Cruising to Ensenada’s premier marina

Cruising to Ensenada’s premier marina

ENSENADA — Hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada, Mexico is 60 miles south of California, set on the Bay of Todos Santos. Its proximity to cruisers in Southern California makes it ideal for day trips or extended weekend visits, and the city of Ensenada hosts a diverse and wide array of activities and attractions that boaters won’t have to travel far down the Mexican peninsula to find.

Moored at the Marina    

The marina opened in August 1995, and is one of three marinas available in Ensenada, but the only one with access to the five-star Hotel Coral. The marina’s 353 slips range in size from 64 feet to 209 feet, accommodating both sailing and powerboats. For boaters heading south down the peninsula, Marina Coral is the only fuel dock in Ensenada. The next fuel dock is in Los Cabos, Baja, nearly 1,000 miles away.

The fuel dock is one of the many resources and amenities boaters will find at Marina Coral. A two-lane boat launch is open 24 hours in a secured lot reserved for visitors. The marina provides a free pumpout station, as well as a coin-operated laundry, a marine store, a chandlery and Wi-Fi. Guests who moor at the marina also enjoy access to many of Hotel Coral’s amenities, including the spa, gym and sauna.

The marine store carries maintenance supplies and marine accessories, including fishing tackle, dock lines and electronics. Maintenance services are also provided — boat washing, waxing, detailing, zinc replacement and bottom cleaning.

Marina manager Cinthia Romero, who has been with Hotel Coral for 17 years, has seen the marina undergo a variety of changes, particularly upgrades aimed to benefit boaters. Most recently, the lot occupied by a fish-cleaning station was renovated into the outdoor Marina Grill and Bar, featuring outdoor lounge seating, fire pits, flat-screen televisions and excellent mango margaritas.

“It’s an upscale, professional place, but at a better price,” Romero said. “If you don’t have a house with a dock, this is the place to be.” South of the Border

The recent events involving the impounding of boats by the Mexican government seemed to have struck little anxiety with Marina Coral’s boaters and liveaboards (of which there is a community of 20 to 25 boats). Romero explained that the Mexican government was trying to implement certain laws, in order to make sure of boaters’ documentation, but that the staff at Marina Coral worked with boaters to make sure they had all their papers in order. The marina even offers personalized assistance with vessel documentation for visiting boaters, including transportation services to port clearance offices.

Both the hotel and the marina work with guests to facilitate the process of coming and going across the border. They offer a special tourist’s fast pass available only to marina and hotel guests that allows for a smooth border crossing, which might be especially helpful for boaters trailering their vessels down to Ensenada.

Exploring Ensenada    

Ensenada is known for its thriving wine country in Valle de Guadalupe, with annual concerts and festivals celebrating the regional cuisine and wine. Boaters docked at Marina Coral can arrange to take scheduled winery tours through the valley’s Ruta del Vino using the hotel’s shuttle.

For cruisers interested in the local scene, downtown Ensenada is within walking distance of the marina. The busy fish market is at the center of the city’s offerings of Baja-Med cuisine and seafood, and Ensenada’s cultural center is located in the restored Hotel Riviera del Pacifico — a former hotel and casino that once hosted luminaries like Jack Dempsey, Rita Hayworth and Bing Crosby.

Fish Tales

The full-service marina is also a popular destination site for avid anglers from the U.S., including Wes Price, who keeps his 37-foot Blackman docked in Marina Coral and travels down by car three days out of the week from San Clemente, Calif. Price has been boating around Ensenada for seven years, but he remembers visiting Ensenada long before that, when he used to chase waves in Baja California as a teenager in high school.

For enthusiastic anglers like Price, Ensenada is the perfect place to cast a line as the waters around the port offer the most productive surface action year round. In the summer, anglers can find a prolific amount of tuna, yellowfish and dorado. There is good bottom fishing in the winter, and anglers often explore nearby areas like Isla Todos Santos and San Miguel Reef.             Marina Coral utilizes a 48-foot offshore boat for boaters interested in sportfishing charters, as well as themed outings, such as sunset and whale-watching tours.

“Every time I come to Mexico, I try to go a little bit further down the coast, but I always end up in Ensenada,” Price said.

To learn more about Marina Coral, visit

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