Spring Break conjures up many memories for us. Those of us who were in
Rosarito Beach recently, know that the joint was jumpin'!
Many hotels reported 100% occupancy on the weekend dates. The Rosarito Beach Hotel, celebrating its' 88th Anniversary, had an extended waiting list. Founded in 1925, the hotel had Monday to Thursday rates of only $18.88 day.
Other specials included one-hour massages for the same special rate. Each nights' stay also included a pair of discount passes good for $8.00 off at several of the in-hotel restaurants. WIth many menu items priced especially at $8.00, the rooms were very reasonably priced. Many travelers continue to make the Rosarito Beach Hotel their Baja South destination location.
There are many activities available without even leaving the hotel grounds. Pools, hot tubs, ping pong, surf and pier fishing, swimming, horseback riding, ATV riding, and many other activities can be enjoyed while still on hotel property.
One other advantage to staying at some of the bigger hotels is the Fastpass. Experienced travelers alway obtain one before leaving their hotels and heading across the border. Fastpasses live up to their name by allowing holders to use a special lane that gives you priority access. On our most recent trip, it took less than 20 minutes to go through the border. Most of that time was spent simply waiting for other cars to pass through the US Border stations.
People taking advantage of the holiday break included both first-timers and old Baja travelers. The lure of pleasant weather, reasonable housing and travel to a foreign country attracted many young adults. Older and more experienced travelers took advantage of the amenities to had in the hotels and resort facilities.
Many Rosarito businesses, including Papas and Beer, celebrated Spring Break with drink and meal specials. Accompanied by music, the parties lasted until 5 am. Other special events included a ballet folklorico and buffet dinner offered at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Other hotel guests took advantage of the Karaoke Bar in the hotel's Cantina and serenaded themselves and each other.
The local food is nothing short of spectacular. Mexican street food is well-known for its flavor and selection. Taco stands abound and are often filled with both locals and tourists taking advantage of inexpensive and tasty snacks. Tacos can be had with a number of fillings, as can burritos and tortas (sandwiches). Many salsas can also be enjoyed. Try them before you slather them on; Mexican salsas have a well-earned reputation for being spicy.
For more formal dining, try La Flor de Michoacan, located to the north end of town. It is locally know as the best pork (carnitas) restaurant around. Diners, with the waitress's help, simply order carnitas by the weight. Side dishes, including rice, beans, corn and flour tortillas, pickled vegetables, salsa and chips come automatically. Expect to pay about $6-7 per head. Soft drinks and and a full bar are offered for an additional cost.
Another good restaurant is La Guerita (The Blonde). The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood of all types. Fish, shrimp and calamari are offered in a variety of styles. Expect to pay in the $10-15range for a full dinner, with lobster running a bit more. The restaurant has a full bar and American style bathrooms. El Nido specializes in steaks for those who like their protein four-footed. The ambiance is enhanced by the rustic mining equipment located on the outside.
Getting around within Rosarito Beach can be done by taking a cab for a few dollars. For those who are a bit more adventurous, there are community mini-van cabs that operate by driving up and down the main street. Fares are $1 American. The cab stops can be found outside of larger restaurants and hotels, or can be had by simply waving them down by hand.
For those visitors who want the classic Mexican lobster experience, a short trip down the coast to Porto Nuevo on the free road is the way to crustacean heaven. The trip takes about 15 minutes. When you see the cream and orange arches, turn in. There are a number of restaurants in Puerto Nuevo all claiming to be the best. For my personal favorite, take the road to the end (two very short blocks) and park. Walk to the end of the street and turn right. Directly ahead of you, on the right, is Vista Al Mar.
I believe this restaurant to be the best in Puerto Nuevo. My wife, born and raised in the Boston area, agrees. The restaurant is owned by a lobsterman who toils on the sea everyday to provide only the freshest lobster for his clients. His family runs the restaurant. There simply is no fresher lobster obtainable. The classic Puerto Nuevo style is a deep-fried lobster.
Vista Al Mar does their version on an open grille. The smoky flavor brings out the natural sweetness of the lobster in a way that can only be experienced to truly appreciate. Freshly made rice and beans, along with tortillas, combine to make any meal here memorable. The restaurant and bathroom are among the cleanest I have ever eater in anywhere. A full bar is available. Expect to pay in the $15 to $20 range, before drinks. Dinner specials are often available, depending on the season.
Many local families, especially from Mexicali, took advantage of the mild weather and opted for overnight trips to the local beaches. Minivans, trucks and passenger cars were full of families with tents, fishing gear and other sporting equipment to to set up temporary homes on the miles of beaches Baja North is noted for. Pitching tents and camping in small groups, extended families participated in recreational opportunities ranging from swimming, surf fishing, and body boarding. Other family members chose milder activities such as playing guitars and singing around the campfires, telling favorite family stories and catching up on the latest family news.
Recent construction efforts at the San Ysidro border crossing are still on-going but the new border access was recently opened. With a minimum of 12 lanes throughout, the access into Mexico is the best its' ever been, with newly paved roads, improved signage and lighting. To get to Mex 1, the pay road or 'cuota', as it's known locally, simply drive south through the border, and stay to the right. The road splits into three sections. Take the right-hand section and follow the signs to Mex 1.
Like the border access, the limited-access highway is freshly- painted and paved and runs to Ensenada and other points south. The cost to use the pay road (to Rosarito) is $2.50 US dollars. Mexican pesos can also be used although only one type of currency can be used during a single transaction. This road is highly recommended if you want to avoid local traffic and save some traveling time.
One benefit of taking the pay road are the Green Angels. Similar to the Auto Club, these are constant road patrols 24 hours a day. Mechanical service is included in the cost of your toll. Be sure to retain your toll receipt as proof of payment.
Emergency service, including mechanical and other assistance, can be had by dialing 078. This call number is served on a 24/7/365 basis by bilingual operators, should you need it.
Within Rosarito and other Mexican towns, are found OXXO and Calimex stores. The OXXOs, located near the national Pemex gasoline stations, are similar to the 7-11 and Circle K chains and carry a supply of miscellaneous items. The Calimex stores are larger grocery-style stores and carry a number of U.S. brands.
US dollars and Mexican pesos can be used interchangeably for most purchases. It is preferred to use only one currency type in a single transaction. Cash can be readily obtained by ATM machines, which can be found in bank foyers, hotel lobbies and on the street at well-travelled locations. Withdrawals can be made in either US dollars or Mexican pesos. A small transaction fee, along with the foreign transaction fee, may be charged, depending on your host bank. Be sure to read all warnings and fee notices before you hit the Enter button.
Read, see, and hear more on Phil Friedman Outdoors