The Ensenada Port is often the first stop for many Mexican cruises due to its close proximity to the California border. Originally established as a small fishing village, the port city has grown and is now one of the most popular tourist destinations with a vibrant nightlife, quaint historic downtown and beautiful beaches.
The main shopping area for tourists just coming off of the cruise ship is Lopez Mateos Street where travelers will find all sorts of Mexican handicrafts and artwork. Don’t expect to do much high-end shopping in Ensenada as you won’t find many recognizable retailers, however, do expect to find some of the most affordable, handcrafted artwork. Also, some of the finest sterling sliver is available at this port city so be sure to look out for quality jewelry as well. Remember that if you travel further from the tourist district and shop where the locals do, you will most likely find cheaper prices as well some great local eateries.
Things to See
After spending some time downtown in the tourist-shopping district, check out the variety of aquatic tours available in town. Windsurfing and kayaking are great ways to see the bay and there are many rental locations near the water for your convenience. There are also group packages and lessons available if you need a little extra help getting out into the water. Boat tours that feature snorkeling and whale watching is another fun option for experiencing the port and many of the tours include transportation from downtown hotels as well as include an authentic Mexican lunch.
Away from the beach you may wish to rent an ATV or Jeep and experience the rich, desert Baja climate. Nature and wildlife tours are available for an additional fee but are well worth the cash. Visit the local tourism board, which is located right at the Ensenada port for a map of hiking trails as well. Trails in the Sierra Mountains as well as along the coast are abundant and range in difficulty from novice to expert climber.
Restaurants and Bars
Being the fishing village that it is, tasting the fresh shellfish or mariscos must not be missed when visiting Ensenada. The best places to try the local catch are by far the many street vendors around the downtown area. Mariscos Guero is a great mariscos stand, which is located on a busy corner just outside of many bars and clubs that features ceviche, clams and an amazingly popular Mexican style shrimp cocktail. The best part is that it’s open late seven days a week. Street fare is not the only option, however, as there are many fine dining options. El Rey Sol for example is the city’s only French restaurant that infuses local Mexican flavors in addition to offering traditional fine French cuisine.
When the sun goes down in Ensenda, the sleepy town becomes alive with music, dancing and lots of partying regardless of which day of the week that it is. Papas & Beer is probably the most famous attraction for nightlife in the city with a friendly staff, wild clientele and live music and dancing nightly.