Ensenada is a Mexican town on the Pacific coast of Baja California and because it’s a popular port for cruise ships, there are many activities in the town and nearby. From tasting Mexican wine along the famous Valle de Guadalupe wine route to shopping, eating and visiting museums, there are plenty of things to do in Ensenada.
- Ensenada, Mexico
- Top 3 Ensenada Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Ensenada
- 1- Travel The Valle de Guadalupe Wine Route
- 2- Marvel At La Bufadora
- 3- Go Horseback Riding At Rancho Los Bandidos
- 4- Explore Riviera del Pacifico
- 5- See A Water Show At El Parque de la Bandera
- 6- Visit El Salto Canyon And Waterfall
- 7- Go Shopping Along Avenida Lopez Mateos
- 8- Learn The Region’s History At A Museum
- 9- Visit Plaza Civica
- 10- Feel The Sand Between Your Toes On Rosarito Beach
- 11- Hike Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park
- 12- Visit Caracol Museo de Ciencias
- 13- Dive With Great White Sharks Off Guadalupe Island
- 14- Drink Margaritas At Hussong’s Cantina
- 15- Go Surfing
- 16- Go On A Sportfishing Trip
- 17- Savour The Flavours Of Baja Cuisine
- 18- Zip Through The Air At Las Cañadas Campamento
- 19- Eat At The Best Food Cart In The World
- 20- Cheer On The Racing Cars At Baja 1000
Top 3 Ensenada Tours
- La Bufadora Geyser – enjoy the spectacle of the largest ocean geyser in North America on this four-hour guided tour.
- Valle de Guadalupe Wine Tasting – visit four wineries in a region that produces 90% of Mexico’s wine on this day tour.
- Las Canadas Canopy Tour – feel the thrill of riding the ziplines and crossing hanging bridges on this adventure.
20 Things To Do In Ensenada
1- Travel The Valle de Guadalupe Wine Route
Ensenada is surrounded by beautiful wine country in Valle de Guadalupe, which lives up to its nickname of the “Capital of Mexican Wine.”
There are wineries within an easy driving distance of the downtown area of Ensenada along La Ruta del Vino or the Wine Route.
These wineries are close to each other, making it possible to taste your way through several vineyards in one day.
Most wineries offer wine tastings, and some provide cheese and bread, while other wineries provide full-service restaurants.
The views from the wineries along this route are spectacular.
Some of the most highly-rated wineries include Rondo del Valle, Cava El Laurel, Vinos Xecue, Bodegas de Santo Tomas and Tres Valles Vitivinicola.
A relaxing way to enjoy the wine route, so you don’t have to be careful how much you drink, is to go on an organised tour like this one.
2- Marvel At La Bufadora
La Bufadora is a geyser or blowhole where the ocean’s waves crash into a small cave and project out through a hole in the cave’s roof under tremendous pressure.
La Bufadora is one of the largest blowholes in the world and the best time to visit is during high tide.
It’s a fun, family-friendly destination, and you may get drenched if you stand at the edge of the platform overlooking the blowhole.
While it is free to visit this geyser, there is a nominal cost for parking.
The drive to La Bufadora from Ensenada takes approximately 45 minutes and the scenery along the way is lovely.
The view from the overlook at the geyser is amazing. Book a tour to La Bufadora here.
3- Go Horseback Riding At Rancho Los Bandidos
Rancho Los Bandidos offers a two-hour guided horseback riding tour to Ensenada Bay through the San Miguel Hills.
This company works directly with cruise lines to offer tours for cruise ship visitors and includes a traditional Mexican lunch of tacos, rice and beans.
There are well-behaved horses suitable for beginners and the cowboys are experts at handling the animals.
The views on the trail are lovely, and in addition to horseback riding tours, festivals and Cabalgatas occur several days throughout the year, offering traditional Mexican food and family fun at this horse ranch.
Rancho Los Bandidos is at México 1, 22780 El Sauzal de Rodríguez, B.C.
4- Explore Riviera del Pacifico
The Hotel Riviera del Pacifico is an iconic building on the coast of Ensenada and has had many names throughout its long and colourful history.
The hotel was built in the 1920s as an escape from Prohibition, for Americans to vacation in a grand hotel and relax on its beautiful beach.
After Prohibition ended in the US, the hotel went bankrupt and closed its doors, reopening briefly during WWII as a base of operations for the Mexican and American military.
After WWII, the hotel reopened for several years, but it became the site of a huge lover’s scandal that ultimately resulted in the final bankruptcy of the hotel.
The Mexican government took control and eventually decided to begin restoring it in 1978.
Once the restoration was complete, the building opened its doors again in 1981 as a Social, Civic and Cultural Center.
This centre is now open to the public and has a theatre, Cantina and the History Museum of Ensenada.
Riviera del Pacifico is at 22800, Gastélum 235, 22800 Ensenada, B.C.
5- See A Water Show At El Parque de la Bandera
Like many popular coastal Mexican towns, a malecon (an esplanade along the water) runs through the downtown area along the shoreline.
In Ensenada, the malecon meanders past the Parque de la Bandera (Park of the Flag).
The reason for the name of the park is evident to visitors as a very tall flagpole with a giant Mexican flag, maybe the largest in Mexico, towers over the park.
This park often hosts live music events on its open-air stage, however, the most impressive show occurs every night at 8 pm.
It’s a water show that combines colourful lighting with dancing fountains and synchronized music to create a fun, family-friendly experience.
For more adventures in Mexico, read:
- 20 Famous Landmarks in Mexico
- 20 Best Beaches in Mexico
- 20 Ways To Spend Christmas in Mexico
- 10 Things To Do In Baja California
- The Wonder of Chichen Itza
- When Is The Best Time To Visit Mexico?
- A Guide To Las Grutas De Tolantongo
- A Guide To Valle De Bravo
- 20 Best Cenotes In Mexico
- 20 Interesting Mexican Traditions
- 20 Mayan Ruins In Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In Monterrey Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In La Paz
- 20 Things To Do In Tijuana
- 20 Things To Do In Merida
- 20 Things To Do In Ensenada
- 20 Tulum Day Trips
- Where To Stay In Tulum
- 20 National Parks In Mexico
- 20 Day Trips From Mexico City
6- Visit El Salto Canyon And Waterfall
Less than an hour’s drive from Ensenada is the quiet, hidden El Salto Canyon.
The El Salto Canyon hike is a 4.9-mile (7.9 km) loop that takes visitors past large rock formations and pools of water.
Water rushes through the stream during the rainy season and spills over a 100 ft (30 m) waterfall.
Visitors unfamiliar with the trail should hike with a guide.
This trail is popular with adventurers who like to rock climb and rappel.
Fishing and swimming are available at a lake that you can reach by taking a more challenging trail.
If you have the time to stay longer than a day trip from Ensenada, spend the night at a campsite.
7- Go Shopping Along Avenida Lopez Mateos
The main road in downtown Ensenada is Avenida Lopez Mateos or Calle Primera.
The city’s major artery is lined with restaurants and shops where you can buy souvenirs and try authentic Mexican food.
You can hear mariachi musicians playing music in the cafes and along the street.
Shop for Mexican artisanal crafts like leather, pottery and textiles from regions throughout the country.
This is a popular street for cruising visitors looking for a short excursion into the city.
8- Learn The Region’s History At A Museum
There are two history museums in Ensenada.
The History Museum of Ensenada is a small museum within the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center that tells the tale of Ensenada’s colourful history, the influence of the European cultures in the Baja California region and throws a spotlight on the historical characters that helped make the peninsula what it is today.
The Regional History Museum is in one of the oldest buildings in Ensenada, an old prison.
This museum contains fossils, bones, artifacts, and information about Baja California’s landscape, history and culture going back millions of years.
9- Visit Plaza Civica
The main square in downtown Ensenada is Plaza Civica or the ‘Three Heads Park’, because of the three large busts displayed within the plaza.
These golden busts display historical facts about Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo and Venustiano Carranza.
These three heroes of Mexico contributed significantly towards shaping the country into what it is today.
This park has lovely views of the Pacific Ocean, and vendors line the plaza selling souvenirs and street food.
10- Feel The Sand Between Your Toes On Rosarito Beach
An hour’s drive north of Ensenada lies the town of Rosarito, which is a beach town that was once a popular retreat for Americans during the Prohibition era.
These days, the town continues to be a popular place for surfers and other extreme sports.
Day trips to Los Coronados for wildlife watching, snorkelling and diving are also possible from Rosarito Beach.
A local crafts market and several highly-rated restaurants make this a fun side trip from Ensenada.
11- Hike Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park
Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park is 15 minutes from downtown Ensenada and has a 21 km (13 miles) hiking trail that takes around six hours to complete.
The challenging trail has some steep slopes, but the view of Ensenada Bay makes the hike worthwhile.
This hike goes through some dense vegetation that provides a shady climb.
The Jardin de Tara is a famous garden within the park with many beautiful plants and a 20 ft (6 m) sculpture of an enlightened female donated by the people of Nepal as a gesture of peace to Ensenada.
12- Visit Caracol Museo de Ciencias
The Caracol Museo de Ciencias or Caracol Science Museum is a newer museum to the city near the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, adjacent to the harbour.
This museum contains information about Mexican and Baja engineering and science projects.
There are also dinosaur exhibits, a shipwrecked galleon from Manila and educational displays about the Earth.
Exhibits about climate change, the loss of the polar ice caps and the resulting changes in the marine environment are also interesting to see.
13- Dive With Great White Sharks Off Guadalupe Island
Guadalupe Island is a large volcanic island located 248 miles (400 km) off the coast of Ensenada.
Travelling to this island requires booking a 5-day cruise on a small boat.
The island’s only residents are scientists, military operators of a weather station and seasonal fishermen.
Guadalupe Island is a famous destination for cage diving with great white sharks.
Courageous adventurers can travel to Ensenada between August and October and book a boat tour to go cage-diving with the great white sharks off the island.
14- Drink Margaritas At Hussong’s Cantina
Hussong’s Cantina in downtown Ensenada is a historic pub famous for being the birthplace of the margarita.
This Cantina is popular with locals and tourists and housed in an old stage-coach inn.
The floor of this pub is covered with peanut shells thrown on the floor by patrons of the bar.
Mexican bands often perform here and large monitors display popular sporting events for the customers to watch.
Hussong’s Cantina is so famous that another one opened up in Las Vegas.
15- Go Surfing
Ensenada is a popular destination for sports enthusiasts and the Pacific coast’s rugged landscape and waves are perfect for surfers.
Sine the first surfing competition in Ensenada in the 1960s, this town has continued to attract the surfing crowd, especially on weekends and during summer vacation.
However, the best time to surf in Ensenada is in the fall when the weather is perfect and the crowds are smaller.
Several companies run surfing lessons and hire out surfboards and wetsuits for visitors keen to surf.
16- Go On A Sportfishing Trip
Sportfishing in Ensenada is a popular activity, and several private charters depart from Ensenada Bay for half and full-day sportfishing tours.
For die-hard anglers, multi-day trips that depart from Ensenada are also available.
Yellowtail Amberjack is most commonly caught in the spring and fall.
From spring through fall, you can hook mahi-mahi (or dorado in Mexico) while several tuna species swim past the Baja Peninsula during the summer months.
Rockfish, seabass, calico bass and corvina can be found year-round in the waters just off the coast of Ensenada.
So, it doesn’t matter what season, anglers who visit Ensenada will always find something fun to catch.
17- Savour The Flavours Of Baja Cuisine
Foodies will enjoy tasting their way through Ensenada and Juan More Taco Food Tour is a must-do activity.
You can find the regional food for which the Baja Peninsula is famous during a walking tour of the downtown area of Ensenada.
Explore the Zona Centro neighbourhoods and historical areas and learn about the culture of Ensenada from a local guide.
Along the way, you’ll taste Mexican street food, such as tostadas, shrimp and fish tacos, clams and carne asada tacos, and visit local eateries to savour the flavours of Mexican Baja California cuisine.
18- Zip Through The Air At Las Cañadas Campamento
Las Cañadas Campamento is an adventure park, water park and campground 30-minutes south of Ensenada.
Visitors to Las Cañadas may like the zipline canopy tour for an adrenaline rush and beautiful views of the mountains and the campground’s lake.
The zipline has five sections linked by hanging bridges, and two of the sections are more than a quarter of a mile long.
Visit as a day trip and book your Las Canadas canopy tour here or stay the night in the campground.
19- Eat At The Best Food Cart In The World
La Guerrerense is a famous food cart in Ensenada that has been dishing up delicious seafood since 1960.
This food cart serves seafood tostadas that include shrimp, octopus and mussels.
La Guerrerense is most famous for its sauces, developed by Sabina Bandera, now a world-famous chef.
She has won several international culinary awards and her organic sauces are made without preservatives.
According to celebrity chef Anthony Boudain, this food cart is “the best food cart in the world.”
20- Cheer On The Racing Cars At Baja 1000
Baja 1000 is a world-famous off-road motorsport race that takes place every year on the Baja Peninsula.
This annual race started in 1967 and attracts competitors from all over the world.
Several classes of vehicles are permitted to compete in this race, including ATVs, stock Volkswagens, pickup trucks, motorcycles and fabricated vehicles.
Races are run as either loop races or point-to-point races.
Loop races usually begin and end in Ensenada, while point-to-point races usually start in Ensenada and end in La Paz.
Booby-traps set up by locals to provide themselves with additional entertainment are a common occurrence along the racecourse.
Two documentaries, Dust to Glory (released in 2005) and Dust to Glory 2 (released in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the race), followed some of the contestants of the Baja 1000 races.