Ensenada, Baja California
Ensenada (Spanish pronunciation: [enseˈnaða]) is a coastal city in Mexico, the third-largest in Baja California. Lying 125 kilometres (78 mi) south of San Diego on the Baja California Peninsula, it is locally referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacífico, "The Cinderella of the Pacific".
One of the first settlements founded in the Californias, Ensenada has emerged as a cruise ship destination, aerospace center, and a jumping-off point for Valle de Guadalupe, a local wine region. It is said that the first Vitis vinifera made it to the region's San Ignacio Mission in 1703, when Jesuit Padre Juan de Ugarte planted the first vineyards there.
Situated on the coastline of Bahía de Todos Santos, the Port of Ensenada is an important commercial, fishing, and tourist port, its also the most visited tourist port in the Pacific, with more than 700 thousand cruise passengers a year. The city is home to a navy base, army base, and Ensenada Airport, a military airfield.
Ensenada is the municipal seat and cultural and commercial center of Ensenada Municipality, one of five into which the state is divided. As of 2020, the municipality had an estimated population of 557,430.
Ensenada is backed by small mountain ranges. Proximity to the Pacific and a warm Mediterranean latitude create mild year-round weather. The rainy season during the winter is short and the area is prone to prolonged droughts, which can threaten its grape harvests. The National Park, Constitution of 1857, is nearby as are also the Sierra de Juarez and San Pedro Martir National Park, which maintain one of the best astronomical observatories in the country.
Ensenada is part of UNESCO´s Creative Cities Network since 2015.
At the time the first European explorers arrived in the region, the Yuman people inhabited the region. Yuman tribal groups such as the Kiliwa, Paipai and Kumeyaay still exist. These semi-nomadic indigenous people lived in the bay area and interior valleys of the Sierra de Juárez and San Pedro Mártir. The Kumeyaay had a village where the city is seated on, which was called Pa-tai.
Bahia Todos Santos, which Ensenada now borders, was first reached by sea by the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo on the vessels El Salvador and Victoria. The city was founded September 17, 1542 under the name San Mateo. In 1602, while mapping the coast of the Californias in search of safe harbors for returning Spanish galleons from Manila to Acapulco, Sebastián Vizcaíno renamed the city to Ensenada de Todos Santos. Ensenada means "bay" or "cove".
The first permanent settlement was established by the Jesuits during the 17th or 18th century. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1768, the Dominicans took over the representation of Europe in what is now Ensenada. In 1805, José Manuel Ruiz Carillo obtained permission to establish himself in Ensenada, being appointed governor of Baja California and building in Ensenada a house that survived until the final part of that century, despite being briefly taken by William Walker, the self-declared "president" of the Republic of Lower California, in 1853–54.
In 1882, Ensenada was designated the capital of Baja California, and attempts at developing the area were made by the English Mexican Land and Colonization Company. These were interrupted by the Mexican Revolution, which left the area devastated. In 1915, the capital was transferred to Mexicali, and in 1930, the population of Ensenada was only 5,000. During the early part of the twentieth century, the city's name was shortened from Ensenada de Todos Santos to Ensenada, a change made in order to avoid confusion with Todos Santos in Baja California Sur.
The twentieth-century development of Ensenada was assisted by prohibition, which sent Americans and Canadians south of their border in search of entertainment and alcohol, developing first Tijuana, then Rosarito, and finally Ensenada as tourist destinations. The Hotel Riviera del Pacífico was opened in 1930, briefly placing Ensenada on the international glamor map and was visited several times by President Miguel Aleman, international artists and political personalities; yet unlike the Hotel del Coronado, it was never a sustained success (despite giving rise to the claim that the Margarita was invented there). It really flourished only in the early 1950s, at which time Ensenada's population had risen to 20,000. The hotel finally closed in 1964. It was later reopened as a cultural center and museum. By this time, other hotels had opened, and the population and economy of Ensenada had grown and diversified towards their present status.
On January 26th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI created the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ensenada with territory taken from the Archdiocese of Tijuana and Mexicali Diocese, making it a suffragan diocese of the Metropolitan Church of Tijuana.
Ensenada is predominantly a mid-rise building beach city. The only high-rise building within its city limits is the Villa Marina Hotel, though new buildings and resorts in northwestern Ensenada such as Entremar, La Costa, and Viento add to the city's skyline and form the majority of the city's highrise buildings. Emblematic sites representative of Ensenada such as the Civic Plaza (or Plaza of the Three Heads as commonly known to locals), containing sculptures of Mexican heroes Benito Juarez, Venustiano Carranza and Miguel Hidalgo, the enormous Mexican flag (bandera monumental), and the malecon - and Naval cruise terminal are found on and near the coast of the bay. Several marinas including Ensenada Cruiseport Village, Hotel Coral & Marina, Punta Morro Resort are located on the city's coast. The Bajamar Oceanfront Golf Resort at Baja Mar is also located nearby to the north, and is a prominent seaside resort of Baja California.
Flora and fauna
Many of the terrestrial or marine species inhabiting the surrounding the Greater Ensenada area in the Baja California islands are unique. Guadalupe Island, off the coast of the city, is one of the best places in the world for observing the great white shark. The island has been a wildlife sanctuary since 1975.
The city's offshore is host to an array of aquatic mammals including the gray whale, the Guadalupe fur seal and California sea lion; terrestrial mammals include various squirrel species, otters, the ring-tailed cat, coyote, bobcat, and puma.
There are no rivers in the city, only surface runoff streams that flow when there is large amounts of rainfall.
Ensenada has one natural fresh water body, the Lagunita pond, located to the north of El Ciprés military air field, and which has ecological importance.
The average rainfall is 280 millimetres (11 in) per year, falling mainly in the winter months. Ensenada has a mild semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), much like the rest of northwestern Baja California. During the colder months from November to February, rainfall is scarce and temperatures average 13 °C (55 °F). On the other hand, the warmer months from June to September are the driest, and during this time maintain an average temperature of 21 °C (70 °F). For Ensenada's warm summer coastal location, the city's climate is greatly affected by the offshore cold California Current. Due to the current, the late summer and early fall seasons are typically the warmest periods for the city. Santa Ana winds – observed in much of Southern California as well – are responsible for temperature rises at any time of the year. During Santa Anas, wind direction changes and brings warm air from the interior to the coast. Snowfall is rare with the last recent one in January 2007, when the hills south of the city received small amounts of snowfall.
The populace of Ensenada is cosmopolitan in composition. A reflection of the cultural dynamics involved in the city, many ethnic groups and nationalities are present. The city has developed, in part, as a retirement community for snowbirds from Canada and the United States. Young Californians seeking to escape higher costs of living, yet still be able to work in California, have obtained homes in the area.
Research and manufacturing
Ensenada is developing scientific research and natural science sectors, with special focus in the marine sciences sectors. Ensenada is claimed to be the city with the highest number of scientists per capita in Latin America. The Center of Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (CICESE) conducts research in Earth Sciences, Applied Physics, Oceanography, Communications and Experimental and Applied Biology. Further research is conducted on the campus of the Autonomous University of Baja California, Ensenada (UABC), mainly in Oceanography and education areas although there are groups in Physics, Biology, and other related sciences. The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has a research campus in the city. The campus hosts the Institute of Astronomy and the Centre for Nanosciences and Nanotechnology (CNyN). The National Astronomical Observatory (Mexico) is located on the mountains of the Sierra de San Pedro Martir, south of the city.
The city is home to the largest cluster of bio-medical device companies in Mexico and is a developing center that is drawing a growing number of biotech researchers. Unique to the city is that its biotech cluster is near that of another, larger, cluster in San Diego. The proximity of these two biotech clusters fuels their interaction.
The city is not part of any rail transport grid with which it could use to transport cargo and other materials, although there are plans to build a rail line to the United States border in the short to mid-term future that would link it to San Diego–Tijuana. Unlike the larger cities to the north, Ensenada has only six major industrial parks, compared to 26 in Mexicali and 51 in Tijuana, as its economy is more focused on tourism and technology. Fender guitars and Lowrance fishfinders are manufactured in Ensenada.
Ensenada is located some 108 kilometres (67 mi) south of the border with the United States, connected via a four-lane toll road MX-1D and a two lane free road, which makes it a natural destination for tourists on short vacations by car. Ensenada's proximity to California also makes it a destination for short cruise ship trips from Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach. As of 2005, four cruise lines maintained ships that docked in Ensenada weekly, though, one of these ships—the Monarch of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines—ceased operations in the Pacific in mid-October 2008. The world-renowned Baja 1000 off-road race is held in Ensenada every year in late November, while the Baja 500 race is held in early June. Off-road enthusiasts use Ensenada year-round as a starting point to explore Baja California.
Watersports and ocean proximity have formed an integral part of the structure of tourism and its relation to economics in the city. Ensenada and coastal beach towns of Greater Ensenada have several renowned surfing spots, such as San Miguel Beach, California Trailer Park, Stacks and 3 M's (Tres Emes in Spanish), which are located on the north coast of the city. Todos Santos Island is a small island located west of Ensenada (about two hours by boat) and a world-famous surfing spot. A number of surfing contests, such as the Billabong XXL. have been held at Todos Santos Island. Wave faces can reach above 60 feet (18 m) on the island and in December 2006 Brad Gerlach, 2006 winner of Big XXL, surfed a wave of 68 feet (21 m). Tourists also stop in the city on their way to their destinations farther south in the municipality where windsurfing spots are located. Maritime activities associated with the city also include the global Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, billed as the world's largest international sailing event, which begins in Newport Beach and finishes in Ensenada. Racing is another yearly tourists attraction; where you can enjoy the Baja 1000 and Baja 500. Whale watching has also developed as a tourist draw in the city due to the gray whale's annual migration from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California Sur. Between the months of December and March, and back in the months of April and May, whales can be seen from the coast of Ensenada.
The nearby historical mission town of Guadalupe, was revitalized from 1905 to 1910 with immigrant Spiritual Christians, mostly Pryguny from the Caucasus, South Russia. After WWII most moved to California to join more prosperous relatives, while many who remained intermarried with Mexicans and live in Ensenada and Tijuana. Two families remaining in the Guadalupe Valley opened museums, a cafe, and participate in wine tourism. The traditional economic activities in Guadalupe are olive and wine production. Currently, about 90% of wine production in Mexico originates in the valleys of Guadalupe and adjacent Calafia. Many local wine producers offer tours and tastings. Every year during the month of August, the beginning of wine harvest season is celebrated in the Guadalupe Valley and in the city of Ensenada with a two-week-long series of cultural and culinary events, all under the title banner of Fiestas de la Vendimia (Wine Harvest Festival). This event attracts people from all over the world.
There is a street in Ensenada called "La Calle Primera" or Adolfo Lopez Mateos ("1st Street"). It's a tourism spot in Ensenada due to its many "Curios" (short for "Curiosidades"—trinkets and souvenirs) shops, restaurants, hotels, bars, and popular clubs such as the Hussong's Cantina, Mini Bar, Shots Factory, Lutzenkirch The Nightclub and Papas & Beer. La Primera is a very busy street, filled with tourists and locals. La Primera is just one block away from Ventana al Mar ("Window to the Sea"), a boardwalk/seawall avenue where an enormous Mexican flag is located. The Ensenada Carnaval is one of the country's largest, as thousands of people gather in the streets for six days and nights. Just south of the city on Highway 1 is located the second-largest of three known major marine geysers in the world, colloquially known as La Bufadora ("The Blowhole"). La Bufadora attracts many tourists. The street leading to the viewpoint is a commercial area where a variety of authentic Mexican arts and crafts are for sale; bartering over prices with vendors is customary. There are also seafood restaurants and street vendors selling "churros" (fried pastry with cinnamon and sugar) and other delicacies.
Gallery of points of interest in Ensenada
- Points of interest in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
La Bufadora, a marine geyser or blowhole located on Punta Banda Peninsula. It is one of the largest blowholes in North America.
Market place in Ensenada
The Port of Ensenada has a large influence on the civic economy. Ensenada is home to the only deep-water port in the state of Baja California and on the Baja California Peninsula. The port is part of standard shipping routes that directly link it with the Mexican cities of La Paz, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, Acapulco and Lázaro Cárdenas; the American cities of San Diego, Long Beach and Los Angeles; the Guatemalan city of Puerto Quetzal, the Chilean city of Valparaíso, the Japanese city of Yokohama, and the city of Hong Kong. Ensenada is where the Fender standard series guitars and basses are produced.
In addition to revenue generated by docking cruise ships, fishing accounts for a large part of the economy. More than 90 species of fish are commercially fished in Ensenada; the most important fisheries are tuna, shrimp, California spiny lobster, abalone, sea urchin, sardine, mackerel and seaweed. A large percentage of all catches are exported to East Asia. A tuna embargo imposed on Mexico during the 1990s caused most of the fishing fleet to relocate to the ports of Guaymas, and Mazatlán, further south. To survive, Ensenada's tuna industry has shifted its focus to tuna farming, exporting the highly valued meat almost exclusively to Japan. Ensenada has been known for sports fishing over 50 years. Each year hundreds of anglers head for Ensenada to go fishing and take advantage of the shorter distances needed to travel by sea to get to the big catch.
The municipality of Ensenada has three main agricultural zones: the Guadalupe-Calafia valleys to the north, the Ojos Negros valley to the east and the San Quintin valley to the south. The main crops are grapes, olives, tomato, wheat, alfalfa, asparagus, green onions and broccoli.
One of the earliest activities in the Ensenada region was gold and silver mining, and some of these mines remain in limited operation. In recent years, very large amounts of gravel have been extracted from creek beds in rural areas and exported for infrastructure works in California in the US. However, this has been a controversial activity, as environmentalists have argued that depleting the creekbeds will decrease the amount of water that is absorbed by the soil during the brief rainy season, negatively impacting the agriculture. As of November 2005, the extraction of gravel remains unchecked. Said extraction activities have been linked to former Governor Ernesto Ruffo.
The following higher education institutions are based in Ensenada.
- Autonomous University of Baja California, Ensenada (UABC)
- Center of Nanociences and Nanotecnology National Autonomous University of Mexico (CNyN-UNAM)
- Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS), Ensenada
- Institute of Astronomy, National Autonomous University of Mexico (IA-UNAM) IAUNAM-E
- Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE)
- Institute for Oceanologic Research (IIO) 
- Catholic University - Technological Baja California, Ensenada (TBC)
- Technological Institute of Ensenada (ITE)
- Universidad Del Noroccidente de Latinoamerica (UNDL)
- Xochicalco University, Ensenada
- Iuniversi, Ensenada
With UNAM's research headquarters, the Marine Sciences Department of the UABC and the thriving CICESE scientific institute in town, Ensenada boasts the highest concentration of scientists and science students in all of Latin America, chiefly in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, geology and oceanography. Fittingly, Ensenada has been coined the City Of Science. Ensenada's four main institutions have a dominant focus on marine and agricultural biotechnology, nanoscience and nanotechnology, information and communication technologies, oceanography and marine science, optics and applied physics, and economic development.
Ensenada's diversity as a city is in part attributed to Spanish, Russian, and American influences. Spanish missionaries and Russian settlers began the growth of the wine industry in the city. Reminiscent of this time period are Russian museums in the city.
The city is known for its festivities and laid-back atmosphere, the city hosts many events including the Wine Harvest Festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia) and Ensenada Carnaval. The Wine Harvest Festival celebrates the wine harvest season and in the city and nearby Guadalupe Valley, a series of events takes place.
Typical food in Ensenada consists of fish tacos, which originated in the city, shrimp tacos, and ceviche. These dishes are usually accompanied by avocado and salsa. Another dish characteristic of the port city is carpaccio. The city's Mediterranean climate allows for the cultivation of grapes and olives, which in turn make wine and olive oil, respectively. Development of such foods complement Spanish, Italian, French, and Mexico dishes in Ensenada.[clarification needed]
Ensenada maintains no professional sports teams in association football, basketball, or baseball, but is known for its water sports. The city has sports fishing venues, and swells that are known for drawing professional surfers. In addition to its watersports scene, the city is known for a place of biking, both cycling and motorsport varieties. The 80 kilometres (50 mi) Rosarito-Ensenada bike race ends in the city. The Baja 500, which starts and ends in the city, and Baja 1000 – both races that take their names from their distance in miles – are motorsport races that begin in the city. It is also the birthplace of the tennis player Raúl Ramírez.
Ensenada is served by three major newspapers. These are El Vigia, El Mexicano, and the Gringo Gazette North All of which cover local news, sports, business, jobs, and community events, though the Gringo Gazette is the dominant paper that publishes in the English-language. Since the 2013 La Jornada and El Frontera newspapers began to be distributed in the city. Also there are other options exclusively on-line as Ensenada.net, El Septentrión and Plex.
The city is administered by a city council. Port lands are administered by the Port Authority of Ensenada. The city of Ensenada occupies the boroughs of Ensenada and Chapultepec and is the seat of government.
State and federal government
The Port of Ensenada is an international deepwater port and the city's major water port. It maintains commercial, industrial, and tourist terminals. In addition to the port, the coast around Bahia de Todos Santos is dotted with numerous marinas, including Marina Baja Fiesta, Marina Cruiseport Village, Marina Coral, and Marina Baja Naval with docking facilities for pleasure craft and commercial and sport fishing vessels. In order to comply with United States cabotage laws, many cruise ships operating between Pacific ports in the U.S. call at Ensenada en route.
The city lies at a crossroads of major federal highways on the Peninsula that lead to the northern centers of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Mexicali and south to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz. The junction occurs at the meeting of Federal Highway 1 and Federal Highway 3. The main roads of the city include Bahia de La Paz and Lazaro Cardenas, northwest bound, and southeast bound roads.
The Emilio López Zamora dam was built in 1976 by the federal government, with the objective of controlling overflow and supporting the water supply of the city.
On June 10th, 2018, a desalination plant with a capacity of 250 l (55 imp gal; 66 US gal) per second started operation.
In popular culture
- A Fender manufacturing plant is located in Ensenada.
- The city is the setting of a song by Neil Diamond titled "In Ensenada" on the album Heartlight.
- Lyle Lovett titled his 1996 album The Road to Ensenada as a reference to the spectacular 100 km (62 mi) coastal toll road between Tijuana and Ensenada.
- Warren Zevon mentions Ensenada in his song Carmelita.
- The Hollywood-based British actor Nigel Bruce, best remembered for his portrayal of Doctor Watson opposite Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes, was born in Ensenada in 1895 while his parents were on holiday in the city.
- Ween mentions Ensenada in the song "Bananas and Blow".
- Actor Brandon Lee and his girlfriend were due to be married in Ensenada on April 17, 1993, but Lee died while filming The Crow.
- In an episode of Mister Ed, Ed tries to convince his master Wilbur to take him to Ensenada on vacation and Wilbur tries to convince his wife.
- The first episode of TV series Simon & Simon, "Details at Eleven," was partially filmed in Ensenada at Ruiz Avenue.
- In the South park episode "Probably"Kenny is hit by a bus that arrives in Ensenada. When he phones home Cartman believes Kenny is calling from hell and mistakenly thinks a description of Ensenada is a description of hell.
- In a 2006 episode of The O.C., Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) and Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) go to Ensenada in search of Kevin Volchok (Cam Gigandet), who committed vehicular homicide (charged as second-degree murder in California) against Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) by running Ryan's vehicle off the road, causing it to flip over and catch on fire. Ryan wants to confront Volchok, but Seth, fearing Ryan will kill his enemy, gives him the wrong address, and Seth instead visits Volchok, advising him to turn himself in and let his father, Sandy (Peter Gallagher), negotiate a plea. Ryan and Seth are found by Sandy and Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), and the four return to Newport Beach.
- Barbara Stanwyck and family head to Ensenada for a fishing and camping trip in the 1953 thriller "Jeopardy."