The beaches of the northern peninsula are like a dream: fine sand, water that’s refreshing but not too cold, excellent sunshine and, for the surfer, some of the west coast’s top waves. Part of that dream can evaporate, however, when you venture into the beach towns themselves.
More than a few of the stops along Highway 1 have been run down by years of American spring-breakers looking for a good time, and then leaving that good time’s remnants behind. Ensenada is an exception: a charming fisherman’s enclave, something-larger-than-a-village with a village’s sleepy feel, complete with beachside trinket stores and fish taco stands (the town’s beaches, conversely, are nothing special at all). Along this part of the peninsula, towns are close together, and the essentials (gas, food, lodging) are never far.