Is Ensenada safe? I traveled to Ensenada Mexico alone and here’s what I found out

Is Ensenada safe? I recently traveled to Ensenada Mexico alone, and in this post, I will share all my personal experiences with you. See my Ensenada travel guide if you want to see my trip recommendations. But if you want to know what’s it like to travel to Ensenada alone, read on!

📮 Hi Trish, wow, I envy you for living in Mexico! I am a digital nomad and entrepreneur like you. My girlfriend and I have decided that this year, we will take the leap to move to Mexico!

We currently live in LA and I’m sure you’re familiar about the cost of living here. With this, we have chosen to test the waters in Ensenada Mexico. I saw on Instagram that you were there so I thought to reach out.

Can you give me a general feel about Ensenada? I’m a fan of your work so any information from you is very much appreciated. Muchas gracias! I’d love to buy you a beer if we make it to the Baja!

Jord Morgan, United States

Hi Jord,

Thank you for the nice words! I did my road trip in the Baja last December 2022 and it was one of the best road trips of my life.

I mean it! Baja is not usually a place that digital nomads chose so I am also interested in why you picked Ensenada.

To be honest, I was quite shocked at what Ensenada was like. I didn’t expect to like it so much! If you’re looking for a place to live and travel around Baja California, Ensenada is definitely the place!

Anyway, here is everything I can share with you about my experiences traveling to Ensenada. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or write to me on Instagram – I’d love to hear about your journey!

Xx,
Trisha

🙋 Questions about Ensenada Mexico? Ask me on Tiktok!

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🔗  Ensenada Mexico: quick links

🗺️ Ensenada Mexico Map

🤔 Why visit Ensenada Mexico?

Ensenada boasts some of the best food in all of Mexico. From street tacos to gourmet dining experiences, there’s something for every palate. Don’t miss out on trying the famous fish tacos or indulging in fresh seafood caught daily.

Ensenada is also the wine region of Baja California, making it an ideal destination for the weekend, be it a bachelorette party or any celebration with friends and family.

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The pristine beaches and clear waters make it an ideal spot for surfing, fishing or just relaxing on the sand with a cold drink in hand.

Ensenada is just an hour away from the US-Mexico border and offers a unique blend of Mexican culture and modernity.

🚫 Is Ensenada safe?

ABSOLUTELY! As a woman traveling alone, I felt safe in Ensenada. I didn’t even see American or Canadian travelers in the area, which made me realize that despite its popularity, it is still a famous travel destination for Mexicans.

There were always police everywhere (as on every street) and when I see this in Mexico, I feel like heavy police presence means something (bad) is going on. But this isn’t the case in Ensenada.

The cars are friendly to pedestrians which makes it the absolute best destination for families traveling with kids. You will also see a lot of kids (foreign and Mexican) until late!

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As usual, when writing articles involving “safety,” I don’t just share my personal experiences. I also share facts, a.k.a. those travel advisories we see on the Internet, especially on the US State Government website.

According to recent statistics, the crime rate in Ensenada has been decreasing over the past few years. In 2020, there were only 1.6 homicides per 100,000 people – a significant drop from previous years.

However, this does not mean that you can let your guard down. Petty theft and pickpocketing are common in tourist areas like the downtown district and Papas & Beer nightclub.

In easy saying, as in all destinations worldwide, be vigilant of your belongings but don’t be paranoid while traveling in Ensenada Mexico! You attract the force you give out to the world so relax and enjoy your trip!

🏖️ What is Ensenada Mexico known for?

Ensenada Mexico is a charming coastal town known for its vibrant culture, stunning beaches, and unforgettable seafood.

While the city may be lesser-known than some of its more popular Mexican counterparts, it definitely is one of the less-touristic places to visit in Mexico.

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One of Ensenada’s biggest draws is the delicious food scene. As you wander through the bustling streets, you’ll find countless street vendors selling fresh fish tacos and ceviche – both local favorites.

In addition to seafood, Ensenada is also known for its famous wineries, where visitors can sample some of Mexico’s finest wines while taking in breathtaking views of the vineyards.

For adventure-seekers, Ensenada has plenty to offer as well. From surfing and kayaking to deep-sea fishing and whale-watching tours, there’s no shortage of activities for travelers here.

✈️ Why I traveled to Ensenada Mexico

My first reason for traveling to Ensenada was all about geography confusion. I already went on a wine trip to Valle de Guadalupe (and six other wine countries in Baja California), so I wanted to understand why many articles on the Internet suggest “Ensenada wine country.”

I wanted to find out if there are vineyards and wineries inside Ensenada City, but there aren’t any within the city.

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It turns out that the wine countries around it/nearby (i.e., Valle de Guadalupe, Las Grullas, Ojo Liebre, and Santo Tomas ) are considered to be in Ensenada even if they are 2-4 hours away from the city.

I was also on a 3-week Baja California road trip, and Ensenada was on my itinerary. The more I stayed in Ensenada, the more I loved its culture. It is unique, and I felt like I was in Los Angeles or San Diego!

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💃 Solo travel experiences in Ensenada Mexico

I never had to ask “Is Ensenada safe?”

Ensenada has no notorious unsafe label compared to Tijuana (TJ). In TJ, I always had to ask everyone if walking on that particular street was safe, but in Ensenada, I never had to do that.

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It helps that I stayed in an upper-class neighborhood (where most privileged Mexicans live), and in Mexico, I learned that safety comes with a price tag (and a great address).

I also appreciate not getting a lot of attention from locals since, I guess, my looks and Spanish-speaking skills make them think that I am Mexican. For me, this is a gift!

The police are super-friendly

Look, I’ve been living in Mexico since 2018, and I am allergic to police encounters. As a foreign expat in Mexico, I do my best to comply with the rules of this country I now call home and avoid being stopped by the police.

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The police in Ensenada were so friendly! I did not even approach them. I was walking by and they started talking to me in English. One shouted, “you must try the cantina two blocks from here.”

As I always trust Uber drivers on where to eat and drink, I knew that the police recommendation of a cantina is legit. I waved back (without engaging or talking) and headed to the cantina they recommended.

The few days that followed, I always find myself asking the police for travel and food recommendations, which was unusual for me. I avoid the police all the time, but in Ensenada, they made my trip easier!!

🧭 I CUSTOMIZE ENSENADA TOURS!

You can get in touch with me and we can plan your trip to Ensenada! You don’t necessarily have to be a solo traveler: my travel clients range from couples to families traveling with kids! Send an e-mail to [email protected] or call my office at +52 473 171 5259 to get a quote.

The locals will always say hi, especially if you are holding a camera

I work in digital content creation so I always travel with A LOT of camera gears. In Ensenada, I walked around with a big bag that does not look fancy as I don’t want to draw attention.

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Most of the time, I’d stop to try street food in Ensenada and take pictures/videos on the side discreetly. The taqueros were posing from the shots and were even saying hi to their families. They thought they’d appear on TV!!!

It was so funny as I’ve been to many countries where they don’t like cameras (like Morocco) but in Mexico, they will always volunteer to be models!

There is a lot of Chinese and Asian culture in Ensenada Mexico

Like Mexicali and Tijuana, there is a big Chinese influence in Ensenada. It was also one of the motivating factors why I visited this city. There are many Chinese and Asian restaurants owned by Chinese immigrants!

In the late 1800s, many Chinese immigrants were brought over to work on the railroads and in agriculture. Over time, they established their own community in Ensenada and made lasting contributions to the city’s culture.

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One of the most notable contributions is Ensenada’s famous cuisine. The fusion of Mexican and Chinese flavors can be seen in dishes like chow mein tacos and egg rolls with jalapeño sauce.

And don’t forget about the iconic fortune cookies that are handmade at a local factory using traditional methods passed down from generations of Chinese families.

Today, you can explore the legacy of Chinese immigration through landmarks like La Bufadora Arch, which was built by a Chinese immigrant named Wong Foo in 1932.

It’s a mountainous city

… which made it so cold. I visited in December and I thought it will be hotter than San Diego or LA but it was the same weather! It’s strange because I didn’t think that it will be different from my home in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur.

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There are many view decks and from the city, you will see many houses in the mountains. Some streets are also uphill although the center of the city is flat.

Ensenada is similar to TJ when it comes to nightlife

I went to a cantina that was recommended by the police during day time. When I went out at night, I was surprised to see how upbeat and vibrant Ensenada’s nightlife is!

One of the most popular spots for nightlife in Ensenada is the famous Hussong’s Cantina.

As one of the oldest bars in Baja California, Hussong’s offers a unique atmosphere that blends tradition with modernity. Here you can enjoy cold drinks and great music while mingling with locals and tourists alike.

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Tip: Hussong’s does not serve food (only drinks). Next to it is a taco place where they allow you to bring food to Hussong’s! It’s probably the best tacos I tried in Ensenada!

If you prefer something more laidback but still lively, Papas & Beer is another must-visit spot. This beachfront bar serves up refreshing cocktails and hosts nightly events like foam parties and live music performances that will keep you dancing until dawn.

So many street food stands!

I think I’ve been to almost 20 street food stands in Ensenada Mexico just within 3 days. I don’t have a lot of street food options in Cabo so I took advantage of this privilege in Ensenada.

At the heart of Ensenada’s street food scene is La Guerrerense, a legendary seafood stall that has been serving up tasty ceviche and tostadas since 1960.

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This family-run business has won numerous awards and attracts both locals and tourists alike. Another must-try spot is Taqueria El Trailero, which serves mouth-watering tacos al pastor that will leave you craving more.

But it’s not just seafood and tacos in Ensenada – there are plenty of other options to choose from! Taco prices are less than $1 USD so this is a great option for budget travelers.

And yes, street food in Ensenada is clean. You don’t have to worry about it!

I walked around a lot at night

Now this was not as bothering for me as it was in Tijuana. Since I never felt unsafe in Ensenada, I walked at night all the time. Of course, I still asked the locals in my hotel if it’s OK to walk.

Given that I was staying in an upscale neighborhood (not touristy, more of a residential area), it’s always safe to walk.

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Ensenada was full of life at night and there were always cars on the street. People are walking til late (even children!) so I never had to worry about walking alone at night in Ensenada.

It was just cold (at the time of my visit) so most of the time, I took the Uber at night!

Everyone was speaking in English

Even if I did not see a lot of foreigners while traveling in Ensenada, I knew that locals could speak English. With its proximity to the United States, this is one of the cities in Mexico that has a thick American culture.

The police that I met and always ask for tips had an accent close to a native American English speaker. I asked him if he lived in the US and learned English there and he said he’s lived in Mexico his whole life!

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You don’t have to worry about speaking Spanish in Ensenada. Everyone liked English better, and most of them responded to me in English even if I was speaking to them in Spanish!

Still, it is advised to know at least a few Spanish words as there are some people like street or market vendors who don’t speak English.

✨ Ensenada Mexico travel tips

Getting around Ensenada Mexico

One of the best ways to get around town is by taxi. Uber works in Ensenada, and it is safe. There are many taxis on major street corners, or hotel entrances look for the bright yellow cabs. If you’re not using Uber, you need to pay these taxi drivers with cash.

The drivers are usually very friendly and happy to help you navigate your way through town. Expect to pay around $5 USD for a short ride within the city limits, with prices increasing slightly for longer distances.

Getting around Ensenada by bus is easy and convenient. The city has a reliable public transportation system that covers most of its major attractions and tourist spots.

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The buses are clean, safe, and comfortable with air conditioning for those hot summer days. The fares are incredibly cheap, ranging from 10-20 pesos (less than $1 USD) per ride depending on the distance traveled.

Prices for renting a car in Ensenada vary depending on the company, duration of the rental, and type of vehicle. On average, daily rates range from $30-$60 USD for economy cars, while mid-size vehicles can cost between $50-$80 USD per day.

For those seeking luxury or SUV rentals, expect to pay upwards of $100 USD per day. However, it’s important to note that prices may fluctuate during peak travel seasons.

Ensenada hotels: where I stayed

I stayed in Casa Asturias and got a nice room for only $85 USD per night. Since I was on a road trip from my home in Los Cabos, I drove my truck all the way to Ensenada. Thankfully, they had a very large parking space!

The doors were also easy to navigate and I had no trouble accessing the parking and the main entrance of the hotel. I really love this property because it used to be a home that was converted into a boutique hotel.

Regarding hotel prices in Ensenada, you’ll find that they vary depending on the time of year and location. Generally speaking, hotels in the downtown area tend to be more expensive than those located further out from the city center.

However, even within these categories, there’s a lot of variation. Some downtown hotels are surprisingly affordable, while some out-of-town resorts can be downright pricey!

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If you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodations, Ensenada has plenty of options starting at just $30 per night. These hotels may not be similar to luxury resorts, but they are clean and comfortable with basic amenities like Wi-Fi and air conditioning.

For those willing to splurge on a more luxurious stay, Ensenada also offers high-end resorts ranging from $150 to $400 USD per night.

These resorts offer top-notch service and amenities such as swimming pools, spas, and oceanfront views that will make your stay truly unforgettable.

Things to do in Ensenada

There aren’t a lot of things to do in Ensenada City as most of the tourist activities are outside the city.

One of the most popular activities is to visit La Bufadora. The name “La Bufadora” means “the blowhole” in Spanish. When waves crash into a sea cave, water is forced up through a hole in the rock creating a spectacular display.

You can also do an ATV and wine-tasting adventure on an off-road vehicle. You’ll navigate rough terrain, steep hills, and rocky paths as you make your way through the stunning vineyards of Valle de Guadalupe.

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Stroll along the Malecon, a bustling promenade that runs along Ensenada’s picturesque coastline. Here you’ll find street vendors selling everything from churros to handmade crafts.

For those looking for some relaxation, take a dip at Playa Hermosa or sip on some margaritas at one of Ensenada’s many beachside bars.

Outdoor adventurers, don’t miss Las Cañadas Ecopark! With multiple lines ranging from 328 to 1,312 feet long and heights up to 200 feet off the ground, thrill-seekers will feel like they’re flying through the trees.

If you prefer a slower pace, there are also guided horseback rides available that take you on a scenic tour of the park’s beautiful landscape.

✅ Safety tips for Ensenada Mexico

Do not travel to Ensenada Mexico without insurance

Do not go to Mexico without travel insurance! This is the first thing you should be buying when you are planning a trip to Ensenada!

I use SafetyWing, and I only pay $40 USD per month. The insurance is also valid for a few days when you come back to the USA.

Do not buy drugs at all costs

Do not engage in any drugs nor look for drugs. Do not ask people you don’t know about drugs or even weed. This is a no-no when traveling in Mexico, not just Ensenada.

From living in Mexico, I’ve shared this tip in almost all my posts: you will only get in trouble in Mexico if you buy drugs. If you are just a tourist spending money on touristy things, then no one cares about you.

Take an Uber after midnight

As I said, I felt safe in Ensenada at night but I didn’t walk past midnight. Local friends told me to take an Uber after 12:00 AM and heavily warned me not to walk to my hotel alone.

If Uber is not available after midnight (or takes longer than 10 minutes to arrive), yellow taxis in Ensenada are safe. You just have to pay them in cash.

🇲🇽 Ensenada Mexico Travel Planning

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9 Comments

  1. It’s very good to hear that Ensenada is a very safe destination, even for solo tarvellers, and that the crime rate has decreased a lot in the past few years. As a foodie, I would love to come here, especially that the city is known for its delicious dishes and high quality dining. I would definitely like to try the ceviche from La Guerrerense, and see why everyone raves about it.

  2. Now we now that Ensenada and Baja California in general is super safe and welcoming! I always wanted to go there with a campervan to surf and then experience the city life (and the food of course)

  3. My husband and I drove from San Diego to Ensenada last year. I was a bit nervous crossing the border, but we didn’t have any problems while driving, or after we arrived in Ensenada. We spent the day walking along the harbor and touring museums and such, also enjoying some of that great Mexican cuisine. I did appreciate the presence of policemen in many locations, and that might have contributed to our feeling of safety. I’m not sure I’d go alone as a female, but glad to hear you’ve been safe there.

  4. Even I stay away from the police. So, it was interesting to know that they are quite helpful. I would love to see that bar too where you can take your own food. And now, I know what a taco seller is called in Spanish. Also, La Bufadora sounds like an awesome place to see.

  5. We stopped in Ensenada on a cruise but our excursion took us out of the town to the wine regions. But as we passed by I did wonder what it would be like to stay in Ensenada. We sure would be drawn by the beaches and unforgettable seafood. Good to know it is a pretty safe spot to visit in Mexico. And that you did walk around at night.

  6. This place does seem like a traveler friendly place – for one everyone speaks English which makes it so much easier. And then you mention that safety wise, the police are ready to help. I am all for that Mexican food. And I am definitely not saying no to the Kayaking and other water sports.

  7. Happy to know that it’s safe! I have heard nice stories about Ensanada (yes, street taco is a must-try!) I agree with you to never let our guards down regardless of where we are since petty crimes are still popular in tourist areas.

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Ensenada. It gives us the confidence to travel more.

  8. I am a wine lover and love trying it, so I am happy to visit wine regions. I haven’t been to Ensenada yet, but it’s a wine region, so it’s on my list of places to visit. Since I’m spending the next six months again in Yucatan, Mexico, I’m considering a few trips. It’s great to know that all wine countries as Valle de Guadalupe, Las Grullas, Ojo Liebre, or Santo Tomas ) are 2-4 hours away from the city. I thot that it is closer to the city. Also, great tips about safety and taking pictures, as I always have a lot of photo gear.

  9. Thank you for sharing both your experience along with the facts. This really helps to pain a picture. And 1.6 per 1000 lower than my home town which has some issues but I’ve always felt pretty safe (it’s a family holiday destination). Your blog is really opening my eyes and making me look at visiting the Mexico especially Baja.

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