The Best Ensenada Guide – Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, Ensenada is the largest municipality in Mexico. Its vast natural offerings attract nature buffs that enjoy the outdoors. Two National Parks are located here: Constitucion de 1857 and Sierra San Pedro Martir. This last one is also the home of the National Astronomical Observatory and “El Picacho del Diablo” (devils peak), the highest mountain in the Baja peninsula. Find Natural Protected areas like Valle de Los Cirios, Islas del Golfo, la Biósfera de Isla de Guadalupe, among others. Discover and live Ensenada!
Ensenada is the wine capital of Mexico. 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.
Ensenada is a nature and adventure lovers paradise. Sky, sea or land; take on exiting activities like surfing, sport fishing, kayaking, golf, rappel, hiking, mountain biking, zip lines, camping, photo-safaris, stargazing and more. In season, you can swim along whale sharks, or go on a gray whale or great white shark watching trip. Ensenada awaits! Learn more about the Mexican Riviera here, or visit us on Pinterest here.
Ensenada Weather – When to Visit Ensenada
Ensenada is a four-season destination, offering fun in the sun for every month of the year. Prices are highest at Christmas and New Years, lower in the spring, and hit rock-bottom in the summer, the time for killer deals and comparatively empty beaches. Although hurricanes here are rare compared to the Caribbean, September does host a big blow now and then, so figure that into your plans. Air and water temperatures make a big difference in the kind of active vacations Baja was made for, so think about how you want to spend your time before you book. Winter waters are cold for diving and snorkeling, but cooler winter temperatures are just right for hiking and boating. Summer heat makes swimming a joy, but you’ll bake by the pool.
There’s hardly a time when you’ll find Ensenada overrun, but it’s worth keeping a few major festivals in mind. Christmas and New Years are ultra-high season, when hotels and beaches fill up. March is fiesta time, with La Paz’s Carnaval and San José del Cabo’s Fiesta Patronal. The week leading up to Easter is the time when Mexicans from all over the country head to the beach; partying can be raucous and beaches packed. Mexican Independence Day, September 16, is a party throughout the country, and a fun time to visit cities like La Paz and Tijuana, where celebrations tend to be better-funded.
The Best 5 Ensenada Beaches
The Ensenada beach closest to the cruise port is Playa Hermosa. It is a little more than two miles south of the cruise port and about a 10 minute drive via taxi or excursion bus. It lies along the city’s long malecon or boardwalk.
San Miguel Beach
San Miguel is all about surfing. The beach is best known as a challenging surf spot with consistent waves. Beyond surfing, the golden sand and clear water entice swimmers and snorkelers to indulge in the offerings of San Miguel. With its popularity as a sporting destination as well as the fact that there are stores and restaurants nearby, the beach can become crowded on weekends, but San Miguel is a fairly large beach, sufficiently so that that even on crowded days, you can still enjoy a hassle-free visit.
This stretch of coast in Ensenada is particularly revered for its more tranquil atmosphere. Playa Estero is to a large extent free of the surfing crowd, making it ideal for swimming, taking a hike or going on a horseback ride in the surf. It attracts sunbathers, horseback riders, kayakers, snorkelers, divers and beachcombers for an altogether more relaxing atmosphere.
El Faro Beach
El Faro Beach is not as crowded as other beaches, but still has all the amenities of other Ensenada beaches. El Faro offers great views of the Punta Banda and Islas de Todos Santos, so it’s quite picturesque. The beach also has well-kept amenities including well-attended bathrooms, potable water, electricity, rental cottages and even laundry facilities.
Playa Baja is a popular family-centered Baja Beach that is relatively close to the city center and is surrounded by resort hotels. This means there are plenty of amenities here. Playa Baja is complete with a panoramic view of the Bahia de Todos Santos. Water sports and other activities are also popular here to include snorkeling, skiing, kayaking and diving. There are plenty of water sports rentals available here.
The Ensenada beach nearest the cruise port is Hermosa Beach. It is a little more than two miles south of the cruise port and about a 10 minute drive via taxi or excursion bus. It lies along the city’s long malecon or boardwalk.
Best Ensenada Restaurants
Muelle 3 $11 – 30
Right on the marina, this place looks like a hole in the wall but on closer inspection you’ll see a sophisticated crowd savoring artistically presented ceviches and other Mexican classics. The flavors are balanced and subtle and everything is fresh and prepared to perfection. It gets crowded, especially at lunchtime. Telephone: 52 646 174 0318 Web: Muelle 3
Punta Morro $40 & Over
This restaurant is situated in an amazing location with a panoramic view of Ensenada’s bay, where you can observe the waves and an unforgettable sunset like in no other place while enjoying our best wines. They invite you to enjoy their specialties and award-winning plates like: lobster enchiladas, Baja empanadas or Isla de Cedros sopecitos. Telephone: 52 646 178 3507 Web: Punta Morro
Manzanilla Restaurant $11 – 30
Founded by chefs Benito and Solange in 2000, the restaurant fuses Mexican flavors with Mediterranean cuisine, excelling in its menu the fruits of the sea. Oysters, clams, mussels, abalone, are some of the basic ingredients of this place of tradition. Telephone: 52-646-175-7073 Web: Manzanilla Restaurant
Mariscos El Güero $10 & Under
On El Costero Blvd you will find El Güero, a seafood cart already famous in the port. It offers fresh ceviches, cocktails, aguachiles and shells, all prepared with family recipes. The salty biscuit with ceviche is the favorite dish of the children, but the specialty of this place is the seafood toast, without leaving aside its delicious sauce from the house that manages to give an authentic touch to the seafood. Telephone: 52-646-151-0008 Web: Mariscos El Guero
Malva $11 – 30
The restaurant Mina Penelope vineyards, rustic but refined menu is based on the production of Baja California with an offer that changes every week according to the whims of the season. Most of their dishes are cooked with oak firewood mixing modern and ancient techniques in their preparation. Telephone: 52-646-155-3085 Web: Malva
Best Ensenada Nightlife
The oldest and perhaps liveliest cantina in the Californias has been serving tequila since 1892. A Friday or Saturday night will be packed with locals, a sprinkling of tourists and touting mariachis. The history is fascinating, and the revered bar once drew in the likes of Steve McQueen, John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe. Web: Hussong’s Cantina
Visit the cultured bar inside the Riviera del Pacífico, where having a drink is an exercise in nostalgia. It’s mostly quiet unless a cruise-ship tour happens to be here, but Wednesday nights are also lively, with great deals on delicious margaritas. Regardless, it’s perfect for a nightcap with that special friend. Telephone: 52 646 176 4310 Web: Bar Andaluz
Beloved craft microbrewery with sea-creature-themed art and an open-air, second-story tasting room. Whether you’re into fruity sours, frothy ales, creamy stouts or smooth IPAs, you’re covered here. There’s also a small food menu offering things like shrimp tacos al pastor (spit-grilled meat) and oysters with chimichurri. Telephone: 52 646 174 6068
Suffering from margarita meltdown? Then head to this relaxed wine bar for a glass of fruity Passion Meritage, an award-winning red from the owners’ vineyards: Bodegas San Rafael. Lounge-like seating, chill-out music and burgundy-washed walls set the scene nicely. Nibbles include gourmet flatbread pizzas. Telephone: 52 646 156 5289
Enjoy craft beers made by the owners, as well as from national and international small breweries; seven samplers will cost you just 105 pesos. The surroundings have an urban-chic vibe with chunky wood furniture, exposed brick walls and clever quirky lighting incorporating beer bottles. Telephone: 52 646 174 7060 Web: Wendlandt