With an extensive shoreline, upscale neighborhoods, and Mexico’s wine country within arm’s reach, Ensenada is a destination that calls Americans across the border in droves, and international tourists flooding through the airport gates.
One of the biggest things to consider when choosing your destination for a Mexican holiday is, “How safe is it?” So while Ensenada seems like the picture-perfect place to get away, will you truly be able to unwind on its streets?
Ensenada Mexico is considered safe for tourists with a low crime rate and a friendly atmosphere. In fact, it’s considered one of the safest cities in Baja.
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Is Ensenada Safe?
Especially when compared to other Baja cities, and cities across Mexico, Ensenada is typically deemed a very safe choice. There’s a minor occurrence of petty crimes like pickpocketing and theft from unattended vehicles, while violent crime is quite rare.
Any violent crime that does occur is almost exclusively related to drugs, so as long as you steer clear of any suspected dealers and don’t get involved in any illicit activity, you should feel pretty safe wandering around and enjoying everything the city has to offer. There’s also a strong police presence and they are known for being quite friendly.
Moreso than crime prevention, many tourists find that ocean safety and water/food safety are the cause of concern. Both of these are easy to circumvent with a little bit of precaution, so be sure to keep reading for our Ensenada safety tips!
Top Tips for Staying Safe in Ensenada
While Ensenada is a relatively safe city, there are a few things you can do to ensure your vacation goes off without a hitch:
Avoiding Petty Crime
If any, petty crime is the most common safety issue tourists in Ensenada may face. There are several easy ways to protect yourself, so be sure to keep these tips in mind when exploring the city.
- Protect yourself against pickpocketing. Petty theft is the most common crime in Ensenada. In fact, it’s one of the only crimes that has a high occurrence rate. To avoid pickpockets, wear a money belt or other way to secure your belongings to your body, even tucked underneath your clothes. There’s something to be said for making pickpocketing more difficult, even if you can’t keep your belongings out of sight. Most of the time, these thieves are just looking for an easy target. You should also avoid flashing around wads of cash or expensive items.
- Securely stash all valuable belongings in your hotel room safe. This doesn’t stop at large sums of cash and valuable electronics, be sure to keep your passports and personal documents safe too.
- Buy a scan-proof wallet to protect your credit cards and identification.
- Avoid isolated areas at night and try not to walk alone.
- Lock car and hotel room doors.
Avoiding violent crimes
Almost all violent crimes in Ensenada are linked in one way or another to drugs. This means you should exercise some caution around the nightlife scene, bars, and clubs. If offered drugs, it’s best to just say no.
Not to sound like your parents and high school teachers, but avoiding drugs is the best way to avoid violent crime in the city, as well as any activities that might involve the cartel.
Generally speaking, the food in Ensenada Mexico is safe- even those inexpensive street food vendors that have your mouth watering at every street corner. So go ahead, indulge in those famous fish tacos! Staying aware of meat doneness, proper refrigeration, and possible cross-contamination should be enough to prevent food poisoning.
When traveling, it’s also good to steer clear of raw, unpeeled fruits and veggies that may have come into contact with the tap water if you can help it. This isn’t an absolute necessity in Ensenada but it might save you from some tummy trouble!
With so many beaches at the core of Ensenada’s tourism scene, it’s important to give yourself a little refresher on ocean safety practices too.
- Learn the Stingray Shuffle: For those who grew up around the ocean, dragging your feet through the sand is like second nature, but if you haven’t spent much time on saltwater beaches, you might find yourself asking “What the heck is the Stingray Shuffle?” This practice involves sliding your feet along the ocean floor rather than picking them up and putting them back down each time you take a step.
You see, a creature who brushes up against you is likely to swim off and leave you alone, but if you step on them, it will go into defensive mode, putting you at risk for injury. Stingrays in particular have sharp, dangerous barbs, which is where this safety tip got its name. Baja beaches see plenty of stingray visitors so this tip is an important one!
- Give yourself a lesson on identifying rip currents and how to get out of them. Once you know what you’re looking for, patches of water with a dangerous undertow can be easy to spot, preventing an emergency in the first place, but you also want to be prepared in case one catches you off guard. Remember to swim parallel to the shore OUT of the riptide rather than trying to fight the current back to shore.
Is Ensenada Safe Right Now? – FAQs
Is there a lot of crime in Ensenada?
The crime rate in Ensenada is relatively low. Both violent and petty crimes aren’t terribly frequent, making this a safe, tourist-friendly destination as long as you keep your wits about you. Pickpocketing is the most common crime seen in the city.
Is the drinking water safe in Ensenada?
Is Driving in Ensenada Safe?
Yep! We recommend sticking to major thoroughfares and not driving down many isolated backroads (especially at night) but in general, road-tripping through Baja is safe. You’ll want to follow basic road safety rules like avoiding hitchhikers and following speed limits to avoid issues with law enforcement, but otherwise, you’re good to go. Even if you’re driving your own vehicle across the border, be sure you have valid Mexican vehicle insurance in case of an emergency. Also, check out my comprehensive guide on Mexican car insurance.
Is the Cartel in Ensenada, Baja California?
Unfortunately, Yes. The Cartel has a footprint all over Baja California, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the majority of their income comes from tourism. This affords you a certain amount of security because they don’t want to cut off their income source by scaring tourists and driving them away. Generally speaking, if you avoid illegal activities (such as drugs) and keep to yourself, you won’t have any run-ins.
In Conclusion – Is Ensenada Mexico Safe?
Yes. Ensenada is one of the safest cities in Baja. We always recommend checking any safety advisories prior to travel, but as long as you use common sense and follow these safety tips, you shouldn’t run into any trouble. As always, the more prepared and educated you are on safety practices, the more you’ll be able to unwind and enjoy your vacation.