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From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

March/April 2007

Volume 5 , Number 3/4


A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®

True Traveler Publishing

P.O. Box 60023

San Diego, CA 92166



(619) 857-0368









Photo Credit: Doug Gould at


"Piracy can be the right course"

“You like pain? Try wearing a corset!”

             The above are both quotations from the Pirates of the Caribbean series of movies.  A good pirate yarn has long been a Hollywood staple; there's reason for that. We have a romanticized notion of pirates. They were not nice people and they did some pretty horrific things. But we are fascinated with rule-breakers because we are regulated and herded incessantly as a society by rules.

            The Black Pearl, often simply referred to as the Pearl, is a fictional pirate ship that figures prominently in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The ship was originally named Wicked Wench before it was ordered burned and sunk by Lord Cutler Beckett. It was later raised from the sea floor by Davy Jones after making a pact with Jack Sparrow (portrayed by Johnny Depp) who rechristened her, The Black Pearl. The movies are a humorous and brilliantly costumed ghost story that has nothing to do with the Disneyland ride of the same name. But for sailors, the thrills and on-the water scenes provided in these films are non-stop.

            Johnny Depp (who patterned his behavior to emulate Keith Richards, the fabled member of the Rolling Stones) as Captain Jack Sparrow, continually keeps you off balance. In fact, he’s usually off balance himself, with slightly inebriated movements and a swaggering, sometimes mincing walk. He flashes from rum-fogged and inept to sharp as a tack; from a charming drunken sot to a dark threatening menace. You are never quite sure if when he is slightly crazed if it is an act or not. The costume and makeup designers did well. The black rimmed eyes, the beads in his hair and beard, down to the flash of gold in his smile give him such a roguish, bohemian look (it’s reported Depp still has the gold caps on his teeth). Many a female pirate fan have no doubt had some stirring dreams involving him.

            Off the sea for a moment and back to the board room; tales of the tape…Reuters reports Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl pulled in $19.5 million in its first five days on rental shelves. The Associated Press reports Johnny Depp took the Screen Actors Guild Award for lead actor for his role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is Jerry Bruckheimer's biggest hit with a worldwide total of $563 million and counting (as reported 2003).

            Currently featured in a marina near you, is the ship that Captain Jack Sparrow walked on in the filming of these epic features of the silver screen. From the outside, it is a gingerbread boat, so romantic and stirring of tales of the sea, until the large 8 foot tall by 5 foot wide castle style trap door drops and reveals the interior of the ship. Allot of the facts about this ship have been guarded and it is difficult to finds specifics about this craft, one of many of the ships that were enlisted to play a role in the movies. As they (Disney) don't want to spoil the "romanticism" of the movies by revealing the workings around how they created the illusions in the movies. Exposing the ship's fallacy as a real pirate ship of old and telling the story of how it was constructed and "antiqued" out of wood to replicate the real thing would only serve to ruin the legacy of Jack Sparrow on celluloid. And revealing how the cannons are deployed by compressed air, on rails, with the push of a button, may shock your senses into an avoidance of other future life realities. This vessel isn’t even steered by the ships wheel; it is steered by an elaborate hydraulic motor driven auto pilot system power-assisted by a huge diesel engine in the engine room via a joystick. The ship’s propellers are driven by twin Detroit diesels, and not by sail power, in fact only one relic emergency sail could be seen aboard her. The two main diesel engines are further backed up by two smaller diesels waiting in reserve in case one of the main engines fails. A sailor visiting the docks she is a guest of currently would be a darn lucky to be allowed behind this Disney Wizard of Oz curtain...

            The artisans employed to construct this model ship did an exemplary job, it is obvious they studied ancient square rigger lore before they designed this beauty.  The detail is impressive, down to the carvings on the woodwork and the finely crafted bow female figure extending a dove for safe passage and luck for the ships assigned duty to plunder all the ships at sea. A ships bell is mounted just aft of the ships wheel, placed there to quickly alarm and summon the crew in an emergency at sea, or if a new booty is seen on the horizon to pillage. To keep the crews spirits up, many carved statues of buxom females are distributed around the ship.

            Like the Pirate ships of old, this ship is shrouded in mystery, but for a much more contemporary purpose. It appears that this visiting edition of the “Black Pearl” is a fake, another actor that was employed to perform in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series of movies. Her transom displays the name “Sunset”, and does not bear the name of the ship she portrays in the movies. This vessel is now docked at the Cruiseport Marina in Ensenada. The ship is visiting until her departure for Miami, Fla in March.

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Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.
  Edith Sitwell





The view back toward Ensenada and the picturesque lighthouse above the Killers break.

            Within the Bahia de Todos Santos there exists one of the most legendary and electrifying surf Meccas on the entire planet. It is visited by surfers from all over the world and is regarded as a must-surf spot if you are to complete your resume of past conquered venues. Along with Biarritz, France, Tahiti and Costa Rica, the waves of Ensenada are renowned “big game” within the surfing clan. A trip down the coast highway from the States will now often include a trailer with an expensive wave runner in tow in addition to the surfboards strapped to your car. Often resented and considered as “cheaters” by many conventional old school paddle-in wave riders, these tow-in surfers have created a new and exciting way to experience some of the biggest waves on the globe.

            Back in the mid 1960's the Windansea Surf Club located in La Jolla, San Diego, discovered a new surf destination. It was 90 miles south of La Jolla and required chartering a boat, as it was 9 miles offshore and only accessible by boat. This was a spot named Killers by the crew, as it was a crushing wave of over 15 feet, if the swell was big enough and from the right direction. If the waves along the shores of Ensenada are breaking large, you can expect to find waves that are 5 to 20 feet bigger at Killers, dependant on the direction of the swell.  They rumble out of deep water and hit a shallow rock shelf that creates beautiful cascading volumes of aqua green water to break with incredibly good form, perfect for surfing. This deep water to shallow shelf interaction causes the waves to jump to a much greater size than the ground swell that has now traveled many sea miles from the northern storm that created that swell.

            The advent of “tow-in” surfing late in the last decade developed in the Hawaiian Islands was a revolution in the surf industry. Waves such as the Killers break are very difficult to paddle into as surfers had been doing for years since the Hawaiian Inlanders first introduced the sport. These fast moving swells approaching shallow water called for a new means of entry before riding the wave toward the rocky cliffs of the Todos Santos Islands. Soon surfers were employing the tow-in method locally to surf the huge waves at Killers. A powerful high horsepower wave runner is used to tow the surfer by an umbilical cord, much like skiing behind a boat, which actually sling shots the surfer into the wave already standing on his board poised for action. After dropping the cord, the surfer then rides the wave to completion and his mate on the gas powered craft then plucks the surfer from the area near shore and tows him back out to the take off area for the next ride. The guys will periodically rotate and take turns riding the waves and driving the wave runner.

            When the waves are big the wave runner surfers can be seen launching their turbine jet water powered vessel at the only suitable launch ramp in Ensenada, at the Coral Marina and Hotel. A small platform is mounted on the rear of the wave runner for carrying the surfboards that will be ridden that day. There are loops along the entire edge of the platform for the surfer to grab onto after his ride for his tow back out to the take off area. These crazed enthusiasts ride the entire 9 miles out to Killers at breakneck speed, crashing over the swells as they head out to the distant islands. They travel with little or no baggage, wetsuits already donned, and perhaps just a lunch and some refreshment in the glove box of the water craft. Arriving in less than a half hour, they are soon ready to rip their first wave conquest.

            The location of this surfing attraction for big wave seekers is located at the extreme north end of the Todos Santos Islands below the picturesque red and white light house.  Here you will find waves that are often over 30 feet in size during the winter months.  Killers can be seen breaking from the shoreline of Ensenada with the naked eye when it is "on". A horizontal column of white water foam extending around the point can be plainly seen on the days when it's "working".  Boat charters are available along the Ensenada waterfront to this area complete with surf tour guides which will anchor while you are surfing this magnificent wave.

Two tow-in surfers showing the Island salute at Killers.

Gliding backside on a solid Killers 12 foot plus wave face.

Shallow aqua green waves break aside deep blue water.

Busting a smooth roller coaster on the inside cream latte white water.

A green corona envelops this knee boarder no doubt howling at his mate nearby.

This surfer has just released the tow and is now in perfect position and trim at the critical part of the wave.

Great photo op for the surf photog in the water- say queso!

One of the bigger waves of the day steams through.

Headed back out to the take off area.




Photo Credit: Doug Gould at



It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.
  Mark Twain


                 The Fear Factor

                 (A Sample Chapter from our Books)

            As humans, we possess a natural fear of that which we do not understand. Also, as humans we often do things we would prefer not to do if the money is good enough. The ideal situation before embarking to the 90 Day Yacht Club is that your fears are reduced and the choices are made through a previous local knowledge of the area, enabling the benefit in savings to be the determining factor in your decision. This is one of the reasons we are writing this book for you. We hope the overall cause and effect of this text is to reassure your decision to make the offshore delivery a well made decision, and for you to enjoy the days spent in manaña-land, and your resultant tax savings.
The isolated stories you have heard or read of misfortune experienced by others have been the result of bad judgment, poor preparation, and/or a bit of bad luck. Driving in Mexico after consuming alcohol or drugs is not advised. In addition, any possession of firearms in Mexico is strictly prohibited. Your drive to and from Ensenada may include a checkpoint for firearms and drugs search and seizure. The majority of times through these checkpoints you will be waved on through, however, at times a search may be performed. Your attitude is very important when dealing with any form of authority in Mexico. A smile and an attempt at what little Spanish you may speak will go a long way toward determining the treatment you receive from the Mexican authorities. This may determine if you are lightly searched or all your belongings searched in earnest.

           When crossing the border there is the famous red light/green light system determining whether you are subject to search for imported goods or allowed to cruise through. A red light and loud bell will be your cue to pull to the right and into the inspection lanes. Again, attitude is important if inspected. Have the original copy of your importation document issued when checked into the port of Ensenada with you. If you are importing a lot of boat gear, this may allow you through without paying importation duties. But that document is not a guarantee of you not paying importation duties; this is subject to the mood of, and interpretation of the law, subject to the discretion of the inspecting official. Our best advice is a friendly greeting by you and a willingness to open every door when asked. Don't willfully offer information about what you have, your destination, or your possession of the importation documentation, except when asked. Also, try to keep importation of new gear to a minimum. The Mexican border officials would have you pull into the "Declare" lanes automatically, but this could be costly in time and funds. A part of your pre-trip planning would have all that great new stuff from your local marine store already on the boat when disembarking from the U.S.. But forgotten or upgrade items may have to be transported during your 90 day stay. Remember to smile and learn to say “Holla, como esta usted?” (“hello, how are you”), etc… in Spanish to lessen the tension and put you back on the road to the 90 Day Yacht Club (see our Spanish glossary for more useful phrases).

           Once more, do not drink and drive, possess firearms or drugs, and most importantly cop an attitude if stopped or searched. The ugly American image is not wanted south of the border and Mexican citizens can sense that attitude immediately. A measure of mutual respect and common sense, along with local knowledge of the area will go a long way to help lessen the Fear Factor.


            The Mexican government designated Escalera Nautica (Nautical Ladder) as the anchor tourist project during the Fox administration. Of course, it was presented during the last two months of the Zedillo administration, so Fox inherited it. But it really goes farther back than either Fox or Zedillo. It was in the early 1970s when this project was envisioned, studies performed and the peninsula mapped to locate placement of the marinas now being promoted. A consortium of multinational United States companies, which included the likes of Atlantic Richfield (now ARCO), created a mega-fund known as ADELA, at the urging of then U.S. Sen. Jacob Javits of New York.

            ADELA had several projects, among them a strategic alliance with Crocker land and other companies to develop Baja California, which was to include marinas and infrastructure projects such as desalination plants. By 1973, the Baja California peninsula study and mapping was completed, and a grand presentation was scheduled at Los Pinos when the Mexican White House was occupied by President Luis Echeverria Alvarez. Echeverria was a very erratic person and though well apprised of the project, announced on the day of the presentation that “Mexico is not for sale” and walked out of the room. So the plans have lingered somewhere gathering dust until recently.

            The present limitation of marinas, along the 1,000 mile Peninsula, detracts many yachting tourists from venturing the long distances between safe harbors. The plan provides marinas within a day's travel of each other. Also planned is a "land bridge" that will divide the peninsula at about the halfway mark. This will provide a road for land transport of vessels wishing to sail both seas without encircling the entire Peninsula.

            The so-called Escalera Nautica, a megalomaniacal project of FONATUR (National Fund to Increase Tourism), to turn the Peninsula of Baja California into a recreation center for boat owners from the United States, has just been the subject of an independent market research study by EDAW, a prestigious company that conducts economic analysis and environmental impact on tourism. The study (financed by the Packard Foundation) shows clearly that FONATUR has exaggerated, by 600%, the demand for marina spaces in Baja California and the Sea of Cortez. While this reputable study forecasts that by the year 2014, some ten thousand vessels may enter the region, FONATUR predicts the arrival of sixty-one thousand. The study also concludes that only fifty-five hundred berths will be needed by then, and not the twenty-six thousand five hundred estimated by FONATUR. The project, first launched in 2001, has since been renamed and retooled. Now referred to as the 'El Proyecto Mar de Cortes' - aka The Sea of Cortez Project', it calls for 28 nautical stops in five states - 11 of which were planned to be running by May 2006. FONATUR, the Mexican tourism development agency behind the project, initially projected that the Nautical Ladder would pull in 50,000 boats and 1 million visitors by 2014 - the vast majority coming from the United States. The Mexican government decided to spend about $222 million on the project during the six year term of the project. The idea was to create a chain - or 'ladder' - of well-equipped ports and tourist areas up and down the Baja coast all within a day's sail of each other.  Figuring this would attract upscale tourism, there was as much focus on the marina sites and their offerings as there was on the marinas themselves.

            The original missions were built at distances of one day’s travel by horse or cart. Similarly, the Escalera’s marinas will be at one day’s travel by boat — about 120 nautical miles apart. The plan called for 22 full-service marinas, 10 of them new. Of the 12 existing, seven would be improved and five were judged as already adequate. The 10 new marinas were to be located on sites with natural shelter, or bays, a feature the peninsula has in abundance. Five of these were to be in Baja California, three in Baja California Sur, and one each in Sonora and Sinaloa. Additionally, the plan called for an 84-mile highway route for towing boats from one side of the peninsula to the other. This feature would allow boat travelers quick access to either body of water for those without time or interest in sailing around the southernmost tip of Baja California Sur. Further, the plan called for improving the road between Mexicali and San Felipe to allow bigger-boat towing rigs crossborder access to the Sea of Cortes. The plan also called for improvements in 10 existing airports and 10 airstrips to make it easier for tourists to get to the chain of marinas. In this manner, Mexico hoped it will attract year-round mooring and rental income.

            Hotels, golf courses, restaurants, and other tourist-related infrastructure also played a key part in the project, as the nautical tourism would have also draw traditional tourism over time. The project also involved road construction and upgrades to allow for easier boat towing, including cross-peninsula towing. Plans called for upgrades to allow towing across the Baja peninsula from Santa Rosaliita (Pacific coast) to Bahia de los Angeles. There is also some airport construction and upkeep factored into the project. Apparently if you're the kind of person who has your own yacht, you are the kind of person who would like to fly into Mexico to pick it up ...

       FONATUR'S first victim was Santa Rosaliita where, in order to get the rock to create a marina for fifty vessels, they dynamited the Cerro del Valle de San Andres, destroying half of this habitat for rare plants and damaging a wetland for migratory birds. Witnesses informed the public that explosives used in the project were left out in the open, with no security. FONATUR could not guarantee that some of them had not been stolen, and are now in the hands of terrorists or local drug dealers.

       Although SEMARNAT (Ministry for the Environment) and FONATUR promised not to go ahead with construction of a marina in Santa Rosaliita before an environmental impact statement (comprising the whole area included in the project) had been concluded and approved, they continued with this perverse and utterly senseless work. They were building the marina, situated on the coast of the Biosphere Reserve of the Valle de los Cirios, (Valley of the Boojum Trees) exactly in the place where the wave action is the most powerful, and the water the most shallow. The dredging, which has caused severe erosion on the beach of this little fishing town, does little good, because the sand comes back to fill the marina. It will have to be done annually, thereby adding to the cost of construction. The project was the laughingstock of fishermen, and illustrated FONATUR'S total ignorance of marina construction. It showed that FONATUR should not be allowed to build any permanent marina in open waters of the Sea of Cortez, or the Pacific Coast of Baja California.

       FONATUR had paved four kilometers of the puente terrestre (land bridge) that it planed to build between Santa Rosaliita and Bahia de los Angeles, so that boats can be hauled from the Pacific to the Sea of Cortez. If they had managed to construct this paved canal that passes through the Biosphere Reserve of the Valley of Los Cirios, it would have mutilated the Peninsula with an utterly useless strip of asphalt. The project has been suspended, since it was undertaken without the environmental impact statement required by law. It cannot even claim a viability study, although the road crosses a desert with high winds for half of the year. This highway will never be used to transport larger boats whose owners are usually the biggest spenders in Mexico. At most it can serve for small craft with trailers whose owners consume nothing in the way of tourist services, of the kind that benefit the local population. They live in their campers or tents, and catch their own fish to complement the food they bring from the United States. The correct thing is to take apart what has been built, and cease destroying the Boojums, trees that are endemic, and exists nowhere else in the world.

       On the Trans Peninsular Highway, starting shortly after Ensenada, every ten kilometers there was a sign announcing the distance to the Escalera Nautica (296 kilometers, 286 kilometers ecetera), until the hopeful traveler arrives at Kilometer Zero, a tourist site made and abandoned by FONATUR during the presidency of Echevarria. To get people to leave the tent, the circus empresario P.T. Barnum used to put up signs "This Way for the Departure", and the crowds would converge towards that unknown phenomenon which was nothing but the exit. Like the signs that indicate the road to somewhere that doesn't even exist, nor has the slightest possibility of meeting people's expectations, so will be the Escalera Nautica in its present grotesque and inflated form: a road that leads to nowhere.

       The Sea of Cortez, known as the aquarium of the world, is habitat for the gray whale, the whale-shark, the sea lion, five species of marine turtle, the vaquita (a tiny porpoise in danger of extinction), and more than 800 species of fish. The surrounding land is inhabited by 65 reptile species, 40 kinds of mammal, 134 land birds, 600 plant species and the famous Borrego Cimarron (Bighorn Sheep also in danger of extinction). The area within FONATUR'S boundless project affects 40% of the protected natural areas of Mexico, including four Biosphere Reserves and National Parks such as the Pinacate Desert, the Sierra of San Pedro Martir, Loreto and the Angel Island of la Guarda.

       According to John McCarthy, Director General of FONATUR, the Escalera Nautica which seeks to create a network of some 20 ports and marinas, at intervals of 120 nautical miles, and capture 5.3 million nautical tourists, is going to generate three billion dollars and create sixty thousand jobs by the year 2015, thereby benefiting the states of Baja California Sur, Baja California Norte, Sonora, Sinaloa and Nayarit. But this is not true. Market research results and the danger of irreversible environmental damage require rethinking and redrawing the scale and objectives of the Escalera Nautica before the fragile and unique ecosystems of Baja California and the Sea of Cortez are destroyed beyond repair, and the region is littered with abandoned development projects that are not viable, leaving a trail of white elephants everywhere. There is no reason to repeat the damages such as occurred at Santa Rosaliita, because clearly there is no market for marinas on the Pacific Coast of Baja California. Above all, it is imperative that SEMARNAT insist upon regional and local environmental impact statements and compliance with the law.

            Energy and money should be put into places of proven tourist potential, such as Ensenada, Los Cabos, Loreto, La Paz, Mazatlan and Guayamas-Puerto San Carlos (in Sonora). It is time to forget about building permanent marinas on the Pacific Coast, and in sensitive areas like Bahia Kino and Bahia de los Angeles (renamed "Coronado" by FONATUR as a ruse to attract investors from the North and confuse environmentalists). In places like Bahia de Los Angeles, Punta San Carlos, Punta Abreojos, San Juanico and San Luis Gonzago they should employ floating marinas. These have almost no environmental impact, avoid the need for dredging or altering the coastline, and are less expensive. They are also easy to take out if they cannot be rented. Investors from the United States consider the project a joke as it now exists, and say Mexicans have no understanding of American market research. On the other hand, Serge Dedina, Director of Wildcoast, says: "it's incongruous for FONATUR to resort to an obsolete nationalism to attack US environmental groups which have voiced their legitimate concerns about this project, when their entire thrust is directed towards tourists and investors from that country."

            Instead of a destructive ESCALERA NAUTICA there should be an ESCALERA ECOLOGICA, which would promote low impact ecotourism and sustainable sport fishing. This is a larger greater market than that of millionaire yacht owners. Or is it that the investments of officials and their partners have moved along too far to reduce a juicy business deal that will defraud the Mexican people in the region, and destroy one of the most beautiful places on the planet that, fortunately, happens to be in Mexico?

            At the moment, construction of the ill conceived plan has momentarily stopped.  Directional signs have been vandalized, heavy equipment is buried in sand, and investors are taking second and third looks. The tiny port of Santa Rosaliita bears witness to the disaster. Supposedly the showcase for the marina chain, Santa Rosaliita has proved to be unmanageable.  Workers at the site told the environmental group Wildcoast that “the marina will never work”. Serge Dedina, surfer advocate and spokesperson for Wildcoast said, “The Santa Rosaliita project is a sham.  The Mexican government is attempting to show American investors that it has a viable marina project.”  Veteran surfers decry the possible loss of valuable surfing locations such as Abreojos, San Juanico and Magdalena Bay if the plan continues.

            Old Baja hands point out that the wild Baja they know and love will never be tamed.  These people say that sensitive areas should be protected, and investment money should be placed in places with proven tourist potential: Rosarito, Ensenada, San Felipe, Loreto, La Paz, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, and Guaymas/San Carlos in Sonora State. Serge Dedina of Wildcoast said “instead of the destructive Escalera Nautica, there should be an Escalera Ecologica that would promote low impact ecotourism and sustainable sport fishing. This is a larger, greater market than that of millionaire yacht owners.”  This is where the opposition comes in — dubbing the entire project’s hidden purpose as one big land speculation promotion, because it clashes with the conservation objectives of the Biosphere Reserve of the Gulf Islands, the Loreto Bay National Park, the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and the Upper Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve. Opponents claim that from an environmental point of view the project is totally incompatible with the Sustainable Development Program of the Sea of Cortes.

            The benefit of the abandoning of this pie in the sky project that was engineered to fill the pockets of the few promoters and politicians at the top of "the ladder” is that the yachting facilities locally in Ensenada will not be diluted by yachts being enticed further down the Baja coast. Of course this would never work, an infrastructure of support over the 700 plus miles of Baja coast on both sides of the peninsula would never be possible to create or maintain, due to the self governing harsh environment that is the Baja. No environmental group needed to stop this project, the environment itself accomplished that objective.





Photo Credits: Doug Gould at




Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
  Thomas H. Huxley




            Before traveling with your cat or dog, be sure you know his or her personality. If your pet is a homebody, he or she will not be happy on the road. If your pet has a sense of True Traveler adventure, perhaps he or she will be happier with you rather than staying at home. Be sure to make the decision that best suits the needs of your pet before you leave home.

            Cats and dogs are welcome in Mexico and if you follow a few guidelines you and your pet will have a wonderful vacation. A current vaccination certificate is the most important requirement. Vaccination against rabies is essential. You may be asked for proof of rabies vaccination south of the border, or you may not. You may be asked for it by U.S. border officials, or you may not. Avoid the risk of creating a problem - BRING PROOF OF RABIES VACCINATION!

            We strongly urge you to keep your pets up-to-date on their annual vaccinations, DHLP-P for dogs and FVRCP-P and feline leukemia for cats. Due to lack of funding, animal control in Mexico is practiced on a limited scale. Therefore, there are a large number of free-roaming (and free-loading) dogs and cats on this side of the border. Don't take the risk of exposing your pet to diseases that can be prevented by a quick trip to the vet and a simple vaccination.

            A health certificate from your local veterinarian is suggested. Though not really necessary close to the border in Ensenada, you may want to have one with you for insurance against encountering any problems when visiting this area. If you plan to venture further south of Ensenada or onto mainland Mexico, a health certificate is required, special paperwork must be filed with the Mexican Department of Agriculture for a permit to travel to the mainland with your dogs. FOLLOW THE RULES. Don't create headaches and heartaches if you don't have to.

            Be sure bring a full supply of your pets favorite food (in case it's not locally available) plus bottled water, dishes, leashes and a roving chain. Most of all, be sure your pet's I.D. tags are current. Although most RV parks welcome leashed pets, many hotels do not. (See our list of "Pet Friendly" lodgings below.)

            A bit of advice if you are thinking of bringing birds and reptiles on vacation - DON'T. Coming into Mexico might not be a problem, but taking birds and reptiles into the U.S. will be. The animals will be confiscated if you do not have the proper paperwork, an expensive and time-consuming process. (Contact the Mexican Consulate in San Diego at 619-231-8414 for details.) Unless you are moving to Mexico permanently, get a bird or reptile nanny.

            A quick note: Tempted to buy one of those beautiful little lovebirds or parrots sold on street corners? Once again, DON'T. They will be confiscated by U.S. Customs agents. Give them a little tequila and hide them under the seat? DON'T. Even if you pass them across undetected, most do not survive. There is a legitimate reason why you may not bring undocumented birds into the U.S.; A significant number carry parasites and diseases.

            It is strictly against the law in Mexico to transport any reptile, including iguanas and snakes, out of the country. If you are caught you will be heavily fined and the animal will be confiscated. It's not worth the risk. Remember, too, that most wild animals taken out of their natural habitats do not survive.

            Another quick note: If you DO find an abandoned or homeless cat or dog in Baja and would like to take it home with you, no problem. Local Veterinary Hospitals will be glad to help you with advice, vaccinations, health certificates, etc. If you are looking to adopt a new Mexican friend. Local Veterinary Hospitals almost always have healthy dogs, cats, puppies and kittens that need good homes.


We strongly suggest confirming this information when making reservations since availability, room rates and pet acceptance can vary.


Quintas Papagayo Resort

This is by far the number one choice with cabins by the bay, a flower-filled tropical setting, pool, tennis courts and a great restaurant. Pets are more than welcome - and their owners too. Located 5 minutes north of Ensenada at Km. 108 on the main highway from Tijuana. Tel. (61)74-4575, fax (61)74-4155.

Motel America

Next best (as far as welcoming pets), it has no pool or gardens but is on the main drag within walking distance of tourist attractions and the bay. Rooms are clean and some have small kitchenettes in case Fluffy or Fido likes home cooking best. On Av. Lopez Mateos & Av. Espinoza. Tel. (61)76-1333.

Motel Colon

If you don't plan on spending too much time in your room, the Colon is OK. Rooms are small and have the lived-in look but do have TV. Tel. (61)76-1910. On Av. Lopez Mateos & Guadalupe, right across the street from San Nicolas Resort Hotel (which does NOT welcome pets) but has a fun disco and Caliente Race & Sports Book.

Motel Coronado

Although least aesthetic, it's closest to downtown shops and restaurants. During the summer, the arroyo is a great place to walk the dogs. If you stay at the Coronado, say hi to Lee and his dog Mikey who make the motel their permanent home. Mikey likes it! On Av. Lopez Mateos at the arroyo. Tel. (61)76-1416.

Ensenada Inn

Within walking distance of several excellent restaurants and nightclubs, it's a little too far for most to walk to downtown tourist attractions. But for those who don't mind a 1-minute drive into town, Ensenada Inn is a nice place to stay with a pool, jacuzzi and bar. Expect to pay $20dlls. deposit for Fluffy or Fido. Non-refundable. Or refundable. Depends on whom you talk to. On Av. Sangines across from Hotel Paraiso Las Palmas. Tel. (61)76-1361, fax (61)77-3101.

Hotel Paraiso Las Palmas

A plush place for Fluffy or Fido with a convention center, pool, jacuzzi and restaurant/bar with room service. Reservations are a must; only two "pet friendly" rooms are available. On Av'sangines #206. Tel. (61)77-1701 to 08, fax (61)76-0985, e-mail:


Motel Sausalito

Pets accepted IN CARRIERS ONLY. Large clean rooms, pool, restaurant. The management reluctantly accepts small dogs or cats as long as the maid doesn. t find Fluffy's hair on your pillow in the morning. Located 10 minutes north of Ensenada at Km. 103 on the main highway from Tijuana. Tel. (61)74-6145.

California Motel & RV Park

A modest motel with an attitude similar to Sausalito's - pets accepted but don't leave traces. Leashed pets are more welcome in their RV park/campgrounds. Located 8 minutes north of Ensenada at Km. 103.7 on the main highway from Tijuana. Tel/fax (61)74-6033.


Baja Beach & Tennis Club

Located on one of the best stretches of beach in Ensenada, the Baja Beach Club is a total resort with restaurants, bars, pools, a gym and jacuzzi. You may not even want to come to town! Small dogs and cats are OK as long as they don't eat the furniture. Located 30 minutes south of Ensenada on the road to La Bufadora; take the signed turnoff to the Punta Estero sandspit. Tel. (615)4-0220.

Cruz International Real Estate

It's not a hotel but a beautiful 2 bedroom/2 bath rental home with a full kitchen and fantastic view on one of the best stretches of beach in Ensenada. Deposit required but worth it. Definitely pet friendly. Located 30 minutes south of Ensenada on the road to La Bufadora; take the signed turnoff to the Punta Estero sandspit. Tel. (6)174-7770, fax (6)174-7770, e-mail:


Rancho Cielito Lindo Motel & Trailer Park

Pets will be welcomed by the resident menagerie of 3 cats, 6 dogs, 7 peacocks, 3 burros, 2 horses, "Elizabeth" the goat, and "Porky" the 200-lb. potbellied pig. Pet owners will relish the spacious rooms, sportfishing fleet and restaurant/bar with knockout margaritas and Juanita's Famous Crab Claws. Everyone will enjoy the wide sandy beach. Located 10 miles south of town on Playa Santa Maria, just west of Hotel La Pinta. E-mail:, or U.S. voice mail (619)593-BAJA.

Friday Night on the 500 Fathom Curve


            Steve Ross (shown in the photo) and crew boated 14 of these giant squid Friday evening, December 29th, on the Bad Dog out of the Marina Coral near Ensenada. Steve related in an interview, “The seas were up, the wind was blowing and we drifted 8 miles with the sea anchor out and 75' of chain and anchor. It was rough. White water was crashing next to our boat as the swells rolled by. Also......IT WAS COLD.”

            He added, “These guys pull like 100 pound tuna on a Penn International 2 speed 80. One got me......he squirted gallons of water and soaked me from my chest to my toes through my sweatshirt and to my skin. For New Years Day a Chinese restaurant in Torrance, CA called Tasty Kitchen cooked it all up for my Japanese family's New Years Day party.”


One of Steve's most recent exotic catches the first weekend of February


Wisdom is what's left after we've run out of personal opinions.
  Cullen Hightower






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