Ensenada (Photo:alysta/Shutterstock)
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Ensenada

Ensenada, known as Baja's "Love Boat" port, is no longer a sleepy resort town. Each year, some 4.5 million visitors descend on this seaside city 68 miles from the border, joining 325,000 residents. Fishing, processing and shipping have made Ensenada Mexico's second busiest port.

It's quite a change from 1542 when Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into the sheltered bay in his quest for the mythical Northwest Passage, or sixty years later, when Sebastian Vizcaino named the area Ensenada de Todos los Santos after All Saints' Day. Over the centuries, many have left their mark here, from Spanish missionaries and Russian settlers to gold miners and gamblers.

The result is eclectic mix -- from Mexico's oldest winery and Baja's first cantina to a plaza featuring statues of national heroes. In addition to expected attractions like the large tourist shopping area and fish market, Ensenada also offers the unexpected - an elegant Prohibition-era casino and a blowhole that spews water sixty feet into the air.

About Ensenada


Ensenada offers a killer food scene if you know where to look, from ceviche carts to margarita joints


Be wary: If you get dropped off at a local beach away from town, you might be walking back

Bottom Line

The port's main shopping and dining district is full of diversions, if you don't mind a hard sell

Find a Cruise to the Mexican Riviera

Ensenada is an informal city dependent on fishing, shipping and tourism. Among the highlights are fresh seafood, cantinas, crafts shopping, sport fishing and winter whale watching. Beaches are located north and south of the city.

Where You're Docked

Cruise ships share an industrial harbor with commercial and sport fishing fleets, shipping containers and tankers.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Mexico's currency is the peso, divided into 100 centavos. In addition to the peso, US dollars are widely accepted in Baja, as are credit cards. ATM machines for withdrawing pesos are available in several downtown banks.


Spanish is the official language, with English spoken throughout the tourist areas.

Best Cocktail

Margarita: Hussong's Cantina (Avenida Ruiz 113), the landmark watering hole, serves small but potent margaritas from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.