The road to Ensenada – Ensenada, Baja California, México

The road to Ensenada – Ensenada, Baja California, México – TA: Ensenada, Baja Califirnia, Mexico

Jane M. Rifkin

Long before the currently popular song “The Road to Ensenada” won a 1997 Grammy Award for Lyle Lovett — that lovely Mexican city in Baja California was a delightful year-round travel destination. Ensenada’s scenic setting, beautiful beaches, fine accommodations, enticing duty-free shops and excellent sportfishing lure thousands of vacationers and week-end tourists all year ’round.

This growing metropolis is Baja’s leading seaport, third largest city, and a popular port-of-call for major cruise lines.

We decided to hit the “Road to Ensenada” by automobile for a long week-end — just a 90-minute drive from San Diego, along the transpeninsular toll highway, which curves along the scenic coastline, offering breathtaking ocean views. Entering Mexico for a time period not to exceed 72 hours, U.S. citizens are advised to carry proof of citizenship, but it is not necessary to obtain a tourist card. Naturalized citizens, however, should carry valid passports. You must obtain a free tourist card if you plan to remain in Mexico longer than the 72-hour time frame.

Good accommodations are plentiful at the popular resort. We chose the Travelodge on Avenida Lopez Mateos, centrally located for shopping, dining, and sightseeing. The hotels Bahia, El Cid, La Pinta, Las Rosas and San Nicolas are also well known.

Ah — the sightseeing! Just 14 miles from Ensenada is La Bufadora, an amazing natural blow-hole that spews seawater high into the air. Chapultepec Hills provides a fabulous panoramic view of Ensenada from one of the city’s most attractive residential areas. The Estero Beach Museum houses an outstanding collection of folk art and artifacts entitled “40 centuries of Mexican culture.” Bodegas de Santo Tomas is the nation’s largest winery.

Ahhh, the shopping! The city’s easygoing, low-pressure atmosphere makes shopping enjoyable. Mexico-made items which are good buys include pottery, jewelry, leather goods, and embroidered clothing. For the ‘shop-til-you-drop’ crowd, who search for trash and treasures, Los Globos, Ensenada’s largest outdoor swap meet, is open daily.

The clear ocean waters both north and south of town allow a variety of activities like swimming, surfing, fishing, diving, sailing, jet-skiing, kayaking and seasonal whale watching. On land, enthusiasts can enjoy golf, tennis, cycling, hunting, hiking and horseback riding. For the night-life afficianados, discos and night spots are lively after dark, and well known for live entertainment and dancing.

A word of advice: To be adequately protected, travelers by car must buy Mexican automobile insurance before crossing the border into Mexico. Persons involved in traffic accidents who cannot produce an acceptable policy may be held by the authorities, pending investigation. Also, when returning to the United States, proof of citizenship may be requested by U.S. officials at the border.

Each returning U.S. resident may bring back, duty-free, articles not exceeding $400 in retail value.

Ahhh — “The Road to Ensenada” beckons us to return, even as we depart this lovely vacation spot. And indeed we will, for there is much more to explore. By the way — it was Sebastian Vizcaino who sailed into the bay in 1602, and was so enthralled by its beauty that he named it after all the saints — Ensenada de Todos los Santos.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Hispanic Times Enterprises

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