I love Mexico. It is one of my favorite places in the world. It might be because of a road trip with my grandparents when I was 10 years old. We drove from Southern California to Cabo San Lucas and then back to La Paz, where we took the ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan. We then drove back mainland staying in fishing villages and small towns along the way. It might be because of all the day trips my mom took my sister and me on to Rosarito and Tijuana when we were growing up. Or it might be because Mexican food is amazing and an all-time favorite of mine.
When I was invited to visit Ensenada it was a quick yes followed by a phone call to my mom to see if she could join me on a mother – daughter getaway to Baja California for wine tasting, spa treatments and amazing food. As you might assume, it was a quick yes from my mom Penny as well.
Our home away from home while we were exploring Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada was Hotel Coral & Marina. As you might expect the hotel sits on a marina and was built as a semi-circle so each room has a view of the pool, marina and amazing the sunrise and sunset.
There is no other way to start a perfect day than breakfast at BC Bistro & Cava located on the first floor of Hotel Coral. If you are lucky enough to be there on Sunday you can partake in their elaborate brunch. If not, there is a smaller version of brunch available daily with an omelet, chilaquiles and quesadilla bar, Mexican specialties as well as fresh fruit.
We headed into Ensenada one afternoon with two goals. First was to spend time with Jean Loup who owns the oldest French restaurant in Mexico, El Rey Sol, who I met on my last trip to Ensenada. Our second goal was to find a certain food cart. Mission accomplished – Jean Loup was at the restaurant, we spent some time discussing what was new in Ensenada and took a tour of the restaurant. Penny had the unexpected pleasure of trying one of her favorite pastries – a Palmier. Not often do you get French pastries in Mexico and even less often are they authentic!
We also found our food cart and met a new friend – Luis Edgar, son of the famous Sabina Bandera who runs the tostada food cart, La Guerrerense. Holy smokes. We had the fish ceviche dressed up by Edgar with sauce and peanuts. Mama Sabina also surprised us with a special raw clam dish. The fish is off the boat fresh and only $1.50 a tostada.
After lunch in town, we headed back to the hotel and to the hotel marina for some water activities. Options were kayaking, paddleboarding and water bikes. While I was tempted by the paddleboard, because I have yet to try it, I also realized I do not have the best balance. Two things I’ve never been able to pull off are skateboarding or surfing. So, I opted to try the kayak and water bike. When you head away from the dock, I recommend you notice which direction the wind is blowing. I felt like superwoman as I left the dock and peddled out into the marina. It wasn’t until I turned around to head back that I realized I was now fighting a strong wind to return, but the result was a nice workout!
If a hotel has a spa, I try as hard as possible to carve out time for a treatment. The hotel’s newly designed C Spa offers massage, facials, body treatments and a full salon. Their signature “VinoTherapy” treatment, which Penny opted for doesn’t involve drinking wine, but instead is a body treatment using organic byproducts of the wine making process including grape leaves, stems, skin, and seeds to exfoliate, moisturize, and replenish the skin. I opted for a hot stone massage – which was incredibly relaxing. I had to fight to stay awake, but was determined not to sleep through a massage. Spaaaaaaaaaaaa day is always a good day.
For dinner, we made our way back to BC Bistro & Cava. Some highlights were the Cesaer salad, garlic prawns, the many ceviches and Molcajete – a traditional Mexican dish I have somehow never heard of or tried before. It’s presented in a lava bowl with chicken, cactus, onion, salsa, beans and guacamole. My new favorite!
The preparation of the food was excellent and combined with a superb wait staff made the experience truly memorable. We felt rather spoiled after each and every meal.
We ended our perfect day in Ensenada relaxing on the balcony of our room, enjoying the ocean air and watching the lights on the boats and planning our next trip to Baja.
Hotel Coral & Marina is a great mother-daughter or girlfriend getaway, but it would also be a great family vacation. Just 80 miles from San Diego, the port city of Ensenada is an easy and fun international destination full of great food and just minutes away from Valle de Guadalupe wine country.
Been to Ensenada? Love to hear your experience! Please share in the comments below.
Click here for more Tijuana and Baja California travel ideas.
For more great Baja cuisine check out this review on Palacio Azteca’s Restaurante Ixchel in Tijuana.
A huge thank you to www.hotelcoral.com for their generous hospitality. I was their guest during my stay in Ensenada, but as always, all opinions are my own.