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Ensenada Basics

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Ensenada bay

With a population of 460,000, Ensenada is the third largest city in the State of Baja California Norte, after Tijuana and Mexicali. Ensenadans call their town La Bella Cenicienta del Pacifico (the Cinderella of the Pacific). Ensenada has the only deep water port in Baja California, and is part of standard shipping routes that directly link the town with the Mexican port cities of La Paz, Mazatlan, Manzanillo and Acapulco, as well as ports in the U.S., Asia and South America. Ensenada's port also hosts a naval base.

Ensenada's economy is built around port commerce, tourism, fishing, manufacturing (the town has 6 major Maquiladora industrial parks) and agriculture. The town has been a major destination for weekend revelers from Southern California since the 1960's.

Ensenada has a climate much like that of San Diego. The cool Pacific current keeps summers mild, with average temperatures rising only into the mid-70s F, while the winter and spring months average 10° less.

Ensenada Map


First Impressions


Ensenada is a sprawling low rise city that extends from the scrub-covered hills in the east down to the port and the Bahia de Todos Santos (All Saints Bay). The arid desert and sloping hills provide the background for Ensenada. There's often a haze over the city.

Your ship will dock at the industrial port. You know you're there when you can feel the wind off the world's largest Mexican flag, hoisted on an enormous flagpole on Ensenada's Malecon. It's an easy 10-minute walk to the main tourist street of Avenida Lopez Mateos. Taxis are available at the port.

Ensenada's city layout gives visitors an opportunity to investigate the city and the tourist zone without too much trouble. The Malecon--a walkway running along the bay for a half mile from Boulevard Azueta to Avenida Castillo--is where you'll find the sports-fishing piers, the aforementioned flag, the Plaza Civica with massive gold-painted busts of Mexican luminaries, and the Cruise Ship Terminal.

As you move inland, the next street is Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas, more commonly known as Boulevard Costero, and then Boulevard Lopez Mateos, which is also known as Calle 1. Remember that the Calles (Streets) run parallel with the bay, and the Avenidas (Avenues) run perpendicular to the bay.

Make sure to spend some time in the town dining, strolling and shopping or attending one of the town's many annual events. You can even buy a Luche Libre mask.

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Time Zone


Ensenada is on Pacific Time, eight hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during standard time, or seven hours during daylight savings time. In Mexico, daylight savings time begins on the first Sunday of April, and ends on the last Sunday of October.

 

Language


Spanish is universally spoken in Ensenada; all of the shopkeepers catering to tourists also speak English.


Travel Advisory


The U. S. Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico.

"Since 2006, the Mexican government has engaged in an extensive effort to combat transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). The TCOs, meanwhile, have been engaged in a vicious struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity...

"There is no evidence that U.S. tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship. Nonetheless, while in Mexico you should be aware of your surroundings at all times and exercise particular caution in unfamiliar areas..."


Dealing with Money in Ensenada


Currency

Mexican Peso

The Peso is Mexico's official currency, and uses the "$" sign to denote the peso amount. Each peso is made up of 100 centavos. Bills come in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000 pesos. Coinage comes in denominations of 50 centavos, and $1, $2, $5 and $10 pesos.

Just be aware that larger notes (e.g., $500 Peso notes) are often difficult to change.

The current US Dollar/Mexican Peso exchange rate is as follows:

Banks and ATMs:

Banks with ATM machines are found throughout the downtown area of Ensenada. Some ATM machines dispense US dollars along with pesos. ATM machines in the city can be found at the following locations:

  • Citibank: At the Hotel Bahia, Blvd. Costero #850; and at Calle Gastelum #172; Citibank account holders are not charged an ATM transaction fee.

  • HSBC: at Gastelum and Calle 4.

  • BBVA Bancomer: Ave. Juarez #1502.

  • Banamex: At the Cruise Port building.

See our Ensenada ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs.

Using Credit Cards in Ensenada

Virtually all of the tourist-oriented restaurants and most shops accept credit cards. You'll be billed in Mexican pesos.

Using US Dollars in Ensenada

As US dollars are widely accepted in Ensenada, you don't have to change your dollars into pesos. If you're using dollars alone, make sure to bring smaller denominations to pay for incidentals and taxi rides. If you pay in dollars, your change will most likely be in Mexican currency.


Weather


Ensenada has a climate more like that of Southern California than its sister cities on the Baja peninsula, enjoying warm, sunny days and cool evening breezes. Since the weather's nice, why not toast the day with a Margarita!

The cool Pacific current keeps summers mild. The average high temperature for the months of July, August and September is comfortable 75° F. The fall, winter and early spring are when the Santa Ana winds can blow from the east off the desert, producing temperatures in the high 80s F to low 90s F. The hottest days of the year are often in the middle of the winter.

Humidity hovers around 80% throughout the year. The average rainfall is 11 inches per year, mostly falling from December through March.


Ensenada Average Temperatures

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High - F 64 65 66 66 68 71 74 75 75 72 71 67
Avg High - C 17 18 18 18 20 21 23 23 23 22 21 19
Avg Low - F 45 46 48 52 54 57 61 62 60 55 49 46
Avg Low - C 7 7 8 11 12 13 16 16 15 12 9 7

Ensenada Average Precipitation

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg, Inches 1.9 1.5 1.5 0.8 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.3 1.2 1.7
Avg, mm 48 38 38 20 5 0 0 0 3 8 30 43

margarita

Keeping In Touch


Internet Cafes & Wi-Fi Hotspots

Wi-Fi Hotspots

The following establishments offer free Wi-Fi in Ensenada:

  • Sanborn's Cafe offers Wi-Fi in their restaurant. Located on Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas on the Plaza Marina, a short walk from the port and cruise terminal.

  • Starbucks offers free Wi-Fi in their Mexican stores, just like their stores in the US and Canada. Located nearby Sanborn's, at 678 Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas, it's a 10 minute walk from the port and cruise terminal.

  • Zu Taza offers free Wi-Fi in their gourmet European-style deli. Located on Ave. Lopez Mateos between Blancarte and Castillo, it's a 3 block walk from the port and cruise terminal.

  • Cafe Tomas at the CEARTE art museum on Costero offers free Wi-Fi. Located at Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas and Ave. Club Rotario, it's only a block and a half from the port and cruise terminal.

  • Tequila's Sport's Bar and Grill offers free Wi-Fi in their cantina, located at Miramar #55. Situated just off the northern part of Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas, it's a 5 to 10 minute walk from the port and cruise terminal.
    Phone: +52 (646) 124-1658

  • Mi Kaza offers free Wi-Fi in their cafeteria/restaurant. Located at Riveroll # 87-2, next to the Bahia Hotel, the restaurant is a short walk from the port and cruise terminal.
    Phone: +52 (646) 178-8211

Internet Cafes

Internet cafes in Ensenada are generally not very expensive, running from $10 to $50 pesos per hour, and a number of them can be found in the tourist zone. Here is a partial list:

  • KFE Internet, located at Avenida Riveroll 724.

  • La Casa de Internet, located at Avenida Macheros 275, at Calle 3.

  • Internet Cafe, located at Avenida Juarez 1449-8. Open Monday through Saturday 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

See our Ensenada Internet Cafes & Wi-Fi Hotspot Map for the locations of the above internet access points.

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Travelers with American cell phones should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones are used in Mexico. You can also buy a "Mexico plan" from your carrier; check with your carrier for the precise details.

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service in the Ensenada area is provided by local partner Iusacell.
Data services: Through partner Iusacell, Verizon offers EVDO coverage in the greater Ensenada area.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in the Ensenada area is provided by Telcel and Telefonica.
Data services: AT&T offers 3G service in the Ensenada area through its partners Telcel and Telefonica.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service in the Ensenada area is provided by partner Iusacell, and with partners Telcel and Telefonica when using a quad-band GSM phone.
Data services: Through Iusacel, Sprint offers EVDO coverage in the Ensenada area. Sprint also offers 3G coverage in Ensenada when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in the Ensenada area through its partners Telefonica and Iusacell.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service in the Ensenada area through its partners Telefonica and Iusacell.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage maps.

Kindle Connectivity

In Ensenada, you can download your Kindle 3G data through Telcel's 3-G coverage in the city.

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Local Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local festivals, holidays and events taking place in and around Ensenada in 2014:

  • Ano Nuevo (New Year's Day), January 1. National holiday celebrated with dances and fiestas.

  • Dia de los Santos Reyes (Day of the Three Kings), January 6. A national holiday celebrating the New Testament story of the arrival of the three wise men who each brought a gift to the Christ child. It's the day that children receive gifts as well as shoes full of candy, and people buy a pastry called rosca de reyes.

  • Dia de la Constitucion (Constitution Day), February 5. Public holiday commemorating the signing of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. The day is usually marked by festivals and street celebrations.

  • Carnaval (Mardis Gras), February 26 to March 4. Mexico's Carnaval is a pre-Lenten festival that's big in Mexico. The 2014 Carnaval in Ensenada is expected to attract 600,000 visitors who come to witness the lavish parades along Boulevard Costero, regional foods, live music and dancing in the streets.

  • Birthday of Benito Juarez, March 21. A public holiday celebrating the birthday of Benito Juarez, who rose from humble origins to occupy the Presidency of the Republic in the second half of the 19th century.

  • Semana Santa (Holy Week), April 13 to 20. A religious and a secular holiday in Mexico, where you'll see processions and passion plays taking place in the city. Easter takes place on the 20th.

  • Festival de las Conchas y el Vino Nuevo, April 11 to 13. A celebration of shellfish enjoyed while sampling the new wines from the Guadalupe Valley wineries. Takes place in the Guadalupe Valley wine country.

  • Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, April 25 to 27. This year celebrates 66 years of yacht racing between Newport and Ensenada.

  • Primero de Mayo (Labor Day), May 1. A national holiday.

  • Cinco de Mayo, May 5. A Mexican holiday that commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when the Mexican army defeated a French force twice its size just south of Mexico City.

  • Spring Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride, May 3. The Spring entry of this 50-mile Baja Coast classic. There's a large fiesta in Ensenada at the finish.

  • Tecate SCORE Baja 500, June 5 to 8. The annual off-road race through the desert of Baja California.

  • Festival del Caballo, Arte y Vino, June 9. Taking place in the Guadalupe Valley, this festival features equestrian and charreria exhibitions, live music, folkloric and flamenco dancers, arts and crafts, wine tasting and regional cuisine sampling. Buy your tickets well in advance.

  • Mexico International Volleyball Tournament, June 28 to 29. This, the 40th year of the Tournament, is the largest beach volleyball tournament anywhere, hosting several thousand amateur and professional players from around the world. It takes place in Rosarito, about 25 miles north of Ensenada.

  • Fiestas de la Vendimia (Grape Harvest Festival), August 2 to 18. A two week-long celebration of wine tasting, music and gourmet cooking, featuring the wines and wineries of the Guadalupe Valley.

  • Dia de Independencia (Independence Day), September 16. The 202nd annual celebration of Mexico's War of Independence against Spain. Look for the delivery of the "El Grito de Dolores," the official grunt that marks the day.

  • Fall Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride, September 27. The Fall entry of this 50-mile Baja Coast classic. There's a large fiesta in Ensenada at the finish.

  • Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day), October 12. Dia de la Raza is how Mexico celebrates Columbus Day.

  • Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), November 1 and 2. A two day period when celebrants honor the deceased.

  • Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, November 12-16. Annual off-road vehicle race covering the rough terrain of Baja California.

  • Revolution Day, November 20. A national holiday celebrating the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

  • Fiesta de la Inmaculada (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), December 8. Marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration season.

  • Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe), December 12. Commemorates the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. It's a festive occasion.

  • Las Posadas, December 16 to 24. Commemorates the New Testament story of Joseph and Mary's search for shelter in Bethlehem. Consists of candlelight processions as well as stops at various nativity scenes.

  • Navidad (Christmas Day), December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.
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Cruise Port Schedules


Ensenada is the most popular port on the Mexican Riviera, although most of the visits are comprised of Carnival's Imagination and Inspiration making 3- and 4-day cruises from Los Angeles. Ensenada is also the penultimate stop for many cruises to and from Hawaii.

In 2014, Ensenada is slated to host 612,000 passengers sailing on 284 ships, up 65% and 68%, respectively, from 2013. For further information, see our Ensenada Cruise Ship Schedule - 2014.

In 2015, Ensenada is slated to host 609,000 passengers sailing on 279 ships, roughly even with and down 2%, respectively, from 2014. For further information, see our Ensenada Cruise Ship Schedule - 2015.

Mariachi band

Cruise Lines Making Port in Ensenada


The following cruise lines will make port in Ensenada in 2014:

Carnival icon
Carnival
Celebrity icon Celebrity
princess icon Princess Cruises Holland America icon Holland America

The following cruise lines will make port in Ensenada in 2015:

Carnival icon
Carnival
Royal Caribbean
princess icon Princess Cruises Holland America icon Holland America
Norwegian
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