Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico - Surf Travel Guide
Ensenada is just a short trip away from San Diego, but takes you into a whole new world of surfing. It is full of great surf spots and places to stay and eat. Its not a tropical paradise, but it is affordable and quite an adventure.
How to Get to Ensenada, Baja California Mexico - Travel Tips & Driving Directions
The best way to get to Ensenada is to drive in from San Diego. Fly in to San Diego and take care of your rental car situation there. Take the 5 freeway in San Diego South till you hit the border. Once you cross you will be on the 2, just follow the signs to the 1D that goes along the coast, and you'll take that all the way to Ensenada. There are several tollbooths on the road, but its not expensive to make it down to Ensenada. The directions used to be a bit trickier to get there, but they've made some changes, and its pretty easy not to get lost. Careful with your speed, or you'll have to pay some bribes.
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Ensenada and Baja California, Mexico Car Rental
Rental cars generally need to be picked up in San Diego. Check with the companies about their policies concerning driving into Mexico, as many won't allow it. Though there are several that do, and offer Mexico insurance at the same time. A great place to find a rental car and insurance is Baja Bound Mexico Rentals. They partner with many of the rental agencies that let you take cars into Mexico. If you don't get Mexico insurance from your rental agency, then make sure you do before you cross the border. It is completely necessary just in case something happens down there. There are several places to buy it from as you near the border.
Ensenada Surf Spots
There are several good surfing beaches in and nearby Ensenada, Baja California Mexico; Baja Malibu, Rosarito Beach, K-38, Salsipuedes, San Miguel, and Todos Santos. Be aware that although you are going further south, the water temperatures are much colder in Northern Baja than in Southern California. The deep underwater canyons send a lot of cold water to the surface year round, and water temps stay in the 50's year-round. Bring your full suit and booties.
Located on the north end of Rosarito Beach, Baja Malibu is slightly more consistent and better than the south end. Chances are the sandbars will be better here, providing some fun waves that can get pretty hollow and quick on the right swells.
Rosarito Beach is just like surfing a typical beach break in Southern California, except that it might be a little less crowded. The beach is huge, and the sand bars are mediocre, making for lots of possible peaks to get all to yourself. Can close out with bigger swells.
Get off the freeway at K-38 and park in the dirt lot close to the beach. K-38 can be a really fun right, and get some occasional lefts. It breaks over a rock reef, and can get way better than the beach breaks north of it.
Salsipuedes is normally a fun reef break that serves up lefts and rights, but the main wave, which barely ever breaks, is incredible. It is one of the heavier right point breaks on the entire West Coast. When it's on it will get pretty crowded, and access has gotten difficult over the years with new condos being built right in front. The best way to get there is by boat.
San Miguel is one of the best waves of Northern Baja, and definitely the most consistent. It can be surfable during a pretty small swell, and will hold up no matter how big it gets. It is a right point break, comparable to Rincon and Trestles. It does however get very windy every day around noon and is crowded a lot of the time.
Also known as Killers, this wave is worthy of it's name. It is one of the more famous big wave spots on the West Coast. To get there, just ask around at the Ensenada Boat harbor, there will always be someone willing to take you out, but make sure you pay them only half to get you there, and half to take you back. You don't want them to ditch you out there.
Ensenada Surf Lessons:
Ensenada Surfboard Rentals
Many of these surf shops have rentals:
- Alisitos K58 Board shop firstname.lastname@example.org
- BRP, Ensenada
- Escape, Ensenada
- Isla Todos Santos, Ensenada
- Keba, Ensenada
- Orozco Surf, Ensenada
- Tropico Surf, Ensenada
- Javeba, Ensenada
- X-Vert Gear, Ensenada
- Craneo Surf & Skate, Tijuana
- JZicatela Surf & Sk8, Tijuana
Ensenada Hotels and Rentals
Best Hotels in Ensenada:
- Las Gaviotes Rentals
- San Nicolas Hotel
- Villafontana Inn
- Punta Morro Resort
- Costa Baja Condo Hotel
- Hotel Coral & Marina Resort
- Hotel Villa Fontana Inn
- Best Western El Cid
- Hotel Bugambilias
- Las Rosas Hotel & Spa
- Estero Beach Resort
- Desert Inn Ensenada
- Hotel Villa Fontana Inn
- Americas Best Value Inn
- Hotel Del Valle
- Royal House Hotel Ensenada
- Hotel Flamingos
Vacation Rentals in Ensenada:
Luxury Hotels Nearby:
Ensenada Restaurants & Bars
- Brisa del Mar - Traditional and seafood place, bar and karaoke, at the turnoff into Estero Beach Resort
- Broncos Steakhouse - Western and Ranchero-style Mexican buffet, open: daily 9am-10:30pm, credit cards accepted, Calle 1A and Guadalupe
- Las Cazuelas - Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bar. Calle Delante and Blvd. Costero.
- Oxidos Cafe - Traditional Mexican food, bar and cafe, open terrace, open: daily 8am-midnight, Ave. Ruiz & Lopez Mateos
- Payton's Place - Tacos, quesadillas and tortas, beer and sodas, open: daily until 2am on weekdays, 4am on weekends, Corner of Lopez Mateos and Gastelum
- Alfonso's - Pizza and Italian, located at Macheros and Lopez Mateos Casino Royal - Semi-formal international cuisine, located at Macheros and Lopez Mateos
- El Rey Sol - Award winning French cuisine, located at Ave. Lopez Mateos and Ave. Blancarte
- La Cochinita - Japanese fast food, located at Lopez Mateos and Alvarado or Ruiz and Uribe
- La Embotelladora Vieja - 100 year old winery, Mediterranean style with a Mexican flair, lunch and dinner, open: Wed-Mon 12 noon-11pm, located at Miramar and Calle 7A
- La Mansion de Ensenada - Mexican and international cuisine, open: daily 8am-10pm, located at Ave. Ruiz #149
- La Puerta - Mexican and international cuisine, open: Tues-Sat from 12:30pm, located at Ave. 4th between Obregon and Ruiz
- Casamar - Seafood specialties, located at Blvd. Costero #987
- Costa Azul - Seafood and Mexican specialties, great breakfasts, located at La Bufadora
- Haliotis - Seafood and steaks, Pacific abalone specialty, open: daily 12:30pm-10pm, Calle Delante #179
- Hussong's Pelicanos - Hwy. 1, located north of town
- La Tertulia - Daily fresh fish selections, incredible tortilla soup, award winning restaurant, live music, located at Blvd. Costero #448
Cafe's and Coffee Shops
- Cafe Kaffa - Cafe, Pastries, open: daily, located at Lopez Mateos #1090-18
- La Casa Antigua - Coffee, homemade pastries, table games, Ensenada's oldest house, historical landmark, located at Ave. Obregon #110 (behind Hussongs)
- Pueblo Cafe - Cafe, restaurant, open: daily 8am-Midnight, located at Ave. Ruiz #96
Off the coast of Ensenada is some of the finest deep-sea fishing. There's lots of marlin and yellowtail. And also bass, halibut, cod, sheephead, and perch. Also go on whale watching tours to see California Gray whales as they migrate south from December 26 through March 31. More info at: Sergio's Fishing
La Bufadora Blowhole - The second largest marine geyser in the world, caused by waves pushing air and water into a cave and then exploding upwards of 80 feet. Located on the Punta Banda Peninsula, this is very worth a visit during your surf trip to Ensenada. Check it out here:
Spending time in the little markets in Ensenada, and eating from the taco stands on the street is one of the best ways to experience Mexico. You can be entertained for days by just spending time in the local markets around town.