Puerto Peñasco is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. It’s an oasis at the edge of the Sonoran Desert where you can relax, explore, or enjoy some pampering.
But this stunning seaside village isn’t without its drawbacks. A visit to Puerto Peñasco could turn into an unpleasant vacation experience.
Join us as we discover why so many people visit this Mexican destination, and if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.
Let’s find out!
About Puerto Peñasco, Mexico
Clear blue water, white sand beaches, and luxury hotels are just a few things Puerto Peñasco offers. This picturesque beach town is in the Mexican state of Sonora. Its typically warm temperatures are perfect for all kinds of outdoor adventures.
Established in the 1920s, Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, was originally a fishing village that drew fishermen from nearby areas. But once the railroad connected it to bigger cities, Rocky Point became a vacation destination.
Due to the warm waters of the Gulf of California, Puerto Peñasco stays warm year-round. Spring and summer are perfect for swimming, fishing, and enjoying the pristine beaches. But winter and fall are comfortable, too. During the cooler season, you can hike, play golf, or enjoy a gorgeous sunset.
This scenic seaside town is popular with both American and Mexican vacationers. People come from Chihuahua and Baja California to enjoy the sun and surf. But Rocky Point is also referred to as Arizona’s Beach, thanks to its closeness to the American border. You can reach it within about three hours from most places in Southern Arizona.
3 Reasons to Avoid Puerto Peñasco
Everyone loves a good beach vacation. The sun, sand, and surf in Puerto Peñasco may be calling to you. But a few things about this place aren’t very lovable. Here are a few reasons to avoid this buzzing tourist town.
#1 Puerto Peñasco Is Very Touristy
American tourists can’t seem to get enough of Puerto Peñasco. And people don’t only come here for summer vacations. It’s also popular for bachelor parties, weddings, and school holidays like spring break.
Over the last 30 years, Puerto Peñasco exploded in size. Since the 1990s, dozens of hotels, restaurants, and other businesses popped up to accommodate the growth. And the change is a direct result of the booming tourist economy.
If you enjoy quiet, low-key vacations, Rocky Point may not be for you. The crowds and party atmosphere are a year-round fixture of this seaside paradise.
#2 You Could Get Sick From Drinking the Water
You probably know the familiar traveler’s phrase, “Don’t drink the water.” It’s a phrase you need to remember if you visit Puerto Peñasco.
Like many parts of Mexico, the tap water here may make you sick. It’s a leading cause of Montezuma’s Revenge, an extremely uncomfortable stomach bug common among tourists.
Although bottled water is available at most hotels, that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid illness. Fresh vegetables and mixed drinks can also cause health issues since they’re washed and prepared using tap water.
Battling a virus on vacation is no fun for anyone. Stay away from Rocky Point if you have a sensitive stomach or simply don’t want to get sick.
#3 Crossing the Border Can Be Stressful
Crossing the U.S.-Mexican border isn’t as simple as getting a passport. It’s actually much more complicated than that. Be prepared to provide certain paperwork if you’re planning to drive to Puerto Peñasco.
The Mexican government requires drivers to carry vehicle registration and importation permits, Mexican auto insurance, and tourist permits. If you want to bring a boat or fishing equipment, get ready to fill out even more forms. Failure to gather these documents may result in hefty fines or even jail time.
A trip to Rocky Point could be incredibly stressful due to these requirements alone. Find a different destination to unwind if you want to avoid a paperwork nightmare.
3 Reasons You Might Not Want to Avoid Puerto Peñasco
For the true adventurer, the reasons we listed above aren’t enough to keep them from visiting Puerto Peñasco. You may not find them too bothersome either. Upon a closer look, it’s easy to see why so many tourists flock there.
#1 Puerto Peñasco Beaches Are Among the Best
The beaches in Rocky Point are like something out of a dream. From the pure water to the soft sand, you won’t find a better place to enjoy warm weather and sunlight.
Puerto Peñasco has five main beaches, each offering something different. Playa Hermosa and Sandy Beach are two of the biggest hotspots, drawing many tourists and families. But the smaller areas like Playa Encanta, offer you privacy and far fewer crowds.
Tide pools and ocean life are also abundant in this part of Mexico. It’s easy to spot starfish, anemones, and even octopuses. Kids and wildlife lovers will adore exploring all the beaches have to offer.
#2 Puerto Peñasco Offers a Variety of Amazing Restaurants
Foodies will feel right at home in Rocky Point. The city has dozens of fabulous restaurants serving everything from quick bites to gourmet dinners.
Since Puerto Peñasco is a seaside town, the seafood is incredible. Fresh shrimp, oysters, and sea bass are a few local selections at many restaurants. But you’ll also find high-quality beef and delicious steaks sourced from elsewhere in the state.
You’ll also have more than just Mexican food to choose from. Old-school diners, Italian restaurants, and a German coffee shop are a few other places to check out. There’s truly something to satisfy every appetite.
#3 Fun Activities Abound in Puerto Peñasco
Maybe relaxing on the beach isn’t your thing. And that’s okay! Fortunately, Rocky Point has several other things for you to do.
Fishing, boat tours, and jet ski rentals are just a few ways to enjoy the Gulf of California. The tides in Puerto Peñasco are gentle and provide ideal conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving. You could even try paddle boarding or kayaking.
Maybe you’re more into pampering and retail therapy. In that case, you’ll be in the right place. At Old Port and Cholla Mall, you can buy souvenirs and artisan wares. When you’re ready for spoiling, book a pedicure or massage at one of the city’s day spas.
This includes tips for Puerto Peñasco: Traveler’s Guide to Camping Mexico’s Baja.
Is a Trip to Puerto Peñasco Worth It?
For a top-notch summer vacation, Puerto Peñasco is the place to be. The city is a dream destination with endless opportunities for relaxation and adventure alike.
But the crowds, water, and paperwork could quickly turn you off from choosing it as an optimal destination. However, Arizona’s Beach is worth the hassles if you’re willing to overcome the obstacles.
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