Puerto Peñasco is a beach city in the northwestern corner of the state of Sonora in Mexico on the shores of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California), about 112 km (70 miles) south of the border with Arizona. Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, is one of the fastest growing tourist centers of northern Mexico; from 1995 to 2020, the population grew from 27,000 to 63,000, which includes many American and Canadian expats.
The story goes that Al Capone put Puerto Peñasco in the map. During prohibition, he supposedly used the village as a transfer point for liquor to his USA organization. The word in the streets say that he drilled the first water well, constructed a landing strip, and also he frequented the first solid structure building, nowadays known as "Posada La Roca", the 8-room hotel down at the Old Port.
Puerto Penasco is in the same time zone as Phoenix/Tucson, Arizona, and observes the same rules for Daylight Saving Time as Arizona (that is to say, it is not observed).
The border crossing at Lukeville, Arizona is open from 06:00 to 00:00, daily.
The currency of México is the Mexican peso. The local merchants will typically accept US dollars at the going rate. ATMs are available around town that will allow you to use your US-based bank card and receive Mexican pesos, typically at a more favorable rate than from merchants.
As in the rest of the country, Spanish is the predominant language among the population. The variety of Mexican Spanish spoken in the region distinguish itself from the rest of the country for its strong intonation and contraction of words. Due to its proximity to the United States, it receives a great deal of influence from English. For example, English words such as troca (truck), lonche (lunch) and bai (bye) are of common usage.
English is spoken by most of the vendors and in almost every restaurant in Puerto Peñasco. Earnest attempts by visitors to speak Spanish are always appreciated.
If driving your own vehicle there are many ways to get to Puerto Penasco, the most direct and easy way to get there is from Arizona thru the point of entry in Lukeville, the distance from Phoenix or Tucson is the same just about 350 km (220 miles) which is about 3½ hr of driving time.
From Phoenix you will need to take I-10 going west to Los Angeles getting off on exit 112 that connects to State Route 85 going south thru Gila Bend, Ajo, Why and Lukeville, once you go thru the border follow the road over the hill and past the bridge then about a block you will turn right into Mexico highway 8, which will take you straight into Puerto Penasco.
From Tucson you will need to connect from I-10 taking exit 260 to I-19, take exit 99, Ajo Way and go west eventually it will turn into State Route 86, it will go west thru Sells, Quijotoa and Why where it will dead end into State Route 85, turn left going south to Lukeville, once you go thru the border follow the road over the hill and past the bridge then about a block you will turn right into Mexico highway 8, which will take you straight into Puerto Penasco.
It is an easy and safe one hour drive by car from the American/Mexican border at Lukeville, Arizona, at the south end of Organ Pipe National Monument on Arizona Highway 85. If coming from Southern California, the drive is a bit shorter by crossing south of Yuma at San Luis Rio Colorado, but this route requires more driving in Mexico, however the new highway, Mexico Highway 3, from El Golfo de Santa Clara to Puerto Penasco is now open and is a very nice drive, however due to the sand being blown into the highway be careful when coming to sand build-up, they could be deadly at high speed, is not recommended to go off road unless you have four wheel drive and are familiar with driving in sand.
All drivers in México are required to have Mexican auto insurance. US policies are not acceptable. Be sure to buy Mexican insurance prior to your trip down or at one of the many places along Highway 85 before you cross the border.
From Phoenix you can contact Head Out to Rocky Point at ☏ , e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
From Tucson contact Rocky Point Rides at ☏ , e-mail at email@example.com
From Puerto Penasco there are two shuttle companies with offices in Phoenix and Tucson:
Transportes Nena's [dead link] +52 638-388-7089 or +1 602 442-6802
Transportes Superior +52 638-388-3640 or +1 602 455-9522.
There are direct bus services to Hermosillo and other points statewide (Nogales and along Mexican Highway 15 & 2, Caborca, Santa Ana, Guaymas, Empalme, Huatabampo, Navojoa) to/from Puerto Penasco with Albatros Bus Company on Benito Juarez. This bus does not pass through Sonoyta or Rio Colorado or Baja California, to do that you must board another bus company.
- Carl Van Rentals, ☏ . Carl Van Rentals: We rent 15 passenger vans that are allowed to go to Puerto Penasco for your family vacation.
If you did not drive in to Puerto Peñasco (as most visitors do) you can get around town via taxi. You can either have the hotel call them for you or go to the nearest major street and flag one down, fares vary however you should not pay more than US$2 or $3 per person, in the touristic area of Sandy Beach you will find the "taxi turistico" or "tourist taxi" their prices will be higher than those of regular taxis.
There are also microbuses that take people around town (mostly workers) for a minimal fee.
If you will be staying for a longer period, there are two places that you can rent a car:
- The Point Rent-a-car, On Blvd Benito Juarez across from Latitud 31 Restaurant and bar, tel. +52 638-388-5823
Puerto Peñasco has a few different areas:
- Fish Market - with the Malecon Kino overlooking the Sea of Cortes, many curio shops, restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, remember thrifty ice creams?
- Playa Mirador - one of the oldest beach areas of Rocky Point, location was once famous as the "Spring Break" party street Avenida Matamoros, in a matter of 2 blocks you will find yourself in what seems to be a huge open bar, where college students from many universities concentrated during the 2 week vacation period. Now the street consists of many closed bars.
- Calle 13 - Another well known area for its numerous restaurants and bars, here you will find ATV and Rhino rentals almost in every block. To reach Calle 13, turn right off the main road (Benito Juarez). Calle 13 dead ends at the Penasco Del Sol hotel and the city beach; just before that is the turn for Seaside Reservations and the Las Gaviotas condominiums. The city beach is the hub of Mexican beach life, with numerous vendors and food trucks setting up shop on the sand.
- Sandy Beach - this is the location where most of the new developments are taking place, resorts, spas, 18-hole golf courses, condos and houses, restaurants as well as bars and of course a couple of miles of sandy beach and the future home port site for the cruise ships.
- Cholla Bay, about 8 km (5 miles) out of town, is home of famous JJ's Cantina, it is just northwest of Sandy Beach.
- Las Conchas - the oldest American enclave in Rocky point exclusively residential with many available beachfront rental homes.
- Mayan Palace - One of the most, if not the most luxurious Mexican resort/timeshare, with its Jack Nicolaus 18-hole golf course, spa and many amenities to keep anybody, kids or adult busy. Open to members only. The general public cannot get day passes or use the restaurants. The golf course clubhouse restaurant, however, is open to the public.
And there are others like Playa Diamante, Playa Encanto, Playa San Jorge, etc. all located outside of town along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and are residential only.
- The Links at Las Palomas (Golf), Blvd. Costero 150, Sandy Beach (for directions, see Las Palomas Beach and Golf Resort in the 'Sleep' section, below), ☏ . The Links at Las Palomas is an 18-hole, par 72, championship golf course that offers a classic links-style golf experience. The Links offers a club house, a fully-stocked pro shop, a restaurant, a driving range, practice greens and cart rentals. US$45.
- Boating, Fishing, Cruises. Santiagos Ocean Services has boats for Fishing trips, Bird Island Eco tours, Snorkeling Excursions, Dolphin and Whale watching, Dinner or Margarita Sunset Cruises, and for some real excitement they offer Parasail Rides that will give you a birds eye view of Rocky Point.
- Ultralight Flying Adventures, US$40 for a 15-minute flight over any part of Puerto Peñasco that you'd like to see from the air.
- Dancing, Puerto Peñasco has lots of nightlife, and there are many great places to go dancing: Manny’s Beach Club, Pink Cadillac, Baja Cantina, The Reef Club, Playa Bonita Happy Hour at Puesta Del Sol, Margarita Villa, and Bumaya (with the famous Foam Party)
- Beach, Puerto Peñasco have basically to distinctive beaches separated by Whale Hill, the rocky hill where the Malecon and the fish market are located, to the north you have Sandy Beach, which starts at Playa Hermosa at the end of Calle 13, where Hotel Penasco del Sol is located and goes to Pelican Hill/Cholla Bay, this beach is about 8 km (5 miles) of white sand and full of the new developments which includes condos for rent, resorts and hotels, this is the new touristic section of Puerto Penasco/Rocky Point which started developing around 2000. The other beach area is located to the south east of Whale Hill which starts with Playa Mirador, the oldest developed beach in Rocky Point, known by the great tide pools where many different sealife can be found when the tide is low in the shore reefs, however when the tide is high the beach is of sand and the rocks are not visible. After playa Mirador going along the coast you have the American enclave of "Las Conchas" where many beautiful homes of mediterranean style are and ends at the entrance to the Morua estuary. To continue down the coast, you must take the highway to Caborca which will take you to many of the other residential developments like Playa Encanto, Playa Dorada, playa Miramar ending at the Mayan Palace and the entrance to La Pinta Estuary.
- Off road vehicle rentals, There are lots of quad rental shops for easy access to the sand dunes outside of town near Cholla Bay.
- Health Club/ Club Playa Fitness Center (Realty Network), 281 Blvd. Fremont (1 mile east of city hall on Blvd. Fremont). 06:00-21:00. This is a great place to get a workout in while in Puerto Peñasco. Memberships available, walk-ins welcome at US$5 per visit. Air conditioned, state of the art equipment, cardio, free-weights, universal machine, flat screen/HD TV/ Music. US$5.
- Rey del Mar, Av. Plutarco Elías Calles 89, ☏ . Pirate ship moored in the small harbor offering regular boat rides as well as sunset cruises.
- Shopping, The malecón (mah-lay-CONE), or "beach walk" in the Old Port part of town is alive with shops that sell everything from tourist souvenirs to fine art. While in Puerto Peñasco, most visitors stay in one of the hundreds of privately owned condos that offer fully stocked kitchens. For this reason, the fish market at the malecón is a popular stop for the fresh catch of the day, especially during the shrimp season, September to March. There are also many good restaurants to be found along the malecón, some of which provide stunning sunset views of the Sea of Cortéz.
- The Cholla Mall (also known as Rodeo Drive), has many shops with pottery, jewelry, clothing, and a variety of knick knacks. Two large pottery shops, across the street from each other, have a massive selection of artwork, rough pottery, and Talavera-style pottery. Planters of every size and shape, plates, platters, and bowls, candle holders and water coolers - you can find pretty much everything in these stores. While you can buy cigars at a few of the shops, they tend to be older and/or more stale than the shops on the Malecon. Fabulous Mexican restaurant on the street - beautifully decorated.
- Capone's Restaurant and Bar, Located in Sinaloa Avenue in the Mirador beach area, Very casual drinking and dining. US$8-15
- Delfin Amigable (Friendly Dolphin), Ave. Alcantar #44 (the main street out of the Old Port), +1 52 638 383-2608. Su-Th 10:00-23:00, F Sa 11:00-23:00. Traditional Mexican dishes, and a very creative seafood menu. Casual dining, and appropriate for the whole family. US$8-22.
- JJ's Cantina, 12 Coahuila Ave (Cholla Bay), ☏ . A historic, casual restaurant and bar in Cholla Bay, popular with many of the local American and Canadian ex-pats.
- La Casa del Capitan, on top of "Whale Hill", A restaurant with a great view. Mexican and American dishes served indoors or outside on the large patio.
- La Maria Fine Bistro & Cuisine (Las Palomas Beach & Golf Resort), Blvd. Costero 150, Sandy Beach, ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. La Maria offers refined "cocina Mexicana" and world fusion dishes. A place for a special evening, or just to stop in for a late-night dessert.
- Lolitas Seafood Restaurant, located in Ave Cuahutemoc in Mirador Beach area
- Sapporo Sushi Restaurant, in Sinaloa Ave. one block west from Cappone's restaurant in the Mirador beach area
- Kaffee Haus, located on your way to the Old Port. The Coffee Haus is a breakfast and lunch bistro tucked on a hillside just south of the old port. Established by German pastry chef Uwe Holtze and his wife Lily in 2005, the Coffee Haus was named after Uwe’s dog “Coffee”. Uwe, originally from Germany, lived in Canada and Boston before settling in Puerto Penasco. He brought with him a taste of Europe, combined with American, Canadian and Mexican fare. Phone, +52 638-38 81065. Please be ready to wait for few minutes, normally during long weekends expect queues. Please give your name with counter, they will call you in order.
There are many casual clubs/bars in town and at the Old Port, including Pink Cadillac, Baja Cantina, Wrecked at the Reef, La Selva, Playa Bonita Happy Hour at Puesta Del Sol, Luxor.
- 1 FMI Rentals, Blvd Freemont s/n 103 Placita Aviana, Benito Juárez, ☏ , email@example.com. FMI rentals offers about 79 short-term vacation condominium rentals ranging from 1 - 6 bedrooms in a few of the area's resorts: Marina Pinacate, Princesa de Peñassco, Tessoro, Corona del Mar, Corona del Sol and Casa Blanca. Rental features and amenities vary by property and location, but can be seen via FMI's site or the resort of the property you wish to stay in.
- 2 Las Palomas Golf and Seaside Resort, Blvd. Costero 150 (As you begin to enter Puerto Peñasco, turn right at the second traffic light onto the street named “Calle 26” or “No Reeleccion.” Continue straight on this street and after crossing the railroad tracks. A short distance farther, the street will curve to the right. Continue straight on this street along the sand dunes to a traffic circle where exiting to the left leads to the security gate of the main entrance of Las Palomas Resort), ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Las Palomas Beach & Golf Resort includes condominiums where you can stay. Each condominium (1-bedroom to 5-bedroom) in this full-service resort has a stunning ocean view. The resort also offers fine and casual dining, "infinity" pools, swim-up bar, lazy river, room service, full spa services, WiFi and a 18-hole PGA gold course.
- 3 Hotel Señorial, Calle 13 95, ☏ . Fairly simple but does the job. Has an outdoor pool. M$700.
Unlike most small communities, Rocky Point has not experienced an increase in crime.
|Routes through Puerto Peñasco
|→ Jct W → → becomes → Organ Pipe Cactus