Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point, is an underrated gem in the northwestern corner of the Mexican state of Sonora, perched between Baja California Peninsula and the Mexican mainland. From epic sunsets and beautiful beaches, to whale watching and birding opportunities, there are more than a few reasons to visit.
With a prime location on the Gulf of California, Puerto Penasco is blessed with a plethora of golden sand beaches. Clean and expansive Sandy Beach is a favourite among families and snorkellers. While Playa Bonita is the closest stretch of sand to the city making it ultra-convenient. It’s also well worth checking out the beach at Islas del Mar. This sandy enclave along with Sandy Beach received the national Platinum Beach award in recognition of excellence, cleanliness and sustainability.
Anyone interested in an outdoor adrenaline boost will have many options in Puerto Penasco.
For starters, rent a four-wheeler or ATV for a trip through the region’s epic dunes. They can reach heights of 200 metres! Or opt for an ultralight, which can be rented along Sandy Beach and takes you soaring through the air along the coastline. Parasailing is also an option here, as is sandboarding on the dunes (best done in the early morning).
No matter where you are, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time you may be lucky enough to catch a postcard-worthy sunset. Experiencing that perfect twilight moment isn’t difficult here. While there’s no bad spot to watch the sun go down, you’ll get the best photos (and have the most fun) while strolling the scenic Malecón (waterfront walkway), or by taking a sunset boat cruise (offered by many tour operators).
Concerted conservation efforts
In addition to offering sun, sand and sea, Puerto Penasco takes sustainability seriously. This is something that more and more travellers are taking note of. Home to the CEDO (Intercultural Centre for the Study of Desert and Ocean Animals), here you can take part in immersive eco tours and learn about the fascinating biodiversity in the region. CEDO puts the health and vitality of the region first, ensuring it remains robust for generations to come.
History and culture
Make time in your Rocky Point itinerary for El Pinacate Reserve, named a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Made up of hundreds of craters, the reserve is also the longest extension of dunes in North America and an excellent spot to soak up the dramatic Sonoran Desert mountain range. Go with a guided tour, some of which include camping on site.
Birders take note: Isla San Jorge, also known as “Bird Island,” was decreed a federal reserve in 1978. The small but scenic group of rock formations is home to many bird species and is also where you’ll find one of the most important populations of seals and sea lions in the country. In addition, whale watching season in Rocky Point is from January to April, with cruises going out daily. Keep your eye out for fin whales, humpback and grey whales.
Calafia Airlines offers flights to Puerto Penasco from Tijuana, whose international airport connects to 36 cities in Mexico, making it easy to plan a route that works for you. Alternatively, beginning at the end of November, Canadians can opt to fly non-stop into Tucson via Flair Airlines. From there the drive into Rocky Point is under four hours.
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