Puerto de Ensenada
Review and History

The Puerto de Ensenada lies on the shores of the Todos Santos Bay off the Pacific Ocean in northern Mexico’s State of Baja California. About 85 kilometers south of Tijuana and the border with the United States, the Puerto de Ensenada is a popular vacation spot for people in Southern California, and the city is full of luxury hotels, time-share condos, and vacation homes. With a rich fishery and gorgeous beaches, the Puerto de Ensenada is popular for both commercial and sports fishing, delicious seafood restaurants, and some great duty-free shopping. The Puerto de Ensenada is a regular call for cruise ships. In 2005, about 413 thousand people lived in Puerto de Ensenada.

The Puerto de Ensenada’s local economy also benefits from agriculture and livestock. Farmers grow olives, grapes, and wheat, and livestock graze in the surrounding grasslands. The Puerto de Ensenada exports much cotton to Asia and the United States. With a large commercial tuna fishing fleet, the Puerto de Ensenada is also popular among sports fishers. The busy Puerto de Ensenada is also an important container shipping port.

Port History

In 1542, the Todos Santos Bay was discovered by Captain Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo as he led an expedition for the Viceroy of New Spain. The first settlement was called San Mateo. In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno renamed the village “Ensenada de Todos Santos,” reflecting the fact that he arrived there on the Day of All Saints.

People began to settle on the shores of the Bay in 1824. In 1877, the Puerto de Ensenada opened to trade. The port exported tools and equipment made inland and imported goods from Eastern Europe. In 1886, the port was recognized as a Main Seaport.

In 1919, a concession was granted for the building of the pier at the Puerto de Ensenada. For the next two decades, ships from the United States used the Puerto de Ensenada to get around Prohibition, smuggling liquor to the US through the Puerto de Ensenada.

From 1950 until 1980, the major activity in the Puerto de Ensenada was fishing. In 1952, the municipality of Ensenada was established. In 1956, construction began on the Puerto de Ensenada’s main breakwater. In 1972, land reclaimed from the sea was established as the Port Area, and in 1974, the Puerto de Ensenada was ratified as a Main Seaport.

In 1975, the Servicios Portuarios y Marítimos de Ensenada, S.A. de C.V. was established as a state corporation involving the port workers’ labor union. Container-handling began in 1990, but they soon learned that the port was not adequate for the modern large container vessels.

The early 1990s brought mixed blessings. The United States placed an embargo on tuna in 1993, seriously affecting the fishing business in the Puerto de Ensenada. The same year, however, cruise ships began to arrive in the port, creating a new major tourist industry. The Puerto de Ensenada began modernization efforts in 1994. In 1998, a new Naval Base covering nine hectares was installed at the Puerto de Ensenada.

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