The last time we were in Ensenada (late '90s), it was a charming place to stroll the malecon, see a brilliant sunset, or shop for fresh seafood & art. In our recent trip, though, the malecon was impossible to get to due to construction, and once we got there, it seemed a little built-up.
Still, it's an interesting working harbor, with cargo ships, derricks, seals and a nice view of Islas Todos Santos & La Bufadora.
The massive construction also made it brutal to find Sergio's. We finally had to give a bike cop $5 to guide us to Sergio's (near the fish market). We found Sergio right away, parked our cars in his protected alleyway. Sergio offered the landlubbers in our group sea sickness pills, but we took a pass. Nice fellow.
We were on Sergio's larger boat (with a bano), and while the sea appeared calm in the harbor, once we got about 5 minutes offshore, we were rocking and rolling. At first, we perched on the front deck, but got soaked right away. The rocking was worse up top (although the view is great). The interior cabin has space for about 8 passengers. The open deck has seats for 6 people, which offers sun and fresh air, but also not-so-fresh air from the twin engines.
We chugged out to Isla Todos Santos, with a great view of the Punta Banda peninsula. No whales yet. Actually two rocky islands, Todos Santos is home to a small dock, a weather station a few seals and lots of birds. We circle it. No whales. On the return trip, you can see how much Ensenada has grown into a sprawling metropolitan area, inching up nearby hills.
The ride was even bumpier on the way back. One of our party gets sick and another almost falls overboard. The 3-man crew is OK, although they seem to be sticking to a schedule, no matter how rough the conditions. One guys speaks basic English; we chat about the Ensenada Marineros baseball team and the NFL. Another catches a mackerel. Still no whales.
The boat slows down in an area where they usually can be found, one crew member explains. Nada.
We check out a man-made seal sanctuary, and hulking ships from Singapore & Panama. Back into the harbor, a few more seals, but no whales. The biggest critter we saw was a massive seal in the polluted harbor and the head of a giant grouper in the must-see fish market a block north from Sergio's.
Nature will not be commanded, so we don't fault the crew for not finding whales. The conditions were maybe too brutal for the trip, though (at one point the boat rode a wave so high we all thought of the final scene in "The Perfect Storm".) Still, it was nice to go out to the island and see a major harbor.