Puerto Peñasco, aka "Rocky Point", is a small beach town in northern Sonora, Mexico.
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There's just something to be said for being a quaint little village right on the ocean. I've been visiting Rocky Point for so many years now and I always find it just as charming as ever. The town itself is only about 100 years young, but it just has that old world charm feeling. It's a comfortable and relaxing place to be. It just gives you the warm fuzzies. Could be the beer. Pretty sure it's the town, though.
2. Off The Beaten Path
Due it's off-beat and tucked away location, it's not that touristy. It's been getting a bit busier as time goes on, but it's nowhere near the other super crowded touristy-type destinations in Mexico (yeah, I'm talking to you, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun). You can still casually stroll into a restaurant for a meal without a wait, as well as shop to your heart's content without being mobbed. In the off-seasons, you can even have the beaches all to yourself.
As a destination, it's been a long-running secret among those in the know.
So, shh... don't tell anyone I told you.
3. Drive-able from the us
Rocky Point is only about 60 miles, or one hour's drive, south of the US border. Getting there is a super easy drive, all highways, with beautiful desert scenery along the way. There are cute gift shops, classic diners, fun tourist attractions and more along the route. It's only a quick day drive from California, New Mexico, and Arizona (hence the nickname 'Arizona Bay').
Good to know:
1. If you're a US citizen without a passport book, you can get a cheaper passport card for land entry in.
2. Standard American health insurance usually comes with coverage into Mexico. Check before you go to be safe and you can always purchase additional travel insurance to stay fully covered.
3. If going by car, purchase Mexican car insurance online or at one of the many shops at the border and you're good to go.
4. Play Wild Hogs (which was filmed in New Mexico), and let the wind and sun in your hair, and rent a motorcycle or scooter to drive down. Gear up at one of the many shops along the way or at an online motorcycle parts store.
5. Always have GPS! Many of the roads in and around the town are not marked and are literally just sand!
With a friendly and present police force, the city itself is quite safe. Of course, crappy things happen everywhere, but overall this is definitely one of the safest places I've been. You really should know some Spanish if you're traveling in Mexico, but in Rocky Point, most of the locals speak or understand English, so there are few language barriers.
Once, I got lost looking for a restaurant to grab some brunch, and a very helpful police officer actually let me follow behind his car as he drove me all the way to the restaurant! However, be aware of the infamous Mexican shakedown. It happened to me. Read about my story here.
This place has some of the best beaches and they're kept clean. Most of the year it's also an excellent temperature for swimming. Catch it around May and September when it's around 90F, with light waves, and it's perfection.
6. World-Class Restaurants
The food is always great, but more frequently, I've noticed the local cuisine really stepping it up a notch. More world-renowned chefs (even several Iron Chefs!) are popping up with new restaurants. In addition to great local cuisine, you can also find excellent Italian, Thai and German food around.
I love Mexican cuisine and am always more than happy to get my traditional plate of beans, rice and vegetables arranged in various different ways. On my last trip, to my surprise, it was definitely noticeable that more waiters were familiar with vegetarian and vegan food and happy to both suggest and create different veg*n menu options. A few chefs, not only happy to alter a dish into yummy vegan goodness, were also kind enough to come out for a friendly chat about plant-based cuisine after the meal!
Learn more about Rocky Point with Lonely Planet! Bonus good deed tip! Head out to Barb's Dog Rescue, located just off of Highway 8 north of Puerto Peñasco, give some lovin', make a donation, or drop off some much needed dog food, treats and toys to all the poor rescued dogs that live at the shelter and are looking for their forever homes!
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