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.
• 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 (4×4).
Ensenada Tourist Board
Blvd. Lazaro Cardenas 609 – 5, Ensenada, B.C. Mexico 22800
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.
2.5km (1.5 miles).