ATV Adventures in Mexico: Riding the Streets (and Hills) of Ensenada

ATV riding in Ensenada, Mexico - the ultimate adventure.

Planning a trip to Ensenada, Mexico, and not sure what to do? There are so many activities but where to start?

The winding road stretching from Tijuana to Ensenada makes it hard to keep your eyes on the road!

We love our adventures in Mexico. For the past 5 years, Kevin and I have traveled south of the border and have done many activities — everything from a craft beer and taco tour in Tijuana to wine tasting in Mexico’s stunning Valle De Guadalupe to driving the Mexican countryside to sample local cheese inside a cave. Let’s just say, Kevin definitely questioned that last adventure, especially when Google Maps led us off-roading and into a field with cows!

Kevin definitely had his doubts on the cheese adventure after veering off the main road

We’ve loved all of our trips — yes, even the cheese one! But our latest adventure with ATV Ensenada was really enjoyable. As all our readers know, we don’t take travel planning lightly and do a ton of research ahead of our trips. I was impressed by all the positive reviews for ATV Ensenada so I reached out to the company’s owner Emilio. Within minutes, he wrote back and confirmed the trip. Talk about great service! We were ready to ride.

We found parking right in front of Emilio’s shop. Arranging a tour with ATV Ensenada couldn’t be easier.

ATV Ensenada offers a variety of tour options including ATV rides to La Bufadora (a very cool blow hole worth checking out), hot springs, wine country as well as an ATV and ziplining combo tour.

Ziplining is another fun activity you can do with ATV Ensenada if you’re adrenaline junkies like us.

But the one tour that stood out most to us was the ATV and horseback riding tour, which also included a stop at a Tequila tasting room. Tequila, ATV’s and horseback riding might not sound like a natural combination, but it really all seemed to fit — especially after a sixth shot of Tequila. Just saying!  Check out our full recap of the adventure below and you’ll see why an ATV adventure is the best way to explore the in’s and out’s of Ensenada.

ARRIVAL:

We arrived for a private ATV tour just a few minutes before 10 AM and were greeted by Emilio who got us set up right away. Emilio grew up in Oregon, and spoke perfect English. And for the past 20 years, he has lived in Ensenada. We found it fascinating to hear his perspective — especially after living in both the United States and Mexico. There has been so much change in Ensenada, and tourism hasn’t been affected as much as in some of the other towns since many of Ensenada’s tourists arrive by cruise ships. After a quick safety check and picking out a helmet, we were ready to hit the streets of Ensenada.

Kevin, you look like a natural in that helmet!

HITTING THE STREETS AND THE HILLS

Checking out Ensenada from above

Emilio has been riding ATVs since he was a kid, and decided to break out with a company of his own about 2 years ago. While there are several tour operators to choose from in Ensenada, we booked with Emilio given his experience and just the sheer variety of tours we could pick from. Plus, as we always say, a tour is really only as good as it’s guide. To test out our riding skills, we hit the open roads in Ensenada and drove our ATVs along the coastal highway. And you can really get some speed!

Zipping along the streets of Ensenada on our ATVs. Kevin even popped a wheelie (though not intentionally!)

I felt like a natural. Though, I’d soon learn this was the easy part. Emilio was working our way up to some off-roading adventures. Let’s just say, I felt more like Evil Kenevil as I zipped down the mountain and pretty much hit every pot hole and puddle along the way!

Look out below! Riding down one of the steep hills in Ensenada

Next came the really fun section — riding on the dirt roads along the Mexican coastline. We picked up speed since we were the only riders on the paths.

We rode our ATVs to the end where we were rewarded with spectacular views of the bay and Emilio snapped a few photos of us, including this keeper!

Kevin is clean as a whistle, while I’m a muddy mess!

We made our way back down the hillside into the city. Clearly, my previous times riding ATV’s didn’t help much (as I veered off the path twice… and almost drove into a cactus). After 10 minutes of riding, we were back into the heart of Ensenada…and I made a muddy mess!

Why am I the only one covered in mud? Sigh…

HORSEBACK RIDING

We loved the variety of this tour. After riding ATVs through the city, then the mountains, we moved onto the next part: horseback riding! Some inside advice: this is a good spot to take a bathroom break. Just go across the street to use the clean-ish facilities at the nearby mini-mart.

And we’re off!

The horseback riding experience is a nice add on. The business is a true family operation run by cousins, aunts and daughters taking tourists like us around on their horses. It is a relaxing 20 minute ride where you can get plenty of photos and check out Ensenada’s oceanfront view.

We also personally loved seeing the mini-horses for the kids. They were so cute!

IT’S TEQUILA TIME!

The Tequila tour is extra at $10 a person. But well worth it. In fact, it’s more like a museum where you’ll learn about the process of making it and how it differs from Mexico’s other famed hard alcohol, mezcal.

Tequila is technically a mezcal, however, there are differences in production technique and in the types of agave used. Tequila is made from a single type of agave plant – the agave tequilana (blue agave) – and can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and in small parts of four other states. The tour includes 6 shots total, plus one bonus shot of your choice. But Kevin and I were such lightweights and downed only 3, realizing we still had to drive our ATV’s back to the shop!

SNACKING ON CEVICHE

It was hard to believe that it was already 3 PM, and our tour was coming to an end. But we had 2 final stops. After drinking all the Tequila, Emilio figured we might want a bite to eat. Just across from the Dona Engracia Tequila tasting room, you’ll find the street food stall El Güero. You’ll know you’re at the right spot after seeing the lines packed with locals.

Kevin and Emilio are ready to chow down on some ceviche

After eating the ceviche in minutes, Emilio took us to Ensenada’s famed ceviche spot La Guerrerense, made famous after Anthony Bourdain made a stop here. Prices are slightly more expensive, but the ceviche was fresh and incredibly flavorful. We recommend ordering the “Compechana Tostadas Especiales,” which has every kind of seafood imaginable including tuna, shrimp, octopus, sea snails, scallops, mussels and clams. And for 100 pesos, or about $5.50, it’s a pretty cheap dinner!

Toastada with everything, aka the Compechana Tostadas Especiales

We hopped back on our ATV’s and rode just a few minutes back to where we started. Where did the time go? We said our goodbye’s to Emilio, before driving back to our hotel. We were ready to relax — and I definitely needed a shower after all those puddles!

THE LOWDOWN:

  • ATV Ensenada offers a variety of ATV adventure tours daily
  • We loved the horseback and ATV combo, cost is $95 USD per person
  • The tour includes an English speaking guide throughout the ride.
  • The tour also includes an optional stop at a Tequila tasting room ($10 extra), where you’ll learn about the tequila making process, then get to try 6 different flavors.
  • This entire excursion around 4 hours (though our tour went longer)
  • Location: Shop #1180 Calle Segunda Zona Centro
  • Google Maps: Atv Ensenada Tours

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