The history of Puerto Peñasco, translated as Rocky Point in English, is also nicknamed Arizona’s beach, as it is the closest beach from Phoenix and Tucson.
Initially, it was the fish that drew visitors there. There was no drinking water so it was not inviting for any other reason. However, that changed in the 1920s when John Stone of Ajo came to Puerto Peñasco to build a casino. He loved his booze and he was an entrepreneur who saw the opportunity during prohibition to open up a market legally, within driving distance for Arizonans. He drilled a well, and setup flight service from Phoenix and Tucscon to bring in the tourists to Fish, Gamble and of course DRINK. There are rumors about Al Capone visiting and doing business in Rocky Point. Something happened though, as Mr. Stone got upset as the story goes and burned down his casino and blew up his well before leaving Mexico for good.
Early History of Puerto Peñasco
In the 1930s, under President Lázaro Cárdenas, a railroad was built to connect Baja California to the rest of Mexico, passing right through Puerto Peñasco. The town began to grow again. The railroad line created new population centers and the initial layout of the city and port of Puerto Peñasco began in the 1940s.
Until the 1990s, there had been little tourism here except for campers, fishermen, and young alcoholics (the drinking age in Mexico is 18). The municipality’s pristine beaches with clear waters stretched for a hundred miles north or south with almost no development.
The push to make Puerto Peñasco or Rocky Point a major tourism center was initiated in 1993. Then, the government and private investors built condominiums and other facilities. The goal has been to provide a beach to the Arizonans.
To promote tourism here, the city was declared to be part of the border “free zone” although it is about 100 km from the U.S. This means that foreigners can drive from the U.S. to Puerto Peñasco without obtaining visas or temporary import permits. Today (2021) you need an FMM visa, but still, no temporary import permit is required to drive into Rocky Point.
Beaches here include El Mirador, La Cholla, Estero Morúa, Las Conchas, Playa de Oro and Playa Bonita.
Many residents here are American, most restaurants offer menus in English and most businesses accepts dollars. Puerto Peñasco is popular with retirees, especially those from the United States who have trailers and RVs. However, there are retirees here from all over the world. The town has an English language newspaper as well.
When you go, don’t forget your Mexican Car Insurance!