Situated in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico (not to be confused with the American state!), the Ensenada Port Marine Freight and Cruise Terminal is essential to the maritime economy of ships arriving from Asia, North America, Central America, and South America.
Although Ensenada Port is a hive of activity for commercial operations and general shipyard functions, it is also a central part of leisure cruises and excursions and a frequent destination for Mexican Riviera cruises.
Let’s explore things to do in Ensenada Port in greater detail below:
Overview Of The Ensenada Cruise Port
Although Ensenada Port has the capacity to support commercial shipping and cargo ships, the Ensenada Cruise Port is a highlight of the harbor. Consequently, the Ensenada Mexico Cruise Port finds itself in the center of the Cruise Terminal and Marina designated area.
The Ensenada Cruise Port averages approximately 150 cruise liner calls annually, although peak numbers in 2007 suggested cruise liner calls as high as over 290! The popularity and reputation of the Ensenada Cruise Port make Mexico’s second-busiest port and the second-most-visited port-of-call for major cruise liners and pleasure boats.
While you are likely to arrive at Ensenada Port via a cruise liner or leisure boat, many visitors question the best way to explore this port of call and its surrounding attractions.
Although Ensenada is a relatively small coastal town of approximately 23.5 square miles, venturing outside the port itself usually requires the services of reputable taxi operators, or a hired car. You can definitely explore the port and surrounding areas on foot at your leisure (subject to basic safety precautions – see below for details.)
What Is Ensenada Mexico Known For?
Despite its small size, Ensenada is a central hub for international trade, commerce, education, innovation, culture, and tourism. Some examples of Ensenada’s importance to the Baja Californian region include:
- A world-class commercial and leisure port,
- Multiple universities and higher education centers,
- The Ensenada Center for Scientific Research.
All of this culminates in Ensenada’s status as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and its title of being the “Cinderella of the Pacific.”
Does Ensenada Have A Beach?
Despite its coastal settling, busy port, and inviting Mediterranean climate, visitors may be surprised to learn that there are no beaches within the borders of Ensenada itself! Instead of beaches, fishing boats and shipping-related businesses occupy the waterfront.
Fortunately, there are world-class sandy beaches to the North and South of the city that are easily accessible and ideal for water/outdoor activities like swimming, sun tanning, surfing, camping, and diving.
The best public beach for swimmers is Estero Beach. But, Ensenada is known as the “surfing cradle of Mexico,” so adventurous travelers seeking to surf (or at least watch), should venture to San Miguel Beach.
This post contains affiliate links that could result in a commission to this website (at no additional cost to you). Visit our Disclosures Page for more information.
Things To Do In Ensenada Port For Families
As a popular tourist destination, and the highlight of many shore excursions to Baja, California, it comes as no surprise that there are multiple activities for the whole family to enjoy. Let’s explore some of the best choices for things to do in Ensenada Port in greater detail below:
1. La Bufardo
Located approximately 17 miles south of Ensenada is La Bufardo, the second-largest blowhole in the world and the only blowhole in the North American continent.
Consequently, La Bufardo is a very popular tourist destination with over 150 businesses, food vendors, and souvenir shops around the water spout for the whole family to enjoy.
Not to be mistaken for a marine geyser, which requires thermal energy to create jets of water, La Bufardo produces a water spout upwards of 100 feet in height thanks to pressure caused by a nearby sea cave. You’ll find many tour options that include stops at La Bufardo.
The result of the enormous pressure is the release of regular water spouts approximately every fifteen seconds, many of which produce a tremendous amount of noise, akin to an eruption!
2. Walk The Malecon
Ensenada’s waterfront marina, otherwise known as “El Malecón Ventana Al Mar,” is located close to the entrance of Ensenada, which stretches approximately half a mile in length. Recent renovations have made walking the Malecon a safe and pleasurable experience for families to enjoy.
Along with sweeping vistas of the surrounding ocean, the Malecon is home to the Mercado Negro fish market, a harbor side park, playground, live music, retail stores, restaurants, and the occasional sea lion!
Furthermore, the Malecon has one of the most prominent flag poles and flags in Mexico as a symbol of national pride and patriotism!
3. Horseback Riding
While old Western films may have cemented the image of cowboys trekking across vast Mexican deserts on horseback, Ensenada challenges these misconceptions by offering multiple horseback riding excursions along Ensenada’s surrounding beaches.
These tours can range anywhere from one hour up to five hours and include the services of professional tour guides and horse trainers. Thus it is a safe and exciting way to explore Ensenada’s coastal terrain for both beginner and advanced horse riders!
What Activities Are Close To Ensenada Port?
As a central hub of Mexican culture and cuisine, there are numerous activities to enjoy near Ensenada Port. Some key activities, especially for adults, include but are not limited to:
- Drinking at the oldest cantina in Baja California – Hussongs,
- Sampling the local fresh seafood,
- Exploring the city’s multiple nightclubs,
- Sampling the craft beer from local breweries like Transpeninsular, Wendlandt, and Agua Mala,
- Enjoying a boat cruise/tour around Ensenada port,
- Sampling the vineyards of the nearby Valle de Guadalupe region.
Where To Shop And What To Buy In Ensenada?
The best shopping experiences in Ensenada are those that highlight the local cuisine, culture, tradition, and spirit of Baja California. Therefore, there are numerous specialty gift shops including, but not limited to:
- Bazar Casa Ramirez,
- Tequila Room,
- Nativa Alma De Mexico,
- Galeria Mexicana Creations in Metal,
Is Ensenada Safe For Tourists?
While some parts of Mexico are notorious for their high crime rates, the importance of tourism to Ensenada’s economy means it is one of the safest cities in Baja, California.
Note: One weekend in August, a cartel issued threats of mayhem and violence which caused several cruise lines and other businesses to suspend operations temporarily. However, operations resumed once local officials were able to assure tourist safety.
The importance of tourism to the local economy, coupled with trust in local law enforcement, means that Ensenada is a low-risk area for mugging, terrorism, pickpocketing, and violence against women.
However, the number of tourists in Ensenada means that some people may take advantage of visitors through various scams. It’s advisable to speak with locals and/or tour guides to understand the type of scams that occur and how best to avoid them!
Further to the above, visitors are encouraged to remain in well-maintained areas and to travel in small to large groups in the evenings.
Ensenada is a busy seaport and a popular destination for cruise passengers to disembark for a day of shore excursions.