Commercial fishing has taken its toll since Ensenada ’s heyday as a sportfishing getaway in the 1950s and ’60s. But a day on a panga or cruiser can still yield a decent catch in the peak summer season. Lingcod, rockfish, and bonito are among the most common species.
For an old-school fishing experience, hire a panga at the Ensenada Sportfishing Terminal near the north end of the harbor or at Punta Banda , south of Ensenada. Sergio’s Sportfishing Center (tel./fax 646/178-2185, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/336-5454, www.sergiosfishing.com , US$62 pp, including your Mexican fishing license) is a good choice if you’re looking for a six-pack boat.
Gordo’s Sportfishing (tel. 646/178-3515 or 646/178-2377, www.gordossportfishing.com ) has larger open party boats and offshore tuna rigs. Be prepared to be badgered by sportfishing salesmen as you walk along the marina to book with any of the outfitters.
Note: By law, anyone who goes out on a fishing boat needs to buy a license, even if you don’t plan to fish.
Marina Coral (radio VHF 71, tel. 646/175-0000, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/862-9020, www.hotelcoral.com ), has 500 yacht slips to 135 feet and a floating fuel dock. The marina has a full suite of shore services, including hookups, lockers, restrooms, telephones, and wireless Internet. Use of the boat launch ramp is US$35/day and about half that for guests of the hotel.
Ensenada Cruiseport Village Marina (tel. 646/173-4141, fax 646/173-4151, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/219-5822, www.ecpvmarina.com ) has 198 slips (US$1.50 per foot per day) and a 350-foot pier for mega-yachts (US$2.25 per foot per day) and a complete list of shore facilities.
As Ensenada is an official Mexican port of entry, arriving boaters must check in with the port captain on Boulevard Azueta. Ensenada’s Marina Coral offers the Ventanilla Unica (Single Window) service. Boaters can get their tourist cards and TIP (Temporary Import Permits) and pay at the adjoining bank machine. It’s open 8 A.M.–5 P.M. Monday–Friday.
By the time you’ve reached the surf spots around Ensenada , you’ve distanced yourself beyond the reach of most weekend warriors from San Diego. Ensenada has several surf shops located on the north end of town. Try the Baja Board Shop (Loc. 720-4 Costero, Plaza Bocarelli, tel. 646/175-7218. chimbosurfer [at] hotmail [dot] com) for boards, board shorts, ding repair, and other surfing needs. The shop has Internet and a café on-site.
San Miguel  might be Baja’s most consistent point break. It’s located just south of the toll booth on Mexico 1. Parking is US$5 and the crowds will be on it if the surf is good. Get there early to catch it before the onshores start up in the late morning. There are several spots as you drive south that are less consistent.
Isla Todos Santos is located 20 kilometers offshore of Ensenada. Killers is located on the northwest side of the island and breaks on winter swells coming from the northwest. Because of its direct exposure to the north and a deep water canyon that channels the long period swell, Killers can get huge. It is not for the uninitiated. You can hire a boat from the Ensenada harbor for a ride to the island for around US$100.
There is little shore diving around Ensenada, but boat trips take divers to explore several underwater pinnacles.
Almar Dive Shop (Macheros 149, tel. 646/178-3013, almardive [at] hotmail [dot] com) offers rental gear and lessons. Dale’s La Bufadora Dive Shop (Rancho La Bufadora, tel. 646/154-2092, www.labufadoradive.com , open weekends or by appointment) rents gear and does boat trips to the pinnacles just offshore.
Sergio’s Sportfishing Center (tel./fax 646/178-2185, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/336-5454, www.sergiosfishing.com ) and Gordo’s (tel. 646/178-3515 or 646/178-2377, fax 646/174-04810, www.gordossportfishing.com ) offer whale-watching boat tours late December–late March. You won’t get as close to the gray whales here as you can in the birthing lagoons farther south, but it’s still a pleasant way to get out on the water if you’re not interested in fishing or diving. Both outfitters are located on the Ensenada Sportfishing Pier on the malecón.
You can visit Ensenada  as part of a four-day cruise along the Pacific coast with Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas (toll-free U.S. tel. 800/327-6700, www.royalcaribbean.com , US$219–379). The ship departs from Los Angeles. Carnival (www.carnival.com ) offers three- and four-day Baja trips aboard the Paradise at comparable prices.
Choose from a variety of treatments and service packages at the spa at Hotel Coral & Marina (Km. 103, Carr. Tijuana-Ensenada #3421, Zona Playitas, tel. 646/175-0000, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/862-9020, www.hotelcoral.com , 8 A.M.–8 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 8 A.M.–6 P.M. Sun.). Services include Swedish massage, body wraps, and facials.
Colegio de Idiomas de Baja California (Baja California Language College, Av. Riveroll 1287, tel. 646/174-1741, U.S. tel. 619/758-9711 or toll-free U.S. tel. 877/444-2252, www.bajacal.com ) teaches 30-hour Spanish classes for US$279. Classes are small groups and courses take one week to complete.
The Center of Languages and Latin American Studies (Calle Felipe Angeles #15, tel. 646/178-7600, www.spanishschoolbaja.com ) also has a one-week program (US$270), with discounts for four or more weeks. Materials, homestays, meals, and registration cost extra.