No matter how many times we've made the trip down south, there is no getting around the apprehensive excitement and anticipation as you cross the border and venture into another world, a stone's throw away from what is familiar.
Family and friends frown upon these trips. "It's dangerous... you're going to go to jail... don't do anything stupid... they don't like you... bring me back some tacos and a surfing monkey..." Fair enough. Mexico is not for everyone and those concerns are not unfounded. But if you muster up the courage and curiosity coupled with an open mind and a thirst for a budget adventure, keep driving.
It's an actual highway to get from Tijuana to Ensenada. Not a dirt road. It's just like any freeway here in the US, with tolls (around 2 bucks each time you pass). The dirt road through Tijuana, Rosarito, K-38, Puerto Nuevo, La Fonda, K-58 is long gone. It’s now a paved service road that will take you from town to town. The highway delivers some spectacular views specially the last stretch through Salsipuedes to San Miguel which rivals Big Sur on misty mornings.
As you pass some unfinished high rise beach front condominiums, keep an eye out on your left, on top of the hill is giant Jesus. He watches over a surf break, surf shop, taco shop and pharmacy that can fill any prescription you need (so I heard from a friend).
10 minutes farther south brings you to Las Gaviotas, a gated community, home to ex-pats, vacation homes for others and training wheels for exploring Baja. You'll find any accommodations you would need here, browse through VRBO and you'll get an idea. It's self contained if you don't feel like going into town. Puerto Nuevo is 5 minutes south if you‘re craving some spiny lobster. No claws here. Rosarito is 10 minutes north where you can enjoy local food, beverages and anything a tourist would ever need.
As you ascend higher along the costal road, sheer cliffs to the right and landslides on the left and go around the bend, this view pictured above means you're getting close to Ensenada. Get those 2 bucks ready as the last toll booth is close.
Just outside of Ensenada is Ruta de Vino which as of late has been on the travel spotlight of many. There are wineries, restaurants and ranches worth visiting and accommodations range from AirBnb's, roadside camping to spectacular wineries and eco-resorts.
Driving through wine country is a treat in itself. With all the winter rain, the countryside is in full bloom.
Experts only accommodations. Rustic and fundamental accentuated by the natural beauty all around.
Venture south, get out of your comfort zone. Enjoy yourself.