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Old 17-01-2010, 16:26   #1
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Ensenada Advice, Please!

Our boat is being shipped from FL to the Pac NW, but the shipping company has had a bit of a problem and will have to unload the boat in Ensenada for about a month in February. It was an unavoidable thing for them and they were very apologetic and offered to take care of everything involved. They also encouraged us to come down and use the boat (free dockage to us!) while it is there during the layover.

So, let's see -- hang out in the Pac NW in February with the rain and cold; or, Ensenada, with much warmer weather and some sun? (Sun? What's that?)

One problem: Neither the Admiral nor I have ever been there. Other than the location and the bit of internet browsing we've done, we know nothing.

What can you folks who've been there tell us about it? The shipping company will be putting the boat up at the Cruiseport Village marina and from I understand, that's a pretty good place. But, we don't want to just hang out at the marina.

Please tell me what you know about:

Reasonably close sailing destinations (anchorage info would be helpful, too)?
Things to do around Ensenada?
Scuba/snorkeling?
Good restaurants?
On-land tours?
Likely weather conditions in early to mid-February?
"Don't miss!" and/or "don't bother" recommendations?

Thanks!

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Old 17-01-2010, 19:16   #2
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Only spent a few days there. We sailed from San Francisco Bay to Ensenada and left the boat at the Coral Marina. We we got in, the Baja 1000 was in full bore. When I returned to take the boat further south to Cabo and La Paz, the Baja 500 was just starting. I suggest avoiding both...
The Coral is a pretty nice hotel and the marina looked after our little boat just fine.
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Old 17-01-2010, 19:28   #3
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Get a car and drive down to the blow hole about 45 minutes south of Ensenada. Sample Santo Tomas wine in town. That's about all we found to do there a few years back.
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Old 17-01-2010, 20:14   #4
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I like to eat in the edgiest taco shops I can find. I've always surfed a lot when I was there, so it was like wake up, surf, eat, surf, eat & drink, sleep and start all over again.
The museum in the old jail is cool, not like anything else I've seen. Walk around town and check out shops, rent a bicycle, shoot off fireworks, drink. 1st street is very very nice, reminds me of State Street in Santa Barbara. Don't buy any tequila in plastic bottles.
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Old 31-01-2010, 18:28   #5
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Drifter, I live aboard in San Diego, and have a beach house in La Mision, about twenty minutes north of Ensenada. I have held a resident visa for a long, long time and operated a business importing Mexican fine wines for several years. This is merely to establish bona fides. There is little problem with with having your boat dropped off in Ensenada, and some advantages. You may need an import visa, which your shipping company should assist in acquiring, given they dropped you off there. If you need any boat work done, Baja Naval boatyard should be able to help you for less money than in San Diego. While you are in Ensenada, you will probably be staying at Baja Naval or a nice marina with full services and security. You won't probably be eating much aboard since there are many, MANY fine restaurants and bars which will provide great food for little money. The worst issue is crossing the border, which can take a couple hours, at worst. Send me a PM if you have any further questions.
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Old 31-01-2010, 19:11   #6
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Thank you all for your helpful feedback. We depart Wed for Ensenada. From the sound of it, we'll probably come back 20 pounds heavier!

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Old 31-01-2010, 19:20   #7
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When I went to Ensenada while in college, Hussong's Cantina was the place to go. A Federale told me if I knew what was good for me, I'd put away my 16mm camera. Despite being pretty well "lubricated," I got the message.

Since that was right at forty years ago, Hussong's may have changed - but probably not much.

Hussong's - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 09-02-2010, 09:25   #8
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Well, we've been here a week, now and here's what I can report about Ensenada. First of all, the port entry is about as simple as they come; through the buoys, make one turn, and you're there. No nefarious rocks, reefs, etc. Well buoyed, well lit.

Roy M is absolutely correct about the "many, MANY fine restaurants". Some truly world-class, lots of "very good", and most of the bar food is pretty darn good, too. An amazing selection of local wines that also range from very good to truly excellent. All within easy walking distance. "LG's" and "El Rey Sol" have particular merit for the superb food and presentation.

Lots of art around, friendly people. Even the Customs folks were friendly and efficient. Unfortunately, we brought a lot of rain with us from the NW, so we've only gone sailing one day, but things are clearing up, so maybe more of that to come this week.

So far, Ensenada is very much exceeding our expectations.

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Old 09-02-2010, 09:48   #9
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Leather goods are cheap in Mexico. Sounds like you may need a larger belt.
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:09   #10
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Drifter, Take a cab to Cavas Valmar, at the corner of Ambar and Riveroll (not too far from your marina) and tell them Roy sent you. It's a seemingly simple winery with some of the best cabernet you will ever sample. Salud!
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Old 21-02-2010, 15:10   #11
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Roy -- Thanks for the tip. We did; and it was! Bought a couple bottles. We also did a day trip up to the NE wine country and did several stops/tastings. We ended up buying a couple of cases of various wines.

We did another day sail and had a wonderful time of it. 14 to 18 knots, pretty steady, 3 to 5 foot long period swell, sunny day, with whales! That's what sailing is all about!

Seriously, folks, Ensenada is an overlooked jewel.

Unfortunately, Hussong's has definitely changed and become Ensenada's Hard Rock. However, the many pharmacies have their own character for your (or your lady-friend's) enjoyment.

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Old 21-02-2010, 16:00   #12
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I haven't been there as a sailor but used to go there when I was sea kayaking. I always liked the fish tacos, 2 for a dollar!, from the open stalls off Miramar by the port.

Also there's a nice anchorage out at the islands just off shore: Islas Todos Santos. Go to the SE part of the larger island, just east of the Marine research site. Whenever I paddled out there, there always seemed to be a sailboat anchored there. Just around the corner from the anchorage is a cove where you can land your dinghy, follow the trail up, and then hike around the island. Fun to see the mainland from there, watch the crashing waves and the birds. Might make a nice overnight as a break from the marina.

Also, if you sail around Punta Banda to the south, you can stop and anchor in the bay at Puerto Santo Tomas. There's a road to the point and a landing ramp, and you can walk up to the tienda restaurant (no name) behind the arch that says "The Real Baja", run by the Saenz family. You can call ahead to be sure they're open (he'll open anyway if he knows you're coming) 011-52-646-1549415.
Puerto Santo Tomas Resort, Baja California's authentic panga fishing, diving and recreation retreat...the adventure of a lifetime!
Puerto Santo Tomas Fishing Reports and Sportfishing Vacation Information

We used to stop in Ensenada on our way south at a restaurant called "Bahia Ensenada Mariscos", on Riveroll. They serve a whole fish that's been deep fried, head tail, hanging off the plate; really delicious!

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Old 21-02-2010, 22:32   #13
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Punto Santo Thomas sure has changed. Good wave there sometimes, really good.
The last time I was there we drove buy some American guy laying passed out drunk next to his truck at about 10:00 am. He was laying on a foam pad that was certainly the filthiest thing I've ever seen, surrounded by girly mags, a surfboard, and 2 empty bottles of Tequila.
We also saw an isolated farmer living in a tiny adobe hut with chickens running in & out of the dirt floor house and walled in by a low adobe & iron fence. He asked us for a Coke as we passed by. When we rounded the corner we saw his tractor. It was a brand new, shiny, HUGE Ford 8 wheel drive tractor with an enclosed cockpit with A/C parked right next to his tiny house. He was PROUD!
You gotta keep your priorities straight.
We also camped next to some creek for 1 night out there, nobody around for miles. After dark my girlfriend (now wife) crept away from the Land Rover to go pee. A minute later she ran, screaming, back to our camp. I ran towards her with a big stick as a weapon, wanting to know what had happened. She said "The donkeys were eating my hair!"
I was very confused and there wasn't anything for me to kill with my stick at all in this situation. "What do you mean the donkeys were eating your hair crazy woman?" I asked.
Well, some donkeys had snuck up behind her (very stealthy Mexican Special Forces donkey team) and nibbled on her hair as she squatted near a bush.
We still laugh about that one.
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Old 21-02-2010, 22:38   #14
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Oh yeah, 20-30 miles north of Ensenada is a town called Puerto Nuevo. Almost the whole town is lobster restaurants. The first time I was there in about '03 it was $9.00 per lobster for dinner. They split the whole lobster and deep fry it and it comes with a free margarita and all-you-can-eat handmade tortillas, beans, rice, and salsa. Ruined me for lobster prepared any other way. Now it's about $12.00 as of '09.
You can even split the lobster with your sweetie and there's no extra charge, so lobster dinner for 2 for $12.00!
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Old 05-03-2010, 14:14   #15
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I love Ensenada and have been going there for over 35 years. I was just there last month. We sailed our Cal 25 from San Diego. We stayed at the Baja Naval marina. We loved it and cannot wait to go back. Ensenada is a wonderful town with great restaurants and fabulous people. You will have a truly wonderful time.
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