R O S A R I T O
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New Web Site for Rosarito Community Events
Independence 1st of December 1995 from Tijuana "Playas de Rosarito"
Population: 23,067, Income: Industry, (Film Studios, Power plant ), Tourism
Various stages of History Rosarito Beach Hotel
Rosarito Mexico is a town with quite a history. There are locations in the Rosarito surrounding areas which are now considered as historical sites, such are the missions of San Miguel, Medio Camino, Casa Machado, Mojonera de Palou as well as the Historical Houses of Rosarito and Calafia.
Above the doors of the Rosarito Beach Hotel is a sign with the words "Through these doors pass the most beautiful women in the world!". The same could be said for the city of Rosarito Beach itself, which has been hosting movie stars and the rich and famous for over 70 years now. Although the Hollywood stars don't frequent this seaside town as often as they used to, there were plenty of celebraties in town last year during the filming of 'Titanic'. Even without regular visits by movie stars, tourists galore still flock here for the beaches, bars, and beef tacos!
Much of the popularity of Rosarito Mexico must be credited to its location, only 18 miles south of the U.S. border. It's a great one day getaway for folks from Southern California, and a great weekend destination for anyone crossing the border headed south.
Those who visit Rosarito Beach for shopping are usually not disappointed! Ceramics, leather goods, baskets, clothing, jewelry, presription drugs and a host of other items are readily available at the dozens of stores around town. An increasing number of visitors are utilizing the resorces of Rosarito Mexico to have custom furniture made at very attractive prices!
When darkness falls the nightlife begins in Rosarito Beach! The Rosarito Beach Hotel often features live entertainment on weekends. And just a short hop down the beach, Papa's and Beer (the largest bar in Baja) fills with dance-crazed gringos and gringettes on busy weekends. If you can't meet someone here to talk to, maybe you should buy a parrot! Many other fun-filled bars are available within walking distance on this south end of town. Rosarito also offers plenty of excellent restaurants, from seafood to Chinese...and everything in between!
On warm days the beaches are filled with many activities including surfing, body surfing, volleyball, horseback riding, all terrain vehicles, and that ever popular past time...sunbathing. An excellent 18 hole golf course is 10 minutes north at Real Del Mar. If you are looking for a fun escape, not far from the border, Rosarito Beach is an excellent destination!
To find out more about out local events in the Rosarito Beach area, check out the web site of TOO MUCH FUN PROMOTIONS!
CARLOS FIESTA'S HOT TIP: Just a few miles below Rosarito Beach, on the coastal road headed south, 20th Century Fox has built a new studio to help film Hollywood's upcoming blockbusters, including the Titanic Museum. They even have their own really cool FOX STUDIOS BAJA web site!
Beaches, are a main draw for Rosarito. From the north end (where the smokestacks are) all the way south through town, the beaches are wide and accessible. Locals love to camp on these beaches on holidays, and Baja travelers enjoy all of the traditional sun and surf beach activities, especially in summer.
Although all of the beaches are fun, visitors will find that the beaches on the south end of town, near the main hotels and condos, tend to provide a greater selection of tourist facilities.Camping, RVing, are a main draw for Rosarito. From the north end (where the smokestacks are) all the way south through town, the beaches are wide and accessible. Locals love to camp on these beaches on holidays, and Baja travelers enjoy all of the traditional sun and surf beach activities, especially in summer.
Although all of the beaches are fun, visitors will find that the beaches on the south end of town, near the main hotels and condos, tend to provide a greater selection of tourist facilities.Fishing - Boating, The waters off of Rosarito have plenty fish! However, everyone is so busy entertaining themselves with all of Rosarito's other options, that fishing never really caught on here. The best fishing in the area is off the Coronado Islands, just north west of Rosarito, and most fishing packages are arranged with fishing companies in either Ensenada or in San Diego.
Hotel´s, Lodging, Even though the Rosarito Beach Hotel started it all, there are now many additional good hotels in the Rosarito area. Prices vary from inexpensive to top end. For the Baja traveler who wants to try something a little different, there are many condos and private residences for rent in Rosarito proper, as well as north and south of town.
local sites, Just a few miles below Rosarito Beach, on the coastal road
headed south, 20th Century Fox
has built a new studio to help film Hollywood's upcoming blockbusters. They even
have their own really cool FOX STUDIOS BAJA
Every year Rosarito Beach hosts one of the biggest bicycle rides in the known Universe! The ROSARITO - ENSENADA 50 MILE BICYCLE RIDE usually takes place on the last Saturday in April, and is one of Baja's biggest events.
The first third of the course runs along the coastal road and leads one to believe that it's going to be smooth sailing all the way... then they hit the grade. H-e-l-l-o. This is where the road heads a bit inland and uphill to the top of a plateau. This usually wipes out about half of the entrants (especially the ones who partied way late the night before). The only saving grace is that, once the top is reached, it is mostly level until the outskirts of Ensenada, where a l-o-n-g downhill grade will test even the best of brakes!
The after race party in Ensenada looks a lot like the parking lot after a Rolling Stones concert . . . people and cars are everywhere! The best way to sneak into Hussong's this weekend is through the rear door.Titanic Museum, The "Titanic" Museum is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is also open on Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m. when there is no production at the Fox studio. Look for the sandwich sign out front signifying that the museum is open. Admission $5. Find the studio on the Free Road, five minutes south of downtown Rosarito.
Visitors who happen to be in town can enjoy a visit to a very special attraction, STAGE 5, which features a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the movie 'Titanic'. Between 500 to 1,000 people enjoy the $5.00 tour each Sunday (kids are free!), and if you were a Titanic fan before you took the tour, you'll be a born-again fan afterwards! James Cameron's extreme attention to detail is evident throughout the walking tour. The tour takes about an hour, including an 8 minute video clip at the begining of the tour. The video includes footage of the building of the 'Titanic' set, intermingled with actual footage from the movie.
The tours are offered in English and Spanish, and everyone seems to really enjoy this first hand look at the various parts of the original set. Some of the tour guides are actual members of the Titanic cast, and offer a delicious insight on the making of the movie. If you happen to get the tour guide "John", consider yourself lucky. He was indeed a cast member, and offers valuable information on the actual filming of the movie.
Souvenirs are available inside the stage, including Titanic hats, T-shirts, mugs, posters, videos and more. It's a great place to stop as you are headed south to Calafia for lunch! Open Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Recreation, There's lots to do in Rosarito Beach! Although most people spend most of their time poolside or shopping, it's fun to get outside in the fresh air and get the heart pumping. As an example . . .
BIKES The ROSARITO-ENSENADA 50 MILE BIKE RIDE is one very fun event! This annual collection of fun-seekers really turns Rosarito on full volume! This anual event starts in Rosarito Beach, then heads south on the free road along the coast. At Km. 60 the road heads inland, and then UP!. The last 5 miles are generally a downhill cruise, and the party in Ensenada afterwards is not to be missed!
HIKINGThere are several hiking options in the Rosarito Beach area. Of course hiking along the low bluffs and beaches south of town can be fun. But there are other inland options as well. For an interesting article about hiking the mountains behind Rosarito Beach by award winning author and Rosarito resident Paula McDonald CLICK HERE!
FRISBEE Rosarito Beach has m-i-l-e-s of open beaches, perfect for brushing up on your Frisbee technique! (gotta work on that backside catch? This is the place!). Playing along the surf line can be a fun way to keep cool on hot days! Do not play Frisbee on the main highway through town. The local police do not think this is funny! ("But officer...we didn't even hit any cars!") Keep it on the beach!
HORSEBACK RIDING Horses are available for rent in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, as well as just south of town, right off of the free road. Bring a pocket of carrots. Some of these steeds look a bit hungry! Where else can you romp in the sand and surf on a horse for $10?
KAYAK Launching off the beach is usually no problem. Because most of Rosarito's coast is sandy beach, the scenery is predicable. Heading a bit south of town provides more diverse views, as the sand changes into low bluffs. Kayaks can often be rented in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, and the two small islands in front of the hotel make a fun kayak excursion (once you get out past the waves!)
SNORKELING - DIVING The island directly in front of the Rosarito Beach hotel is a good snorkel and dive spot when the ocean surface is calm. This is usually during the summer months. Just north of Rosarito Beach, many dive clubs offer day trips to the Coronado Islands. These islands are an easy one day jaunt on a dive boat out of San Diego, and the visibility and sea life is very good.
SURF - BODYSURFING The beaches in the Rosarito area are probably better for body surfing and Boogie Boarding than for surfing, mainly because of the lack of any consistent shape. The waves do get large, but they are often walled up. South of Rosarito, where the bluffs start, the shape improves considerably. For an update on conditions or for supplies, try TONY'S SURF SHOP at Blvd. Juarez #312. Telephone 011-52 (661) 2-1192.A new SURF SHOP is now open to serve surfers headed south of Rosarito Beach. INNER REEF SURF SHOP is located south of Rosarito Beach about 10 minutes, on the west side of the free highway (just north of Calafia) at Km. 34. Boards for sale and for rent, wax available, plus a good place to get information on the local breaks.
For more information on SURFING NORTHERN BAJA, check out this article by Mark Johnson. Bring your own wax.
Restaurants - Bars,
Rosarito Beach probably has more restaurants and bars for travelers to enjoy than any other Baja city, aside from Cabo San Lucas.
Most restaurant will accept U.S. dollars, and many are now accepting credit cards. Got pesos? They'll take those too! The drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old, so watch out. Drinking responsibly is good advice anywhere, but particularly so in Mexico.Shopping, If Tijuana is the granddaddy of Baja shopping, then Rosarito Beach is at least a good father. Although the selection of goods is not as diverse as the big city, visitors can usually find whatever it is they are looking for. Most of the shops are located directly on the main street Blvd. Juarez, and parking is plentiful and free. If you are looking for a lot of shopping in a concentrated area, just park your car near the Rosarito Beach Hotel, or near the Festival Plaza Hotel, at the south end of town. There are plenty of shops here, all within walking distance of each other! More and more shops are accepting credit cards, and they love U.S. dollars. Transportation, Most people arrive in Rosarito by car. Once in town, however, taxis are very easy to find on the main highway, and are a convenient way to get around town or to head south for a lunch excursion!
Buses stop in Rosarito for travelers headed north or south. Being close to Tijuana does have an advantage, as the International Airport has connections to many other large cities.
A new PEMEX-AM/PM
mega-pit-stop Mini-mart is now open at the south end of town. Like its relatives
in the U.S., this convenient stop is a great place to gas up and purchase the
essentials for heading further south! This complex offers a gasoline, mini-mart,
fast food stand, pharmacy, and restrooms. It can be accessed by both the toll
road and the free road! Baja travelers who commute the toll road from Tijuana
to Ensenada on a regular basis (or for Baja fanatics who are in a hurry
to get to in Ensenada!)
the Mexican Government has established the IAVE
FREEWAY EXPRESS. Members can fly through the various toll booth areas without
getting stuck in line behind the other cars standing in line at the toll booths.
A special lane accomodates IAVE members!
CROSSING THE BORDER UNITED STATES TO MEXICOVisitors headed to Tijuana by land have THREE OPTIONS when crossing the border. All three are relatively easy, and crossing the "busiest international border crossing on Earth" is usually a snap.DRIVING ACROSS THE BORDER Each day zillions of cars head south on California's Interstate 5 and cross the border into Baja, Mexico. As the freeway nears the border, the 4 lanes magically become 8 lanes, and each vehicle must come to a complete stop at the Custom's check point. If the alternating Custom's signal light turns GREEN after you stop, you may proceed (Passe). Welcome to Baja! If the alternating light turns RED (Alto), you will be directed to the covered secondary inspection area one hundred feet to your right. Assuming you are not carrying guns, drugs, or fruit, your stay at the secondary inspection station should be short. Then you will merge back into the busy traffic headed into Baja! If you are headed for the coast towards Rosarito Beach or Ensenada, follow the GREEN and WHITE signs with the white arrows towards "Scenic Road - Rosarito" (Toll road).
WALKING ACROSS THE BORDER After parking your vehicle in one of the 4 large parking lots listed below (cost: $5-$6 per day), just follow the crowds. After walking through the metal revolving gates, you have entered Baja! Most tourists walking into Baja are headed for Avenida Revolucion, where all of the shops, restaurants, and bars offer a very exciting environment! (it's about a 20 minute walk). Head straight ahead through the small shops and the plaza, over the 100 yard bridge that crosses the river, and then 2 more blocks and you are there! Turn left for 10 blocks of fun! If you don't feel up to the 20 minute walk from the border to Avenida Revolucion, there are about 100 yellow taxi cabs ready to wisk you there for $5 (one way) as soon as you get past the metal gates and enter Baja. These taxis will also take you to Rosarito Beach for about $25 US, and to Ensenada for about $70 US.
CROSSING THE BORDER,MEXICO TO THE UNITED STATES Okay, you've had your fun in Baja. It's time to head back across the border to the U.S. One problem...all of the other Gringos who have been playing in Baja, along with a whole bunch of Mexicans who are legally headed for a brief visit to the States, are joining you for the border crossing. On any given day, tens of thousands of cars and individuals line up to cross this boundry line. Is there any way to minimize the stay in line? As a matter of fact, there is! Award winning writer and Baja aficianado PAULA MC DONALD has done the homework, and put pen to paper, in an effort to help you get through the border as quickly as possible. Take a peak at her BORDER ESCAPE PLAN before you get in line! Better yet, buy her great book CROSSING THE BORDER FAST AND EASY! It is stuffed full of great information on all aspects of "Borderland"!
The Legendary Queen of the Coast
by Greg Niemann
For over three quarters of a century, the venerable Rosarito Beach Hotel has welcomed over 4,000,000 guests from celebrities to newlyweds to Americans on their first visit to Mexico. And still they come, lined up in the spacious lobby every weekend to register and enjoy all the amenities the hotel has to offer.
The four million guests since 1926 have entered under the curved portal above which is inscribed in Spanish, "Through These Doors Pass The Most Beautiful Women in the World" alluding to the in-crowd that's romped through the place for years.
During the early 1970’s, I used to sit in the Beachcomber Bar sipping Coco Locos (A potent drink served in a huge coconut shell) watching my kids enjoy the pool.
In my single days, friends and I used to go to the hotel to dance. Before the advent of the current popular Folklorico Show, the entire dance floor sometimes would be alive with crowded couples, throbbing to the beat of the live bands.
Party time has long been the attraction at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Prohibition in the U.S. forced developers to look south across the border for a more tolerant atmosphere. In just 80 years a major Baja California city has come into being.
Following the occupancy of local Indians and the passage of Spanish soldiers and missionaries, the area around Rosarito Beach was not developed until the territorial governor granted 407,000 acres to Juan Machado, who developed a large ranch.
In 1920 a Los Angeles investment group acquired 14,000 of those acres and began the originally-named El Rosario Resort and Country Club. That first hotel opened in 1926 and had only 10 rooms and one bathroom. A small ad in the San Diego Union heralded the opening. Soon a larger hotel and beautiful casino was constructed. Adorned with ornate tile, relief sculpture work, wondrous paintings and bold Marias Santoyo murals, it immediately began to attract an international crowd.
Three years later, in 1929, an enterprising man named Manuel P. Barbachano bought the property and continued expansions. Barbachano's nephew Hugo Torres Chabert runs the place today. Torres says Barbachano was a real Baja pioneer, "He was progressive and had a vision for Baja California. He was responsible for bringing in the electricity for the Tijuana and Rosarito area. He also established the first telephone company for all of northern Baja California."
Movie stars Joan Bennett, Rita Hayworth, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Lana Turner, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy were all guests. Paulette Goddard and Burgess Meredith married there. Race driver Barney Oldfield and author Damon Runyon spent time at the Rosarito Beach Hotel.
The international playboy Ali Kahn and actress Gene Tierney took over the entire hotel with Kahn's entourage for two weeks in 1954. "He brought his own cook because he didn't trust anyone," said Torres. "And then when they started to leave, his manager didn't want to pay the several thousand dollar bill, saying that the publicity should be worth something. So my uncle told them that if they didn't pay, they'd never get back across the border. He told them he'd have police arrest them there. That scared them into paying."
Torres was born in Mexico City and was a young boy in 1943 when he came to his uncle's hotel. While he was later educated in Mexico City, Monterrey and San Diego, Torres has spent most of his life involved with the grand old hotel.
He remembers a number of the famous guests. "That Kim Novak was a beauty," he recalls. "I also remember meeting Mickey Rooney and Vincent Price. Vincent Price, of course, was on vacation and seemed much friendlier than those roles he used to play."
After the death of Barbachano, his widow leased the hotel operation out to a Mexican/American partnership, Chavez and Greenburg, who ran it from 1964 to 1974. Hugo Torres took over his uncle's venerable hotel in 1974 and has run it ever since. There were only 51 rooms in 1974 and it has 280 rooms today.
"It was a white elephant at the time," recalls Torres. It was spacious, had big gardens that required a lot of maintenance, and large rooms. It was just not very cost effective, so we've made a lot of changes." The hotel is continually remodeling, adding, and retraining their people.
Torres himself has become somewhat of a Baja legend. For years he spearheaded the movement to incorporate the City of Rosarito Beach, creating the state's fifth municipality. It finally happened in 1995 and Torres served as Rosarito Beach's first mayor, a three year term.
In recent years the Rosarito Beach Hotel has been the setting for several Mexican and Japanese movies. A popular episode of the TV show "Simon and Simon" was filmed there with the usual cast and guest stars.
Big times and visions of Hollywood returned to the old hotel when the Fox Baja Studio opened. Many of the people working on the studio about four miles south of town stay at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. During the filming of the blockbuster movie "Titanic" the hotel was a home away from home for many of that hit movie's cast.
The Rosarito Beach Hotel is constantly hosting meetings, shows and special events. I was invited to give a couple of historical slide presentations for their Millennium Celebration guests. I've also attended several Seafood Festivals held on its grounds.
The amenities are endless. The sedate Chaberts Restaurant is by far Rosarito Beach's most upscale restaurant. Tennis courts, swimming pools, horse rentals and much more make the old dowager a true resort.
The Rosarito Beach Hotel's Casa Playa Spa is a full service spa and salon and offers therapeutic massages, seaweed facials, herbal body wraps and much more. While you need not be a hotel guest, advance reservations are recommended on holiday weekends.
The natural attraction of pounding surf and a broad sandy beach has recently been enhanced with an 1800 foot pier that extends from the Beachcomber Bar. On April 15, 2000 the first daily gambling cruise ship from San Diego arrived, heralding yet another chapter in Rosarito Beach.
Torres also plans to build a breakwater which will shelter a 500 slip marina just to the south of the pier.
The children of Hugo Torres (Hugo, Daniel, Gustavo, Laura and Rose), are now active in the management of the hotel, serving in various functions. General Manager is Pablo Enrique Orozco Gonzales.
The Hotel has come a long way. For over three quarters of a century, she's seen it all.
edited story was excerpted from Greg Niemann’s upcoming new book “Baja Legends.”
Niemann, who owns a home at Cantamar along Baja’s Gold Coast, is a travel writer
and author of “Baja Fever.”