Port of Call: Ensenada, Mexico
When I lived in San Diego, I was never brave enough to join the throngs of 18-year-olds who ventured south of the border to Tijuana. It was just a little too risky for me. Things are different in Ensenada, Mexico, where cruise ships are the main source of tourism income. I have just now completed my third cruise from Los Angeles with a stop in Ensenada, so I thought a blog post was in order to describe and recommend this surprisingly large Mexican city.
There is plenty to keep you busy in and around Ensenada, from food and drink to cultural activities to bueno shopping. The three times I have been there, I have had a day of shopping, a day of horseback riding on the beach, and a trip to La Bufadora outside of town. 1st Street, about a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship pier, offers many stalls with Mexican curios. With leather and silver being the most popular items, anything you would want to buy can be found on this street. Hussong’s Cantina is the oldest in Baja California and supposedly invented the margarita, so it is obviously a good choice for a drink. The fish taco was also reportedly first made in Ensenada, although Wikipedia doesn’t confirm or deny this for me. I guess we’ll never know.
My last visit allowed me to visit La Bufadora, a small coastal community about an hour outside of Ensenada. It is famous for its ocean bufadora, or blowhole, which is the largest in the world and sprays water impressively high into the air. I liked it okay, but I thought the beautiful coastal cliffs added to the scene. There is also a market to explore, where men offer you samples of piña colada and try to sell you “things you don’t need”. If only I weren’t unemployed at the time, or I would have plenty of knock-off Michael Kors and Prada purses to show off. The piña coladas sure were tasty, though.
I’ve done the shopping and La Bufadora, but the first time I went to Ensenada I had to go horseback-riding on the beach. Amongst much botched Spanglish, we were able to barter for a few (ill-fed) horses and went for a leisurely ride along the Baja shore. The horses ambled along and stopped at every patch of grass to refuel, but it was relaxing and I’ll always be a slave to a refreshing ocean breeze. And I may have wanted to have a photo of me on a horse on the beach like Rose in Titanic. Just sayin’.
If you’re not afraid of all the bad press Mexico gets, I highly recommend Ensenada either for a Baja road or a fun booze cruise out of Los Angeles. Olé!