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By Patti Morrow
“Ole!” giggled a flock of small children as they were once again pelted by the spray from the world’s second largest natural blowhole.
La Bufadora, from the Spanish word “bufar” which means “snort,” is a must for any Ensenada itinerary. You can easily spend hours here enjoying a variety of activities.
About 20 miles south of Ensenada, the third largest city in Mexico’s Baja California, lies the famed natural site at the end of the Punta Banda peninsula. The drive itself is enough to attract visitors, a paved, winding road revealing panoramic cliff-top vistas of Ensenada Bay and Todos Santos Island.
The waterspout is a marine geyser created when ocean waves and air are sucked into an underwater cave located at the bottom of the cliff. When the water recedes, the trapped air forces the water to expel upwards with a roaring surge, sometimes reaching as high as 100 feet above sea level, and frequently onto the observation ledge, much to the delight of children and other spectators. The sprays are intermittent and of diverse intensity – sometimes as frequent as three times within 30 seconds, other times a few minutes apart.
If you choose to go on a guided tour, rather than on your own, you will likely hear “the Legend of the Whale Jail,” in which the whalers of a century ago spun a tale of a baby whale leaving its mother to explore the mysterious underwater cavern but subsequently got stuck in narrow, crevice-like entrance of the cave. The fable claims that the tumultuous spray is his spout and the thunderous sound is the lamentation of the now full-grown leviathan.
La Bufadora and surrounding area is idyllic for exploring by foot, but diving and kayaking are also available.
When entering or leaving the site, you will almost certainly have to pass through an enormous gathering of vendors. Shop after shop line the walkway from the road down to the waterspout, estimated to be as long as a city block. If you are looking for local crafts, souvenirs, or the best bargains in Ensenada, this is the place for it. Go first thing in the morning to land the “first customer” best deals of the day. I personally love these kinds of places because I enjoy the smiling, friendly bartering in which both parties feel they have received a fair deal.
For example, I was on the hunt for “Baja hoodies,” the traditional Mexican sweaters. These stripped, cotton pullovers originally made popular in the hippie era, have made a comeback and are all the rage on college campuses. This is due to the fact that are now available in vibrant colors, are durable and loose-fitting enough to be thrown over anything, and are now fashioned from materials not as “itchy” as they were in decades past. Online, these beauties will set you back $25 to $45. But I paid just $10 each, making me an instant hero with my college-aged kids.
Surprisingly, the restaurant on the premises is very good, and has a good selection of authentic Mexican fare. Try the fish tacos, or indulge your sweet-tooth with a churros – a sweet snack consisting of a strip of fried dough dusted with sugar or cinnamon. There is also a free, clean bathroom for use by patrons.
A visit to the blowhole is just one of many fun activities to do and see in Ensenada. Other possibilities include visits to the Mercada de Mariscos fish market on the malécon, historic Bodegas de Santo Tomas winery, famous Hussong’s Cantina – the oldest bar in Baja, whale watching, fishing and surfing.
Read More Travel Tips by Patti Morrow:
Patti Morrow was born with incurable wanderlust, eventually leading her to a career as a freelance travel writer and photographer. She specializes in women’s adventure travel and has traveled throughout most of the United States and 35 countries abroad.
Patti has been published in numerous media, including International Living, Women’s Home Journal, Travel Post Monthly, MORE magazine, WAVEJourney.com, and Diva Toolbox and was featured on Tori Johnson (of Good Morning America) Spark and Hustle.
She is the editor of Luggage, Lipstick and Laptop, an online resource for women’s adventure travel, and is a member of ITWPA, AWAI, Intrepid Travel, Media Kitty, and TravelWriters.com.