Let me preface this by saying that I went on a cruise via Carnival Inspiration. We left Long Beach, California for 3 days with just 1 port visit in Ensenada, Mexico.
Downtown Ensenada is definitely made specifically for cruise tourists. The city provides a $3 RT bus ride from the port to downtown Ensenada, about 10 minutes each way.
The actual downtown area is only about 9 blocks total, not anywhere you would spend an entire day – a few hours is enough. You’ll find mostly souvenir shops, restaurants and pharmacies. Why pharmacies? Because in Mexico, you don’t need a prescription to purchase certain types of medication! To each their own but I certainly didn’t make any purchases from the pharmacies!
The most popular restaurant there is Papas & Beer, which you can’t miss. They have a restaurant and some souvenir shops throughout the downtown area. I wanted something a little bit less touristy so I had lunch elsewhere. See those nachos? Piping hot chips, perfectly seasoned chicken and a ton of cheese – yes please!
The souvenir shops are interesting. Everyone will try to pull you into their stores mostly full of leather goods, hammocks, Day of the Dead trinkets and silver jewelry. While I appreciate all the handmade goods, be aware of silver jewelry. I was told by the bus guide and some cruise employees to double-check or avoid buying silver in Ensenada all together. Apparently they aren’t real silver and within a week of wear, it turns green and stains your skin. Yikes!
Unfortunately I don’t have a name for my favorite treats shop. However, you can’t miss the huge sign that says “Mexican Candy Shop” off one of the main crossroads. It’s a small shop packed with a huge variety of Mexican treats. Some of their items displayed outside are homemade and you can negotiate the prices! Inside, they have several different Mexican candies – my favorite are anything tamarind or chili related!
It was a short but sweet trip through downtown Ensenada. If your cruise stops there, don’t miss the opportunity to explore!
All downtown shops takes U.S Dollars – no need to worry about getting pesos!