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Rosarito Mexico: A Complete Adventure and Travel Guide

  • Joel CZ 
  • 14 min read
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Rosarito Mexico, in the Baja California peninsula, is a small town with everything you need for an unforgettable beach vacation.

The proximity to Tijuana, whose capital is separated by only 20 km, integrates Rosarito into the Tijuana metropolitan area.

The city of Ensenada is also very close, about 88 km south of Rosarito.

In contrast, the closest international city is San Diego, California, an hour away by car, not including the time required for border-crossing formalities.

How did Rosarito Mexico come about?

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The pre-Hispanic name of the site where Rosarito is located was Wa-Cuatay, occupied by semi-nomadic Indians of the Kumiai ethnic group.

In the 16th century, Cortés sent outposts to explore the supposed island of California, discovering that the territory was a peninsula.

The Jesuits began their missionary work at the end of the XVII century, and the first Hispanic settlement received the name Mission of San Arcángel de la Frontera.

Later, the town’s name became first El Rosario and finally Rosarito.

The era of the great ranches began in 1827 and the tourist development in 1927, with the construction of the Hotel Rosarito, although the significant tourist flows started to arrive in the 1970s.

What is Rosarito’s Weather like?

Rosarito is a city of warm summers and cool winters, with an annual average temperature of 17 °C.

The warmest month of the year is August, when the thermometer averages 25 °C, with daytime peaks rarely exceeding 30 °C.

In September, the temperature begins to drop to 16°C in the fall and 11°C in January, which is the coolest month.

There are nighttime cold spells that can approach 5°C.

Rosarito receives only 219 mm of rainfall annually, with the lowest precipitation occurring between November and April.

Rosarito Mexico: Main Attractions

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The capital and the rest of the municipality of Playas de Rosarito have lovely beaches to sunbathe, rest, surf, and practice all the beach entertainments.

With comfortable hotels and restaurants on the sandy beaches that offer the first-level services demanded by modern tourists.

With its historical and Cultural Center, Rosarito and its surroundings have attractive communities for mandatory visits, such as Puerto Nuevo, Popotla, and Calafia.

The cities of Tijuana and Ensenada are very close to Rosarito, with a wealth of tourist attractions of their own.

The Wa-Kuatay and Playas de Rosarito museums showcase the regional history, and Baja Studios Films, the Fox production company that filmed Titanic and other famous movies, has an exciting theme park.

If you don’t have time to visit the nearby Baja California Wine Route in La Vid, Rosarito, you can enjoy the experience of tasting good regional wines.

Enjoy Rosarito’s Beaches

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Rosarito’s main beach has cold and clear waters, with waves suitable for surfing. It is surrounded by hotel complexes where you can stay with all the comforts.

The beach maintains a feverish activity both day and night.

During the day, visitors have fun bathing, sunbathing, eating delicious food, and enjoying beach sports such as volleyball, surfing, water skiing, and banana boat rides.

The bars on Rosarito’s main beach are packed with young people out for drinks, snacks, and fun in the evenings.

The best time for surfing is in the winter, particularly on the beaches from Punta Descanso to Punta Mezquite.

Practice your favorite water activities

If you want to practice your favorite beach entertainment in Rosarito Mexico, with the assistance of experts, you should contact Rosarito Ocean Sports, an operator located at 890-7 Benito Juárez Boulevard.

They take you surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, boat rides, and other water sports in the best places and with optimal safety measures.

With Rosarito Ocean Sports, you can get your PADI certification in diving, and there are many practitioners of this sport who have improved their skills as divers with their instructors.

Horseback riding

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One of the most picturesque sights on Rosarito’s beaches is the families riding along the sandy beach and nearby hills.

The horses are very docile, and depending on your skills as a rider and the service provider, they will recommend a route and the corresponding preventive measures.

The operator Baja Horses offers rides according to the riders’ abilities and gives basic riding lessons to children, youth, and adults.

Get your adrenaline fix with off-road vehicles

The Arenales de Cantamar, approximately two square kilometers, is located in the town of Primo Tapia, 20 minutes south of Rosarito on the Tijuana – Ensenada highway.

These dunes are named Cantamar because of the residential complex of the same name located nearby.

The dunes are frequented by action lovers on all-terrain vehicles, such as motorcycles, ATVs, jeeps, buggies, and pick-up trucks with high suspensions.

You can bring your vehicle or rent an ATV on-site; the entrance fee is $5. There are also restrooms and a small restaurant.

Where can I go hiking?

If you are a fan of long land excursions, in Rosarito Mexico you have the Cerro El Coronel, the highest elevation point in the town.

There are spectacular views of the city, the ocean, and the surroundings from the hill, and it is also a good place for bird watching.

The hike takes approximately 6 hours round trip.

You should bring drinking water, a snack, appropriate shoes and clothing, and accessories such as sunglasses and a cap.

You should also bring your cell phone to take pictures and for an emergency call.

Eat the best lobster in Puerto Nuevo

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Puerto Nuevo is a fishing community located south of Rosarito, which became famous after contributing to the regional gastronomy of one of its star dishes: Puerto Nuevo-style lobster.

This recipe started in the humble kitchens of the fishing village when the fishers would arrive with their load of lobsters, and the women would cook them split in half, fried in lard, and bathed in a molcajete sauce of golden bird’s beak tree chiles, accompanied by beans and tortillas.

The recipe is a classic; thousands of people go to Puerto Nuevo to enjoy fresh lobster. If you go to Rosarito, you can’t miss having lunch here.

What is in Popotla?

This picturesque fishing village is located 10 minutes south of Rosarito, at km 32.8 of the Tijuana – Ensenada Highway.

It is frequented by people who want to acquire the freshest fish and seafood, practically still jumping on the fishing boats.

In Popotla, you can buy at excellent prices all fish species from the Mexican Pacific and shrimp, lobster, octopus, clams, oysters, crabs, sea urchins, and other marine life delicacies.

In front of the beach, informal restaurants serve them, including the peculiar Martian crab, a crustacean with long claws that can only be found in Popotla.

Rosarito Mexico: Calafia

In the municipality of Playas de Rosarito is the village of Calafia, both historic and modern.

The hill located in front of Calafia was the geographic point of reference used in 1773 by Fray Francisco Palou to divide the territories of the Franciscan and Dominican missions, which was the first division between Old and New California.

Calafia was a mythical black warrior of great beauty who reigned in the current territory of the Baja California Peninsula when it was still believed to be an island.

The town has the well-known Hotel Calafia, bars, restaurants, stores, and other tourist services.

In the Plaza de las Misiones you can admire the replicas of the facades of 12 missions of the old Camino Real.

There is also a cultural institution founded in 1996 that operates within the facilities of the Hotel Calafia.

It promotes cultural and community activities linked to history, art, and local traditions.

In its 5 thousand square meters of extension, it has the Reina Calafia Exhibition Hall, the El Descanso Amphitheater, the Mision del Mar Auditorium, the Jaime Escutia Serrano Library, and other spaces.

The center offers a cinema, theater, art exhibits, lectures, and art and regional history workshops.

What can I do at Baja Studios?

This film site (Baja Studios), with which Fox produced the famous movie Titanic, is located very close to Rosarito.

It is even possible that in Rosarito, you may run into a local who worked as an extra in the film, “dying” drowned in the famous shipwreck with Leonardo DiCaprio. These people are known in Rosarito as the “Titanic Generation.”

Other well-known productions that counted with the participation of Baja Studios Films were Agent 007: Tomorrow Never Dies, Pearl Harbor, and Captain of Sea and Land.

Within the studios is the Xploration theme park, where you can learn about movie tricks and admire sets, props, and costumes from Titanic and other films.

Enjoy flying in Rosarito Mexico

If you are a fan of heights, in Rosarito, you can take fun flights on the “ultralights.”

You can admire the beaches, the city, and its surroundings from a unique perspective, taking photos and videos that will surprise your friends on social networks.

The operator Aguiluchos provides this service comfortably and safely. Watch their video here:

Visit the Rosarito Beach Museum

This small museum near Rosarito Beach, Mexico, is an excellent place with only two rooms, which can be visited for free in a few minutes.

It is located in front of a park where musical shows are presented, and a large altar is installed on the Day of the Dead.

There is a miniature city in the museum that recreates the staging of some episodes of famous movies filmed in Rosarito, such as Titanic and Capital of Land and Sea.

Near the park, there are some exercise stations overlooking the sea.

The Wa-Kuatay Museum

The word “wa-kuatay” means “big house of the big chief” in Kumiai, the language spoken by the small ethnic group of the same name that lives in Baja California and Southern California, United States.

The Wa-Kuatay Museum, located at 18 Benito Juarez Boulevard, is integrated into the Rosarito Beach Hotel complex, whose original building was constructed at the beginning of the last century.

The museum exhibit has been on display since 1995 in a more modern space and is dedicated to the history and prehistory of the region.

Among the pieces on display are a mammoth tusk, objects from the Kumiai culture, and documents from the era of the large ranches in Rosarito.

Explore La Vid de Rosarito Mexico

If you wish to immerse yourself in the delights of wine without traveling the Baja California Wine Route, you must go to La Vid.

Your hosts at La Vid will offer you all the information about Baja California viticulture and wines from other regions and the best way to pair them.

At the same time, you enjoy red, rose, or white nectar accompanied by a fresh local dish.

They will also advise you if you wish to visit the Wine Route. At La Vid, you can purchase the wines you choose to take away.

Stroll around Tijuana

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Rosarito is already part of the Tijuana conurbation, separated by only 20 km.

Tijuana is a cosmopolitan city where you can find all the comforts and facilities of modern life.

Its great hotels and restaurants have nothing to envy those of the big cities, where the three gastronomic emblems of the city await you: the Caesar Salad, the Baja Med Cuisine, and the Margarita Cocktail.

Its museums and cultural centers, such as the History Museum, the Tijuana Cultural Center, the Museum of the Californias, the Wax Museum, and others, are a delight for the spirit in different fields of culture.

What are the main attractions of Ensenada, Baja California?

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The welcoming city of Ensenada is located 86 km south of Rosarito, following the Pacific coastline.

This Baja California town has beautiful beaches and seaside resorts and is the entrance to the peninsula’s Wine Route.

You can take tours of its wineries and vineyards to learn about the exciting history of the vine and wine.

As well as to enjoy tastings that pair the best wines of the region with delicious local artisan dishes such as cheeses, fine charcuterie, olives, and bread.

La Bufadora, an iconic viewpoint located near Ensenada, marvels with its high seawater jets as if it were a marine geyser.

Try the local food in Rosarito Mexico

As I mentioned earlier, the Puerto Nuevo-style Lobster tradition started in the 1950s. The traditional accompaniments are ice-cold beer and wines from the Baja California Peninsula.

Another local culinary specialty is the zarandeado fish.

A good piece of white meat is roasted directly over the grill, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed clams, whose simple cooking allows you to appreciate all the authentic flavor enclosed in this delicious mollusk.

Best Rosarito Hotels

  • Las Rocas Resort & Spa, located in the El Morro sector, is praised for its spa, comfortable rooms, and excellent restaurant
  • La Paloma is a nice lodge, ideal for relaxation, with well-maintained facilities and gardens
  • Rosarito Beach Hotel (Calafia), with splendid views of the Pacific at affordable rates
  • The City Express Rosarito, located on the Tijuana-Ensenada highway, is conveniently located in a quiet area and has excellent breakfast

Other good lodging options in Rosarito are Rosarito Inn, Hotel Los Pelicanos, New Port Beach Hotel, and Hotel Brisas del Mar.

Best places to eat and hang out

  • At Mi Casa Supper Club Restaurant, they serve Mexican, Moroccan, Mediterranean, and international food, with tasty seasoning in a cozy atmosphere
  • The best burger in Rosarito is prepared at Betty’s Authentic American Burgers, and there are also great reviews of their sandwiches, especially the pastrami sandwich
  • Tapanco serves Mexican dishes and juicy “churrasco” steak and is highly praised for its fresh tortillas and molcajete sauces
  • Baja Calypso has a privileged view of the ocean and rave reviews for its shrimp omelet with lobster sauce
  • El Nido restaurant is famous for its tender cuts, including venison
  • If you want Italian food, you should go to the trattoria Pasta y Basta, and if you feel like “taquear,” the best tacos are at El Yaqui

Many people who go to Rosarito spend the day on the sandy beaches and extend the day in the evenings at the beach clubs.

  • Papas&Beer, on Calle Coronado and Eucalyptus, is one of the favorite clubs for Rosarito’s young people and visitors; it has seven pool bars and a dance floor with a fun mechanical bull
  • On Coronado Street is Iggy’s Club, almost inside the beach, with large dance floors
  • Macho Beach is located on Benito Juarez Boulevard and has two dance floors, bars, and a restaurant
  • Las Micheladas Bar, located inside the Pabellón Rosarito Shopping Center, has live music
  • Beer Nights have the best selection of national and international beers and excellent snacks

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