Although it hosts a high volume of visitors, Ensenada is not a purpose-built resort destination. Thanks to the commercial fishing, aquaculture, and agriculture industries, Ensenada has grown to become the third-largest city in Baja. Farms in the area grow olives and grapes on land and yellowtail and halibut in the water. Ensenada’s port does more business than any other on the peninsula.
Most first-time visitors begin their tour of Ensenada with a stroll along Avenida López Mateos near the waterfront. But if you walk a few blocks away from the harbor, across Avenida Juárez, you’ll find yourself in a much quieter, residential part of town with more local-style shops and restaurants.
Getting to Ensenada
By Air: Ensenada’s Aeropuerto El Ciprés (tel. 646/177-4503) is located three kilometers south of town off Mexico 1. It is a military base and an official Mexican airport of entry with a paved airstrip; however, only two regional airlines currently offer regular service. If you aren’t flying your own plane or travel to and from Guerrero Negro or Isla Cedros, this airport isn’t going to be of much use.
By Bus: Autotransportes de Baja California (ABC, tel. 800/025-0222, www.abc.com.mx) offers intercity connections on air-conditioned buses, departing from the Central de Autobuses terminal at Avenida Riveroll and Calle 11 (tel. 646/178-6680). Buses leave this terminal twice a day for points south, including San Quintín (4 hrs.), Guerrero Negro (8 hrs.), Santa Rosalía (12 hrs.), Loreto (15 hrs.), and La Paz (20 hrs.).
Buses without air-conditioning leave from the smaller terminal at Avenida Riveroll and Calle 8 (tel. 646/177-0909, to Tijuana 5 A.M.–9:30 P.M. every hour).
The Transportes Norte de Sonora (TNS, Tijuana tel. 664/688-1979) and Estrellas de Oro (Tijuana, tel. 664/683-5022) companies all offer connection to Guaymas, Los Mochis, Mazatlán, Guadalajara, and Mexico City on the mainland.
By Car: Ensenada marks the end of the toll road, Mexico 1 D, from Tijuana. From here until Los Cabos, Mexico 1 is a paved, two-lane highway that’s narrow and without a shoulder for much of its length.
Mexico 3 from Tecate also passes through Ensenada on its way to the Sierra de Juárez and the intersection with Mexico 5 near San Felipe. Here’s how to pick up Mexico 3 heading east out of Ensenada: Take Avenida Juárez to Avenida Reforma at the Benito Juárez statue. Cross Avenida Reforma and follow the street called Calzada Cortés until it turns left and becomes Mexico 3.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition