerica”, as well as colonial and indigenous collections related to Ensenada’s past.
#3 Wander around Plaza Civica for some historical facts, street food, and souvenirs
Plaza Civica is home to three giant bronze heads of Mexican heroes: Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, and Venustiano Carranza.
You can learn more about their roles in the Mexican Revolution and independence movement from the plaques below each statue.
It is also a great spot to enjoy some local cuisine and shop for handicrafts. There are many vendors selling tacos, ceviche, churros, and other delicious snacks along the sidewalks.
You can also browse through stalls offering pottery, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. Don’t forget to haggle for a good price!
#4 Ride a horse at Rancho Los Bandidos
Riding a horse at Rancho Los Bandidos is a fun and relaxing way to explore the scenic beauty of Ensenada.
The ranch offers guided horseback tours through the hills and valleys of Ensenada. You can choose from different trails and durations, depending on your skill level and preference.
This family-owned ranch has been offering horseback riding tours of the area since 1991 and has a variety of horses for all levels of riders.
You can enjoy the scenic views of the mountains, valleys, and the ocean as you ride along well-maintained trails with friendly and experienced guides.
#5 Discover the second-largest marine geyser in the world: La Bufadora
La Bufadora is a blowhole and tourist attraction located on the Punta Banda Peninsula in Baja California, Mexico. It is one of Ensenada’s most impressive tourist attractions, being located about 21.7 miles (35 kilometers) south of the city.
Along the way you can enjoy the scenic drive along the Pacific coast and stop at various viewpoints to admire the views.
Once you reach La Bufadora, you will find a lively place with souvenir shops, food stalls and other services.
If you’re not up for driving there (which I recommend), you can also join a tour that includes transportation and a local guide who will show you around this amazing place.
#6 Hike through the El Salto Canyon and see the waterfall
Adventure seekers who are visiting Ensenada should not miss this one. The hike is challenging but rewarding. You will need to use ropes, boulders, and scramble over rocks to reach the bottom of the canyon.
The trail is not marked and can be slippery, so make sure you wear good shoes, gloves, sunscreen, and insect repellent. You will also need to pay a small fee to enter the area.
Once you get to the canyon floor, you can enjoy the scenery and relax by the waterfall. You can also camp there if you want to spend more time exploring. The El Salto Canyon and Waterfall is a hidden gem that will make you feel like you are in another world.
Disclaimer. I didn’t have time for this hike, but since I read it was a great hiking experience I still wanted to include it in the post for you to learn about it.
You can contact them and learn more or just drive to the campground where you can also set up your own tent and spend the night.
#7 Visit Rosarito Beach
Rosarito Beach is a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy the sun, sand and surf of the Pacific Ocean.
The Beach offers a variety of activities and attractions for all ages and interests. You can relax on the beach, go surfing, kayaking or fishing, explore the local culture and cuisine, or visit nearby attractions, like the Fox Studios Baja (where the Titanic was filmed).
Rosarito Beach is also known for its nightlife, with many bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. You can find a variety of options to suit your mood and taste, from live music and dancing to karaoke and comedy shows.
Whether you want to party with your friends, meet new people or just relax and have a good time, this will be a spot you’ll surely enjoy.
#8 Stroll along Ensenada’s waterfront marina: El Malecón Ventana Al Mar
A stroll along the Malecón is a must-do activity for visitors to Ensenada. This half-mile boardwalk offers stunning views of the harbor, where you can watch sea lions lounging on the rocks, boats sailing by, and the sun setting over the ocean.
Being a popular tourist attraction, the boardwalk is also lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat or a souvenir to take home.
As you walk, you can watch the boats come and go from the marina, and catch a glimpse of local fishermen bringing in their catch of the day.
In addition to the stunning views and bustling atmosphere, El Malecón Ventana al Mar is also a great place to experience local culture.
You can often find street performers and musicians entertaining crowds, and there are plenty of opportunities to try traditional Mexican snacks and drinks.
If you are in luck, as I was, you can see the fountains dancing around the huge Mexican Flag towering over the Marina.
PRO TIP – You can ask one of the fishermen by the pier to take you on a brief tour along the bay to admire the coastline and the cute sea lions swimming around. It only costs 500 pesos, for 1 hour and they will do it even for one person.
#9 Hike the challenging trail in Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park
Cañon de Doña Petra Park is located just 15 minutes away from downtown Ensenada and offers one of the best opportunities for hiking enthusiasts. The challenging trail here is 13.3 miles (21.4 kilometers) long and takes about six hours to complete.
If you’re looking for a challenging hike while you’re in the area, you can’t miss this one. The trail is rated as moderate to hard, with some steep and rocky slopes that require poles.
You will encounter different microclimates along the way, from desert landscapes to oak forests.
The dense vegetation in some areas provides shade and coolness on hot days.
Before embarking on the trail, make sure to bring plenty of water, and sunscreen, and wear sturdy shoes.
It’s also a good idea to bring a snack or two to keep your energy levels up. With the right preparation, hiking this trail will be an unforgettable experience.
If you are traveling solo I would hire a local guide as it’s not very smart to be in the wilderness on your own. Also watch out for rattlesnakes, especially in the summer.
#10 Visit the Caracol Museo de Ciencias (Caracol Science Museum)
The Caracol Science Museum is dedicated to promoting the natural wonders of Baja California and the scientific research that studies this beautiful peninsula.
The museum is divided into three main galleries: Sala del Cielo y Planetario (Sky and Planetarium Room), Sala de la Tierra (Earth Room), and Sala del Mar (Sea Room) where you can learn about astronomy, biodiversity, and oceanography respectively.
In the planetarium room, visitors can immerse themselves in a 360-degree view of the night sky.
It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience that will leave you feeling connected to the vast expanse of the cosmos.
#11 Taste the original margarita at Baja California’s oldest cantina: Hussong’s
Hussong’s Cantina is a legendary bar that was established in 1892 by John Hussong, a German immigrant who came to Ensenada during the gold rush.
His bar, as it stands today, is among the top of Ensenada’s tourist attractions.
It is the oldest and most famous bar in all of Baja California. And for good reason, it is reputedly the birthplace of the margarita, the iconic cocktail made with tequila, lime, and orange liqueur.
According to the story, bartender Don Carlos Orozco named the drink in 1941 after Margarita Henkel, the daughter of a German diplomat who was visiting the bar at the same time as Don Carlos was experimenting with a new drink.
The drink was received very well, and on the same day it was named after Margarita Henkel.
#12 Discover the art of chocolate-making at Maya Cacao
Who doesn’t love chocolate? But not a lot of people know that the Mayans played a significant role in the history of chocolate as we know it today.
They revered chocolate and it was an important part of their culture and belief system.
Maya Cacao is a place where you can experience the ancient art of chocolate-making as practiced by the Maya civilization.
You can taste cacao beans from colorful pods, grind them with stone tools, and enjoy a traditional dark chocolate drink that was reserved for the elite Mayas.
You can also participate in a workshop where you will learn about Mayan culture, and make your own chocolate (following the authentic recipe of the Mayans).
#13 Relax in the uncrowded, clean beaches of Playa Hermosa
If you’ve ever been to a beach in a tourist destination that’s known for its beaches, you know a lot of those beaches can get very crowded.
Playa Hermosa (meaning “Beautiful Beach” in Spanish) is different. It is one of the best-kept secrets in Baja California, offering uncrowded, clean, and serene shores for you to enjoy.
Best of all, it’s easily one of the top free things to do in Ensenada.
Whether you want to sunbathe on the soft sand, swim in the clear water, surf the gentle waves or explore the pristine beach, you can do all that (and more) in peace.
#14 Try deep-sea fishing
Ensenada is renowned for its diverse marine life, including yellowtail, tuna, dorado, and more.
As such, it is also a great place to go deep-sea fishing, suitable for all levels of experience, from beginners to experts.
You can choose from different types of boats and equipment depending on your preferences and budget.
You can also hire a professional guide or captain who will help you find the best spots and techniques for catching fish.
With experienced and knowledgeable local guides, you can explore the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and test your angling skills against some of the most challenging game fish in the world.
You can either keep your catch or release it back into the water.
You can find a lot of fishing boat tours on the Malecon.
#15 Take a boat trip around the bay
One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Ensenada is to take a boat trip around the bay.
If you’re not into fishing, you can choose other options, such as a whale-watching tour or a sunset cruise. However keep in mind that for whale watching Ensenada, is not the best destination as you will find closer whale encounters in other spots located in Baja California Sur.
However, taking a boat trip in Ensenada is still a cool thing to do to watch the sea lions and birds, over the Pacific coastline.
#16 Try the food from the famous La Guerrerense food cart
La Guerrerense is a humble street stand that has been serving fresh and delicious ceviche and tostadas for over 40 years and has earned the praise of celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Mark Wiens.
You can choose from a variety of toppings, such as sea urchin, octopus, clam, scallop, abalone, shrimp, and more, and spice them up with their homemade salsas.
But it’s not just the food that makes La Guerrerense special; it’s the experience. The food cart is located in a bustling street market, where locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the lively atmosphere and mouth-watering dishes.
The service is fast and friendly, and the owner, Sabina Bandera, is always ready to greet you with a smile.
In fact, the experience is so good that some reviewers have called this the “best food cart in the world.” Whether that title is true or not you will tell me.
To be honest, I didn’t try that one, but I found another incredible food cart that I totally recommend. See below.
#17 Eat your way around Ensenada
Besides the iconic places that everybody knows, you will find a lot of food carts in Ensenada that offer equally delicious seafood. I have tried a few of them and here below are my favorites:
El Güero – this is where I had the most delicious seafood tostada in my life! I am serious. The food cart itself is a must-see, so well organized and clean and the guys dressed up in yellow and blue uniforms. Adorable.
The seafood looks extremely fresh and the way they serve it is incredibly professional. It’s more expensive than a regular street food cart but you totally pay what you are getting.
Also, the amount of seafood that you get is giant. It makes a full meal.
La Floresta Taqueria – Try the delicious shrimp and fish tacos in this historical taqueria downtown.
#17 Learn how to scuba dive, snorkel, and other water activities
Ensenada is a water lover’s paradise, with plenty of options to suit your preferences and budget. Whether you want to dive deep or float on top, you will find an adventure that will make your trip unforgettable.
For those who prefer to stay on the surface, snorkeling is a great way to discover Ensenada’s diverse aquatic world. Snorkeling tours take you to the best spots to view schools of tropical fish, playful sea lions, and other underwater creatures.
If you’re looking for more adventurous water activity, try kayaking or paddleboarding along the rugged coastline.
Looking for something a bit more daring? Try scuba diving. You can choose from several dive sites, such as Campo Kennedy, Arbolitos Coves, and more, where you can see colorful sea life, shipwrecks, and even great white sharks.
You can find dive shops in downtown Ensenada. Keep in mind that in winter the water can be very cold. So it’s advisable to wait for the summer for this activities.
#18 Ride the Desert Nest Zipline in El Sauzal
If you are looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, you should definitely try the Desert Nest Zipline. This zipline course is located in El Sauzal, about 15 minutes north of downtown Ensenada.
You will soar over the desert landscape and enjoy panoramic views of the landscape and the mountains.
The zipline course is divided into 5 lines, the longest of which is 5,100 meters! The Desert Nest Zipline is safe, fun, and suitable for all ages.
The staff is friendly, and professional, and will go above and beyond to make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
#19 Enjoy the nightlife in various bars and clubs
If you love the nightlife you will love Ensenada even more. The city is also known for its live music scene, with many bars and clubs featuring local musicians and DJs.
The city is also known for its live music scene, with many bars and clubs featuring local musicians and DJs. They each have their own vibe and atmosphere, so you’ll never be short of things to do in Ensenada at night.
In addition to the venues themselves, the atmosphere in Ensenada’s nightlife is unmatched. The city’s friendly locals and visitors create a welcoming and inclusive vibe that makes it easy to meet new people and make new friends.
Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, you’re sure to have a great time exploring Ensenada’s nightlife scene. Just take precautions and stay safe.
#20 Taste the local craft beer
Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or simply looking for a new and delicious drink to try, Ensenada’s craft beer scene is definitely worth exploring.
Ensenada’s local craft beer is characterized by its use of locally sourced ingredients and innovative brewing techniques. Many of the beers are made with local fruits, herbs, and spices, giving them a distinct and refreshing taste.
The city’s brewers are also known for experimenting with new brewing styles and flavors, meaning that there is always something new and exciting to try.
Best of all, there are a growing number of microbreweries and taprooms in the city that offer a wide variety of unique and flavorful beers.
#21 Rent a car and take a day trip through the Valle de Guadalupe wine route
Valle de Guadalupe region, located at about 40 minutes drive from Ensenada, is home to over 120 wineries that produce some of the best Mexican wines.
It is easily one of the best places to visit in Ensenada. Even if you’re not a fan of wine, you shouldn’t miss out on exploring this region.
You can explore the diverse and beautiful landscapes of the valley, taste different varieties of wines, learn about the winemaking process, and enjoy delicious meals at local restaurants.
There are both small micro wineries and large commercial ones in the area, and you will find something to suit your taste and budget.
The vineyards are surrounded by rolling hills and scenic vistas, providing a picturesque backdrop for your wine-tasting adventure.
I stayed in the Valle de Guadalupe for two nights in the beautiful B&B Casa Mayoral , and I suggest you do that too, for the best experience.
However, it’s possible to visit in one day as it’s only 30 minutes drive from Ensenada.
If you don’t feel like driving there are great tours offered from Ensenada where they take you to visit different wineries and lavender fields.
#22 Watch the sunset from the Ensenada Mirador
Right above the main road Calle Primera, at 10 minutes winding road you will get to the mirador of Ensenada where you can enjoy spectacular views over the city and the port.
The sunset is on the other side but you will still be able to enjoy the city in a spectacular light. Perfect for stunning pictures.
Recommended Guided Tours in Ensenada
#23 las cañadas canopy tour in ensenada.
This tour lets you experience the thrill of flying in five zip lines, two of them about 500 meters long, and crossing multiple hanging bridges, each with a unique challenge.
You will enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains, forest, and lake as you soar through the air and test your balance and courage.
Don’t worry about the safety aspect, though. The tour is very safe and suitable for all ages. You can take part in the activities here as long as you are at least 50 inches tall and can fit the safety harness.
The grounds also have swimming pools, the biggest children’s water park in the whole state, ATV rentals, paddle boats, camping, and more.
#24 La Bufadora Tour in Baja California
As we’ve already covered in #5 on this list, La Bufadora is the largest sea geyser in North America, and one of the most spectacular natural attractions in Mexico.
The drive to La Bufadora is quite scenic, where you can enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged cliffs.
You might also have a chance to stop at a local market, where you can find a variety of souvenirs, crafts, snacks and drinks.
But, of course, the main highlight of the tour is witnessing the amazing power of La Bufadora, which shoots water out of a sea cave more than 100 feet into the air with a loud roar. The water spray creates a rainbow effect that adds to the beauty of the spectacle.
The best time to visit La Bufadora is when the tide is high and the waves are strong, as this makes the geyser even more impressive.
If you don’t feel like driving on your own you are in luck becuase you can find a lot of affordable tours some of which combine different activities so you can squeeze more attractions in one day.
More highly rated tours to la Bufadora
#25 guadalupe valley wine route tour in baja california.
Want to tour the Guadalupe Valley but aren’t up for renting a car and taking the drive? No problem! This tour will take you to the best spots along the wine route in Guadalupe.
Hotel pickup and drop-off is included, which means you just have to book the tour and hop on the bus; the company will do the rest.
Along the tour, you’ll visit four different wineries, each with its own style and personality.
And you will have the opportunity to taste a variety of wines , from reds and whites to roses and sparkling wines. You will also learn about the winemaking process and the characteristics of each wine.
Other tours to the Valle de Guadalupe
#26 horseback riding.
Horseback riding is a great activity for people of all ages and skill levels, and it allows you to explore the scenic coastline and estuary of Ensenada at your own pace (and in a very fun way).
These tours take riders on scenic routes through the countryside, vineyards, and coastal areas, offering stunning views of the landscape.
There are many companies offering horseback riding tours in Ensenada in a variety of different places.
#27 ATV off road adventure in the Valle de Guadalupe
Want to ride on a powerful and easy-to-use ATV through the scenic backcountry of the wine region, passing by vineyards, hills, and valleys? Say no more!
There are tons of tours in Ensenada that will take you on a wild ride through the region’s most beautiful natural areas, including valleys, hills, and vineyards.
Many tours include stops at local landmarks and points of interest, providing visitors with a unique glimpse into the history and culture of Ensenada.
Food and beverage options are also available (though not always with every tour), with many tours including wine tastings and local cuisine.
#28 Lavender field tour
At Aires de Lavanda farm in Valle de Guadalupe, you can take a guided tour of the lavender fields and learn about the cultivation, harvesting, and distillation of this fragrant herb. The farm is one of the hidden gems in Ensenada.
You will also get to sample some of the natural cosmetic products made from lavender, such as soap, lotion, and oil.
You can even make your own bouquet or sachet of lavender to take home with you. The tour lasts about an hour and includes a refreshing lemonade drink and a lavender dessert.
When is the best month to go to Ensenada?
The best month to go to Ensenada depends on personal preferences and interests. Generally, the peak season in Ensenada is during the summer months of June through August when the weather is warm and there are many festivals and events happening.
However, as you can guess, prices for accommodations and activities will be high during this time.
For those looking to avoid the crowds and save money, the shoulder seasons of March through May and September through November offer a good balance between good weather and slightly lower prices.
You’ll still enjoy many of Ensenada’s attractions and festivals during these times, with fewer crowds and more affordable accommodations and activities.
If you really want to maximize your savings, visiting during the winter months of December through February, when temperatures can be cooler and rain is more common.
However, you’ll find great deals on accommodations and activities during this time.
I was there in February and I loved the cool weather, and most of all I loved that I didn’t see any snakes around.
In the summer it is most likely that you see rattlesnakes around your hotel room, easily. I know I freaked out when I learned about it. Just make sure you close your hotel room door and window and you’ll be fine.
Where to stay in Ensenada
When I visited Ensenada I stayed in an Airbnb on the main coastal road which was away from the busy downtown and I loved it. But I had a car.
If you don’t have a car I would recommend staying Downtown so that you will be at walking distance of shops and restaurants and the main attractions.
In my where to stay in Ensenada post, I will share all the best hotels and home rentals that I have specially selected based on location and guest rating.
Here I am sharing a few options as well.
Hotel Villa Fontana Inn – budget-friendly hotel in downtown Ensenada
Casa Asturias – luxury hotel in downtown Ensenada
City Plus Ensenada – Mid-range hotel on the beach just outside Ensenada
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you spend a day in ensenada.
Ensenada is a beautiful coastal city that offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors. Above, I’ve listed just 27 of them, but that list is far from exhaustive.
There’s an endless array of possibilities on how you can go about spending a day in the city.
You can try delicious Mexican food in one of the countless restaurants in the city, spend a day learning about the history of the region in the Riviera Cultural Center, take a drive to La Bufadora, try horseback riding, visit Valle de Guadalupe and enjoy world-class wines, enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Ensenada in one of its many bars, casinos, and clubs, and the list goes on and on.
When it comes to having fun in Ensenada, the sky is the limit.
Is Ensenada worth visiting?
Absolutely! I had very low expectations and I have to say that I was quite impressed by all the things Ensenada has to offer, especially the food. Soo good!!
is a city that’s packed with fun opportunities for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
From stunning beaches and vineyards to outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in Ensenada.
Where is Ensenada Located?
Ensenada is located in the Baja California State of Mexico only 64 miles (107 km) south of Tijuana .
Is Ensenada walkable?
Generally, yes. But it also depends on what you want to do/see here and where you’re staying.
Ensenada is a walkable city if you are staying near the port or the downtown area, where you can find many things to do and see within walking distance.
However, if you want to enjoy more of Ensenada’s attractions like Hermosa beach, or if you want to go all the way to La Bufadora, you need to take a taxi or a bus to get to some of the places that are farther away from the port.
Can you swim in Ensenada?
Yes, you can swim in Ensenada, but it’s important to be aware of the conditions and take necessary precautions.
Ensenada has several beaches that are safe for swimming, like Playa Hermosa, Playa Estero, and Playa Baja.
However, some beaches may have strong currents or rough surf, so it’s important to pay attention to warning signs and be cautious when entering the water.
With proper precautions and awareness, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.
Are Ensenada beaches clean?
Ensenada has several beaches that are clean and well-maintained, offering visitors a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.
Playa Hermosa and Playa Baja are two of the most popular and well-known beaches in Ensenada, and are known for their clean and clear waters.
However, generally speaking, the more popular and crowded beaches tend to be less clean than the less frequented ones.
This is because they receive more visitors who may leave behind trash, debris or pollution.
This does not mean that these beaches are unsafe or unhealthy.
They still have their charm and appeal, and many people enjoy them for their convenience and amenities.
Do I need pesos in Ensenada?
Yes, I highly recommend that you carry pesos when traveling to Ensenada.
While some businesses may accept US dollars, the exchange rate they’ll provide you is not favorable and you will end up overpaying (by at least 10%).
Additionally, many businesses, notably the smaller ones, only accept pesos.
Visitors can exchange their currency for pesos at banks or exchange houses in Ensenada, or withdraw pesos from ATMs using a debit card (this approach is not recommended as the ATMs will charge you extra).
Overall, having pesos on hand will make your trip to Ensenada smoother and more enjoyable.
Is Ensenada safe for tourists?
Yes, Ensenada is generally a safe destination for tourists. Thousands of tourists visit Ensenada each year without any unpleasant incidents.
However, that doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind when you’re here. So be aware of your surroundings.
Like any popular tourist destination, Ensenada has its share of petty crime.
While you’re in the city, please take common sense precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night, not flashing expensive jewelry or electronics, and keeping valuables out of sight.
With just a little bit of caution, you’ll have a very enjoyable trip to Ensenada.
Is driving to Ensenada from San Diego safe?
Yes, driving to Ensenada from San Diego is generally safe, but you should do prior research the driving conditions and take necessary precautions.
The route from San Diego to Ensenada is heavily traveled.
However, traffic can be heavy during peak tourist season, and you should be prepared for long wait times at the border during this time.
It’s also important to have proper documentation, including a valid passport and valid driver’s license, when crossing the border.
Additionally, visitors should be aware of local driving laws and customs, such as the use of turn signals and the requirement to have Mexico-specific liability insurance .
You can also check out Baja Bound Mexican Insurance , one of the most popular car insurance for US travelers to Baja.
How far is Ensenada from the US border?
Ensenada is around 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the US border.
What food is Ensenada known for?
Ensenada is famous for its seafood and wine, as well as its fusion of Mexican and Asian cuisines.
One of the most iconic foods of Ensenada is the Baja-style taco , which consists of crispy fried fish or shrimp wrapped in a soft corn tortilla and topped with shredded cabbage, salsa, and crema.
You can find these delicious tacos at street stalls, markets, and restaurants all over the city.
Another popular food of Ensenada is ceviche , which is raw fish or shellfish marinated in lime juice, onion, cilantro, and chilies. Ceviche can be served on a tostada, in a cup, or on a plate with crackers or chips.
If you are a fan of spicy food, you should try Aguachile, which is a version of ceviche with a green chili sauce that covers the shrimp or scallop.
Ensenada’s cuisine also has a strong influence on Chinese food, which can be seen in dishes like Camarones enchiladas.
This is a dish of pan-fried shrimp cooked in olive oil with garlic, Pequin pepper, and salt. It is usually eaten with rice or in a taco.
Why do cruise ships go to Ensenada?
Cruise ships visit Ensenada for several reasons. First, Ensenada is a popular port of call for cruises departing from California, offering a convenient and accessible stop along the coast of Mexico.
Additionally, Ensenada is known for its scenic coastline, picturesque harbor, and vibrant culture, making it an attractive destination for cruise passengers.
The city is also home to several popular tourist attractions, including wineries, beaches, and historic sites, providing visitors with a variety of activities and experiences to choose from.
And finally, Ensenada is a gateway to other popular destinations in Baja California, such as the Valle de Guadalupe wine region and La Bufadora, a natural blowhole attraction.
Overall, Ensenada’s combination of accessibility, natural beauty, and cultural attractions make it an ideal destination for cruise ships.
Things to Do in Ensenada: final thoughts
As you may have realized by now, Ensenada is a gem of a destination, offering visitors a wealth of activities, attractions, and experiences to enjoy.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor adventure, food, and drink, or simply soaking up the sun on a beautiful beach, this city has you covered. There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Ensenada.
From exploring museums and historical sites to hiking through canyons and sampling local wines, the city and its surrounding areas are full of unique and memorable experiences.
You can easily spend a week or more exploring all the attractions and activities that this beautiful city has to offer.
I hope this guide has helped you plan your trip to this pretty city of Baja California.
Isabella, author, editor, and founder
A passionate traveler and photographer, in love with life and adventures, Isabella is the founder and editor of Letstraveltomexico where she shares her love for Mexico, a fascinating country that she’s proud to call home. When she’s not exploring a new place you will find Isabella in a cafe, writing on this blog, or on her other sites Boundless Roads , Mexico Cenotes and Ruins and Letstraveltocancun.com where she loves to share her travels on and off the beaten path in Mexico and around the world.
Ensenada, 108km south of the border, is hedonistic Tijuana’s cosmopolitan sister. The city has a quirky mix of just-off-the-boat cruise shippers, drive-by tourists from California, visitors from mainland Mexico and seen-it-all locals. In case you’ve forgotten you’re in Mexico (what with all those US dollars and English menus), just look up: a Mexican flag, so large it’s probably visible from space, flutters proudly over the malecón (waterfront promenade). Wander Avenida López Mateos (Calle 1a) and you’ll find almost anything ranging from delicious French food to tasteless T-shirts. Don't miss the dancing musical fountain on the waterfront if you've got kids.
Must-see attractions for your itinerary.
Riviera del Pacífico
Opened in the 1930s as Hotel Playa Ensenada, the extravagant Riviera del Pacífico, a Spanish-style former casino, is rumored to have been a haunt of Al…
Atop the Colinas de Chapultepec, El Mirador offers panoramic views of the city and Bahía de Todos Santos. Climb or drive (note: there’s no off-street…
Museo de Historia de Ensenada
This small yet interesting museum traces northern Baja history from the indigenous Mexicans to the mission period. Replicas of cave art along the…
Museo Historico Regional de Ensenada
Built in 1886 and once the Aduana Marítima de Ensenada, the city's oldest public building now houses this historical and cultural museum. It has a…
Purchase our award-winning guidebooks
Get to the heart of Ensenada with one of our in-depth, award-winning guidebooks, covering maps, itineraries, and expert guidance.
What you need to know:
- 90% of Mexican wine is produced here.
- The most visited tourism seaport on the Pacific, with over 700 thousand cruise goers.
- Off-roading world capital and home of the Baja 1000.
- Named as Creative City by UNESCO for its gastronomy.
Discover wineries in the valley that make up 90% of Mexico’s wine industry. The Mediterranean weather is perfect for visiting during all seasons and trying out all the combinations of charcuterie, cheeses and wines. You can also stay at the most amazing places with spectacular views of the vineyards, take a tour around the wineries and enjoy events, concerts, as well as Fiestas de la Vendimia.
Baja california produces 90% of mexican wine, with over 150 wineries and surrounded by natural landscapes, in valle de guadalupe you can find an excellent food scene..
NATURE AND ADVENTURE
Ensenada is a nature and adventure lovers paradise. sky, sea or land; take on exiting activities like surfing, sport fishing, kayaking, golf, rappel, hiking, mountain biking, zip lines, camping, photo-safaris, stargazing and more. in season, you can swim along whale sharks, or go on a gray whale or great white shark watching trip. ensenada awaits.
Ensenada offers gastronomic, cultural, sporting events and concerts. check out the events calendar before traveling to ensenada. don’t forget to visit la bufadora, ranches and spas, hot springs, horseback riding and many other activities and places to discover..
Staying in the Wine Route is an experience that combines peace and harmony, surrounded by vineyards and natural landscapes that make you feel like you're in a magical place, all in the middle of Valle de Guadalupe. Each spot has something unique and special.
What To Try On Your Next Trip To Ensenada
Ensenada, The Perfect Getaway For Hot Days
Coasteering, An Adventure On Land And Sea
Spring Is Best Spent In Ensenada
04 sep (sep 4) 5:00 pm 22 nov (nov 22) 6:00 pm INTRODUCCION A LA DANZA CONTEMPORÁNEA CEART Ensenada
September 4 (Monday) 5:00 pm - November 22 (Wednesday) 6:00 pm
Blvd. Lazaro Cardenas 1430, playas de ensenada, 22880
03 oct (oct 3) 6:00 pm 30 nov (nov 30) 7:30 pm TALLER SENSIBILIDAD FOTOGRÁFICA CEART Ensenada
October 3 (Tuesday) 6:00 pm - November 30 (Thursday) 7:30 pm
13 nov All Day 18 56th Annual Score Baja 1000 Off road
november 13 (Monday) - 18 (Saturday)
Lázaro Cárdenas 1421, Bahia Ensenada, 22880
07 dec All Day 10 Ascenso Picacho del Diablo Sierra de San Pedro Martir
december 7 (Thursday) - 10 (Sunday)
Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Martir
About ensenada, ensenada travel guide.
In 1703, Jesuit Padre Juan de Ugarte planted the first vineyards here. Today it is home to premier wine producers together with festivals that honour the grape. Ensenada is located on a peninsula 700 miles- (1100 km-) long that extends south from Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean, and is backed by small mountains. Blessed by mild year-round weather, the state's third-largest city is a popular with both short and long-haul cruise passengers. Dubbed the 'Cinderella of the Pacific', Ensenada is the main port in Baja California and sits in the heart of Mexico 's rolling wine country.
Wine-lovers will have plenty of opportunity to sample Ensenada's home-grown vintages with a number of first-class tours that take in cellars and wineries galore. The region is also famous for its natural phenomenon, a craggy blowhole created by marine erosion that spews seawater skyward at force. Baja California is rich in marine life and offers excellent opportunities for experienced divers and anglers. Baja's Pacific lagoons are an important breeding ground for whales, particularly the gray whale, and whale-watching is another popular pastime during a visit to the port. Highlights: • Sample local wine at the de Santo Tomas (the oldest winery in the region). • Marvel at La Bufadora (The Blowhole) and its soaring jet of foamy seawater. • Whale watching in Central Baja Lagoon (Dec - Mar). • Shoreline kayak expeditions. • Jet-skiing at the Estero Beach Resort. • Explore Ensenada's rugged countryside in a Jeep Wrangler (4x4).
Tourist Information Centres
Ensenada Tourist Board Blvd. Lazaro Cardenas 609 - 5, Ensenada, B.C. Mexico 22800 Website: www.enjoyensenada.com
Baja California is synonymous with keen-priced duty-free products such as tequila, perfume, silver and gold jewellery, pottery, leather and cosmetics. Mexican souvenirs are also on sale, including woven woolen blankets, brightly coloured scarves, and straw hats. Markets, department stores and tourist shops are located on Avenida Lopez Mateos while the tangerine-coloured Plaza Marina shopping mall is primed to welcome cruise ship arrivals, in a top spot by the water.
Ensenada is full of inexpensive gastronomic attractions, from its decent sandwich shops and coffee bars to a finger-licking array of waterfront taco stalls serving authentic Mexican fare. The tacos de pescado (fish tacos) are particularly good, cooked fresh to order using whatever has been caught that day. For quick-and-easy American fast food head to the Plaza Marina shopping mall, where several outlets offer burgers, fries, hotdogs and chicken. Hussong's Cantina is another Ensenada tradition; a century-old bar with sawdust on the floor that serves snacks and ice-cold beer.
When to go:
Ensenada is mild, sunny and dry. A cool Pacific current keeps summer temperatures down, with average highs for June, July and August a comfortable 24̊C (76F). The hottest days occur in winter when the wind can switch direction and come from the east off the desert.
Transfer distance:, transfer time.
© Columbus Travel Media Ltd. All rights reserved 2023
32 Best & Fun Things to Do in Ensenada (Mexico)
A prominent coastal city in Mexico, Ensenada is the third largest city in Baja California Peninsula.
There are lots of fun things to do in Ensenada which cuts across outdoor activities, cruise ship destinations, wine villages, coastal activities, and lots more.
The city is known for its wide range of ideal vacation experiences it has to offer such as watersports, thrilling adventures, wine tastings, sun tanning, horseback riding, spectacular dinings, and practically almost every experience a tourist would like to try out.
There are also lots of mind-blowing tourist attractions in Ensenada such as the El Salto Canyon and Waterfall, Guadalupe Island, La Bufadora, Canon Parque Ecologico, La Lobera, and more.
Ensenada also boasts history and culture in its historical destinations such as the Regional Museum and the Riviera Center known as the cultural heart of Ensenada and home to the Ensenada Museum of History.
Are you planning a vacation? here is a list of the best things to do in Ensenada for a fun time.
Things to Do in Ensenada
1. explore the wine country.
Located about 20km north of Ensenada, Valle De Guadalup also known as the wine country is a popular tourist destination for wine lovers, it comprises more than 75 wineries.
The destination is frequented by many year after year as a result of its fine wines and intriguing dining with perfect velvety red wine, gourmet dishes, and cheese.
A perfect way to explore this wine village is booking a tour with a trusted tour agency which will take you through the beauty and amazement of this area as you taste a variety of local wine and cuisines.
The majority of the wine tours take individuals to the top four vineyards, snacks venue, and the remarkable wine museum which teaches visitors about the evolution of the Mexican wine country and how it got to where it is today.
2. Avenida Lopez Mateos
Avenida Lopez Mateos is a lively shopping street in Ensenada filled with lots of stores that offer different kinds of items.
Some of the items featured in the stores of this street include beautiful embroidered Mexican dresses, straw hats, crafts, blankets, jewelry, and ponchos.
Avenida Lopez Mateos also features wonderful food venues like street-side cafés and restaurants which offer a variety of deliciously prepared cuisine, coffee, Grateful Dead Drink and other popular drinks.
Stroll along the street to enjoy all the excitement it has to offer.
3. The Opal Mine
To purchase the best Mexican jewelry, visit The Opal Mine, a popular jewelry store that features varieties of beautiful locally-made jewelries including those made using fire opal, the national stone of Mexico.
The Opal Mine has customer friendly staffs who are ready to attend to visitors and guide them as they select from the hundreds of available jewelry designs.
This beautiful jewelry store has its interior designed to look like an original opal mine to create a picture of the origin of the polished stones.
The Opal Mine also offers a while-you-wait jeweler service which enables the re-sizing of rings.
There is a wide range of jewelry available in the store and you can easily find jewelry that perfectly suits your budget.
stop by this jewelry store while you are in Ensenada to get unique jewelry made with the precious Mexican opal as a souvenir for your family or loved ones.
Address:The Opal Mine, Lazaro Cardenas, Zone Centro, 22800 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico,
4. Ensenada Museum of History
If you have interested in History, a visit to the Ensenada Museum of History should make one of your top things to do in Ensenada.
Forming part of the Riviera Cultural Center, the museum is focused on portraying the history of the Baja Peninsul and also the significant individuals who contributed to the development of the area.
Among other things you get to learn in this museum include information about the influence of the explorers and European missionaries on the native local populations.
The museum, though quite small in size contains detailed and well-documented history which is written in both English and Spanish.
Among other features of the Ensenada Museum of History includes a photo library, a library, and a shop.
There are also available guided tours for visitors carried out by well mannered and polite guides.
Address: Ensenada Museum of History, Centro Cultural, Riviera Blvd, Zona Centro CP 22820, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
5. Hussong’s Cantina
Hussong’s Cantina is a popular historic tourist location in Ensenada widely recognized to be the birthplace of the margarita.
Situated in an erstwhile stage-coach inn, the area is a highly frequented destination by both locals and tourists alike.
A notable unique feature of this Catina is the floor of the bar which got peanut shells scattered across it.
Aside from drinks, Hussong’s Cantina also offers large bags of peanuts, and diners are permitted to leave peanut shells on the floor.
An adequate place to meet and interact with locals, Hussong’s Cantina is quite busy on an opening day and has Pigeons flying around due to the peanuts shells on the floor which they love.
Additionally, on some days of the week, there are Mexican bands who come to perform live music in the bar. Visitors can as well watch sports events on the screens available at Hussong’s Cantina.
While in this area, do not forget to have a taste of the signature Margarita which is believed to have originated from this location in 1941 when it was prepared for the daughter of a German ambassador who visited and it was named for her.
Hussong’s Cantina is open for visits from Tuesdays to Sundays from 11AM–10PM. The venue is closed only on Mondays.
Address: Hussong’s Cantina, Av. Ruiz 113, Zona Centro, 22800 Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico,
6. Cañón de Doña Petra Ecological Park
To witness the beauty of nature, visit Canon De Dona Petra Ecological Park, a popular nature-filled attraction in Ensenada, situated in an elevated residential area.
The park situated in a strategic position gives an amazing scenic view of the spectacular coastline of Baja California and the city as well.
Having a serene and comfortable environment, Canon De Dona Petra Ecological Park is a perfect place to get an alone quiet time or read a book peacefully.
The park has a nice network of nature trails that boast activities such as hiking, walking, and mountain biking.
Also featuring different species of local birds, the park is an ideal place for bird lovers who wish to take on bird watching.
The people of Nepal donated a bright and amazing statue of the Buddhist Princess Tara and it is positioned at the center of the park.
Canon De Dona Petra Ecological Park is open to visitors every day of the week from 7AM – 9PM.
Address: Canon de Dona Petra Ecological Park, Av. Ruiz, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
7. La Lobera
Nestled between the town of Rosario and San Quintin, La Lobera is an amazing sea cave located at Ensenada’s rugged south coast which has an open rooftop.
Opening up to the beach 20 feet below, this attractive crater shaped like a stadium is a habitat to Sea lions and is encompassed by circular mysterious rock outcrops
Though not exactly located in Ensenada, La Lobera is a beautiful and unique attraction to visit and behold amazing land formations and incredible as well as exceptional sea lions.
Added to that, there is a classic restaurant just close to the area which is known to serve the best food on the highway,
Address: Baja California, Mexico
8. Walk the Malecon
The Malecon is a short enjoyable boardwalk located along Ensenada’s Bay of All Saints which begins at a fish market and extends to the park.
This boardwalk gives an amazing view of the sunrise and sunset which gives passerby an exciting strolling experience.
A popular feature of the Malecon is the large Mexican flag mounted in the area which is about 300 feet tall and was part of the Banderas monumental project.
Described by Tour guides to be one of the world’s largest flag, the Mexican flag of this area is about 28meters wide and 50meters long.
Furthermore, the Malecon also features talented artist who stands along the boardwalk performing live mariachi music and entertaining onlookers and passerby.
The Malecon gives a lively energetic Mexican vibe with its busy environment that features barking sea lions, fishermen bringing in their catch, pelicans call, and lots more.
9. Valley Girl Wine Tours
If you are a wine lover and wish to have a taste of the different local wines of Ensenada, do join the Valley Girl Wine Tours.
Valley Girl Wine Tours is a private tour agency that gives a perfect Valle de Guadalupe wine experience.
The tour features a private driver that takes you through the area to wineries where you get to taste varieties of fine wine and also see different beautiful vineyards with the company of an experienced guide and wine experts.
The tour is organized to suit your favorite wine preferences taking you to at least three wineries where you taste their special handcrafted wines, a wonderful restaurant that serves you lunch, and an artisan cheesery.
Address: Valley Girl Wine Tours, Street with no Name at the Entrance to Heaven, Ensenada, 22755, Mexico
10. Regional Historical Museum
One of the best things to do in Ensenada for history lovers is visiting the Regional Historical Museum.
Though also a history museum, Regional Historical Museum is completely different from the Ensenada Museum of History of Riviera Cultural Center.
The museum is housed by a historical building in Ensenada which was formerly a local prison and has most of its exhibits displayed in rooms that were initially prison cells.
Regional Historical Museum is a significant attraction that enlightens individuals on the culture, history, and landscape of Baja California, with exhibits like fossils and bones which are millions of years old.
Added to the historical permanent exhibits the museum also features temporary exhibitions which change occasionally.
Address: Regional Historical Museum, Av. Gastelum, Colonia Centro, CP 22800, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
11. Juan More Taco Food Tours
To have a taste of the various Mexican local food offered by Ensenada, sign up for the Juan More Taco Food Tour, which takes you on an interactive walking tour across Ensenada to try out different delicious Mexican cuisines.
A food tour is advantageous for ignorant tourists who intend on trying out Mexican local flavors but don’t know where to begin, if that is the case Juan More Taco Food Tours is perfect for you as they help you discover your favorite local dish in different local restaurants.
The tour lasts for an average of 2 hours 30 mins taking participants through downtown Ensenada and other local neighborhoods where they get to learn about the culture and also taste the area’s best food.
This makes one of the best things to do in Ensenada, do add to your Ensenada checklist.
Address: Juan More Taco Food Tours, Ensenada’s Boardwalk Fountain, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
12. Caracol Museo de Ciencias (Caracol Science Museum)
If you are a science lover, a visit to Caracol Science Museum should be added to your list of things to do in Ensenada.
Nestled in between the harbor and the enormous Riviera Center, Caracol Science Museum is an innovative and modern museum that features different marvelous works of science.
The museum consists of exhibits that teach visitors about Mexican and Baja engineering and scientific projects most of which have English captions.
Among several other permanent exhibits in the museum include a Manila galleon which was shipwrecked off the coast, The Heavens, and The Earth.
The museum also has an exhibit of a dinosaur as well as other temporary exhibits that focus on receding polar ice caps and their impact on the marine environment, this answers what to do in Ensenada, Mexico for lovers of science.
13. El Parque De La Bandera
The park comprises of a fountain, a bandshell which serves as host to several live music events throughout the year, and a playground where the kids can play around.
Visit the park at 8 p.m to witness the dancing fountain, a lit water programmed to follow the beat of the music playing.
El Parque De La Bandera is a perfect place to visit at night to relax and enjoy amazing views of the port area.
14. ATV Ensenada
ATV Ensenada is an Ensenada tour agency that takes participants on a variety of exciting and interesting tours around the city on all-terrain vehicles.
The agency offers an opportunity for participants to drive on their own ATV or be a passenger on a vehicle of two-seaters which gives a fun-filled drive suitable for everyone.
Some of the tours offered by ATV Ensenada include the ATV Mountain Tour filled with adventure and action, the ATV Wine Tour which takes participants on an exciting trail riding to four different wineries, and the ATV Zip Line Combo Tour.
ATV Ensenada also features an ATV Blow Hole Tour perfect for nature enthusiasts as they get to visit Ensenada’s prime attractions.
You can also join the ATV Hot Springs Tour filled with lots of adventures, this makes what to do in Ensenada for a fun time.
Address: ATV Ensenada, Avenue Castillo & Boulevard Costero, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
15. Riviera of Ensenada
To know more about the culture of Ensenada visit the Riviera Center which is recognized to be the cultural heart of Ensenada, this is one tourist attraction Ensenada you should not miss.
The center also comprise of the Ensenada Museum of History, it is a historic building once home to the Riviera Del Pacifico Resort and Casino.
Built in 1930, the center is an ideal place to visit for architecture enthusiasts and history lovers. It is beautifully designed with several ornate woodwork, beautifully painted ceilings, ornate chandeliers, and local tiles.
Riviera of Ensenada also features interesting daily docent-led tours(some in English) which takes participants through the beauty and knowledge of the center
Additionally, the area is encompassed by several outstanding nature-filled manicured gardens, which are also exciting to explore.
Address: Riviera of Ensenada, Lazaro Cardenas 1421, Bahia Ensenada, 22880 Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
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16. Play with Cat Cubs at Pai Pai
Pai Pai is a rehabilitation center situated in the Paipai Eco-Tourism center just left of the Oxxo curve, which focuses on helping big cat cubs that are injured, sick, abandoned, and orphaned.
The cats in this center are divided according to their ages into three different groups and the visitor’s tours as well are grouped in this manner.
Visitors are free to pick a tour of any age group of their choice including that of the baby cubs.
Aside from its many cat cubs the center also features parrots, lemurs, and a petting zoo that comprises of different domestic animals.
Pai Pai is a perfect place to visit for kids and adults alike, the trip is worth it too, as there are lots of amazing views along its path.
Admission into this center is at a very affordable price which is used for maintenance.
Address: Km 6 Carretera Ensenada – La Bufadora, Ejido Cnel. Esteban Cantú, 22790 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
17. Desert Trails
Located about ten minutes north of Ensenada, Desert Trails is the perfect place for Equestrians to have a fun exploring time.
Having many touring opportunities and choices, the company features a small stable which comprises of different well-trained horses suitable for both beginners, average or expert horse riders.
Visitors can decide to explore the area through horseback riding or on a trail ride. There are also riding lessons carried out by horse riding experts available to individuals who wish to upgrade their horse-riding skills.
The company has a small stable of well-trained horses suitable for just about all skill levels, and you can choose to simply explore the area on a trail ride or combine horseback riding with a tour of your choice.
These tour rides are of different durations from one to four hours and feature a country barbeque, packed lunch, or a wine or cheese tour.
18. Plaza Civica
Located at the Ensenada Central Area, Plaza Civica is a place to get some knowledge about the founding history of Ensenada.
This history endowed plaza is home to three of Mexico’s most significant historical figures which are Miguel Hidalgo, the golden head busts of Benito Juarez, and Venustiano Carranza.
There is an inscription on each of the figurehead which describes the significance of the person represented to the history of Mexico.
There is a wide range of interesting knowledge available for you to uncover in this area and also remarkable views of the ocean.
Plaza Civica also features local vendors who sell items ranging from used books to crafts, jewelry, and street-food snacks.
Also, there is a gigantic flag and beautiful sights in this area which makes it a perfect place for tourists to take photos.
This is one of the best tourist attractions in Ensenada, do add to your bucket list of things to see in Ensenada, Mexico.
19. Sergio’s Sportfishing
Established in 1997, Sergio’s Sportfishing is a fishing organization that takes in interested fishermen and women aboard their tailormade sport fishing vessels to embark on an adventurous fishing experience.
The expenditure features a six-hour to full-day sportfishing tour in the deep sea of Todos Santos Island, Punta Banda, and San Miguel Reef.
Sergio’s Sportfishing fleet of sportfishing vehicle is only capable of accommodating an average number of 3 to 30 people per tour or excursion.
The fleet has several useful equipment such as live bait, sinkers, rods, fish-finder, and reels all aimed at making the tour an easy and exciting one.
The sportfishing vessels are also available for rentals for individuals who wish to explore the beauty of the waters or host an on-board private party.
Address: Sergio’s Sportfishing, Callejon Todos Santos, Centro, 22800, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
20. La Guerrerense
Among several other unique classy food venues in Ensenada, La Guerrerense is a popular food cart frequented by both locals and tourists alike.
Established in 1960, the restaurant offers fresh and delicious seafoods and is recognized by many including celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain to be one of the best Food Carts in the World.
Some of the delicious seafoods available on the La Guerrerense menu include octopus, shrimp, ceviche tostadas, and lots more.
Aside from seafoods, the cart also offers a variety of expertly prepared special homemade salsas.
Though having very little seating, the cart is famous for its delicious seafood and has long queues of people waiting for orders each day.
For this reason, diners are advised to visit early to get a taste of the restaurant’s favorites before it gets sold out.
Address: La Guerrerense, Av. Adolfo Lopez Mateos 917, Zona Centro, 22800 Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
21. El Jardin de Tara
Located in the Ecological Park of Canon De Dona Petra, El Jardin de Tara also known as Garden of Tara is a beautiful garden filled with different species of gorgeous plants.
The prime attraction of the gardens is the bright and colorful statue of the Tibetan princess the White Tara which makes it a unique attraction for many tourists.
The statue of Tara portrays an enlightened female figure who is filled with wisdom, compassion, and joy and she is adored by Buddhists across the world.
The colossal 20-foot sculpture was a symbol and gesture of peace donated to Ensenada by the people of Nepal.
Additionally, the gardens are an ideal place to take a nature stroll and have a beautiful scenic view of the ocean beyond and the city.
Address: El Jardin de Tara, Av. Ruiz, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
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22. Rancho Los Bandidos
Among other exciting things to do in Ensenada for an adventure time, joining the Baja Bandidos horse riding excursion is a perfect addition to your Ensenada bucket list.
The excursion begins at a horse ranch situated in Domicilo, Conocido, where participants are paired with the perfect healthy horse that fits their riding skill and experience.
Still at the ranch, the riders are given a short safety briefing and set out on their respective horses through the trail that leads to the San Miguel hills filled with the most spectacular views of the city.
Some of the amazing views along the trail include the Salsipuedes Bay, the golden coast, the Pacific Ocean, and the Salsipuedes Bay.
The ride is accompanied by friendly professional guides who are ready to assist riders in any way possible.
After the excursion, back to the ranch, participants are offered a variety of amazing snacks including pole tacos, chips, drinks, and salsa.
The Baja Bandidos horse riding excursion lasts for an average of 1-2 hours and it costs about $71.99 for individuals abouvey13 years of age and $ 61.99 for children from 8-6 years of age. Price may vary overtime do inquire for their website.
23. Desert Nest Zipline
For a fun outdoor adventure time, visit the Desert Nest Zipline a mountain-top adventure park located in El Sauzal which offers an intriguing zipline experience, this is one of the top things to do in Ensenada.
Among other exciting features of this Park is a circuit of five ziplines, which is about 3.6 km (11,811 feet) in length.
Desert Nest Zipline offers an off the mountain ride on safe Double parallel cables with a kind of seat that has secure straps to ensure more safety.
The Mountain-top adventure park gives an amazing scenic view of the ocean and surrounding areas. Visitors can also crossing the suspension bridge and thereafter try out the zipline ride.
Note that the ziplines only accept a minimum weight of about 45kg (99 lb.).
Address: Desert Nest Zipline, El Sauzal, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico,
24. Skydive Baja
If you are in Ensenada for a thrill or an adventure, do try out diving with the Skydive Baja.
Skydive Baja creates an opportunity for interested individuals to expedite the adventure of diving off a helicopter or plane from a high altitude of about 12,000 feet.
Skydive Baja is also available for diving newbies who wish to be part of a thrill by trying out the sport. There is onsite instruction given to newbies by experts to help guide them through the dive.
The adventurous dive features a one-minute free fall before the release of the parachute which gradually floats you down to land.
This answers what to do in Ensenada for an adventure, if you are an adventure seeker, this activity should make your list of things to do in Ensenada.
Address: Skydive Baja, Carretare Ensenada San Felipe, Ojos Negros, 22771 Ensenada, B.C. Mexico
25. Las Canadas Canopy Tour
Among other fun things to do in Ensenada, the Las Canadas Canopy Tour is an interesting zipline adventure that is worth adding to your to-do list while in the city.
The canopy tour comprises of an array of about five separate zipline sectors with two of the ziplines being more than a quarter-mile long.
The five sectors are connected by five hanging bridges, each of which requires a different balancing approach.
The adventure of the tour begins at the central tower where participants are safely strapped in a harness and released to slide across through the bridges from which they enjoy a perfect view of the area from above.
There are also safe lockers where participants can keep their valuables before embarking on the tour.
Address: Carretera Ensenada KM. 31.5, La Paz, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
26. El Salto Canyon and Waterfall
To experience an amazing view while in Ensenada, visit The El Salto Canyon and Waterfall, this is one of the top-secret attractions in Ensenada.
Located less than an hour drive from central Ensenada on the Ensenada–Tijuana Free Highway, this area is a perfect destination for hiking or exploring.
However, a little amount of 2 dollars is to be paid if you wish to explore this area and if you wish to make use of the camping option for a night an amount of 5 dollars is to be paid.
The hiking trail leads directly to the base of the canyon which features beautiful rock formations and several seasonal pools.
You can as well decide to extend the hike over a large hill, which gives an amazing view of the surrounding area and also leads to an inland lake where you can indulge in recreational activities like swimming and fishing.
Among other fun activities that can be done in this area include Rock climbing and lots more.
Address: El Salto Canyon and Waterfall, (off the Ensenada–Tijuana Highway), Baja California, Mexico
27. La Cava de Marcelo
Try some delicious cheese at La Cava de Marcelo, known to be the main cheese producer in the entire Ensenada.
At this attraction, you get to be enlightened on matters regarding crop production, livestock keeping, and sample cheese alongside fine wines.
The restaurant at La Cava de Marcelo offers spectacular traditional and modern Mexican cuisines made using carefully selected fresh locally sourced ingredients gotten from Ojos Negros valley.
28. Surf Ensenada
Amongst the top activities in Ensenada is surfing, Surf Ensenada is a training agency for surfing which gives aspiring surfers a personal Surf one-on-one lesson on surfing to improve their surfing abilities in a short while.
The private lesson runs for an average of 2 hours with an on-land section which enlightens newbies on all there is to know about surfing before entering the water.
Surf Ensenada is at the service of individuals of all ages including children with readiness to teach anyone the way of surfing.
No need to come with any surfing gear as Surf Ensenada provides all you will be needing for surfing including a rash vest, sunscreen, wet suit, and the actual soft-top surfboard.
Surf Ensenada also offers group lessons for a family or other group of people.
This makes what to do in Ensenada for a fun time, it is a perfect way to learn surfing or improve your skills in surfing while in Ensenada.
Address:Surf Ensenada, Ensenada, B.C. Mexico
29. Maya Cacao
If you are a chocolate lover, then a visit to Maya Cacao should be added to your list of things to do in Ensenada.
It is believed by the people of Ensenada that about 3,500 years ago the first cacao beans were given to the ancient Mayans, and that chocolate was first mentioned in the ancient Mayan scripts during that time.
Ever since, the cacao bean has been regarded as a food of the gods. Stop by the Maya Cacao to know more about this tale and the history of the cacao bean.
The cacao bean is also available in the area, which gives you a chance to see how the beans grow.
Additionally, Maya Cacao features a detailed chocolate-making demonstration which lasts for about 60 minutes and when finished, visitors get to taste a traditional Mayan chocolate drink and several other chocolate drinks.
Address:Maya Cacao, 914 Alvarado Ave, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico,
30. Guadalupe Island
If you have an interest in cage diving with enormous white sharks, a visit to Guadalupe Island should be a perfect addition to your checklist of things to do in Ensenada.
The Island creates an opportunity for interested visitors to indulge in a life adventure by getting aboard the Nautilus liveaboard vessel in Guadalupe Island which takes passengers deep into the ocean.
The adventure lasts for five days spent on board the vessel with an opportunity to go 30 meters below the ocean surface on highly protected cages for an average time of 2 hours daily.
The dive takes participants so deep to come face to face with great white sharks in a natural and safe environment guided by an experienced divemaster.
To enjoy this adventurous memorable experience visit between July and November each year.
31. Flyers Trampoline Park
If you are looking forward to giving your kids a fun-filled experience when you visit Ensenada, then one place to check out is the Flyers Trampoline Park. It features a lot of fun activities for kids of all ages.
Flyers Trampoline Park is a warehouse with plenty of play space and numerous areas for varieties of fun activities. The older kids can also join in being part of this fun-filled adventure.
The Park has basketball courts, large trampoline areas, dodgeball, and many other fun activities. Parents can feed their eyes with the many activities or just watch as their kids have a good time in this facility.
Flyers Trampoline Park is open all through the week. Their staff is very welcoming and super friendly.
Address: Transpeninsular 86, Carlos Pacheco 4, 22890 Ensenada, B.C
32. Ensenada Pier Extension
This destination is a nice place to visit. You can hang out with your loved ones and friends as you enjoy your home-packaged meal and drink while enjoying the lovely scenery.
The attraction is furry-friendly, but visitors must ensure their dogs are well looked after and are leashed at all times. You can take a quick dip on the beach, skate, or enjoy a boat ride.
An ideal time to visit this beach area is when the sun sets and blends with the blue waters, which makes the entire place more colorful and lovely to take photos.
Address: Carlos Pacheco 4, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Do you have time?, take to exploring Puerto Vallarta, here is a list of the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta for a fun time in this part of Mexico.
Plan to Explore Ensenada
Ensenada is a perfect place for some vacation time with family and friends.
Filled with fun and lots of excitement, the city has several captivating attractions suitable for individuals of all ages.
Do plan a visit to this destination for your next vacation and take part in the excitement this city has to offer. Hit the pin button to save this piece as you make plans to visit this coastal city.
Ensenada Solo Travel Guide
Planning a solo trip to Ensenada , Mexico? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Lies on the Pacific coast of Baja, California, and has a population of around 350,000 .
- Located just 125 km south of San Diego, it is the heart of Mexican wine country .
- A commercial port city known for its fishing and tourism industries.
- Nickname: La Cenicienta del Pacifico (“The Cinderella of the Pacific”)
- Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN).
- Spoken languages: Spanish .
- Best time to visit: anytime (mild, Mediterranean climate). Winter nights can get chilly.
- Arriving from the airport: Ensenada has no airport – the most frequently used airport to get here is San Diego Airport . There are two options on how to get from the airport to Ensenada. The first is to drive across the San Ysidro border, and then follow the signs through Tijuana to Ensenada, which takes around 1.5 hours. There are 3 toll roads on the way, each costing 30 pesos . Another option is to cross the border and take a bus from Tijuana for around 200 pesos .
WHERE TO STAY
Downtown Ensenada has every type of accommodation you could want, from upscale hotels to budget dormitory rooms.
- Taxis are all over Ensenada and will take you just about anywhere, for a reasonable price.
- Ensenada’s buses serve mostly the central/suburban areas – a single ride is just 8 pesos .
- Hiring a car can be a fantastic option, as parking is free.
- You can get to most of downtown Ensenada by walking – however, be aware that some of the best attractions cannot be accessed by foot .
- Drinking age is 18 , last call is 3 AM .
- Downtown is the hub for all of the best clubs, whether you prefer chart-music experience or samba-class style night out.
- For those wanting a chilled bohemian night out, Ensenada has plenty of hookah (shisha) bars.
- Great bars to start your night: Wendlandt Brew Pub (top pick), Transpeninsular Brewery, la bête noire (cocktails and music), As de Guia Gastrofonda, and Lucky Irish Pub.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- La Bufadora, located around 19 miles from the center of Ensenada, is a blowhole that reaches up to 100 feet. The views are incredible and the road leading to the blowhole is lined with Mexican craft shops and food stands.
- Tip: visit La Jolla beach on the way to La Bufadora (one of the best beaches in the area).
- Take a day trip to visit some of the Ensenada wineries , on the outskirts of the city. Tours and tastings are available.
- Visit Guadalupe Valley for the wine, scenery, and amazing restaurants.
- Go whale watching (December to May). Witness the gray whale’s annual migrations from Alaska to Baja California, and back again.
- Centro Social, Civico y Cultural Riviera (Riviera Social, Civic and Cultural Center) is a beautiful building with local artistic and historical exhibits.
- Hiking is abundant in the hills surrounding Ensenada. Try the Canon de Dona Petra Hike and take the bus back to Ensenada once you’re done.
- Walk along the seafront and around the port, right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. See if you can catch a glimpse of the seals sunbathing on the docks!
- Join the active TalkBaja Facebook Group to ask your questions and get the latest tips and advice!
- The San Carlos Hot Springs are a hidden treasure in Ensenada, just 5 miles south of the town. Nestled into a hilly valley, the site also has camping facilities.
- Ensenada’s Carnaval is one of the country’s largest and lasts for six days and nights – parades take place in the streets and there are circuses, concerts and fun fairs along the seafront.
- The longest international off-road race in the world called the Baja 1000, taking place in November – on even numbered years, it ends in Ensenada. The Baja 500 takes place in June, and always ends in Ensenada.
- Great restaurants to try in Ensenada: Mexipon Ramen & Curry Bar, Victor’s Restaurant (breakfast / brunch), El Correcaminos (breakfast / lunch), Bronco’s Steak House, La Cocedora De Langosta (for ceviche),
- Where to find good cheap food : Ensenada has many taco vendors and the fish tacos are a must-try. Recommendations: Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix, Tacos Puebla, and Birrieria Rodríguez.
- Dangerous areas to avoid : while Ensenada is not especially dangerous, be careful with personal belongings. Don’t go out alone at night to areas you are not familiar with.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days
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- 1.1 Climate
- 3 Get around
- 5.1 Beaches and surfing
- 5.2 Hiking, nature and off-road
Ensenada (Spanish: Ensenada De Todos Santos ) is the city seat of the largest municipality in Baja California , Mexico on the Pacific Coast south of Tijuana . It is locally referred as La Bella Cenicienta del Pacífico (Spanish: The Beautiful Cinderella of the Pacific )
Understand [ edit ]
In the Bahía de Todos Santos — an inlet of the Pacific Ocean — Ensenada is an important commercial and fishing port as well as a cruise ship port of call. There is also a navy base, an army base and a military airfield.
The city is backed by small mountain ranges. Due to its location on the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean latitude, the weather tends to be mild year-round. Although the winter rainy season is short and the area is prone to prolonged droughts, Ensenada sits in the heart of a wine country that is widely regarded as the best in Mexico and the Americas with the Napa Valley in California. It is said that the first vitis vinifera made it to the peninsula (specifically to the San Ignacio Mission) in 1703, when Jesuit Padre Juan de Ugarte planted the first vineyards there.
Ensenada is the only deep-water port in the state of Baja California and is part of standard shipping routes that directly link it with the Mexican cities of La Paz , Manzanillo , Mazatlán , Acapulco and Lázaro Cárdenas, and with the U.S. cities of San Diego , Long Beach and Los Angeles , the Guatemalan city of Puerto Quetzal , the Chilean city of Valparaíso , the Japanese city of Yokohama and Hong Kong .
Ensenada has been recognized for its gastronomy and is on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities for its cuisine. Locally sourced fruits and vegetables combined with sustainably harvested seafood and local vineyards are hallmarks of the city's progressive dining scene.
Climate [ edit ]
Ensenada boasts overall very pleasant weather with the sea bringing cold air in hot days and not much cold on the winters. It is also very fickle and you are advised to bring a sweater and pants along with your shorts and shirts.
Ensenada has a dry Mediterranean climate. Precipitation is scarce and is concentrated in the coldest months, from November to February, in which the average temperature is 13 °C and rarely reaches frost. On the other hand, the warmest months, from June to September, are also the driest, and have an average temperature of 22 °C. The end of summer and the beginning of autumn is commonly the warmest time in the city. The Santa Ana winds are responsible for raising temperatures at any time of the year, when the wind direction changes and brings warm air from the interior to the coast. It is in these months that the highest temperatures occur most frequently (between 25 and 30 °C usually).
Get in [ edit ]
- Take the bus from Tijuana for roughly US$18 or M$ 350.
- Drive across the border from San Ysidro. Go in the morning and you will be going the opposite direction of the nigtmare traffic trying to get into the U.S.. Once in Tijuana, follow the signs to Rosarito and Ensenada on route 1. There will be three toll stops en route to Ensenada. These tolls cost M$31, less than US$2, each. You can pay with US dollars or pesos, but no mixed currency. The scenic highway ("carretera escenica") is well maintained and is an enjoyable ride along the beautiful Baja coastline. If you go in spring and early summer, the wildflowers on the hillsides are gorgeous. The ride from Tijuana to Ensenada takes 1-1½ hours. Stop in Puerto Nuevo for a Mexican lobster dinner. There are many rest areas and vista points along the way. AAA and other travel magazines recommend that you only drive in Mexico during the day for safety reasons. The toll road (scenic highway) is somewhat winding compared to divided highways in the United States or Europe , but a great improvement over two-lane roads south of Ensenada.
- Bike . Coming from the US, if you want to avoid Tijuana's heavy traffic, you can try biking in from Tecate. As one blogger somewhere suggested, go on a Sunday, there's the fewest cars on the road. The blogger also noted that highway 1 has no shoulder and high motor vehicle traffic. The toll road, 1d, has a shoulder and little traffic, but bikes aren't allowed, so a police officer might tell you to get off at the next exit. Somewhere on the internet, it is also noted that there are hundreds of crosses on Highway 1 representing people who died on that road.
- Carnival shuttles . Carnival Cruises has the Misioneros Tour company run shuttle buses between the port and Ensenada every 10min. It's US$2 to Ensenada and US$2 to get back to the ship. US$4 round-trip . ( updated Jul 2018 )
Get around [ edit ]
- By foot Most of Ensenada's downtown tourist attractions can be accessed by foot. Others, like La Bufadora and Wineries are too far away to walk to, but tours will take you there for a fee. If your espanol is "malo" you could take local buses inexpensively out and back to La Bufadora.
- By bicycle Most of the Boulevard Costero and the scenic highway can be traveled by bike. Take precautions for the scenic highway north of Costero is a freeway and trucks and cars travel at high speeds. Ensenada's South is not very bike friendly. Bloggers typically note that drivers give each other less room in the US, but are more courteous (e.g., sharing right of way, no road rage, etc). There is safety gear you shouldn't need, but pretty much everywhere in North America, you do anyway. The driver will be wrong, but you could be dead. So add visibility: - Get a high-visibility shirt, - a "safety wing" that puts a reflector 1 foot to the left of your bicycle (and folds in if it is hit), and - a slow-moving vehicle triangle.
- By car The city is easy to navigate by car and parking is free and available everywhere. On highways, the left lane is just for passing and local drivers will tailgate you if you coast on the left lane. You can rent a car at the Rosarito Hotel.
- Taxis and buses Radio taxis are available and will take you anywhere. Route taxis and buses serve mostly suburban routes and are not very useful for tourists, although are very cheap (US$0.75, M$8).
See [ edit ]
- Carnival Tours . Bufadora tours from Carnival Cruise lines cost more than anywhere else, but will pick you up and drop you off from the cruise ship port. US$36 . ( updated Feb 2017 )
- Misioneros Tours . This tour company runs the shuttle buses between the Carnival cruise ships and Ensenada. The stop in Ensenada is right by their tour booth where you can buy a discounted Bufadora tour. They prefer US dollars. US$15 . ( updated Feb 2017 )
- Baja Wineries Many wineries are just outside Ensenada in the Valle de Guadalupe. A second area of wineries is about an hour south at Santo Tomas. The Valle de Guadalupe wineries are located along Highway 3 toward Tecate. Most offer tours and tastings, however some wineries require that you make an appointment before. Several tour operators in Ensenada offer day trips to the wineries.
Do [ edit ]
The greatest experiences in Ensenada involve going out early to Bufadora, having ceviche at 1st street, drink at Hussong's, then go to a beach and end back in a club or bar. All of these require independent transportation so it would be wise to rent a car, and have a designated driver.
Beaches and surfing [ edit ]
- Beaches . The city of Ensenada is on the Ensenada Harbor, so you'll have to drive south or north to get to a local beach. Private beaches like Estero Beach and Mona Lisa have resort accommodations and facilities, but public ones like San Miguel and El Punto are free for anyone who wishes to walk by the sea. Ensenada area has several celebrated surfing spots, such as San Miguel Beach , California Trailer Park , Stacks and 3 M's (Spanish: Tres Emes ), which are located in the north coast of the city. Todos Santos Island a small island west of Ensenada (about 2 hours by boat), and a world-famous surfing spot. The Billabong XXL surfing contest has been held at Todos Santos Island several times. Wave faces can reach above 18 m (60) feet on the island. Brad Gerlach, 2006 winner of Big XXL, surfed a wave of 20 m (68 feet) in December 2006.
- San Miguel Beach , San Miguel Beach ( Near Ensenad's highway toll, ask a taxi ). A small rocky beach that offers a great night view of the city. Great for camping and drinking, locals favor it for it's relaxed nature and private nature which means you won't be disturbed unless you make a lot of noise. Free entrance, US$12 camping .
Hiking, nature and off-road [ edit ]
Hiking can be done on the nearby Canon de Dona Petra, and on the nearby Laguna Hanson. Arrangements with local eco tour companies are needed.
- El Salto . Its a beautiful canyon, excellent for rock climbing, rappel and hiking; and in rain season you can view a spectacular waterfall that is over 30 m (100 ft). You can find it at KM 76 in the Tijuana - Ensenada Libre Highway. Camping Facilities. US$2 .
- Canon de Dona Petra Hike ( ask a taxi to get you to the starting point ). Every first Sunday of the month, locals hike through this 10-km hike. It's free and you can find many people. It takes about 3½ hours at good pace and it's of moderate difficulty. At the end of the hike, you can take the bus back to Ensenada for about US$1. free .
- San Carlos Hot Springs ( Aguas Termales ) ( head five miles south of town ( just past Chapultepec) on the road to San Quintin, turn East at the golf course and follow the signs, or ask the locals ). Features pipe-fed hot pools, cold pool, and mud pool as well as cabins, showers and camping, is popular with the locals, despite a 16-km rocky dirt road with 13 (or so) shallow water crossings; medium-clearance vehicles are recommended.
- California Motorsport Adventures . Off-road adventure tours for people of all riding abilities. Everyone welcome: families, couples, friends, single riders, bachelor and corporate groups. Full day excursions or longer tours available also. Ride in the dunes and then enjoy a guided adventure into the surrounding mountain trails. Contact the office for reservations.
- Whale Pursuing ( Whale Watching ). The gray whales' annual migration from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California Sur between the months of December and March, and back in the months of April and May, can be seen from the coast of Ensenada. Sightseeing tours are available every day during migration season. Whale watching not guaranteed.
- La Bufadora ( The Blowhole ), Punta Banda . La Bufadora is a marine geyser and the largest blowhole in the world, often shooting upwards more than 30 m (100 feet) above sea level. The exhibit hall roof top is approximately 25 m (80 feet) above sea level and the blowhole frequently sprays above it. Free .
- Sports Fishing . Ensenada Baja California has been known for sport fishing over fifty years. Each year hundreds of anglers head for Ensenada to go fishing and take advantage of the shorter distances needed to travel by sea to get to the big catch. The short range day trips are good for cranking in Bass, Bonita, Barracuda, Cod and Yellowtail, while the long range trips pull in Tuna, Albacore, Dorado. Prices Vary .
Events [ edit ]
- Baja 1000 ( The Longest International Off Road Race in the World ). This important race held in November as well as the Baja 500 Off-Road race held in June start in Ensenada. While the Baja 500 almost always ends in Ensenada, the Baja 1000 ends in Ensenada in even-numbered years while in odd-numbered years ends at the tip of Baja, usually in Cabo San Lucas . Amenities are extended during the days prior to the start. Race info including course map updated regularly at the website.
- Wine Harvest Festival ( Fiestas De La Vendimia ). Every year, before the end of spring and until the end of August, the wine harvest season is celebrated around the Guadalupe Valley and in the city of Ensenada with a series of events. These events range from private wine tastings and galas, to concerts of classical music and famous pop artists at the wine yards. The end of the harvest season is commemorated by a two-day free event at the Santo Tomas winery in Ensenada with a festival that is preferred by the locals. Be sure to check out the site for there is an event almost daily. Varies .
- Carnaval . The Ensenada Carnaval is one of the country's largest, as thousands of people gather in the streets for six days and nights.
Buy [ edit ]
- Curios , On 1st street . Many regional art pieces for cheap can be found on 1st Street.
- MacroPlaza , Transpeninsular ( Ask a taxi or take any Maneadero Bus ). Mall with clothing and supermarket options. If you want to see a movie and don't mind Spanish subtitles, go to a Mexican movie theater. US$5 tickets is a steal compared to USA prices.
Eat [ edit ]
- Open Air Fish Market ( Mercado Negro ), Boulevard Costero . Baja's largest seafood market. Located near the oceanfront. Most of the market's open air stalls sell catches fresh off the fishing boats that dock nearby. This is also a great place to try a famous fish taco.
- Fish Tacos . The fish taco is said to have been born in Ensenada (or possibly San Felipe ). The local style includes deep-fried seafood, with a white sauce and a shredded-cabbage topping, along with several salsas. Dining at the row of fish and shrimp taco eateries by the pier is an Ensenada must.
- Taqueria El Fenix . This local favorite serves delicious tacos, shrimp and fish.
- Caprichos . Incredible fine dining. Located in the heart of Ensenada on the cobblestone street, across the road from Hussongs (whether it is the original or not is unknown). It also serves delicious burgers on a back grill.
- Tortas Michoacan . Really good sandwiches with either pork, ham, carne asada, or all three, very delicious, kind of a little walk away from the tourist area, look for the counter with a big line of people on the main street just 1 block south of a Chinese buffet, it's about 2 blocks east from the main tourist area and about 10 blocks south on the widest big road with all the shops all the way along it.
- Ceviche La Guerrerense . Great street ceviche car that serves a huge variety of ceviches for US$1 each. It also has a huge variety of salsas ranging from light to super hot. Be careful with those and ask for assistance. Also serves cocktails. Located on 1st street and Alvarado
- 31.875016 -116.628054 1 Tacos El Paisa , 10th street and 20 de Noviembre ( ask a taxi to take you here ). If you want to have the true Mexican taco experience, go to this place. Favored by locals, it offers US$1 tacos. Carne Asada, Adobada, Tripas and Cabeza are available as quesatacos, tortas, and huaraches. A must-taste that will scratch that Tex-Mex flavor you are used to. With everything
- Cremeria los Globos . This cheese shop is a gem, offering an astounding vaiety of artesanal cheeses from across Mexico, including Real de Castillo, a small town near Ensenada where 30 craft cheese makers produce everything from soft melting cheeses to hard grating cheeses. ( updated Jun 2023 )
Drink [ edit ]
- Cantina Hussong's , Ave Ruiz #113 , ☏ +52 646 178-3210 , [email protected] . Legendary and historic bar. Established in 1892 Hussongs is the oldest bar in the Californias, Hussong’s began as a stagecoach stop built by its German founder Johan Hussong. Some say that the city of Ensenada was built around this bar. Rumor has it that the Margarita was invented here. ( updated Feb 2017 )
- Papa's and Beer Ensenada ( El Papas ), Ruiz y Primera . Another legendary and historic bar right across the street from Hussongs.
- Mango Mango , Primera & Ruiz . 20:00 - 03:00 . A place to dance Caribbean and norteno rythms US$5 .
- Abel's Bar , Boulevard Costero 1000-6 between Diamante and Medusas ( Easy to find on Costero ). A rock-oriented bar that serves cheap drinks and good music with a metal mood.
- La Taberna (Cervecrería Tijuana) . Located on 1st Street (half a block away from McDonald's), the Tijuana Brewery Tavern offers award-winning draft beer in many varietals, ranging from light lagers to dark ales. This is a local favorite hangout for all sorts of people, and happy hour is available at least two nights a week.
Sleep [ edit ]
- 31.865269 -116.662312 1 Hotel Coral & Marina , Carretera Tijuana-Ensenada Km.103 #3421 , ☏ +52 646 175 0000 . A beautiful hotel with amazing bathrooms and views. Located on the main road between the end of the toll road and downtown. There's a marina for your yacht and many amenities. Shuttle service into town (4.8 km or 3 miles away), US$4 for a taxi. ( updated Mar 2017 )
- Playa Saldamando Trailer and campground located 13 km (8 miles) north of Ensenada. Over one mile of coastal property, all fenced and gated to enhance security. Employees are on the property 24 hours/7 days a week providing friendly service. Campsites available on the beach and on the cliffs above. All sites have beautiful ocean views. Large sites available to accommodate large groups. Clean, maintained camping areas and our clean restrooms with flushing toilets and showers.
- 31.860486 -116.615922 2 Ensenada Backpacker ( Hostel ), Calle Segunda 1429 ( Between Floresta and Guadaluper St ), ☏ +52 646 177-1758 . Check-out: 12:00 . The Ensenada Backpacker is a few blocks from Ensenada's most popular attractions. They offer dormitory and private rooms. US$20 . ( updated Mar 2017 )
- Ocean View Rental Home . Su Casa is set on a hillside with a spectacular panoramic ocean view of Todos Santos Bay and its islands in the gated secure community of Cibolas del Mar. It is 15 minutes north of Ensenada, where the toll road ends. This Spanish style home with tile roof has a large flagstone deck and covered outside area. It is in an area of private family homes in a quiet neighborhood. US$200/night .
- Hostel Sauzal feels like more of a bed and breakfast than a hostel with a gracious host, and a sweeping ocean view from the huge flower garden. Just north of Ensenada in El Sauzal, US$15/night. Don't come here expecting a party. Do come here to relax and recharge.
- Hotel Las Rosas , ☏ +52 646 174 4320 . By the sea hotel that is a good spot for a wedding. US$80-446 .
- 31.86428 -116.62444 3 Hotel Eiffel , Macheros #274 , ☏ +52 646 977 8800 . Coffee shop and wifi are part of this francophile-themed hotel. M$940 . ( updated Feb 2021 )
Go next [ edit ]
The nearby cities of Tijuana , Tecate and Rosarito can be easily visited as a day trip.
The wineries and restaurants that blanket Valle de Guadalupe are highly recommended destinations.
More than a hundred miles into the Pacific Ocean is Guadalupe Island , a desert island. It is a next-to-impossible destination : the closest most people get to the island is a great white shark diving expedition which is based in Ensenada.
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How To Get To Ensenada: A Quick Guide
At the center of Mexico’s best wine country and an important coastal-port city, Ensenada is an attractive travel destination with agreeable weather, great-tasting wine, and entertaining whale-watching. Getting to Ensenada can be a little complicated. However, with some early preparation, you will not only enjoy Ensenada but the journey there as well.
There are several ways to get to Ensenada, which may vary depending on travel budget and preference: travelers can get to Ensenada by plane, car, bus, or cruise ship. Traveling by car or bus is more cost-effective while taking the cruise ship offers a more exciting traveling experience.
Understanding all the minor details is important when traveling, as you will need to consider how you want to get there and the associated costs. In this quick guide, you will find out how to get to Ensenada so you can solidify your travel plans and make the most of your trip.
How To Get To Ensenada
Getting to Ensenada can be a little tricky, as you cannot fly directly into the city like you can with most major metropolitan areas. This means that your trip will most likely involve going from one location to the next until you arrive in Ensenada unless you travel by cruise ship.
Here are the ways to enter Ensenada:
- Fly to Tijuana
- Drive to Ensenada
- Take public transportation
- Take a cruise ship from L.A .
These are the conventional methods of transportation when going to Ensenada. Depending on your budget and preferences, you may decide between any of these options. And once you make your decision, you will need to figure out the steps you will need to take to get to Ensenada from your current location.
Fly To Tijuana
Since there is no major airport in Ensenada, the next best thing is the airport in Tijuana, Mexico. Most of the flights coming from Europe route through Mexico city, including flights from London, Paris, and Madrid. For US flights, you can fly to Tijuana directly from many major cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Dallas.
Upon arriving at Tijuana airport, you can either drive to Ensenada with a rented vehicle, take an Uber, or take a bus line.
You could also take advantage of the opportunity to check out Tijuana while you’re there.
Drive To Ensenada
If you are coming from the US border to Ensenada, then all you need to do is take Highway-1D to get to Ensenada at the US-Mexico border. You can expect this drive to take about 90 minutes, assuming there is not too much traffic.
Make sure your purchase Mexican vehicle insurance at a cheap cost just in case anything happens during your trip. Learn all the requirements for Mexican Car Insurance in this article . Also, make sure to have some cash handy as you will need to pay three different tolls while driving along Highway-1D which cost about five dollars each.
For international travelers that do not own a personal vehicle, you can defer to a rental vehicle. However, this comes with a catch: there are many restrictions in place for US rental vehicles. Therefore, if you want to rent a vehicle to get around in Ensenada, then you should wait until after you cross the border.
Take Public Transportation
For travelers going through Tijuana airport, there are bus lines that can take you from the airport to Ensenada.
- The bus lines to Ensenada include Aguacaliente, ABC and Autobuses Elite.
- The travel time for these buses is approximately 100 minutes.
- The weekly schedules for these bus lines run for 24 hours, but this varies for holidays and weekends.
Another option available to you in Tijuana is a taxi. Taxis charge high rates, so you can expect to pay $70 to $85 to get a ride to Ensenada. Compared to the buses, the taxis are faster and should only take around 80-90 minutes to get you to Ensenada. If you are in a hurry and would rather avoid waiting for a bus, then taking a taxi might be a good option for you.
Alternatively, if you are traveling from San Diego or any other area where Amtrak is servicing, you can take an Amtrak train to San Ysidro. San Ysidro is right next to the US-Mexico border, and has a bus that can take you from San Ysidro to Ensenada: Mexicoach is a bus line and cross-border service that takes travelers from the San Ysidro border station to Ensenada. Mexicoach is active from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.
If none of the previous options appeal to you, then you can also think about paying for an Uber. Paying for an Uber will likely cost you a lot, but it may be preferable if you do not want to take a taxi or bus. Uber has a large service area, so you can find Uber drivers at Tijuana airport or regions in Baja California as you would anywhere else.
Take a Cruise Ship From Los Angeles, California
More conventional for travelers coming from the US and Canada, taking a cruise ship is another way to get to Ensenada. Taking a cruise ship affords you many luxuries and beautiful sights of the sea as you approach Ensenada’s coast.
Taking a cruise can cost anywhere between $194 and $259. These cruises depart from L.A to Ensenada with an added stop to Catalina Island, which offers gorgeous beaches and scenic views. Keep in mind that some of these cruises only allow you to stay in Ensenada for a limited time, so if you want to stay in Ensenada for a week or more then you may need to consider other travel options.
Some cruise ships do not require you to bring a passport, but in some cases they do. Since many of these cruises involve stays in Ensenada that last three days or less, oftentimes you will not need a passport. Nonetheless, you will want to have your passport on you just in case to avoid potential complications that could prevent you from entering Mexico and getting to Ensenada.
Taking the cruise ship from L.A. is the most costly method of getting to Ensenada, especially if you are buying plane tickets before going on your cruise. But if you want to make your trip extra spectacular, then the cruise ship is a great option.
The Best Times to Go to Ensenada
Depending on your reasons for visiting Ensenada, the best times to go may vary. Certain times during the year are better for the beach, while others are better for whale-watching or for people wanting to avoid large numbers of tourists.
Although Ensenada has a mild climate, the best time to visit is during the summer between June and September. These months during the summer provide hot enough weather to enjoy the beach, but without too much heat to deter you from staying on the beach for long periods of time.
If you are less focused on the weather and want to avoid large crowds of tourists, then October through November or April through May are great times to go. The weather is still decently warm during these months without too many tourists or cruise ship visitors.
Whale-watching is a fun pastime that is prevalent in the coastal city of Ensenada. If this is an activity you are interested in, then the best times to go are between December and April.
Ensenada is a vibrant coastal city with superb wine, whale-watching, and wonderful beaches . Depending on your travel budget and preferences, you can drive, fly, or take a cruise ship to get to Ensenada.
Getting to Ensenada is not so straightforward, especially for international travelers coming from Europe. Nevertheless, with some careful planning, you can enjoy your trip and stay at Ensenada without any worries!
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Alex Gomez is a professional writer, travel enthusiast, and the creator of Mexico Travel Buddy. His favorite destination is anywhere in Mexico. Having ventured to Mexico numerous times, he enjoys sharing valuable tips, tricks, and insights he's gathered along the way.
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12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Ensenada
Written by Meagan Drillinger Updated Jan 20, 2023
Author Meagan Drillinger visits Mexico several times a year. She most recently visited Ensenada on an extended trip through Baja in September 2022.
Seventy miles south of the California border sits a quiet fishing-village-turned-cruise-port and surf haven . Ensenada, a small town on the coast of Baja Norte , is one of the most iconic beach towns in Mexico.
The quirky coastal city is a mishmash of day trippers in port on a cruise call, Californians passing through for a weekend of surf, local fishermen and craftsmen, musicians, and domestic visitors from the mainland. As such, it's a fairly international spot for such a small town. You'll find everything from traditional tacos to haute French fare, tacky T-shirts to Indigenous handicrafts.
Among the top things to do in Ensenada are to stroll the streets to soak up the effervescent atmosphere, from live Mariachi music to cacophonous taco stalls, dancing fountains and natural geysers, epic waves, and brightly colored souvenir stands. Don't miss one of the world's largest flags — though at 164 feet by 91 feet, to miss it would be impossible.
A bit outside of Ensenada proper, many locals and visitors love to break a sweat in the extreme sports scenes, from skydiving and ATV rides to surfing and snorkeling.
Ensenada is very much on the tourist trail but still manages to retain its small-town charm. Plan your sightseeing with our list of the top things to do in Ensenada.
1. Stroll Avenida Lopez Mateos
2. discover the museo de historia, 3. catch the water show at parque de la bandera, 4. wander plaza civica, 5. mount a steed at rancho los bandidos, 6. visit la bufadora, 7. hike el salto canyon, 8. pop up to rosarito, 9. dive into extreme sports, 10. browse the malecon, 11. explore cañon de doña petra ecological park, 12. caracol museo de ciencias, map of ensenada - best things to do.
When you first arrive in Ensenada, especially if it's on a cruise ship, the first thing you're going to hear about is Avenida Lopez Mateos. Also known as Calle Primera , the four blocks of this avenue between Calle Castillo and Avenida Riveroll are primetime for shopping and soaking up the tourist vibe.
Flanked on either end with everything from leather and silver shops to restaurants and hotels, this is the heart of the action in Ensenada . Whether you're sipping on a latte and snacking on delicious seafood, or buying a poncho and embroidered textiles, Avenida Lopez Mateos has a shop to please.
Hotels are abundant here, from the Bahia and villa Fontana Inn to Hotel Villa Marina and Hotel Mision Santa Isabel. By afternoon, the air is filled with the sounds of Mariachi music that waft out onto the avenue from the bustling restaurants.
Located in the port area, it's close to the heart of downtown and the perfect jumping-off point from which to dive into the more local sides of Ensenada.
To fully understand the story of Ensenada, it's best to start at the beginning. That's why it's worth a trip to the History Museum of Ensenada. This is the best place for a comprehensive look into the history of the region, from pre-Hispanic times through the Spanish Colonial conquest and up to the present.
Through artifacts like beads and pots to historic photographs and modern-day gardens, the history of Ensenada comes to life. What's even more interesting is that the museum is housed within the Rivera del Pacifico building, which used to be a lavish casino in the early 20th century during Prohibition.
Not only is it an architectural marvel, but its walls tell the stories of visiting celebrities like Lucy and Desi Arnez, as well as seedy characters like Al Capone. Not only are the exhibits of the museum interesting, but the murals, paintings, and stunning ceilings of the building are works of art in themselves.
Address: Blvd. Costero 2, Bahia Ensenada, 22800 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
Ensenada is home to a small, but vibrant, malecon (sea wall) that runs along the water's edge. While strolling the malecon, be sure to stop by El Parque de la Bandera. Translated as the Park of the Flag, you'll recognize this park by none other than its towering flagpole. Some say the massive Mexican flag that towers over the park is the largest in Mexico, and it will be very easy to see why.
Within the park is a small playground and a bandshell that often hosts live music. But the most exciting part of the park are the dancing fountains . Every evening from 8pm, the fountains spring to life, putting on a live water show synched to music and splashed with festive lighting. If you've ever been to The Bellagio in Las Vegas, you know the hypnotizing power of a dancing water show set to a soundtrack.
It's a wonderful time of night when locals and tourists pause together to watch the energetic musical display.
Address: Prol. Castillo, Zona Centro, 22800 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
In the heart of Ensenada is Plaza Civica, the town's main square . A stroll through this central plaza will shed light on some of Mexico's important historical events. The park is known locally as "Three Heads Park" because of the three giant golden busts of figures from Mexico's history. Take a look at the busts of some of the country's more notable figures, like Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, and Venustiano Carranza. To know more about who each one was, take a look at the plaques on each bust.
But more than history, the plaza affords lovely ocean views , which make for great photo ops, as well. Plaza Civica is lined with vendors who are selling everything from street food and crafts to jewelry and books.
One of the most popular things to do in Ensenada is to head over to Rancho Los Bandidos for a trail ride . The ranch is an actual working ranch in the foothills of the Sierra San Pedro Martir mountains. It's a true trip back in time to the Wild West days of Baja California. Riders are paired with horses that match their skills, which makes it safe and a relaxing adventure for the day. After the safety briefing, riders mount their houses and head off into the hills.
The trail winds to the San Miguel Hills, which open to stunning views over Ensenada, including the coastline, Salsipuedes Bay, Ensenada Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. After the trail ride, guests head back to the ranch for chips and salsa, tacos, and snacks.
This activity is popular with cruisers who can arrange for shore excursions, but anyone is welcome to the ranch for a ride. The entire excursion lasts about two hours, and Rancho Los Bandidos is about 20 minutes from the cruise terminal.
Address: Domicilio Conocido, Ensenada, Ensenada Municipality 68430 México
If you didn't get your fix of dancing water from El Parque de la Bandera, perhaps La Bufadora will be fully satisfying. The area of Mexico on which Ensenada sits is known for its geological strata that includes one of the largest blowholes in North America .
La Bufadora is caused from the ocean waves that push air and water through a very narrow passage in the rocks. That said, the legend says that the Bufadora is the result of a whale that was once wedged between the rocks. Over the years the whale turned to stone and has been lodged ever since. Whichever version you choose to believe, the result is one of the largest marine geysers in the world.
A path to La Bufadora takes visitors from the parking lot to the viewpoint. It's a bit of a drive on highway 1, south from Ensenada. On the way, you'll pass flea markets and a few tourist stalls.
Be prepared to get wet. The waves can blast water more than 100 feet into the air, so it's not uncommon for viewers to get drenched in the process.
Address: Calle N, 22819 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
Lace up your hiking boots and get wild in the raw, unspoiled nature of the Baja peninsula. Hit the trails in El Salto Canyon.
The steep, black-rock canyon slices through the Guadalupe Valley, offering dramatic terrain with steep walls, dark crevices, and snaking trails. The best way to experience the canyon is to hire the expertise of a guide, who can point out the kingbirds and red-tailed hawks that circle the sky.
The El Salto Canyon Trail is a 4.9-mile loop, and is not for the faint of heart. The trail is frequented by rock climbers and experienced hikers. In fact, much of the trail is unmarked, and bouldering is required.
But those with the know-how and stamina are rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views and a waterfall along the way. In the rainy season, the waterfall gushes more than 100 feet. Note that the trail and canyon are also pet-friendly, should you be traveling with your trusty dog sidekick.
While you're in Ensenada, you may want to pop over to one of Mexico's other best-known beach towns, Rosarito . Once upon a time, Rosarito was a getaway for the Hollywood A-listers, who would cross the border to escape Prohibition in the United States.
About an hour up the coast, Rosarito is today known for its explosive sunsets, wildlife, spas, and some of the best beaches on the Baja California Peninsula . In fact, Rosarito Beach has been a surfer's mecca for decades.
Even if you're not a surfer, the beaches are known for their ATV tours, snorkeling, fish tacos , and sun worshippers.
The town is also heralded for its extreme sports , from hiking and dirt biking to motorcycles and jet skiing. Head out to Los Coronados, a string of rocks that have become a habitat for wildlife, and a prime place to visit for snorkelers and scuba divers.
Rosarito is an artisan haven , too, from the Local Artisan Market to Plaza Pabellon's galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops. You may even opt to spend the night at one of the many hotel options that line the beaches in Rosarito.
Baja California's rugged terrain, unspoiled beaches, and pounding surf have made it a paradise for adventure lovers for many years. Ensenada is no different and, in fact, it's one of the best places to visit in Mexico for extreme sports.
S urfing is the main attraction, which is the official/unofficial sport of the Baja peninsula and has been for nearly a century. In fact, the first surf contest in Baja, the Baja Surf Club International, was held here in the 1960s. Today it's one of the most popular surf towns in Mexico , which means it can get a little crowded on weekends and in the summer. Fall is the optimal time for surfing, in terms of weather and crowds.
But visitors to Ensenada can do much more than surf. ATV rentals are popular for cruising around the sandy beaches. You can book an ATV tour or rent by the hour. Visitors also love to skydive, kayak, snorkel , or even charter sport fishing day trips out to sea. Keep your eyes peeled for whales!
Tour operators in Ensenada offer parachuting, tandem jumps, and skydiving courses for the ultimate in free-fall adventures.
Most port cities in Mexico have paved sea paths that hug their coastlines. These sea paths are known colloquially as "malecones," and they are often thriving centers of activity for both locals and visitors. The malecon in Ensenada is no exception.
A stroll along this bustling sea path takes you past vibrant outdoor booths hawking souvenirs , fish markets, taco stands, and live music - all with spectacular views of the wild and rugged Pacific coast. Stroll past Plaza Civica for a look at the historic busts before heading into the open market, where you'll see local fishermen selling their day's catch. The other end of the market has a string of restaurants where the food is about as fresh as it can be.
The best time to stroll the malecon is at sunset , when you'll have uninterrupted views of the magnetic colors. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the massive flagpole that stands more than 300 feet tall.
Sweeping mountain scenery is what brings people to discover the beauty of Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park, located in a quiet area near Ensenada. Locals and tourists come for the hiking trails, the ocean views, and the wildlife .
The park can be as high-intensity or as peaceful as you want. Miles of hiking and mountain biking trails weave in and out of the landscape. But the park also has plenty of spots to curl up with a good book or sprawl out on a picnic blanket.
One of the more unique features of the park is a statue of the Buddhist Princess Tara , which was donated by the people of Nepal to the park. It's a bit of cross-culture in a tiny corner of the world, which is a nice thing to witness.
A visit to a beach town may not seem like a top spot for a museum of science , but here is another area where Ensenada shines. The Caracol Museo de Ciencias is a beautiful and modern facility that sits between the harbor and the Riviera Center. It is an institution for science and engineering projects and a great place to learn about Mexico's contributions and endeavors in the field.
It's also a place to learn about scientific history. The museum has three permanent exhibitions , dedicated to marine life, terrestrial life, and space. The museum opened in its current location in 2015, and visitors can participate in workshops and classes, as well.
Address: Club Rotario 3, Zona Federal, 22800 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
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14 Best Things to Do in Ensenada
By Kerry Spencer
Last updated: June 29th, 2022
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Nestled on a crescent-shaped bay facing the Pacific Ocean, Ensenada is just 80 miles south of San Diego, located at the top of Mexico’s laid-back Baja California peninsula. With desert mountains sprinkled with cactus and palm trees to one side and the bold, sapphire blue of the ocean to the other, there are plenty of things to do in Ensenada for adventure-seeking travelers.
This once-sleepy surf city is also buzzing with cultural attractions and boasts a burgeoning food and drink scene, featuring a raft of craft breweries, local wineries, and zingy street food. From whale watching and snorkeling with tropical fish to taco and tequila tasting, there are plenty of Ensenada attractions to keep you busy on your next Mexican vacation.
Discover the Geological Wonder of La Bufadora
One of the best things to do in Ensenada is to visit La Bufadora, an unabating marine geyser that shoots up to 100 feet into the air through a narrow passage in the coastal rocks. La Bufadora geyser is considered one of the largest on the planet, and this rugged section of Baja California boasts some of the most striking views of the Pacific coastline.
If you don’t fancy getting wet, pack a lightweight waterproof jacket to wear, although the spray can feel lovely and cooling, especially on a hot day. There are plenty of facilities at La Bufadora, including bathrooms, food outlets, and souvenir vendors.
Tag on a visit to Arbolitos Cove, a pristine inlet lying a short drive south of La Bufadora, for more spectacular views of the jagged coastline. Inhale the fresh ocean air and dramatic panoramas as you hike around the grassy cove.
Sip on Local Wines
Just outside of Ensenada, the Calafia Valley Wine Country in Guadalupe Valley echoes Napa Valley. The region is home to a burgeoning wine-making industry, aided by the warm, Mediterranean-like climate.
Casa Doña Lupe Winery and the neighboring L.A. CETTO are two of the most prestigious wine and brandy producers in the region. Witness their sublime vineyard settings of neat rows of vines interspersed with the occasional palm tree during a tour and tasting.
Sip fruity Cabernet Sauvignon, intense Petite Sirah, aromatic Tempranillo, and citrusy Chenin Blanc during your tasting. L.A. CETTO also has a tasting room, La Cava, in Ensenada itself, where you can also try the wines.
Guadalupe Valley’s Cavas Valmar and Bodegas de Santo Tomas, the oldest winery in Ensenada, are also worthy stops for tours, tastings, and to pick up a souvenir bottle or two to take home.
Surf From Hermosa Beach
Ensenada is home to some spectacular, pristine beaches. The closest to central Ensenada is Hermosa, located next to the city’s boardwalk, where you’ll find large thatched parasols and a surf school, Surf & Sup, which offers two-hour private and group surf lessons.
Take a Road Trip to Rosarito Beach
Rosarito Beach, roughly an hour’s drive north of Ensenada, is worth a visit for the journey alone. You’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the dazzling Pacific Ocean as you drive the Tijuana-Ensenada highway.
There’s plenty of space on Rosarito’s family-friendly foreshore to spread out under the sun. Rustic food and drink vendors are located on the beach and the town’s array of cafes, bars, and restaurants lie directly behind the strip.
If you’re a fan of diving, Rosarito also boasts the 125-acre Underwater Park, featuring the wreck of a sunken ship. Plans are in place to add to this sub-aquatic attraction, including the creation of a ship cemetery and a sculpture garden.
On the route back to Ensenada, look out for Castillo del Diablo—Devil’s Castle—just off the highway in Alisitos. This off-beat attraction is a controversial, six-story mansion adorned with creepy statues, including a towering red devil with horns and ugly gargoyles, built right on the beach.
Join a Tequila Tasting
Of all the things to do in Ensenada, quaffing tequila on a fun and educational tasting is one of the best. Learn about the process of making this iconic Mezcal drink, made from the piña (heart) of Mexico’s blue agave plant that Mexico is known for .
Whether you prefer your tequila neat, on the rocks, or shaken in a Margarita cocktail, the best way of exploring this hugely popular Mexican drink is on a tasting at one of the city’s tasting rooms.
Take a Boat Ride to Todos Santos Island
Todos Santos Island
Ensenada’s attractions don’t get much better than Todos Santos Island, lying roughly 12 miles off the coast in the Pacific Ocean. Hopping on a boat at Ensenada Pier to reach the island will give you the perfect chance to spot local marine life, including dolphins and whales breaching the ocean’s surface.
Gray whales migrate south, to the waters around Baja California, during winter. It’s also possible to witness humpback, sperm, minke, and pilot whales.
One of the best things to do in Ensenada is to snorkel off Todos Santos Island. Dive into the Pacific with a local guide who will be able to advise on the best spots for spotting the unique rock formations, plants, and marine life that lie below the surface.
Keep your eyes peeled for the region’s bright, tangerine-colored garibaldi fish, seals, and sea lions. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit and water-resistant sunscreen.
Read: Where to Go Whale Watching in Mexico
Sample Local Street Food
From trucks serving tangy ceviches to hole-in-the-wall joints offering chili-infused fish tacos, the Pacific Ocean is the greatest influence on Ensenada’s street food scene. One of the best things to do in Ensenada is to taste your way around the city, starting at the Mercado Negro (fish market), near the pier.
You’ll see rows of fresh-off-the-boat lobsters, and a variety of whole fish, clams, oysters, and shrimps piled high in crates as you get your first taste of a delicious fish taco.
Just a short 10-minute walk from the market is La Guerrerense restaurant, with the giant, garnet-colored octopus tentacles painted on the walls offering a clue as to what’s on the menu.
La Guerrerense specializes in ceviche tostadas, with a range of fillings available, from sea urchin and octopus to clam and white fish with mango.
Take a seat outside and snack on a selection of tasty tacos with a Mexican craft beer. Look out for the photo on display of the restaurant’s owner, Sabina Bandera, proudly posing with the late chef Anthony Bourdain, who visited the restaurant in 2012.
Another popular spot is El Nuevo Jalisciense, an unassuming restaurant serving some of the region’s best lip-smacking delicacies, including tempura-battered fish and shrimp tacos.
Once you’ve worked your way through the local street food, stop at a local microbrewery to sample one of Ensenada’s amber-hued beers. There are a couple of independent breweries with tasting rooms, including Wendlandt in El Sauzal.
Go Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Ensenada. Choose to hone your horseback riding skills on a soul-soothing beach ride or on dusty desert tracks.
On Playa Hermosa, enjoy a one-hour slow and steady ride as your horse trots along the sand and through shallow waves. Or opt for a two-hour jaunt among the hilly vineyards surrounding Ensenada. If you choose a vineyard horseback excursion, look out for a ride that includes a visit to a working ranch for a more authentic experience.
Shop for Local Crafts
Avenida Lopez Mateos
Head to Ensenada’s vibrant Avenida Lopez Mateos, just a short walk from the waterfront, if you’re in the market to shop for souvenirs. Leather goods, ceramics, jewelry, handwoven blankets, and ponchos are among the typical mix of goods you’ll find.
Avenida Primera, packed with cocktail bars, cafes, and taco joints, is fun for crafts, colorful clothes, and accessories.
Ride a Segway Along the Malecón
One of the best things to do in Ensenada is to hire a segway and ride along the city’s waterfront malecón (boardwalk). Breeze past the billowing Mexican flag, supposedly the tallest in the country, and feel the fresh ocean air on your face as you glide along the stretch of All Saints Bay.
Taco, tequila, and ice-cream stalls are dotted on the waterfront near the marina, along with plenty of benches.
Visit the Riviera Pacific Cultural Center
Riviera Pacific Cultural Center Photo by Adam Jones on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
This Ensenada attraction is a must-visit to learn about Mexican culture and traditions . The whitewashed, waterfront Riviera Pacific Cultural Center is set inside the former Hotel Riviera del Pacífico.
Opened in 1930, the hotel gained notoriety right away—towards the end of the Prohibition era—when thirsty North Americans would venture south of the border into Mexico to purchase and consume alcohol. According to local folklore, the Margarita cocktail was invented at the hotel—though several places also lay claim to inventing this world-famous tequila concoction.
Explore Ensenada History Museum, housed within the cultural center, to learn about the indigenous groups of Baja California, including the Kumiai people. The Cultural Center also offers a lively program of music and folkloric shows that take place within the grassy grounds. Settle in for a traditional Mariachi performance—it’s one of the best places to witness authentic Mexican music and dancing in Ensenada.
Strap in for a Guided Off-Road Adventure in Guadalupe Valley
The vast Guadalupe Valley may be better known for its wineries, but the Baja hinterland is also popular with off-road activities. Try an exhilarating ride in an open-sided buggy to experience some of the region’s slippery, sand-silt terrain, while soaking up sublime vineyard views.
You’ll be driven through the spectacular landscape by a guide, passing through olive and pine groves, cacti, and ripening grapes, as you hurtle along in your four-wheeler.
If you prefer to get behind the wheel yourself, opt for a heart-thumping ATV (all terrain vehicle) ride in the Guadalupe Valley. Once you’ve finished your off-road adventure, stop by one of the Valley’s wineries to sample the local grapes.
Hike El Salto Canyon
El Salto Canyon
Roughly 21 miles north of Ensenada, next to the village of Santa Rosa, lies the extraordinary El Salto Canyon. The off-the-beaten-track El Salto, which translates as “The Jump”, is made up of deep black-rock canyons—with some of the lower mountainous zones carpeted in green forests—hulking boulders, a rain-fed waterfall, and plunge pool.
There are numerous routes to choose from, from moderate rambles to tough tracks that are only suitable for experienced and skilled climbers. The good news is the waterfall and plunge pool are easy to reach if you don’t plan on hiking far.
The routes afford astonishing views of Guadalupe Valley’s vast landscape. Look out for the local wildlife such as red-tailed hawks and spiny lizards, which thrive in El Salto’s environment.
The area is popular with campers—particularly those on climbing vacations—with a few sites dotted around the area. There’s also a convenience store, though it’s best to go prepared, with plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and solid footwear.
After a hearty hike, stop for a well-earned lunch at the nearby La Estancia de Santa Rosa.
Kayak in the Pacific Ocean
Kayaking in Ensenada
Head to the nearest beach and it shouldn’t take you long to find a watersports vendor, with kayaking one of the most popular Ensenada attractions. You can either take off independently or with a guide.
If you’re inexperienced in the water, opt for the latter to enjoy a scenic paddle along the coast. Swimwear, a towel, a small dry bag, a sun hat, and sunscreen are all essentials for a day spent on the beach and in the water.
Explore these thrilling Ensenada attractions and more of the Pacific coast on a luxury cruise to the Mexican Riviera . Browse itineraries on our website and start planning your next exciting vacation now.
Kerry Spencer has been writing about travel for 15 years. A former magazine editor and the UK editor of Cruise Critic, she lives in London, where she now writes for a number of print and online publications, including Imagine Cruising, Cruise Critic, and Selling Travel, among others.
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THE 10 BEST Ensenada Shore Excursions
Shore excursions in ensenada.
- Sightseeing Tours
- Private Tours
- Ports of Call Tours
- Free cancellation
- Up to 1 hour
- 1 to 4 hours
- 4 hours to 1 day
- Special Offers
- The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.
1. ATV Off-Road Adventure through Valle de Guadalupe + Winery Visit
2. The Bufadora private Tour
3. 8 hours 6 passengers: Valle de Guadalupe Wine Tour by Private SUV
4. Private La Bufadora, Flea Market Shopping, Scenic Tour
5. Tacos, Brews and Views Tour with Street Photography Option
6. Shore Excursion Couples Massage
7. Las Canadas Ecopark and Bufadora private tour
8. Ensenada Shore Excursion: Blowhole and La Bufadora Tour with Horseback Riding
9. Ford Model T Tour
10. Ensenada, La Bufadora and Guadalupe Valley Private Guided Tour
11. Valle Experience by Ansell Wine Tours
12. birthday & bachelorette party valle de Guadalupe & four fours
13. Horseback Riding on the Beach from Ensenada
14. La Bufadora Punta Banda Tour
15. Private tour in Valle de Guadalupe
16. Private excursion to the bufadora and horseback riding on the beach
17. Ensenada Shore Excursion: Wine and Cheese Tour with Lunch in Ojos Negros Valley
18. Private Boutique Wine Tour in Valle de Guadalupe
19. Ensenada excursion Mezcal, Tequila & Ceviches Guided Tasting Tour
20. Adventure in Ensenada with Zipline, Marine Geyser and Shops
21. From Tijuana to Valle de Guadalupe private tour 6 passengers
22. Desert Peaks on Horseback, Exploring Mountain Trails of Ensenada
23. Luxury Private Wine Tasting Tour to Guadalupe Valley from San Diego
24. Valle de Guadalupe wine tasting
25. Valle de Guadalupe private tour, in a group is better! (since 10 to 19 persons).
26. ATV ride in the mountains/Oja valley & Rosarito portals
27. Relaxation experience amidst the vineyards of Valle de Guadalupe
28. Bufadora / La guerrerense seafood / four four vineyards
29. Ensenada Shore Excursion: City Tour & La Bufadora
30. Ensenada Shore Excursion: Entre Santos and El Cielo Winery Tours with Lunch
What travelers are saying.
- ATV Off-Road Adventure through Valle de Guadalupe + Winery Visit
- The Bufadora private Tour
- Tacos, Brews and Views Tour with Street Photography Option
- 8 hours 6 passengers: Valle de Guadalupe Wine Tour by Private SUV
- Horseback Riding on the Beach from Ensenada