How to get from San Diego to Ensenada by Boat

Whether you take a cruise ship or a chartered yacht, sailing from San Diego, CA, to Ensenada, Mexico, offers gorgeous coastline views and a relaxing trip into the heart of one of Mexico’s most beautiful destinations.

Ensenada is about 75 nautical miles south of San Diego. To truly enjoy the journey and some time in Ensenada, schedule at least three days for sailing and exploring. Cruise ships offer short trips between the two cities, and a number of San Diego-based private yacht companies will charter trips to Ensenada at your convenience.

Here are details of how to travel from San Diego to Ensenada by boat:

Cruise ships
Carnival Cruise Lines offers three- and four-day cruises from San Diego to Ensenada, which include two days at sea and a full day in Ensenada. Four-day cruises add a day stop in Catalina Island, CA, which is 22 miles off the shore of Los Angeles.

Cruise rates tend to be cheaper in the late fall and winter. In October, for example, an interior stateroom can cost as little a $129 per person before taxes and fees. The same room will cost more than $260 per person in the late spring and summer.

However, if you can splurge, an ocean-view room will provide ready access to views of the spectacular coastline of Mexico. Rates for ocean-view rooms start at $180 per person and $460 for a suite. Prices will be higher in peak seasons.

The benefits of cruising are that a variety of entertainment and dining are provided on the ship. If you’re social and like the party scene, the crowds and the venues for non-stop fun are all aboard during your sail down the coast of Mexico.

Chartered yachts
Several companies offer custom charter tours for families and small groups from San Diego to Ensenada. While the cost will be many times that of a cruise ship, yachts provide a more intimate atmosphere and fewer distractions from the stunning coastline views.

These trips will take a minimum of several days, and the charter companies will work with your vacation plans. If you’d like to sit on the boat deck, sip a cup of coffee and quietly enjoy the sunrise, a charter yacht is the way to go.

Experienced charter boat captains will point out scenery and landmarks you may miss on a cruise. Because charter boats are smaller than cruise ships, the captain can set anchor in safe coves during your sail and your group can go for a relaxing swim. You also will have the flexibility to stop at a port for dinner or adjust your sailing schedule if needed.

Private boats
Ensenada welcomes recreational boaters, and the city has about 1,400 slips open to tourists, or “yatistas.” The trip from San Diego can be sailed in a day.

If you want to overnight on your way to Ensenada, the Mexican Coronado Islands are a good stopping point. You can’t go ashore, but you can anchor nearby to swim, fish, dive or sleep for the night.