Puerto Penasco, sometimes called Rocky Point, is one of those rare places in the world that has a seemingly endless amount of things to do. It is one of the most popular vacation spots in all of Mexico and for good reason. It’s sunny and warm year-round, a short jaunt by car from the border, and full of activities ranging from lounging on the beach to golfing to taking in the local nightlife.
Perhaps what Puerto Penasco is most well-known for is its beaches and, boy, does it have a lot of them. The beaches are the main tourist draw of the area – all of the other things to do come second. There are two big beaches in Rocky Point and most of the tourism is based around them. The first, Sandy Beach, is located in the northern part of town and is – if you can believe it – quite sandy. In fact, its sandy shore stretches for over five miles of the Puerto Penasco coast.
Sandy Beach is the “main” beach in Rocky Point. Its five-mile stretch of coastline is where the bulk of the new development is taking place. The majority of Puerto Penasco’s condos, resorts, and hotels are along the beach. It is basically the “tourist hub” of the Rocky Point area.
If you venture south from Sandy Beach, you’ll come across a large, rocky hill. The hill is “Whale Hill” and separates Sandy Beach from Playa Mirador, Puerto Penasco’s other large beach. Playa Mirador is very different from Sandy Beach. Instead of being completely sandy, it is a mixture of white sand and large rocks. Many tourists visit Playa Mirador not to lounge and relax, but to explore the rocks at low tide. It is one of the best places for viewing tide pools on the entire Gulf of California. It is also the oldest beach in the Puerto Penasco area and part of the reason why the area is “Rocky Point.”
While Sandy Beach and Playa Mirador are Rocky Point’s two main beaches, there are a few smaller ones in the nearby area. The most well-known of these smaller beaches are located just south of Playa Mirador. It is Los Conchas and can be easily accessed from Rocky Point. There is a slightly different feel to it from the other area beaches and this is due in large part to the fact that it is largely an American enclave. It is the beach area in front of a large number of American-owned homes, most done up in the Mediterranean style of architecture. It’s a nice area but it has none of the local vibes that make Rocky Point such a special place.
Once you get your fill of the beach (which, in reality, is actually very hard to do), then you might want to check out some of the other attractions in Puerto Penasco. Many visitors choose to spend a fair amount of time in the downtown area of the city. It consists of a ton of shops that sell everything from clothing to souvenirs to books to food.
Downtown Puerto Penasco is also home to a number of awesome restaurants. They range from taco stands to breakfast joints to the fanciest of fine dining establishments. There really is something for everyone when it comes to eating and food in Puerto Penasco.
In addition to food, Puerto Penasco’s downtown area is popular for its many drinking establishments. In fact, Puerto Penasco hosts one of the world’s largest and rowdiest college “Spring Breaks” where students from universities around the world gather for two weeks of drinking and partying. Even when it’s not spring break, there is plenty of alcohol at the bars, clubs, and restaurants that dot the city streets. Many of them put on live music shows during the week and the dancing is absolutely fantastic!
Puerto Penasco is not all about kicking back and relaxing though, it is also an excellent place to visit if you are the adventurous type. There are plenty of tours that leave from the city including whale watching tours, dolphin watching tours, fishing trips, and snorkeling excursions. You can even fly over parts of the surrounding area in a small plane or helicopter for a relatively small fee.
If you’re the sort that likes to take an adventure into your own hands and not rely on tour groups, then you will probably want to head out into the nearby Altar Desert for a little poking around. It is one of the driest in the world and is largely sand dunes, but has a surprising variety of thriving desert life (including the Gila monster). In addition to hiking (take plenty of water though), many people enjoy renting off-road vehicles for a day of trekking. ATVs and motocross bikes are also ok on the sand dunes.
The desert around Puerto Penasco also contains the El Pinacate volcanic region. The region became a sacred biosphere by the Mexican government in 1993. Though the entrance to the park is quite a way from Puerto Penasco – about 50 kilometers – it is well worth the trip as you will see one of the least hospitable areas on the planet. Despite its grueling climate, the area has a lot of life, including the remains of ancient humans and human dwellings.
Most tourists visit the El Pinacate volcanic region to see the actual volcanic craters though. There are several that are open to public viewing. The most popular include Badillo, Molina, and McDougal.
Finally, and swinging things back to the heart of Puerto Penasco, there are a number of top-quality golf courses to keep golfers happy. The Links at Las Palomas is the most popular course. It pits a par 72, 18-hole championship course next to the stunning coastline of Puerto Penasco. At times, it’s hard to actually keep your attention on the game – the views of the ocean are just that beautiful.
Whatever you like to do on your vacations, Puerto Penasco has you covered. It is full of beaches, shops and stores, restaurants and bars, tours and adventurous activities, fascinating natural sites, and beautiful golf courses. If you’re thinking about heading to Mexico for a vacation, make sure that you take a good hard look at Puerto Penasco – it is a place that is definitely worthy of travel consideration.
Rocky Point is just a short drive south of Arizona. When driving south of Mexico, never forget your Mexican Car Insurance! It’s the law…