pixel

More Adventures!

Cabrillo Lands in Ensenada

By Graham Mackintosh

Cabrillo Statue Ensenada

Portuguese navigator and conquistador Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European exploration of the Pacific coast of what is today the United States. He sailed into U.S. history September 28, 1542 when he entered San Diego Bay and claimed it for the Spanish crown.

Mexico also takes great pride in Cabrillo’s achievements. Ensenada celebrates his discovery of Ensenada Bay (Bahia de Todos Santos) on September 17, 1542, 11 days earlier.

Although Cabrillo served the Spanish crown all his life, it is widely accepted that he was born in Portugal.

In 1939, the government of Portugal commissioned Lisbon sculptor Alvaro de Bree to carve a 14 foot tall, heroic 7-ton statue of Cabrillo as a gift to California for the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. It arrived too late for inclusion, and the then governor of California gifted the statue to Oakland, with its sizeable Portuguese population.

However, defying the governor’s decree, the statue was requisitioned, some would say “kidnapped” or “stolen” by politicians and businessmen from San Diego forcefully led by city developer and state senator Ed Fletcher. They asserted that the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma, established in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson, was where the Statue rightfully belonged.

Cabrillo Statue Ensenada

With the coming of WWII, and restrictions on public access to Point Loma, Cabrillo’s imposing statue was instead installed on the grounds of the Naval Training Center. After the war the statue was finally moved to the Cabrillo National Monument in 1949.

And so for over 65 years a 14,000-pound pale sandstone carving of Cabrillo has been gazing out from his pedestal over San Diego Bay and the Pacific. But unbeknownst to most visitors, it hasn’t always been the same statue. Weathered and worn by visitation, the original gift from Portugal was warehoused and replaced by a sturdier sandstone replica in 1988.

Eventually, other proud city businessmen and politicians made representations for the moving of the statue once again… this time to Ensenada. And largely due to Nicolas Saad, owner of the San Nicolas Hotel, and president of Ensenada’s Cabrillo Festival Committee, the U.S. Department of the Interior granted a 20-year loan of the original statue to the city of Ensenada that today envelops the bay that Cabrillo discovered on September 17, 1542.

Cabrillo Statue Ensenada

The repaired, stabilized, and more weather-resistant statue was unveiled in Ensenada in 2013, where it can now be seen in the beautiful and relaxing gardens of the former Hotel Riviera del Pacifico near the cruise ship dock.

The strikingly white and well-manicured edifice of the Riviera, inspired by Hearst Castle, once a casino and hangout for the Hollywood and sporting elite, now the thriving cultural and event heart of Ensenada, is an easy place to visit. There is abundant free parking all around. The buildings and gardens are a fascinating testimony to Baja California history with numerous plaques, monuments and statutes to its forerunners, shapers and heroes.

Inside, there are tranquil coffee shops and bars, and an excellent historical museum with a fine library, book store, and special exhibits. When I was last there in April, there was an array of photographs of recent rock art finds from Baja California.

A visit to the Riviera is a worthwhile experience anytime. But if you’re in the vicinity of the Riviera, September 17, I suspect there will be quite a celebration around the statue of Cabrillo there in its magnificent new location.


About Graham

Graham is the author of four books on Baja California including Nearer My Dog to Thee which describes a four-month sojourn in the Sierra San Pedro Mártir with two adopted street dogs.

Details on all Graham’s books can be found on his website: www.grahammackintosh.com

4.8 81 Reviews
  • user logo
    Jose Paez
    From logo

    Had a great experience getting insurance at Baja Bound, before I always stoped at the border to purchase my insurance, not anymore. By the...

  • user logo
    Stefano Pensa
    From logo

    I talked with Yara and she was extremely helpful. She took the time to explain the different options available to me and I was able to get...

  • user logo
    JUSTINE SERRANO
    From logo

    I purchased insurance through them & CHUBB for our trip to San Felipe. Unfortunately, we had to cancel due to our vehicle having an oil...

  • user logo
    Christian Minor
    From logo

    Team were on point, provided inside information, prices were great and they had my proposal already in the system when I called back....

  • user logo
    Joey Digiovanni
    From logo

    Easy to work with 😉. Always courteous and helpful

  • user logo
    George
    From logo

    Excellent customer service

  • user logo
    Kellye Pummill
    From logo

    Fast and easy!

  • user logo
    robert kepper
    From logo

    They are very good . There website  doesn't show you need a title to bring  a  vehicle across the border.I was stopped and told I had to...

  • user logo
    Jennifer Toups
    From logo

    Baja Bound is and has been my go to Mexico insurance company.  The website is extremely easy to use, keeps all your info for a quick...

  • user logo
    Cesar Lopez
    From logo

    Very convenient,  great price !!

  • user logo
    Louis Schneidman
    From logo

    I had an awesome experience with Baja Bound.  Family owned and highly personal, top notch customer service.  I have total peace of mind...

  • user logo
    Phil Noble
    From logo

    If you’re looking for Mexican Insurance that you can trust and feel good about while traveling in Mexico, you’ve found the right place....

  • user logo
    Jeff Bunker
    From logo

    Great coverage options . Price buy and print policy , very quick and easy , highly recommend them when driving in Mexico

  • user logo
    Burrell DeVine
    From logo

    Easy to navigate and very competitively priced! I had to call in and add an additional day, they couldn't have been any more pleasant to...

  • user logo
    Nereyda Torres
    From logo

    Me gusta la asuguranza porque la puedes comprar por un dia y te asegura en Mexico por el tiempo que vas ya sea hasta por mes (Translated...

  • user logo
    james whitmer
    From logo

    Best insurance I've had so far

  • user logo
    Rail1riders
    From logo

    Quick, easy, well designed website and not just for Baja. Good rates for temporal residente gringos. We’re not living in Jalisco. Printed...

  • user logo
    Matt B
    From logo

    I always use Baja Bound to source my insurance while traveling to Mexico.  Fortunately, I have not had to file any claims. I do appreciate...

  • user logo
    Refugio I. Rochin
    From logo

    Excellent online and by direct phone. Spanish and English with proven response to questions. Website is very informative about driving in...

  • user logo
    Kelly Carney
    From logo

    Yara is very helpful and explains everything. Love working with companies like this.

  • user logo
    Slumdog Gump
    From logo

    Changed some money. Good rate and friendly people.

  • user logo
    Jeff G
    From logo

    Went down to TJ June 11 2020 No problems going into TJ but the way back was a ordeal 6 hours in line to get back into the USA  but no...

  • user logo
    don letson
    From logo

    Great renewal process, if only south Dakota would do the same for car registration.

  • user logo
    len buckholtz
    From logo

    SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD. OLD GUYS LIKE THAT. WILL DEFINITELY USE IN 6 MONTHS IF STILL RUNNING AROUND THE WILDS OF BAJA.

  • user logo
    Susana Judd
    From logo

    Easy, quick and fair prices. Easy to deal with if needed.

  • user logo
    Seismic Waterfinder
    From logo

    Very excellent service, needed insurance for Mexico, price was fair. The custumer service rep was Yara

  • user logo
    Nicolas Dervé
    From logo

    Very good ans very fast. We hope all will ben good if we need it.

  • user logo
    Blake Glassco
    From logo

    I will never drive south of the border without Baja Bound in my center console. I was in an accident a couple hours south of Ensenada and...

  • user logo
    JohnPaul Gemelli
    From logo

    Baja Bound could not have made it an easier ... also, I made a mistake and called them having to leave a message ... but, they called back...

  • user logo
    Jeff Brandt
    From logo

    so far so good, however I have read good things about them