Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Baja California Mexico
Tell us a little about Baja California and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel there.
The Northern stretch of coastline in the province of Baja California, Mexico is just a short drive from San Diego. Crossing over the border into Mexico is very easy, and the toll road follows the coast through different small towns and a few larger cities.
I’ve been going down there from my hometown of San Diego with my parents ever since I was a child. From day trips, to road trips, to laid-back vacations, I’ve been there more times than I can count!
What makes Baja a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
There’s something about being in Mexico that ignites a full-fledged “vacation-mode” feeling. Even though the temperatures are about the same as in San Diego, and the coastline only has subtle differences, no other place makes you want to relax and drink margaritas like Mexico does.
It’s also much more economical than San Diego. You don’t have to fully splurge to feel like a luxury traveler. Considering a few important tips, it’s also really easy to get to and visit.
view of Rosarito from a rented villa in Baja California
What boutique hotel would you recommend to your friends that are stopping through?
There aren’t too many boutique hotels in the area, but instead I’d recommend renting a beach house. With a few friends, you can easily rent an entire house with a BBQ, patio and beach access. Search on Airbnb.com and Homeaway.com to find the perfect spot.
What about 5 Star, of them all, which is the best in your town?
I love the Hotel Coral & Marina in Ensenada. I’ll stay there with my family and enjoy the pool, the surrounding beaches and the great Mexican food in town.
It’s such a serene and luxurious place, away from the chaos of the city. There’s also a harbor where many people choose to park their boats. If you happen to know someone with a yacht, why not make the trip via the sea from San Diego?
I’ve never done it, but one can dream. Right?
view from Hotel Coral and Marina
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?
There are loads of activities for the adventurous traveler all up and down the Baja coast. While of course there is deep sea fishing, diving, kayaking and surfing, there are also a few more unique experiences too. Near Los Arenales, the Sand Dunes of Cantamar tower over the water. Rent 4x4s and race up and down the desert-like dunes.
Where are the best hang outs during the day?
There are tons of day trips to take in the Ensenada area. One popular spot to visit is La Bufadora, the largest marine geyser in the world. It shoots water up to 60 feet in the air.
A surprise to most people, you can also go wine tasting in Baja. The Guadalupe Valley is full of wineries and it’s only about a 30 minute drive away.
If you’re feeling lazy, just head to the beach! You can also bar hop down the main drag in downtown Ensenada if you’re feeling up to it. Be aware the cruise ships pull in early bringing a lot of debauchery. Sometimes, the loud music and dancing starts as early as lunchtime, ensuring great people watching.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Baja California and what are their best dishes?
Anything on the menu at Muelle3 will be delicious, so you can’t go wrong there. Make sure to try the “ceviche de la casa”—avocado mixed with fresh tuna and octopus.
If you are staying near the tourist village or Puerto Nuevo, pop into a place for fresh lobster. Almost every restaurant will be serving it, so don’t be afraid to window shop first. Order a lobster tail, rice, beans and tortillas. Eat them separately or make your own mini-lobster burritos.
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?
Do tequila shots count? If not, order dessert at El Rey Sol Restaurant.
Tell us all the hot shopping spots;..
Downtown Ensenada is great for shopping. Although most of the shops offer tacky souvenirs, many have items from local artists. Browse all the beautiful Mexican pottery and tiles and bring something back to decorate your home.
Hotel Coral and Marina
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Baja California?
The Hotel Coral & Marina has a great spa, and it’s convenient if you are staying at the hotel. If you aren’t, there are tons of other spots to try out. They are pretty affordable, so you can take a chance almost anywhere.
Now that the sun’s going down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot to watch the sunset.
view from La Fonda
Around kilometer 55 on the coastal road there are a few beachside bars worth stopping by if you are renting a house in the area. At Splash the ocean waves crash into rocks outside the bar. It’s great for its food and atmosphere and sometimes there is live music, too.
La Fonda is another great spot right on the cliff overlooking the beach, and perfect for watching the sunset. Try and get there early for a spot on the outdoor patio. The margaritas are perfection and the tequila shots are huge.
Jessica is a native Californian, an over-thinker, a spicy food lover and a serial expat. She’s studied and lived in Latin America, taught English in South Korea, backpacked Asia and now calls Madrid, Spain home. Follow along as she embraces the messiness of life, travel and her mid-twenties all on her blog Curiosity Journeys. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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