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27 Best Things to Do in Ensenada: Complete Guide

Ensenada Malecon beach promenade

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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. 

Ensenada lookout point - things to do in ensenada

 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 these streets, I also loved trying the delicious cafes, bakeries, and restaurants.

Ensenada souvenir shop

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 is 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” and colonial and indigenous collections related to Ensenada’s past. 

Ensenada park

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!

ensenada souvenir street shop

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.

la bufadora Ensenada

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. 

La Bufadora overview

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, and 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.

ensenada malecon seagull

 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 various 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.

Ensenada Beach

 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. 

Ensenada sign

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.

ensenada playa hermosa front

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.

Ensenada malecon fountain

 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. 

Ensenada main street

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.

Ensenada murals

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).

Surfer in Playa hermosa

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.

Ensenada Playa Hermosa

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.

Ensenada tours at 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.

ensenada marina flag

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 various 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.

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 recommend. See below.

El rey Sol

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 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 pay what you are getting.

Also, the amount of seafood that you get is giant. It makes a full meal.

El Guero Taqueria

La Floresta Taqueria – Try the delicious shrimp and fish tacos in this historical taqueria downtown.

Ensenada la floresta tacos

18. 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 want 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 these activities.

sea lions

19. Ride the Desert Nest Zipline in El Sauzal

If you are looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, you should 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.

Ensenada bars

20. 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 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.

Bar Andaluz

21. 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 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.

Valle de Guadalupe aerial view

22. Rent A Car And Take a Day Trip Through the Valle de Guadalupe Wine Route

Valle de Guadalupe region, located 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.

Valle de guadalupe domeq wine pouring

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 30-minute 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.

Valle de Guadalupe domeq wine tasting

23. 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.

Ensenada lookout at sunset

Recommended Guided Tours in Ensenada

24. 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.

25. 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 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 because 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

26. 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 are 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 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.

Valle de guadalupe field

Other Tours To The Valle de Guadalupe

27. 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.

la cetto valle de guadalupe

28. 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!

Tons of tours in Ensenada 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.

29. 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 natural cosmetic products made from lavender, such as soap, lotion, and oil.

You can even make your 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 many festivals and events are happening.

However, as you can guess, prices for accommodations and activities will be high during this time.

For those looking to avoid 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 want to maximize your savings, visit 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.

ensenada cafe

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

Ensenada drone view at sunset

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.

Ensenada Church in Downtown

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.

Ensenada Marina

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.

ensenada playa hermosa

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.

Ensenada main street restaurants and shops

Is Driving to Ensenada from San Diego Safe?

Yes, driving to Ensenada from San Diego is generally safe, but you should do prior research on 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.

Cruise Ensenada

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. 

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.

Ensenada Main Street

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.

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Isabella is traveler and animal lover, a former tourism professional with an multinational background that lead her to Mexico, that she can proudly call home. After seven years in Cancun where she's still a resident, she took a bold leap, leaving her fancy job to embrace a nomadic lifestyle. She traveled all over Mexico, from Baja California to Ciudad Juarez, Oaxaca, Chiapas Hidalgo exploring and living like a local. Isabella founded Let's Travel to Mexico to help travelers plan their own trip on and off the beaten path in this beautiful land that she loves so dearly.

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.

sail boats and cruise ship

Sail boats in the marina with a cruise ship in the port of Ensenada, Baja Mexico.

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.

grape vines on a vineyard.

Ensenada is well known for the excellent wineries in the area.

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.

water splash at geyser

Tourists enjoying the splash of the waterfront geyser.

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.

waterfront tourists

Tourists enjoying the beautiful waterfront.

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.

souvenir vendors

Souvenirs for sale along the waterfront.

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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Mexico Travel & Leisure

Ensenada Escapade: Your Ultimate Guide to Baja California

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Welcome to Ensenada Mexico , a coastal town ideal for experiencing the best of Baja California!

Known for its stunning beaches, delicious seafood, and vibrant culture, Ensenada is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the beauty and charm of Mexico’s Pacific coast.

In this post, I’ll dive into all that Ensenada offers, from its world-class wineries to its lively nightlife scene.

So sit back, grab a margarita, and join me on a journey through this enchanting city.

Getting to Ensenada, Mexico

Ensenada is a beautiful coastal city located in the northern region of Baja California, just a short drive from the US-Mexico border (about 80 miles) .

There are several ways to get to Ensenada:

By Car : If traveling from the United States, you can enter Mexico through the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego , California. From there, take the toll road (Mexican Highway 1) south to Ensenada. The drive takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

By Bus : Several bus companies offer service to Ensenada from major regional cities, including Tijuana and Mexicali . The trip takes about 2-3 hours from Tijuana and 5-6 hours from Mexicali.

By Air : The nearest major airport is in Tijuana, about 95 km north of Ensenada. From there, you can take a taxi, bus, or rent a car .

By Cruise : Ensenada is a popular port of call for cruise ships traveling along the west coast of North America. If you’re taking a cruise, you’ll likely dock at the Ensenada Cruise Port in the city’s center.

Top 12 things to do and see in Ensenada Mexico

1. admire la bufadora.

ensenada mexico baja california

In Punta Banda , this amazing “rock,” 34 km from Ensenada , is mistakenly called a marine geyser.

In reality, it is not a column of hot water coming from the seabed but a natural system of chimneys opened in the cliff, through which the water rises with force in hours of high tide, reaching heights close to 30 meters.

2. Stroll along with Calle Primera and the Civic Plaza

ensenada mexico baja california

Ensenada beats along Avenida López Mateos, known as Calle Primera (first street) .

It is approximately one km long and is a delight to walk along amidst the pleasant, always spring-like weather of this Baja California city.

Calle Primera is well endowed with stores where you can buy that piece you forgot to put in your suitcase, cafes, bars, and restaurants where you can stop for a drink or a snack while you take the city’s pulse.

The Civic Plaza is a large esplanade with giant sculptures of the heads of Hidalgo, Juárez, and Carranza.

3. Sunbathe on Ensenada’s beaches

Ensenada Mexico has charming public and private beaches, where you can spend a relaxing and fun day sunbathing, practicing your favorite sea entertainments, and drinking Margaritas and ice-cold beer, accompanied by delicious “Fruits de Mer.”

  • Among the private beaches are Mona Lisa and Estero Beach
  • For public beaches, there are El Punto and San Miguel

For surf lovers, on the north coast of Ensenada, you have sound waves at California Trailer, San Miguel, Park, 3 M’s, and Stacks .

If you like to spend some time in fresh water after a long day at the beach, Ensenada has several water parks with excellent facilities such as swimming pools, water slides, lagoons for boating, palapas with barbecue grills, restaurants, and other goodies.

One of the most complete water parks is Las Cañadas in Ejido El Zorrillo.

Other options are El Palomar , in the Santo Tomás District; Los Cárdenas , also in El Zorrillo; and Albercas María Teresa , in Valle de Guadalupe.

4. Take the Wine Route

ensenada mexico baja california

Ensenada is part of Mexico’s most important wine region, the Guadalupe Valley , between Ensenada and Tecate .

There are vineyards and wineries on the Wine Route that runs through the valleys of Guadalupe, Santo Tomas, and San Antonio de las Minas, from the most prestigious to the small and artisanal ones, which surprise with the quality of their lesser-known wines.

There are hotels and restaurants with splendid views of the vineyards and delicious meals to enjoy the regional wines.

The wineries offer tours and tastings that pair their best wines with the area’s exquisite cheeses and artisanal products.

5. Visit the Ensenada Museum of the Vine and Wine

ensenada wine museum

The Ensenada Vine and Wine Museum deserve a separate chapter for the city’s winemaking tradition and the exhibition’s importance and beauty.

This museum has a History Room and an Identity Room , where the history of wine since ancient times is didactically explained with texts and beautiful pieces of viticulture tools.

The museum also has an amphitheater and an exhibition hall.

The Industry Room is dedicated to producing wine on a larger scale, while the Art Room exhibits paintings and art objects related to wine.

6. Take a marine wildlife-watching tour

vamonos to mexico

Life-watching enthusiasts will feel wonderful in Ensenada, as the migration of gray whales and other species can be admired along its coastline.

The gray whale is a cetacean that can reach 20 tons in weight and 15 meters in length, making a 10,000 km marathon, alone or in groups, from the icy north to the warm waters of the lagoons of Baja California.

Boats leave the Ensenada boardwalk to look at these exciting examples of biodiversity and other species, such as the blue whale, the humpback whale, the pilot whale, and the orca.

7. Visit the Riviera Cultural Center

cultural center

The most symbolic cultural space in Ensenada is the Riviera.

It is housed in a beautiful white building with red roofs, surrounded by beautiful gardens and green areas, built in the 1930s as a casino.

It was a gambling house until 1935, when that activity was prohibited in Mexico and used to receive great national and international celebrities, such as Dolores del Rio , Rita Hayworth , Lucille Ball , and Bing Crosby .

The beautiful building of Moorish architecture hosts events, workshops, and cultural groups in dance, ballet, theater, literature, painting, drawing, and sculpture.

8. Tour the museums and galleries in Ensenada

ensenada mexico

There are several fascinating museums in Ensenada Mexico.

The Caracol is a science museum and aquarium oriented to scientific and environmental education for children and young people.

It has three permanent halls (Earth, Sky, and Sea) and one for temporary exhibits.

The Regional History Museum offers a free tour of local history in a building from the 1880s, one of the oldest in the city.

The History Museum is located inside the Riviera Cultural Center and was developed by the Archeology Department of the Autonomous University of Baja California.

Another exciting collection is the Russian Community Museum , which shows facets of the life of the small Russian community settled in the area at the beginning of the 20th century.

Although not a huge city, Ensenada is distinguished by its cosmopolitanism, evidenced by its museums and cultural institutions, theaters, and art galleries.

The Pérez Meillón Gallery was founded in 1988 by siblings Adalberto and Patricia Pérez Meillón, who began with a store selling high-quality handicrafts (Tarahumara pieces, Pai Pai pottery, and Kumiai basketry), and today it offers wide range of works by local and national artists.

Another gallery of interest in Ensenada Mexico is Los Arcos Art Studio and Gallery , located on Carrera Punta Banda in Ejido Esteban Cantú.

9. Breathe fresh air in Constitución de 1857 National Park

ensenada mexico

This park is another of the rare wooded areas of the arid Baja California peninsula near Ensenada.

It is part of the Sierra de Juárez and on its highest point is the Hanson Lagoon .

Its main fauna species are the endangered bighorn sheep and mule deer.

The area of more than 5,000 hectares is densely populated with conifers and other trees.

In the park, you can practice outdoor sports, such as walking and hiking, and in the lagoon, you can go canoeing and fishing.

10. Visit Ensenada’s Fish & Seafood Market

ensenada baja california

One of the most picturesque places worth visiting is the Fish & Seafood Market, located near the north side of the Malecon (boardwalk) .

All the best & freshest fish, shellfish, and mollusks are found in this marketplace, where the voices of the stall keepers praising their merchandise mix noisily with those of the buyers demanding maximum freshness and the best price.

You can taste the famous fish tacos and other preparations in the market’s food sales area.

11. Visit the Todos Santos Islands

todos santos islands baja california

The Todos Santos Islands , which are two (North and South) , are located only 20 km from Ensenada, and their only access is by sea, with departures from Ensenada and La Bufadora .

The islands stand out for two reasons: their magnificent waves for surfing and their rich biodiversity.

The Todos Santos Norte Island waves are among the highest on the American continent.

Among the local fauna species, the Rata combalachera de Todos Santos and the Todos Santos Viper stand out for their beauty and rarity.

12. Enjoy Off-Road Races

The Mexican Baja Peninsula is one of Mexico’s sanctuaries for off-road racing. The famous Baja 1000 race traditionally takes place in November, starting in Ensenada and finishing in La Paz .

It is the longest single-stage race in the world, covering 1,050 miles (1,700 km) , hence its name.

Cars, trucks, pickups, motorcycles, and ATVs participate. The rest of the year, there are races in different categories, with the sponsorship of hotels and companies linked to the world of motors.

Have a Margarita at Hussong’s Cantina

ensenada baja california mexico

Although several places in Baja California dispute the creation of the famous Margarita cocktail , the most widely accepted version is that it was the work of Carlos Orozco, bartender at Cantina Hussong’s, located at 113 Ruiz Avenue in Ensenada.

Don Carlos liked to experiment and offered the novel cocktail to Margarita Henkel , daughter of the German ambassador, who lived in the city.

The client liked the invention, and the drink took her name.

It would be unthinkable for you to go to Ensenada and not try this fantastic mix of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in its place of origin, Cantina Hussong’s , where there is also a great atmosphere, with music and typical shows.

Ensenada Mexico Hotels

ensenada mexico

Ensenada has accommodations for all budgets, from beachfront hotels, which charge for their privileged ocean views, to the more modest inland hotels.

You will be excellently served by the friendly locals, paying less.

These are the two most popular hotels in Ensenada:

  • Hotel Coral & Marina , at km 103 on the highway to Tijuana , has excellent facilities and a lovely marina
  • Estero Beach has a private beach, and its rooms are very spacious and comfortable

There are also nice places at lower rates, such as the Quintas Papagayo , Hotel Sausalito , and Hotel Plaza Fatima .

Ensenada Mexico is the home of Fish Tacos

ensenada baja california

Ensenada’s most emblematic dish is Tacos de Pescado (fish tacos) , a 1960’s creation of Don Zeferino Mancillas, a fisherman who loved to cook.

Don Zeferino started selling his fish fried whole with garnishes, and for a change, he began to prepare tacos, coating the fish with flour and seasoning it with pico de gallo.

In any beach restaurant or stall in town, you can informally enjoy this culinary symbol of Ensenada and all the delicacies of Baja California’s land and sea.

Ensenada’s nightlife

The weather, the beach atmosphere, the water and land sports, the Margaritas, the excellent Baja wines, beers, and the seafood snacks work together in Ensenada to make you go out for a good night out in the bars and nightclubs.

There are many of them, from the famous Cantina Hussong’s to the most modern and cosmopolitan style.

Aside from Hussong’s, some places with the best nightlife are Papas & Beer Ensenada, Mango Mango, and Bar 646 ¡Salud!

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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.

Sign in Ensenada

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.

Avenida Lopez Mateos

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.

Pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Ensenada from the cruise ship port

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.

History Museum 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

Dancing fountains in Ensenada

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

Plaza Civica

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

La Bufadora

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

El Salto Canyon

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.

Beach in Rosarito

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.

Surf lessons in Ensenada

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.

Malecon in Ensenada

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.

Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park

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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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.

Riviera del Pacífico

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…

To license this image contact:.Lonely Planet Images.email: lpi@lonelyplanet.com.au.phone: 61 3 8379 8181

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

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

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…

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What you need to know:

Ensenada Baja California Kayaking


Ensenada Winecountry Baja California

The Wine Capital of Mexico

Baja’s wine country is comprised of over 150 wineries over several valleys: Valle de Guadalupe, San Antonio de las Minas, Ojos Negros, Santo Tomás, San Vicente, La Grulla, Tanamá, Las Palmas y San Valentin. Explore a collection of dozens of wineries, a picturesque spot dotted with shops, inns, and restaurants. Mexican wines are recognized internationally attributing 90% of the country’s wine production in Mexico to Baja California.

Anthony Bourdain referred to this region as ¨ A Little Tuscany ¨.

Ensenada Adventure Baja California

Adventure & Ecotourism

From sea to mountain, Ensenada has it all! Enjoy ziplining, kayaking, coasteering, hiking, mountain biking, surfing, diving, whale watching, and a must is cage diving among the Great White Shark! These are only a few of the many adventures that await in Ensenada !

Ensenada Baja California Weddings

Wedding Destination

For Your Beautiful Story, a Stunning Destination. These days, couples who are engaged to wed often want to find a magical place to celebrate their union and begin the rest of their story together. A destination wedding is an incredible opportunity to make the dream come true, making this big day a unique and unforgettable occasion.

Ensenada is an authentic, charming, and above all, romantic setting: the ideal destination to share this important and unforgettable moment for a couple, especially when accompanied by family members and friends in a setting as warm and marvelous as this port.

Ensenada Gastronomic Destination BAja California

Gastronomy Creative City

Ensenada named as Creative City by UNESCO for its gastronomy . Known for fresh seafood and vegetables cultivated on these fertile lands. Here you’ll find restaurants with nationally and internationally known chefs; many of their dishes can be paired with a tasty wine from local vineyards or a cold craft beer from region breweries .

Don’t miss out on Ensenada’s street eats, seafood carts, and the famous Fish Taco, it’s a true delight!

Ensenada Nightlife Baja California

Ensenada Nightlife

The party doesn’t end when the sun sets ! Visit Papas & Beer, where a cool atmosphere meets good music. Make a stop at Bar Andaluz and taste their famous margaritas . An Ensenada classic is, of course, Cantina Hussong’s , which throughout the years has been a hit with tourists and locals. You can also take a beer tasting tour at local breweries and taprooms .

Bodas Ensenada Baja California

Start Planning your Dream Wedding in Ensenada

Año Nuevo en la región vinícola de Baja California

New Years Eve Baja California’s wine region

San Jose de la Zorra Ensenada

San José de la Zorra trail and the Kumeyaay

Hit the road to San Quintin

Pack your bags, hop on your car, and hit the road to San Quintin

ensenada tourist guide

Five Breakfast experiences in Ensenada’s Wine Route

ensenada tourist guide

ensenada tourist guide

Ensenada Visitors Guide

ensenada tourist guide

Ensenada is a bustling coastal city located in the Baja California Norte region of Mexico. It’s known for its rich culture, delicious food, and stunning natural beauty. If you’re looking for a destination that offers the perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and gastronomy, Ensenada is the perfect place to visit. Let’s explore some of the top reasons why you should add Ensenada to your travel list.

Where is Ensenada located? Ensenada is 67 miles, or about a one or two hour drive south of the border -depending on traffic. Scroll down for information on getting to Ensenada and getting around!

Because of the proximity, many people from the USA will drive their own vehicles to Ensenada via Tijuana for a daytrip or weekend getaway. Cruise ships also frequently dock there. Ensenada is a great place to stop if you are planning to travel in your RV or campervan down the peninsula.

What to Eat in Ensenada

Ensenada is a seafood lover’s paradise. One of the best places to sample Ensenada’s famous seafood is at Mercado Negro. This bustling market is home to dozens of vendors selling everything from tacos de pescado (fish tacos) to ceviche. Following are a few local spots to get a delicious snack or meal.

  • To satisfy that seafood craving, Tacos Fénix is a famous streetside stand selling fish and shrimp tacos to locals and tourists since 1970! Add your own toppings from the salsa bar to make it just how you like it. Personally I go for lots of cabbage, salsa verde, a squeeze of lime and chipotle crema.
  • La Guerrerense is a popular spot for seafood tostadas and ceviche. We recommend hitting up the stand but they also have a restaurant across the way called Sabina.
  • A favorite for sit-down dining nearby is Muelle 3 . This small fish restaurant is always packed and reservations are highly recommended. People rave about the fresh seafood, especially the excellent ceviche and the pulpo con huitlacoche. Note that this restaurant is only open from noon to 6:30pm. Enjoy a late lunch!
  • Another sit-down place to try is Villa Marina . They have an ocean view and serve a variety of seafood specialties including octopus and oysters. Villa Marina is open from noon to 9pm.
  • Want to try a margarita in a place that is famous for (maybe) inventing the delicious drink? Head to Hussong’s Cantina and enjoy the fun historic ambiance while sipping tasty margaritas. Read more about the crazy history of this place here.

If you’d like to learn more about Ensenada’s food scene why not take a culinary tour? Check out the Ensenada Eats tour with Baja Test Kitchen or an Ensenada Taco Tour with Juan More Tacos . You can also take a culinary tour out to Valle de Guadalupe. Read more below!

Valle de Guadalupe wine tasting near Ensenada

Wine Tasting Near Ensenada

The Ensenada region is also known for its thriving wine scene. The Valle de Guadalupe, located just a short drive from Ensenada, is home to around 200 wineries. The region is known for its robust red wines, but also produces some excellent whites and sparkling wines. French, Spanish and Italian grape varietals grow well here, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Carignan and Tempranillo. Blends are very popular with winemakers in this area.

How far is Valle de Guadalupe from Ensenada? The valley lies just 20km (12 miles) northeast of Ensenada via Highway 3, La Ruta del Vino. Keep in mind that the side roads in the wine region are mostly dirt and can be very rough with ruts and potholes. Take it easy and drive carefully.

One of the best ways to experience the Valle de Guadalupe is on a guided wine tour so that you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. Most tours include tastings at multiple wineries, as well as a delicious lunch. Check out these tours below. Some leave from Ensenada while others will transport you from San Diego or Tijuana. Winery tours are also offered as shore excursions by the cruise ships that dock in Ensenada, or you can always arrange your own.

  • Club Tengo Hambre offers intimate fun tours of Valle de Guadalupe that include food and wine. They pick you up at the border crossing and whisk you on your way in a comfy van.
  • Arrange your own Valle de Guadalupe private tour with a group of friends or family. A driver will pick up your group at your lodging in Ensenada and take you on a personalized tour of three wineries and a stop for lunch.
  • Take a tour of four wineries and have lunch in Valle de Guadalupe with this private group tour . The tour includes round-trip transportation from your lodgings in Ensenada.

You can also visit Valle de Guadalupe during the harvest festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia) or another special event. For more information on Valle de Guadalupe be sure to check out our guide here!

La Bufadora blowhole Ensenada Baja California Norte

Ensenada’s Best Beaches

Ensenada is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. Playa Hermosa is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The long, wide beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Playa La Misión is another great option, with its soft sand and clear waters. For those looking for something more secluded, Playa Salsipuedes is a hidden gem. It requires a short hike to reach, but the stunning views and secluded cove make it well worth the effort.

Surfers will love visiting San Miguel Beach, California Trailer Park, Stacks and 3 Ms. Or if you are really serious, grab a boat to Todos Santos Island for some of the best big wave surfing around.

Things To Do in Ensenada

As mentioned above, the Ensenada area is famous for seafood and wine, and has some great beaches for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. But there is a lot more to do! Here are some top tips:

  • If you are into off-road racing then you have definitely heard of the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.
  • Whale watching is another popular activity in Ensenada from December until May when the gray whales migrate between Alaska and the Sea of Cortez. Amazing!
  • Check out the blowhole at La Bufadora.
  • Walk along the Malecón and take in the sea air while eating an ice cream or other snack.
  • Visit Ensenada for a festival, holiday or event. Check out the Ensenada Beer Fest , Carnaval in February, the Festival de Conchas y El Vino Nuevo in April or Dia de Muertos in November.

Places to Stay in Ensenada

Whether you are looking for Ensenada hotels on the beach, cheap hotels in downtown Ensenada, or the best Airbnbs in Ensenada – we have options for you!

  • One of Ensenada’s best resorts is Hotel Coral & Marina. This oceanside hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and has a popular weekend brunch.
  • Another oceanfront hotel is La Rosas, which boasts an infinity pool overlooking the rocky coastline and the Pacific.
  • If you are searching for Ensenada hotels on the beach consider staying in an Airbnb or VRBO apartment instead. There are many more options with better quality than the dated beach hotels. This two bedroom house is located right on Playa Hermosa. Or take a look at this loft overlooking the beach and right off the Malecón.
  • Looking for cheap hotels in Ensenada? Check out Hostal Edka, Costa Mar or Capital O where you can get a small room for one or two people for under $50US.

Getting To Ensenada and Getting Around

Most visitors to Ensenada drive their own vehicle across the border from Los Angeles or San Diego. Ensenada is only 67 miles from the border so this is a quick trip. However if you prefer not to drive and want to take public transportation that is possible too. Check out our visitor guide to Tijuana to read more about this fabulous city and get lots of useful information about crossing the border by car, on foot or with public transport!

There are currently no commercial flights directly to the small Ensenada airport. However, if you are coming from far away you can fly into the Tijuana airport or other airports in Southern California like San Diego, Orange County or LAX.

The ABC Autobus runs trips from Tijuana to Ensenada daily. The trip takes approximately two hours and costs $200MXN. If you are traveling from San Diego to Ensenada you can take the Trolley to the border, walk directly to the Tijuana airport, and catch the ABC bus from the airport to Ensenada.

You can also take a private shuttle, taxi or use a ridesharing app like Uber to get there and get around.

Having your own car allows you to explore the area and take side trips to places like Valle de Guadalupe and Tijuana . But you can also arrange a private tour to the wine tasting region. And you can even take the ABC bus to the Valle or other areas of Baja California like La Paz or Los Cabos.

Ensenada is a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, a wine lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, this coastal city is sure to impress. From the delicious street food to the stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Ensenada is a must-visit destination.

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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 to as La Bella Cenicienta del Pacífico (Spanish: The Beautiful Cinderella of the Pacific )

ensenada tourist guide

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.

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).

  • 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 )
  • 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).

ensenada tourist guide

  • 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.

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

  • 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

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 .  
  • 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.  
  • 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.  
  • 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 )

ensenada tourist guide

  • 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.  
  • 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 )

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.

ensenada tourist guide

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Mexico Travel Buddy

10 Best Things to Do in Ensenada, Mexico

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Brenna Harris is a digital nomad and travel writer with a deep passion for exploring the world, reading, and beach-combing. More info

Are you planning to visit Ensenada, Mexico? A popular stop along cruise ship routes, this Baja Peninsula gem draws over four million tourists to its streets every year for wine tasting, shopping, sightseeing, and nightlife.

Whether you are trying to build an itinerary for an afternoon-long port stop or a whole week of fun in the sun, this list of the top things to do in Ensenada, Mexico, is the only resource you’ll need.

Top 10 Things to Do in Ensenada, Mexico

Now you might be asking yourself, “What is Ensenada known for?” and the truth is, there is no one singular answer. This Port City has everything from craggy sea cliffs and azul waters to historic architecture and cultural experiences. With so many options, it can be hard to narrow it down and create a vacation bucket list, but here are the top 10 things you must do while in the area:

Go Hiking at El Salto Canyon

ensenada tourist guide

Up for a bit of a challenge? Lace up those hiking shoes and hit the trails! The El Salto Canyon is a popular choice since it’s relatively accessible, even for true beginners who haven’t spent much time trekking through the desert. The park boasts several miles of trails leading down to the canyon floor, where you’ll find a secret waterfall and several impressive rock formations.

This makes a great base camp for enjoying the great outdoors, so consider bringing a light picnic or a book and stay awhile. To take things to the next level, you can also book a repelling lesson to test your bravery or pitch a tent and stay overnight.

ensenada tourist guide

Sip Your Way Through the Valley

ensenada tourist guide

Thanks to its proximity to Mexico’s wine country, Ensenada certainly has a reputation for its sprawling vineyards and wine-tasting experiences.  In fact, it might be considered THE best thing to do in Ensenada if you had to choose just one . 

The best way to do so is through a guided wine tour because there are so many-literally hundreds- of amazing wineries to visit. This way, you can enjoy a full pour or tasting flight everywhere you go without worrying about the drive home. You’ll also have an expert on board telling you all about the region, local lore, and the best varietals. 

See also: How To Get To Ensenada: A Quick Guide

Try the O.G. Margarita at Hussong’s Cantina

Did you know that summer’s official patio cocktail, the “Margarita, ” started right here in Ensenada?   This famous tequila and salt-rim concoction was created by Don Carlos Orozco, the Hussong’s Cantina’s bartender in 1941. 

As if that’s not reason enough to pop in for a happy hour treat, it’s also the Baja Peninsula’s oldest Cantina, opening its doors for the first time in 1892. Order a round, listen to the live mariachi music, and get a festive taste of Ensenada’s history.

Experience a Force of Nature at La Bufadora

ensenada tourist guide

La Bufadora is the second-largest ocean blowhole in the world, making this a “must-see” even for the most experienced traveler who tends to skip the more popular attractions. This marine geyser promises a salty spray that reaches 100ft in the air, thanks to the force of water hitting a sea cave below. 

Just a word to the wise, be sure to bring a rain poncho or other clothes you don’t mind getting wet because these waves are POWERFUL, and the entire observation deck is considered a part of the “splash zone”. You’ll also want to check the tide schedule and surf forecast before you go, as this natural phenomenon is most impressive at high tide and when the waves are the largest. 

Take the Reins at a Local Ranch

Embrace your inner cowboy and saddle up for a journey across the Baja Desert. Rancho Los Bandidos is Ensenada’s premier location for horseback riding tours that wind through surrounding valleys, suitable for all skill levels. Whether you choose a short scenic route to a mountain overlook or a day-long excursion that loops back toward the ocean, your guide will be happy to show you the ropes and take photos of your travel crew. After all, this is the stuff vacation memories are made of.

After working up an appetite under the Ensenada sun, the group will settle back at the ranch and chatter over plates of homemade chips and salsa. 

See also: Best Ensenada Mexico Beaches

Try Your Hand at Deep Sea Fishing

Take advantage of Ensenada’s Pacific Coast location and get out on the open ocean. Local captains are waiting to set sail with you and school you the best practices of sportfishing. With the pros on your side and deep blue waters teeming with marine life, you’re practically guaranteed to make a big catch! 

Plenty of boats operate on a catch-and-release basis, but you can also keep and preserve your prize fish of the day if you’d like to brag about your expert angling when you arrive home. For more advice on deep sea excursions, be sure to check out our Ensenda Fishing Guide with the inside scoop on our recommended charters.

Get Your Thrills on a Ziplining Tour

ensenada tourist guide

Looking for things to do in Ensenada with family? Kids as young as five will love flying through the sky, but don’t let this tour’s family-friendly status fool you. This bucket-list activity is sure to appease even the most intense adrenaline junkie.

When it comes to tour providers, you’ll have a few different options. Desert Nest Zipline offers incredible birds-eye-views of the region’s mountains and deserts. At the same time, check out the Las Canadas Canopy Tour  has a more traditional tree-top setting comprised of 5 zip lines and swinging rope bridges.

Go on an Undersea Adventure

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to scuba dive, this is your chance. You can easily sign up with one of the dive shops scattered throughout the downtown core and take a quick crash course before heading out to sea. 

Not only are you guaranteed to see an abundance of sealife (who knows, you might even make friends with Ensenada’s cheeky sea lions), but you’ll also be able to choose from a huge array of dive sites. Especially if you’re already an experienced diver, the possibilities could range from the swaying kelp forests of Arbolitos Coves Marine Park to specialized “Panga” boat dives.

Find Something Special to Bring Home on First Street

ensenada tourist guide

We all want to find that perfect souvenir that will carry the memories of our holiday forever. In Ensenada, First Street is the ideal shopping district for locally-made handicrafts like pottery, jewelry, and hand-embroidered textiles. 

See also: Is Ensenada Safe? – Top Safety Tips

We recommend spending the entire afternoon exploring at your own pace because there’s so much to do here. Once you’ve officially shopped til’ you dropped and supported the local vendors, you can change the pace with a horse-drawn carriage ride, take a selfie with the colorful Ensenada sign, or slip into a bar for some nighttime entertainment. 

Sample Ensenada Street Food

Without a doubt, one of the top things to do in Ensenada Port is chow down. It’s a foodie paradise! The most popular food stall in the entire city is El Guerrerense. Not only is their menu of ceviche and tostadas a celebrity favorite but it’s also earned some serious accolades, such as being named the “Best Food Stall in the World” for several years running. 

Want to taste-test a wider variety of Ensenada’s eats? Stop for tacos at Birrieria Soto and finish off with a sweet treat from Churros El Tio Gelos. 

BONUS!!! Embark on a Road Trip

ensenada tourist guide

If you have extra time to play with, why not check out some of the top destinations within the arms reach of Ensenada? Just hire a rental car, fuel up, and head on down the road to one of these Baja Penninsula cities: 

  • San Quintin :  A seafood lover’s dream with ocean-to-table restaurants around every corner.
  • Ejido Erendira : A sleepy seaside surfer town with beaches and fishing charters galore.
  • Valle De Guadalupe :  World-class vineyards and sweeping mountain views? Say no more. 
  • San Felipe :  Your official destination for sunbathing and swimming in the famous Sea of Cortez.
  • Tijuana :  A buzzing border city filled with nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. Yes, please! 
  • Rosarito :  A beach bum’s favorite big city, featured in several Hollywood blockbusters.

FAQs On The Best Things To Do In Ensenada

When is the best time to visit ensenada.

The summer (July through September) is the best time to visit Ensenada, thanks to warm temperatures that hover around the mid-80s and a low chance of rain. However, this is regarded as peak tourist season, so this is when you can expect rates to be the highest and crowds to be the largest.

How do you get to Ensenada? 

Many tourists arrive in Ensenada by boat since it is a popular cruise ship port of call, but you can also get there by car, bus, or plane, depending on your starting point. Read more about how to get to Ensenada .

What is the best way to get around in Ensenada?

Ensenada is considered a highly walkable destination, so the best way to get around is usually on foot. That said, if you want to take a longer trip to the outskirts of town or save yourself some time, rental cars, taxis, and even Uber rides are widely available.

What currency can I use in Ensenada?

While most businesses, especially small local vendors, prefer you to pay with Mexican Pesos, many will allow you to pay with smaller U.S. bills. Anything above a $20 bill, however, might not be possible. There is a Casa de Cambio (currency exchange) right at the cruise port for you to acquire pesos and a few others throughout the downtown core.

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Brenna Harris is a digital nomad and travel writer with a deep passion for exploring the world, reading, and beach-combing. Her life as a digital nomad enriches her writing, blending unique global experiences with a love for the great outdoors. When not wandering the globe, she cherishes her time in Canada with her husband and puppy, eager to share her top travel tips and discoveries. Brenna's articles are a treasure trove of insights for fellow travel enthusiasts, born from a life lived on the move.

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10 Epic Things to Do in Ensenada Mexico: A 2023 Travel Guide

By: Author Laura Bronner

Posted on Last updated: June 19, 2023

10 Epic Things to Do in Ensenada Mexico: A 2023 Travel Guide

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Ensenada Mexico is one of the most popular destinations for Americans to travel to in Mexico. And for good reason. There are so many awesome things to do in Ensenada (and so many awesome things to eat, too!).

If you’re wondering what to do in Ensenada Mexico, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s a pretty small city not far from the US border and less than two hours from Tijuana , but it’s a world away when it comes to luxury, views, and all the wine.

There are tons of fun things to do in Ensenada whether you want an action-packed trip or a laid-back vacation.

But first, I would highly recommend having access to a car on your trip to Ensenada. While the town itself is completely walkable, several of the best things to do in Ensenada require a vehicle.

You can rent a car in Tijuana , which is relatively easy to do from the airport.

You can also take your own car across the border and drive in Mexico that way (just be sure you have the right insurance). What I do not recommend is driving a US rental car across the border to Mexico.

This ends up costing quite a bit more than if you just grab an Uber to the border, walk across, and then rent a car once you are in Mexico. 

Alternatively, you can take a few tours to some of the below-listed places. I’ll mention my preferred tour companies for each below.

Where to Stay in Ensenada Mexico

There are so many great places to stay in Ensenada Mexico. It depends whether you want to stay in the downtown area or up around the vineyards, but there’s a little something for everyone.

Airbnb in Ensenada Mexico

We stayed in an amazingly located Airbnb while we were in Ensenada.

If you are traveling as two or more, this place has two bedrooms with comfortable beds. It has a great kitchen if you want to self-cater. The living room was great and had a smart TV in it with Netflix so we could just chill in the evenings when we wanted to.

You can check out that Airbnb here. 

Hotels in Ensenada Mexico

  • Torre Lucerna Hotel : This is one of the more luxury-style hotels in Ensenada, but it’s still incredibly affordable. The rooms are modern and comfortable and there is plenty of parking, which tends to be a problem with other hotels in the area. There’s an outdoor pool to enjoy during the warmer months and it’s within walking distance of all the best restaurants in Ensenada . Rooms start at $120 per night. Book a stay at Torre Lucerna Hotel here .
  • Hotel Las Dunas : Hotel las Dunas is one of the better budget options in Ensenada. If you want a cheap and cheerful room with parking and close to all the action, this is a great option. It doesn’t have tons of amenities, but it’s clean and well priced. Rooms start at $75 per night. Book a stay at Hotel Las Dunas here.
  • Punta Morro : For a real luxury resort, look no further than Punta Morro. Depending on when you plan to visit, rooms here are an absolute steal for the quality. There are several pools, a cliffside view over the ocean, modern rooms, and an indoor spa pool. Rooms start at $175 per night. Book a stay here .

where to stay in Ensenada Mexico when you visit with a pool and palm trees

Hotels in Valle de Guadalupe Mexico

  • Cuatro Lunas Boutique Hotel : These gorgeous cabins line the outside of a peaceful and beautiful pool in what looks like an otherwise flat area. You will get perfect uninterrupted views of the surrounding wine region. Rooms start at $200 USD per night. Book here.
  • La Villa del Valle : La Villa del Valle will make you feel like you’ve stepped into an Italian Villa. The views over the valley don’t get much better and there’s a pool and a hot tub for relaxing after a strenuous day of touring around the valley and Ensenada. Rooms start at $280 USD per night. Book here.
  • Casa Mayoral: Casa Mayoral is made up of studio apartments that look like glamping cabins, but better. It also happens to be on the same property as the Casa Mayoral winery, so you don’t have to travel far to start sampling the best wine in the region. Rooms start at $150 USD per night. Book here.
  • Encuentro Guadalupe : This is without a doubt one of the most popular hotels in Valle de Guadalupe, and for good reason. Encuentro is made up of cabins on the hill that overlook almost the entire valley. There’s a pool, a spa tub, a wine tasting room, a restaurant, and even nice walking trails. Book at least a month in advance, if not more to get a space here. Rooms start at $250 USD per night. Book here.

where to travel in 2019

Things to Do in Ensenada Mexico

There are tons of great things to do in Ensenada. Here’s a quick snapshot. 

  • El Guerrerense
  • Night Clubs
  • Local Craft Beer
  • Playa Hermosa
  • La Bufadora
  • Valle de Guadalupe

1. Drink at the Oldest Cantina in Baja California

One of the first things we did when we got to Ensenada was walk over to Hussongs . It’s definitely one of the most well-known bars in the city and you’ll no doubt hear lots of different languages being spoken there.

The number of tourists that visit the Cantina doesn’t seem to put the locals off. It’s by far the busiest bar in the city every night.

We actually rang in the new year here and it was SO much fun. They also sell really big bags of peanuts and you simply throw the shells onto the floor. They sweep them up at the end of every night. 

Despite being one of the most popular bars in the city, they still keep their prices down (or perhaps because they’re so busy they  can keep the prices down).

Bottles of beer are incredibly affordable. During the week, they run different deals on cocktails like two-for-one margaritas. Besides peanuts, they also serve some bags of chips, but no other food.

things to do in ensenada

2. Eat at the Best Seafood in Ensenada Mexico

Ensenada has a street stall called El Guerrerense.

For several years in a row, the stall has been named the best street stall in the entire world .

While I have to say, the seafood tostadas are absolutely delicious, it wasn’t the best street food I’ve had in the world. In fact, it isn’t even the best street food I had in Ensenada.

However, it’s still worth a visit. All of their normal ceviche tostadas are only 25 pesos and they are packed with flavor. I particularly loved the mixto ceviche, which has fish, octopus, and clams in it.

Thanks to the popularity of El Guerrerense, lots of different seafood street stalls have cropped up around Ensenada.

Others that I  really loved include El Guerro and Mariscos Yiyo’s which is located in an Oxxo parking lot near Playa Hermosa (seriously, this is the best seafood we had in Ensenada, it’s well worth the drive).

What to do in ensenada

This is the street stall La Guerrerense – I highly recommend the mixto ceviche!

4. Walk Along the Malecon in Ensenada Mexico

The Malecon in Ensenada isn’t exactly the most beautiful Malecon in Mexico (the one in Puerto Vallarta is utterly spectacular). A Malecon is simply a boardwalk that runs along the waterfront. 

Ensenada is a port town, so the Malecon runs along the port.

This is where you’ll see the fishing boats and cruise ships sitting side-by-side. The city seems to be doing a lot to revive this area and around sunset, it really comes to life, especially on weekends.

There is a bandstand with live music you can enjoy for free. There’s a musical fountain and it’s nicely lit at night.

This is also where you’ll find tons of cheap and delicious seafood restaurants. At the far end is Mercado Negro – the local fish market.

You can buy it raw to cook at your own place or you can simply go into one of the restaurants. I highly recommend Tacos Lily for delicious Baja style fish tacos. Their shrimp tacos are some of the best I’ve ever had.

what to do in ensenada

5. Dance the Night Away

There are a surprising number of clubs in Ensenada for the size of it. On New Year’s Eve we rang in the night at Hussongs, but after midnight they closed, so we had to look elsewhere to carry on the party.

A few places that have reasonable drinks and great DJ’s were Beer & Wings (very casual), Ryerson 51 (more upscale), and Hendrix Club. Other places that are just nice for a few drinks and nice music are Mango Mango. 

6. Sample Some Local Craft Beer

Ensenada has SO many great craft beer spots. I didn’t know before coming to Baja California how many amazing breweries come from Tijuana and Ensenada. 

The three best breweries that you’ll find in Ensenada are Transpeninsular, Wendlandt, and Agua Mala. Of the three, Transpeninsular was my favorite bar. It also had a really nice food menu.

However, my favorite beer of these three was Agua Mala. It’s a bit of a drive, about 15 minutes, from the center of Ensenada. If you think you’re going to have a beer you can take an Uber which is available all along the coast between Tijuana and Ensenada.

what to do in ensenada

Enjoy good beer, good wine, AND good seafood in Ensenada – what more could you need?

7. Take a Boat Tour in Ensenada Mexico

One of the biggest things to do if you visit Ensenada during the winter months is to go whale watching. Any time of year there are charter boats available for fishing trips or just general joy rides around the coast. 

There are boats all along the Malecon that you can book tickets with.

There are also a few tour companies in the center of town where you can book tours. Alternatively, if you stay at a hotel, the front desk can probably recommend a good place to book with (or they can book it for you directly).

8. Walk Along Playa Hermosa

The beach in Ensenada, much like the Malecon, isn’t the most beautiful beach in Mexico.

The water is dark and the sand is coarse. But for the few days that I spent in Ensenada, even in the blustery January mornings, I loved walking along the beach.

My boyfriend and I would put our jackets and sneakers on and walk from one end to the other. 

During low tide the beach is wide and long and you’ll spot plenty of people doing yoga, running, and fishing along the shore.

It’s a nice place on a sunny day and during the summer months, it’s a great place to head for a tan. There are several parking lots along Boulevard Castero. I prefer the spots next to Oxxo so that I can enjoy seafood from Mariscos Yiyo’s.

See the location of Playa Hermosa on Google here .

what to do in ensenada

It’s not warm in Ensenada in January, so don’t pack your bathing suit like I did! But it’s still nice to walk along the beach as long as you dress warmly!

9. Get Sprayed By a Marine Geyser

One of the most popular things to do in Ensenada Mexico is to visit La Bufadora, which translates to Geyser. This isn’t some sort of underwater volcanic landform.

A marine geyser is formed when waves crash into a small space like a cave. When the pressure builds up too much, the cave then shoots the water back out in a big way. 

The best times to visit La Bufadora are during high tide, so check the tide tables before visiting. 

While I enjoyed La Bufadora, my favorite part was actually the road to the geyser.

It is windy and coastal and the views are just stunning. Even the lookout point that’s next to La Bufadora is breathtaking. So if you can only come during low tide, not to worry, it’s still worth the trip for the views alone.

Visiting La Bufadora is free, but if you drive expect to pay about 50 Pesos for parking (most people also accepted US dollars).

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from downtown Ensenada to the parking area of La Bufadora. Just follow the signs.

If you don’t have a vehicle, you can book a tour like this one which will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the geyser. The tour also includes a visit to a local cantina and a stop at a traditional market where you can sample some delicious Mexican food. Book that tour here .

What to do in Ensenada Mexico

The stunning views from La Bufadora – I couldn’t get over how stunningly blue the water looked from here.

10. Visit Some Wineries in Ensenada Mexico

Of course! One of the main draws to Ensenada Mexico is the neighboring wine region, Valle de Guadalupe. I’ve written an entire article about the best wineries in the region which you can read here:

Valle de Guadalupe Wineries: The Best Wineries in Baja California

It’s very easy to self-drive as long as you have a designated driver.

There are so many fantastic wineries and many are close together so you can do two or three tastings in one short visit. We spent two days exploring the wine region and we barely scratched the surface.

You can opt to actually stay in the wine region rather than in downtown Ensenada. There are tons of stunning hotels in Valle de Guadalupe where you can enjoy views of the vineyards and total and utter solitude.

It just depends on how much you want to drive and what food you are most interested in eating (have I mentioned all of the amazing seafood in downtown Ensenada?)

If you don’t want to rent a car or nobody wants to volunteer to be the designated driver, there are a few great tour options that will pick you up and drop you back off in Ensenada and take you around to several different wineries in Valle de Guadalupe. 

This tour option on Get Your Guide includes a visit and tour at four different wineries as well as a driver for the day. You will pay for any tasting you want to do. The tour costs $75 USD per person. Book that tour here .

If you want a tour that includes everything, you’ll want to book this option . As well as stops at several wineries, lunch and dinner are also included. The cost of the tour per person depends on how many people are booking (the more people, the cheaper the individual price). It starts at $320 per person. Learn more about that tour and book it here .

guadalupe valley mexico

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wondering what to do in ensenada? Check out these funs things to do in ensenada mexico including wine tasting in valle de guadalupe, visiting La Bufadora, and sampling delicious seafood!

Wednesday 12th of October 2022

What can you do with kids in Ensenada?

Friday 29th of April 2022

Assume People , and a very nice place . Ensenada has been Our Get Away for years .... !

Monday 24th of June 2019

I am seeking a hacienda type place to live in Ensenada with no or very few stairs. Any ideas for me ?

Ensenada Baja California Travel Guide

Things to do in Ensenada

Things to do in Ensenada

What to see, tours and activities and more with family in baja california mexico.

Find Best Things to do in Ensenada Baja California Cruise port and the entire place, this is a perfect setting for some great vacations some miles away from the always partying Baja.

What to do in Ensenada Baja California Mexico

Surfing Ensenada

Surfing in Ensenada

Ensenada Bars

Ensenada Bars

Snorkeling in Ensenada

Snorkeling in Ensenada

Golf Courses in Ensenada

Golf Courses in Ensenada

Best Restaurants in Ensenada

Best Restaurants in Ensenada

Attractions in Ensenada Baja California Mexico

Attractions in Ensenada

Ensenada Fishing Charters

Ensenada Fishing Charters

Things to do in valle de guadalupe.

Playa Aguacaliente Ensenada

Playa Agua Caliente Ensenada

Insider’s guide to ensenada’s best beach restaurants, best street food in ensenada, fancy restaurants in ensenada.

ensenada tourist guide

Best Romantic Restaurants in Valle de guadalupe

Bar Bura Cuatro Cuatros Valle de Guadalupe

Sip, Sunset, Repeat: Bar Bura’s Coastal Elegance in Baja’s Wine Wonderland!

El patio ensenada, animalón ensenada, hache restaurant, finca altozano, fun day trip activities for families with kids from the port.

Great activities close to the border await for you, as a port in the Baja, deep sea sportfishing is one of the main activities in the area, knowing that many of visitors are very thrill seekers you can find some ATV tours and horseback riding along the shore.

Having some of the best vineyards in the country, you can´t miss a visit to the Valle de Guadalupe Wine Country , where you can see and experiment all the process of wine making and they also have some seasonal activities that comes along with the wine producing tradition that comes with it from centuries ago in the old world.

Las Canadas Water Park and Campground Adventures all you need for a family getaway with fun for everyone, with places to enjoy a great BBQ party in a cool sunny day, pools to swim and relax and have fun in waterslides all this among trees and palapas in a camping setting with tables and grills, or why not, relaxing in the Lakeside in some paddle boats, they also count with a canopy tour for the grown ups, don’t forget to check availability

Some city tours with visits to the museums and some local spots you should not miss in the city so you really can say you actually went there, like the Bufadora, Punta Banda, Punta Morro and many more.

Golf have become one of the best attractions becoming overtime one of the favorite activities while on vacations and is attracting more and more people around the world turning this activity one of the most important growing factors of the destination.

Bars and Nightclubs

The fun is not for day and night, with a wide variety of bars and clubs, enlivened by the best music and the best atmosphere, either starting early in a day club next to the beach, or its different night clubs located and in the main places this destination.

Golf Courses

A wide variety of golf courses are located in this destination, literally from end to end, the best locations and most exclusive places offering beautiful views, and challenging courses that will truly be a delight for all golfers visiting Baja.

It´s location, away and secluded it is a blessed location with great beaches, very swimmable and safe.

The beaches  are great for learning to spend a weekend close to the border, improving your surfing skills or learning some new tricks.

Surfing is very popular in this destination, due the quality of their waves and the great views from the promontory of the coast.

The main attraction It surrounds all that offer the perfect location, and the perfect setting facing the Pacific Ocean.

In which its natural beauty of Beaches makes this place one of the favorite places to vacation.

There are some beaches all around, in which you could find nice spots to try and practice your skills or just to learn new tricks. Enjoy a day walking thru nature in a very safe environment where you will get professionally travel advisory by local experts lot´s of birds, animals, and insects. Hours of fun in the wild awaits you.

Grab some guide in town to walk you for the best paths of the trail, so you won’t get lost it is a nice and safe tour if you want to try something different than what the local beaches offers.

Beaches all over are family friendly friendly with warm water and soft tides, it is one of the perfect locations in the area for a Family day at the beach.

Lots of watersports all around to keep you fun busy, or just sit back and relax in a palapa, any shade many restaurants will provide any food and beverages in case you want to try some margaritas by the beach or try some local fresh seafood.

Fun Things to do

This Attraction to the most famous island in the Bufadora, have become the number one attraction, due to its popularity, sometimes it could be overcrowded on season.

Because this natural spot, needs some time to relax and recover from the hundred of visitors.

How to get there

Many tour companies will offer some professionally guided tours.

They will advise you when is the best time to visit and get to blowhole.

Best Eating and Drinking in Paradise.

There is a great offer of activities and one of the best we all enjoy is the food and drinks.

There are lots of culinary options from mexican food to international and from fast food to fine dining options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are your favorite attractions to visit, what are the best activities to do abroad, what are the best day trips, what are the most popular activities to do with children, is it worth a visit, what is there to do in the port, is expensive for tourists, do i need a passport, can you swim, is there a beach, is it safe to drive from tijuana, is sea water quality, you may like this:, viña de frannes, bodegas magoni.

Papas and Beer Ensenada

Papas and Beer Ensenada

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Gabrielle Richardson’s Road Trip to Ensenada, Mexico

Crystal-clear tide pools, private beaches, and a cliffside airbnb..

ensenada tourist guide

Everyone knows that person who spends weeks sniffing around travel blogs, going deep down into TripAdvisor rabbit holes, collecting Google Docs from friends of friends, and creating  A Beautiful Mind– style spreadsheets to come up with the best vacations/itineraries possible. In this recurring series, we find those people who’ve done all the work for you, and have them walk us through a particularly wonderful, especially well-thought-out vacation they took, that you can actually steal.

In October, model-activist-artist Gabrielle Richardson and eight friends rented a cliffside house outside of Ensenada, Mexico, which sits on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, less than a two hour drive from the Tijuana airport. They drove there from Los Angeles. Each day of the trip followed a similar rhythm: hiking the nearby trails, swimming in local tide pools, and relaxing with music by the fire pit. “My body felt great,” Richardson remembers. “The days were very rugged, but I was eating fantastic food in a beautiful space, sleeping fantastically. I miss it so much.”

Noon: Drive from L.A. to San Diego

ensenada tourist guide

It was my friend’s birthday, and we wanted to leave America, but we were also very nervous about traveling. We actually drove from Los Angeles so that we could still be quarantined in some sense. There were two cars and nine of us altogether, and we headed out at noon.

3 p.m.: Cross the border

I know you’re not supposed to take food through to other countries, but because we were going for my friend’s birthday I had picked up a jelly cake in L.A. from Eat Nunchi . At the border, I was like, “Hey, am I allowed to take this over?” I showed them my cake, and they were like, “Uh, we don’t care.”

3:30 p.m.: Rent a car in Mexico

ensenada tourist guide

When you get across the border, the Tijuana airport is right there. There are rental car places there — we parked our cars and rented two new cars because one of my friends, who is from Mexico, told us that in the countryside it’s better to have a car with Mexican license plates. It cost around $200 bucks per car.

Then we hit a lot of traffic. But we were mostly on these coastal highways, and it was very beautiful, so you just got to look at the ocean. By the time we got there, it was really dark, and I was kind of freaking out because we were on the side of a cliff.

6:30 p.m.: Check into the Airbnb

We stayed at this place called Baja Off the Grid , which I rented through Airbnb. We paid about $300 each for five days. It was extremely beautiful — this big white house right on a cliff with windows facing the ocean.

Rancho Del Mar @ Baja Off the Grid Resort

It was also super clean and neat. The living room is open plan. There’s a huge balcony where you can see both the ocean and La Bufadora, the nearest town. Through the bedroom windows, you can see dolphins in the waves.

11 a.m.: Pick up groceries

We did a huge grocery shop at at a small grocery store on the side of the road in the nearby town, La Bufadora. It was about an hour walk or a ten-minute drive from our house. A lot of us are vegan, so we bought tortillas, tons of veggies, and eggs.

1 p.m.: Hang in the tide pools

ensenada tourist guide

If you walk ten minutes down the road from the house, you get to all these trails. Each of them takes you to a different really gorgeous, secluded beach. The trails, I will say, were more on the moderate side. You’re not walking among trees; it’s a lot of cactus, agave bushes, and aloe plants — dry shrubbery. The beaches are rocky with really clear tide pools you can swim in. We’d just play in the tide pools and look at the fish.

There’s a cove right next to the house, about a five-minute walk away that you can swim in. It is really magical. The ocean water would spill in and create this huge, eight-foot-deep pool.

8 p.m.: Have a movie night

There was no TV there, but one of us brought a projector. One night, we were just so tired that we plugged it in and watched Spirited Away against the kitchen wall. Just with a tiny projector and a speaker, we made a movie night out of nothing.

2 p.m.: Spend an afternoon in town

ensenada tourist guide

We spent a lot of time at the markets at La Bufadora, it was so much fun. All the shops are connected, it’s like a pathway. The stores don’t really have names, they’ll just say like, “Piña Colada,” and you go in and it’s the best piña colada. The guy who owned it would just come and talk to us. There were a bunch of boardwalk games, all these little shooting games like Skee-Ball, Whac-A-Mole. I bought a dress and a bunch of my friends bought leather espadrilles. There were a bunch of market stalls lined up on both sides of the street, and none of the stuff felt like junk — just little curated shops with T-shirts, shoes, vases, plates, little dolls.

We would also eat ceviche at Los Panchos (Avenida Josefa O. de Domínguez 1050). They have the biggest portions. People would come off the street and sing to us and play the accordion.

ensenada tourist guide

2 p.m.: Scale a rock wall

There is this one trail called Campo 9 to Playa Escondido, which was a short drive from the house. We got there and realized it was a straight drop with a rope. You have to climb down this rock wall to get to the beach. But it was worth it — it was a really beautiful private beach that was sandy with a very gentle ocean, as opposed to the wavy rock beach by our house. Now we’re like, “Remember when we had to scale the side of a cliff?” Climbing back up at the end of the day was actually a lot easier than climbing down. Definitely wear some sneakers or hiking boots.

7 p.m.: Eat pumpkin soup by the ocean

ensenada tourist guide

We only went into Ensenada once, for my friend’s birthday dinner, which we did at Planta Baja Sky Bar (Carretera Ensenada-Tijuana Km 103 22860, El Sauzal). Thank God they seated us, because there were so many of us and we had no reservation. But they let us in, and we just had this really amazing meal, right on the ocean. There was no one in the restaurant except for us. We were dancing and laughing the whole night. The crema de calabaza, a pumpkin soup, was especially good.

Then we went back to the house and sat around the fire pit. We did this at the end of each day, winding down and looking out at the ocean.

Gabrielle Richardson’s Ensenada Packing List

A projector for movie night.

VANKYO Leisure 3 Mini Projector

Richardson recommends bringing a “tiny projector” to watch movies against one of the walls in the house. We found this to be the best-rated mini-projector on Amazon, with reviewers praising its easy setup and performance in all kinds of lighting situations.

A Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker

Everywhere they traveled, Richardson’s group brought a portable Bluetooth speaker (so much that she forever associates the trip with the song “ Kakashi ” by Yasuaki Shimizu). We previously reported that Amazon reviewers love this affordable speaker for its surprisingly good sound quality, quick pairing ability, and durable build.

An Easy, Breezy Dress (That You Can Actually Move In)

Influence cotton poplin open back midi dress in lilac

If you’re planning on bringing a dress or two, Richardson strongly recommends choosing “moveable dresses that you can run around in,” given the outdoorsy nature of the trip. “I’ve hiked in dresses, but big flowy ones,” she says. We named this breezy cotton dress one of the best to buy for spring , but there’s no reason not to wear it for your trip this summer.

Sturdy Hiking Boots

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Gtx Hiking Boot

“Definitely bring some sneakers or hiking boots,” Richardson says, given that many of the excursions require tricky hikes and (in one case) scaling a cliff. “If someone was wearing flip flops,” she says, “it would be awful.” With the comfort of a sneaker but the support of a hiking boot, we think the endlessly recommended Merrell Moab 2 boot is the perfect thing.

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Introducing Ensenada

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.

Nearest Destination:

Transfer distance:, transfer time.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Get in touch


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Private tours in ensenada, mexico, our most popular adventures.

Experience a unique private tour, enjoy every minute at the best, as we make sure that you enjoy a nice relaxing vacation .

La Bufadora Tour

  • Sightseeing tour of city highlights
  • More than 100 souvenirs shop
  • Meet the biggest marine geyser in the world
  • 2 hours of free time

Zip-lining Tour

  • 5 Ziplines & 5 hanging bridges ( activity paid separately )
  • Roundtrip transportation
  • Sightseeing Tour
  • Lunch at the best taco place in town

Pai Pai Ecopark  

  • Pet baby cubs and interact with many more species
  • Lunch included at the best taco place in town

Wine Valley Tours

The Valley of Guadalupe is Mexico's most important wine region, producing more than 90% of Mexican wine.

We have two tour options to accommodate your needs.

  • Custom Wine Tour: Visit at 2 local wineries & 1 restaurant (Tasting fees and food not included)
  • Bachelorette Party Wine Tour: Visit at 3 local wineries & 1 restaurant. All tasting fees and food included.

Our main focus is that you enjoy and relax with the delightful wines and gastronomy that Valle offers. 

Custom Wine Tour: $65.00

Bachelorette Party Wine Tour: $197.00

All-inclusive private wine tour: $99.00

ensenada tourist guide

In our journey, we all found love and enthusiasm in this company. My team and I treat our guests the way we would like to be treated. Giving our customers the best experience is our  main focus.

We started in 2019, and since then we have had non stop adventures and providing unforgettable moments! We always give our best to provide the best service and day by day we keep learning new ways to give a better service.

Our guests in action!

What are guests have to say..., our guide was amazing.

“Our guide was amazing! He truly took care of everything for us and made the fun and efficient. The tour itself was great. Good way to see the city, learn and bit about its culture and the zip line course was awesome."

via TripAdvisor

Treated us like friends

"One if the best tours I have ever been on. Eric was the best. He took us to the Blow hole, and the flea market. He negotiated bargains with Spanish speaking sellers, for great deals. THEN... He took us to an authentic place for lunch! Perfect day! Treated us like friends while allowing us to learn about the Ensenada culture. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this tour."

I would recommend him 100%

"We had so much fun. Taking my husband out of his comfort zone was all worth it. The view was amazing. La Bufadora and Lidia’s was exceptional to say the least. Our tour guide Gerson, did more than enough. I would recommend him 100%."

ensenada tourist guide

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Find the best cruise for you

Featured cruise deals, cruising guide, why take a cruise vacation.

If you have a place on your bucket list, chances are, a cruise will get you there – provided the destination is along a coastline or inland waterway. Cruises cover the world, taking millions of passengers each year to regions such as the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Alaska, Europe, the Mediterranean and even Antarctica. Cruising offers a tremendous value, with trips that include your lodging, meals and entertainment – all rolled into one. Some luxury cruise lines even offer fully inclusive vacations, which cover drinks and tours ashore. And best of all, cruising means seeing the world conveniently after unpacking only once.

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While being flexible date wise will always get you the best last-minute cruise deals, it's particularly helpful if you live near a cruise port and can quickly drive there. That way you'll probably be able to jump on those deals that might pop up just a week or two before the ship is scheduled to sail.

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Do plenty of research and know what your ideal cruise is and costs on average, so both are already on your radar. When you see it drop, pounce! (Many cruise lines update pricing several times per day, so preparation is crucial.)

Best cruises in 2024

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The essential guide to visiting Canada

Here’s what you need to know about the world’s second largest country—when to go, where to stay, what to do, and how to get around.

A cityscape lighting up at dusk along a smooth, blue, body of water

Why you should visit Canada

The majesty of Niagara Falls and Banff National Park . Champagne powder at British Columbia ski resorts. Dense forests, teal waters. Polar bears and spirit bears and loons. Poutine in Montreal , lobster rolls in Halifax. The most lakes of any country in the world.

Reflections of rugged mountains and evergreen trees in a mountain lake.

Best time to visit Canada

Spring: Whale-watch at Clayoquot Sound (pronounced clack-what) as some 20,000 gray whales migrate past the coast, a UNESCO Biosphere Region. A million tulips bloom in Ottawa as part of a spring festival .

Summer:   This is prime season for canoeing Ontario’s many lakes, driving the glorious Sea-to-Sky Highway   from Vancouver to Whistler, rock-climbing at Squamish, and golfing at a world-renowned seaside course, like Nova Scotia’s Cabot Cliffs or Cabot Links . End of summer sees the stars come out at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Autumn:   Polar bears gather in large numbers in Churchill , Manitoba , waiting for ice to form on Hudson Bay so they can hunt seal. For fall colors, take a boat trip up the Saguenay River, in Quebec.

Winter:   Dogsled, ice-fish, and snowshoe at the Carnaval de Québec winter festival. Ski or snowboard at any of a score of high, steep, powdery ski resorts that populate the west, including Whistler Blackcomb , Kicking Horse , and Revelstoke , the last being one of the snowiest places on Earth. At Whistler, ride the bobsleigh track featured at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

People on a whale/bird watching trip look to the sky with binoculars.

Lay of the land

Cities:   Mountains and ocean sandwich outdoorsy Vancouver.   Lakefront Toronto’s dramatic skyline is interspersed with museums and vibrant ethnic neighborhoods. Sophisticated cobblestoned Montreal is where Canadians go to let their hair down. Colorful houses cling to the rock of St. John’s while icebergs drift offshore. “Any boat ride that has you entering St. John’s Harbour at dusk is a divine experience,” says legendary Newfoundland folk-rock musician Alan Doyle .  

West:   In British Columbia, get lost among the islands of Haida Gwaii,   home to some of the densest, most concentrated coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth. In Desolation Sound,   cultural interpreter and bear guide Klemkwateki (Randy) Louie teaches visitors how to weave with cedar bark and to carve miniature canoe paddles. He also takes guests by boat up the Toba Inlet (Yekwamen), among whales, orcas, seals, and sea lions, to the Klite River to watch grizzly bears in their natural habitat. “I’ve been involved in my Coast Salish teachings for 30 years, singing, drumming, dancing, giving visitors some Klahoose history. We’ve handed this down to the younger generation and to our guests to help with building a connection in working together.”

The 47-mile backcountry West Coast Trail (WCT) crosses beaches studded with flowerpot rock formations, and passes through groves of old-growth trees. Down the Vancouver Island coast is the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail , a shorter but more hilly option. “Both trails zigzag through thick coastal rainforest with lots of muddy sections and ladders to help you up and down the steep slopes,” says Taryn Eyton, founder of HappiestOutdoors.ca .

Theforest suspension bridge over Pete Wolfe Creek on the Juan de Fuca trail on the way to Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island.

North:   In the Northwest Territories (NWT), paddle the Nahanni River through Canada’s deepest river canyons, along rapids, and past Virginia Falls, nearly twice the height of Niagara. NWT is also where you can canoe and swim in enormous Great Slave Lake and spot the northern lights , visible here 240 nights per year.  

Prairie provinces:   Elk Island National Park , in Alberta , is home to bison, elk, and more than 250 bird species. Nearby on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Métis Crossing features a cultural center, historic exhibits, and dome accommodations with transparent ceilings for night-sky viewing. In early fall, Jasper National Park holds a Dark Sky festival with family-friendly events like night hikes.

Fly in by floatplane to lodges in Saskatchewan or Manitoba for trophy catches of northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. “Since there’s very little fishing pressure, the fish are typically giants, and more than willing to hit just about any lure you show them,” says Patrick Walsh, editor of Outdoor Canada   magazine.  

Ontario:   Charter a boat and cruise the 120 miles from the capital Ottawa down the 19 th- century Rideau Canal (the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America), through a series of lakes, locks, and rivers. Drive west alongside Lake Ontario to Prince Edward County , one of the hottest vacation spots in Canada, known for its wineries, food, hip hotels, and historic small towns like Wellington and Picton. Climb the immense sand dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park, the largest freshwater barrier beach and dune system in the world. Continuing west along the lake, a new Canadian Canoe Museum opened in Peterborough in May 2024.

Quebec:   Montreal comes alive in summer with a series of events, such as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal . In compact, French-speaking Quebec City, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a charming town in northern France. Off the beaten path, drive the Gaspé peninsula, encompassing four national parks and iconic offshore limestone formation Percé. Stop in at the International Garden Festival at Grand-Métis, Quebec.

Atlantic Canada:   A magical place of mountains and verdant coastline, Gros Morne National Park,   in Newfoundland , is one of the few places where you can stroll atop the Earth’s mantle , exposed when two continental plates collided. Visitors can hike to the top of Western Brook Pond fjord for an iconic view , or board a boat . The oldest known European settlement in North America—beating Columbus by centuries—is at L'Anse aux Meadows . Windswept homes of timber, peat, and sod, the Viking site lay undiscovered until 1960.

At the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Geopark in Nova Scotia   marvel at the world’s highest tides in action.  

Cape Breton Island is home to one of the world’s great drives, the 185-mile Cabot Trail. A few hardy types bike the steep winding hills. Offshore, visitors whale-watch or fish enormous bluefin tuna.

Flower Pot rocks, Soley Cove, Five Islands area, Nova Scotia, Canada, Cobequid Bay, Bay of Fundy; Ocean tides

Getting around Canada

By plane:   Leading carrier Air Canada has more than 900 flights daily. Floatplanes operated by small companies connect remote locations. U.S.-bound passengers can pre-clear U.S. customs and immigration at nine Canadian airports.  

B y train:   Rail is the time-honored way to see Canada, and operators run specialized services for tourists, like Rocky Mountaineer’s deluxe routes from Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies to Banff or Jasper. Regular train service by Via runs a limited number of routes.

By bus:   Intercity bus service has declined across Canada.

By car:   A car is essential for moving about within regions of Canada, but some top tourist spots—like Churchill for polar bears—are accessible only by plane or train.

By boat:   Bounded by three oceans and with an abundance of lakes and rivers, a cruise or boat trip is a great way to see the country.

Know before you go

Cultural heritage:   Native rights and the debts owed by settlers have become front and center in the public discourse, with land acknowledgements , which originated in Canada, now standard practice. Canada’s newest (1999) territory, Nunavut , is governed by the Inuit , and Torngat Mountains National Park , on the northern tip of Labrador, is owned and managed by the Inuit, the first of its kind.

The transcontinental railway helped establish Canada as a nation, but at the same time pushed aside Indigenous peoples and their rights. Blasting through the Canadian Rockies, untold numbers of imported Chinese workers died and were buried by their fellow countrymen, often in unmarked graves.

Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, but when Great Britain declared war in 1914 Canada automatically joined too as it did not yet control its own foreign affairs. Canada gained legislative independence from Britain in 1931, an official flag of its own only in 1965, and constitutional independence from the U.K. as recently as 1982.

Visitors arrive at Saglek Fjord's North Arm by boat and can fish for Arctic char. This site has been used for thousands of years as a summertime camping ground for the Inuit.

Hours: Bars in Canadian cities typically stay open until 2 a.m. Drinking age is 18 or 19, depending on province or territory, while some remote northern communities place restrictions on alcohol use. Marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal uses.

LGBTQ+:   Canada is consistently ranked the world’s best country for LGBTQ+ rights and safety of travelers. The country legalized same-sex marriage in 2005—at the time only the fourth country in the world to do so. Pride Toronto (June) is one of the largest organized gay pride festivals in the world.

How to visit Canada sustainably

Greenpeace was founded in Canada and today the country ranks a respectable 14 th out of 76 countries on the Green Future Index . Keep your distance from wildlife. Bring your own reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and toiletries. Put all garbage and recyclables into designated bins. Support Indigenous peoples by taking guided walks and visiting Indigenous art galleries.

What to read and watch

Anne of Green Gables , by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This globally loved 1908 children’s book set on Prince Edward Island was adapted most recently into a Netflix series. November 30, 2024, will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Montgomery.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands , by Kate Beaton. This autobiographical comic from Cape Breton’s Kate Beaton recounts her experience as one of the few women working in the rough-and-tumble oil patch of northern Alberta. Beaton’s story also captures the never-ending tale of Canadians from the Atlantic provinces migrating westward for work.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America , by Thomas King. This history of Indigenous peoples in North America has been turned into a 2020 documentary .

The Sleeping Car Porter ,   by Suzette Mayr. The award-winning 2022 novel focuses on a 1920s Black closeted gay Canadian working as a railway porter to save money to attend dental school.

The Hockey Sweater , by Roch Carrier. This 1979 short story about a Quebec boy who receives a hated Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in error has been an enduring favorite of Canadians, managing to capture the importance of both hockey and winter to Canadian children, and also serving as an explainer of relations between English and French Canada.

Schitt’s Creek.   The pandemic’s surprise hit series was written by and stars Canadians, and more than anything has a gentle, Canadian-defining vibe to it. If these characters are your people, you’ll feel at home in Canada.

Kim’s Convenience.   Written by Ins Choi, this sitcom about a Korean-Canadian family who own a corner store in downtown Toronto captures the intimate feel of the city’s many ethnic neighborhoods, as well as the common multi-generational immigrant experience in one of the world’s most international metropolises.

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