Prepare your taste buds for a flavorful port day with cruises to Ensenada. Inhale the salty sea spray at La Bufadora or from your ocean kayak. For lunch, Ensenada’s taquerías serve up fresh fish—grilled or raw—wrapped in warm tortillas. You can taste vintage wines at the Santo Tomás Winery or sample a zesty margarita at Baja’s oldest cantina. There’s so much to do on an Ensenada cruise.
Pony up to the bar at Hussong's Cantina for a classic salty margarita.
Squeeze fresh lime juice over your grilled fish at an Ensenada taco stand.
Commune with the ghosts of Hollywood starlets at the old Riviera del Pacifico casino.
Explore marine-rich kelp forests on a scuba dive at Punta Banda.
Watch for spouting gray whales on a winter boat tour.
Gray whales migrate to Baja in the winter to give birth in the warm waters, many traveling more than 6,000 miles from Alaska.
Local lore has it that a baby whale is trapped in the sea cave below La Bufadora and calls to its mother with every burst from the sea spout.
Ensenada, Mexico has two bars that claim to have invented the margarita: Bar Andaluz at the Riviera del Pacifico and Hussong's Cantina.
Within Walking Distance
As you walk into town from your Carnival cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, you’ll spot the former Riviera del Pacifico. This graceful Spanish-style building was a glamorous casino in the 1930s and a favorite hangout of visiting Hollywood stars. Tiles in the lobby commemorate prior distinguished guests such as Lana Turner and Marion Davies. Legend has it that the margarita was invented in the casino’s Bar Andaluz, and you can still sip this classic Mexican cocktail at the polished wood bar.
Walk along the Ensenada marina to inspect the day’s catch at the fish market. Ensenada’s fishermen haul in tuna, snapper and heaping piles of shrimp every day for home cooks and professional chefs alike.
The rolling hills beyond Ensenada shelter Mexico’s productive wine country, and you can taste classic red and white vintages at Bodegas de Santo Tomás Winery, the shop for Baja California’s oldest winery, while on the Blow Hole & Winery Tour excursion.
Beyond the Port Area
On your Ensenada, Mexico cruise, visit the La Bufadora sea spout, which is south at Punta Banda. The crashing Pacific waves blast through a narrow rock opening and spray 70 feet into the air. Punta Banda has several secluded coves and sea caves perfect for exploration by kayak on the Bufadora Kayak Tour excursion. On this excursion you’ll pass through the city of Ensenada’s many colorful buildings, cultural monuments and shops on your way to Bufadora. See the large, open fields of wildflowers and spectacular views of the ruggedly beautiful coastline. Arrive at Bufadora Cove on the Punta Banda peninsula, where you’ll launch your kayak for an hour long marine eco-experience that takes you face to face with the largest natural blowhole in the world.
Shopping in Ensenada
Just three blocks up from the marina is Avenida López Mateos, Ensenada’s bustling shopping street. You’ll find all the Mexican souvenirs you need here—from oversized sequined sombreros to bottles of tequila. More refined shops sell excellent handmade crafts such as hand-tooled jewelry from Taxco, Mexico’s silver capital.
Dining in Ensenada
For a Baja-style lunch, join the locals at Ensenada’s taquerías. Taco stands throughout the city specialize in catch-of-the-day fish and shrimp tacos topped with simple fresh salsa and a squirt of lime. Raw bars near the fish market serve citrusy ceviche—fresh fish marinated in lime juice—on toasted corn tortillas.
Ensenada, Mexico, is home to some of the country’s best dining. You’ll find inviting bistros and restaurants along the Ensenada marina and near Avenida López Mateos. The city’s creative chefs serve different dishes everyday using traditional Mexican and Baja ingredients. Look for creamy seafood risotto with corn mushrooms, marinated nopal cactus, juicy organic steaks, and fresh oysters. The perfect pairing for your meal is a local Baja wine.
Saunter through the swinging saloon doors and find a spot at the wooden bar at Hussong’s, the oldest cantina in Baja California. This rowdy bar has been pouring cerveza and tequila in a perpetual happy hour since 1892.
- Cruises to Ensenada, Mexico dock in the middle of the city's bustling port, within walking distance of Avenida López Mateos, the main shopping and dining street.
- Located in the northern corner of the marina, the city's famous fish market opens early and closes by midday.
- Downtown Ensenada is easy to navigate by foot, but you'll need to drive to reach La Bufadora.