August…it’s hot, hot, hot, here and I’m dreaming of Baja … specifically the region of Baja between Tijuana and Ensenada, which, in my opinion, has perfect year-round temperatures between 50F – 85F. We took our second trip to Playas de Rosarito earlier this year; and with the current weather, it seems to be a good time to reminisce and maybe plan a weekend getaway to cooler temps.
For this trip we stayed at the quaint Las Rocas Resort, just south of Rosarito. We left Rocky Point on a Sunday morning and headed down the Gold Coast Highway, which is a beautiful drive through sand dunes and natural rock formations, getting periodic glimpses at the shimmering blue of the Sea of Cortez rising up to the desert. Along the way, we went through El Golfo, San Luis, Mexicali, and through La Rumorosa. La Rumorosa is a treacherous, steep, winding, narrow mountain pass between Mexicali and Tecate. It does seem they’ve made improvements since we drove it last, more barrier rails were present, but there are still several places, you face drop offs. Although the scenery is absolutely gorgeous, definitely stick to the 40Km per hour speed limit.
Our trip this year was to experience the Valle de Guadalupe, which is a wine region in the hills outside of Ensenada. There are about 100 vineyards from large producers like LA Cetto to boutique wineries; the Valle de Guadalupe produces some of the finest wines in Mexico.
Las Rocas offers tour packages picking up from the resort lobby, so we booked a wine tour when we checked in, for the next morning. We ended up with an amazing tour guide from Baja Day Tripper. Since it was the slow season and a Monday, we ended up having a private tour. We’d never been to vineyards before, so we opted for the basic tour to see what it was all about. The tour offered 3 vineyards and lunch, or 4 vineyards. We opted for the latter. We drank wine, ate cheese and crackers, and had a lovely, lovely day.
Our driver gave us an in-depth history on the area and local stories/lore along the way. I would highly recommend hiring a tour driver as the roads to La Ruta de Vino are curving, and narrow, and the views of the Pacific Ocean along the way are breathtaking and can be appreciated much more as a passenger. Also, after sampling wine at multiple vineyards you aren’t in any condition to drive and can just relax on the way back to the hotel.
Of course, no trip to Baja would be complete without good eats, especially a lobster dinner.
Our first night we were tired from the drive, so we opted to eat at the hotel restaurant, where we received a welcome margarita and ate Baja style Mexican food. The hotel is on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and we dined with the waves crashing and the sun setting, not a bad reward after a six-hour drive. We ate breakfast at the resort every morning because it was included with our stay, it was delicious, and the amazing view. The other magical thing about this area of Baja is that you can see pods of dolphins every morning.
Monday after wine country, we went to Splash Restaurant for our lobster dinner, which never disappoints. The food, service, and atmosphere are fabulous, we sat at the bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On Tuesday we hired the same driver for a day trip to Ensenada for some shopping. We ate some great ceviche for lunch at Mariscos Bahia de Ensenada. For dinner we decided to go into the town of Rosarito, where we ate at Tapanco Steakhouse. Another amazing dinner at a unique venue. The walls were made of stone and trees. There was a woman making fresh tortillas in a stone oven. The menu was varied and included quail and venison. They make fresh salsa to taste at your table. It was a romantic dinner to top off our last night of vacation.
Although my heart belongs to Puerto Peñasco, Baja calls to me like a Siren’s Song tempting me with its magical charms.